Friday Flash Fiction – Where it Began

Today’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt made me think of Matthew Stirling, one of the wizard characters in my Triad books, who also appeared in “Bound,” a short story in Not Just Another Pretty Face. There, Matthew is trying hard to get a gift for prescience under control—and is led to a handsome werewolf named Jace for the solution. Since the two got together, Matthew’s got his gift under control for the most part, but sometimes it still pops up without being asked. And he’s learned to pay attention when it does.


Flash Friday

Where it Began

The snow was more wet than cold. Matthew raised his umbrella. It was still snow, though. It was definitely snow.

In London.

“I feel like maybe I should order beef chow mein.”

Matthew turned. Jace walked up to him holding two cups that steamed in the cold air.

“What?” He took one of the cups, grateful for the warmth and the coffee. Jet lag sucked.

“Beef chow mein? From Lee Ho Fook?” Jace wagged his eyebrows.

“I don’t know it,” Matthew said.

“Children today,” Jace said. “No ear for the classics.”

“A-ooo!” Matthew howled quietly, and poked Jace in the chest. “A werewolf in London.”

“You had me going.” Jace wrapped one arm around him. “So. Where to next?”

Matthew exhaled a small cloud into the air, a huff of frustration. “I’m not sure. It’s…” He bit his bottom lip. “This is exactly what I saw, but…”

Jace squeezed him. The big man regarded him for a few long seconds. “We should have dinner.”

“Beef chow mein?”

“Nah. Something local. Fish and chips, right? That’s a London thing.” He grinned. “And some good stout. I’ve never been out of Canada, and I know we’re not here for fun, but why not?”

Matthew nodded. “Good idea. Although I have no idea what time it is in my head.”

“I’ll go ask where the food is good,” Jace said, and with a quick kiss to Matthew’s forehead, he stepped away from the umbrella, walking back to the stall where he’d gotten their drinks.

Matthew took a sip, and stared back across at Big Ben.

Exactly as he’d been dreaming it, the snow that was almost slush. The few people. The umbrella.

Why here? He knew the Stirlings could trace itself back to London. Hell, most of the Families could. But why a vision of London? It almost never snowed here, and yet here he was, with Jace, coming all this way just for a weekend in December because his dreams—his gift—had shown him this.

Water was his element. Snow and rain. Matthew Stirling closed his eyes, gathered his thoughts, and then opened again to look.

“It started here,” Matthew said. The words were out before he even knew he was going to say anything. His gift was like that sometimes.

Now he just had to figure out what it was.

Jace waved. Matthew turned, smiled, and lowered his umbrella.

This was a long way to come just to figure out he needed to dig through history to figure out what was coming. Still. Jace had a point.

As he walked over, Matthew admired the wideness of Jace’s shoulders beneath his jacket, and the way he moved his hands when he talked to the guy in the coffee stand.

They’d fly back on Monday. After that? He could start trying to figure out what dark thing had begun here that was sneaking its way into his dreams.

And in the meanwhile, he was with a werewolf in London.

“A-ooo,” Matthew said.

 

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Writing Wednesday – Husky Hearts and Holidays

It’s Wednesday again (already!) so here I am checking in.

The outside temperature has been falling for a while, and while we were in Toronto this weekend, there was snow. His Fluffy Lordship is so very happy with this turn of events, and we’ve had a couple of walks now where the dog has made it clear that, if I wanted to, he’d totally do the whole thing over again right away.

The plus side to that is I’ve started my re-listens on audiobook, in an attempt to fill the upcoming season with something other than loathing. I’ll probably blog about that in December, but I started already.

Anyway! On to the writing front!


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

Slow and steady wins the race, and given that I’m sewing bits of the novel together now, that’s where I’m at. I have two weeks left before my deadline, and not much stress about it. Cole has morphed into the kind of YA character I used to love to read: not entirely self-assure, but willing to try, and possessed of a not-so-under-control gift of some sort. Teleportation is a real problem.


Handmade Holidays

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To be released by NineStar Press, November 20th, 2017.

It’s officially past November 11th, so I’m going to start being louder about Handmade Holidays now. I’ve gotten some great reviews, and I’m really excited about how the novella is being received. Ellie Reads said “Oh, this was so lovely, a bit nostalgic a lot of hopeful, just the perfect holiday read for me.” Jamieson Wolf said “I loved this story. No, that’s not right. I heart Homemade Holidays. ‘Nathan Burgoine has penned a Christmas classic. My meagre plot summary isn’t doing Homemade Holidays enough justice. I haven’t captured the heart and the love that emanates from the pages. I haven’t managed to tell you how beautiful the book is, what with it’s themes of chosen family, of togetherness and of love.”

I couldn’t ask for more.


Open Calls for Submission

On Writing Wednesdays I also track open calls for submission I’m keeping an eye on, as well as keeping honest how I’ve done thus far for the year in submitting things for publication myself.

Previously this year: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April saw 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that). July: 1 submission (1 new). August: 1 submission (1 new). September and October: While I was more or less offline here, I did manage 2 submissions (2 new), and I had 1 acceptance, but all that pretty much happened in October. November has been 1 submission (1 new). For those keeping track, I did have to write a flash fiction piece this weekend for the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Contest while I was at Naked Heart.

And now, the open calls:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • Apex Magazine—Super-short flash fiction, theme of “Valentine’s Day Invasion.” 250 hard word count limit; deadline November 30th, 2017.
  • Quantum Shift—Annual celebration of quantum-inspired call for flash fiction; 1000 word count limit; deadline December 1st, 2017.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500-5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k-120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.

Monday Flash Fic – Motivation is Everything

I’m coming in just at the last minute today, but the flash fiction group, Monday Flash Fics had a picture I couldn’t resist that reminded me of my heroes from Light. This one definitely, however, invokes a spoiler warning. If you haven’t read Light, you’ll want to skip, but since Light came out four years ago now, I feel safe returning to the characters.

Monday Flash Fic
Motivation is Everything

“I am never going to get this right.” Sebastien’s voice dropped to a growl.

Kieran, sitting cross legged on the floor, looked up at him and grinned. “You’re doing fine.”

Sebastien crossed his arms, and given he was currently wearing thick socks, a black jockstrap, and a leather harness, Kieran got to enjoy all the many things the crossing of Sebastien’s arms did to his chest and shoulders.

“I’m not doing fine.” When he got frustrated, his French Canadian accent got stronger.

“Try again. I’ll help.”

Sebastien exhaled. “Fine.”

Behind those lovely, muscular, hairy legs—seriously, Sebastien’s thighs alone inspired very many thoughts—Sebastien’s left boot tipped itself up.

So far, so good.

After that, though, it just sat there, upright.

“It’s not lifting,” Sebastien said.

Kieran leaned forward, and reached out with his mind. A moment later, he could feel Sebastien’s frustration like a hum in his own brain. Also there was a stream of thoughts in French that were going by too fast for him to even try translating. And beneath that, he could feel the teke Sebastien had formed.

It was fuzzy, and unlike the man in front of him, not very strong. Normally, Sebastien’s teke was decent, but today he was trying to teke something he wasn’t looking at, which was a new challenge.

Kieran reached out with his own teke, and it snapped into being with a speed he wasn’t used to. He dialed it way back, and did his best to help Sebastien tighten the mental hand he was wielding behind him. His own teke nudged the one Sebastien had tried to make.

“I can’t do this when I can’t see what I’m looking at.”

“It takes practice.”

“It’s impossible.”

“Says the man who held an entire float above our heads.”

“You did that.”

“No,” Kieran held up his hand. “Nope. That was you. You were the one handling the weight.”

Sebastien sighed in frustration again, frowned, and concentrated.

Kieran nudged his teke, just a little.

The boot rose an inch of the ground. Thanks to Kieran’s help, it also glowed a pale yellow.

Kieran grinned.

Sebastien’s eyes widened. “It worked, didn’t it?”

“It did.”

Sebastien raised his fists in the air. That also did amazing things to the muscles on display.

The boot thudded back onto the ground.

“I dropped it,” Sebastien said, annoyed. He lowered his hands.

“Hey, relax,” Kieran said. “It took me years to teke something behind my back. Years. You’re almost there and it’s been, what, three weeks? You’ve got something I didn’t have.”

Sebastien raised an eyebrow. “I do?”

“Me,” Kieran said. “You have me to show you the way.”

Sebastien’s smile turned wicked. “This is not how I’d like to have you.”

“We talked about this,” Kieran said, and took the opportunity to stretch his legs where he sat on the bedroom floor. “Once you can get both boots in the air, you get to decide what we do next.”

Sebastien closed his eyes to try again.

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Mr. August

The wonderful Friday Flash Fics challenge continues. Today’s characters aren’t from one of my published pieces, but instead from my Village project, a series of Novellas set in a fictional version of the Ottawa gay village where a bit of magic happens to come through. There’s no actual magic happening here, but as you can see from the picture that inspired it, there’s all kinds of magic.


Flash Friday 4

“I look ridiculous.”

Caleb lowered his camera and waited. Beside him, Jian tapped a thumb against his bottom lip, a line appearing between his eyebrows.

Uh-oh.

“You’re right,” Jian said.

That was a surprise.

Jian stepped forward and picked up the drafting pencil. “Put this in your mouth.”

The shirtless, muscular man in front of them both stared at Jian.

“Are you kidding?”

“It’ll add sizzle, Angelo.” Jian waved the pencil like a wand.

“No one does woodwork half-naked with their jeans hanging off their ass.” Angelo raised the saw in his right hand. “This isn’t even the right saw.”

“No one will be looking at your saw.”

Caleb couldn’t hold it back any more. He snorted.

Both Jian and Angelo turned to him with twin looks of annoyance.

“Sorry.” Caleb tried not to draw attention, usually. Not on purpose. Odd things tended to happen when he paid too much attention to people.

“Pencil,” Jian turned back, holding out the pencil again.

Angelo crossed his arms and raised his chin.

Enough. At this rate, they’d never get a good shot. Caleb put his camera down. “Angelo? Jian?”

Both men aimed their angry glares at him. He flinched, but he cleared his throat. He liked things better when he had his camera between him and the world. Especially when the world was made up of a shirtless hunk and an annoyed drama bear.

Caleb cleared his throat. It took him a second to find his voice. “This is for charity. This is our first shoot. There are eleven more months after this, and it would be fantastic if we could have the calendar actually ready to sell before, y’know, next January.”

Jian opened his mouth.

“Not done,” Caleb said. “Jian? We all know you know your stuff. No one sets a stage like you. We’ve seen your plays, you’ve worked magic and it totally looks like a woodshop in here. But if Angelo says it’s the wrong saw? It’s the wrong saw.”

Angelo grinned and opened his mouth.

“Still not done,” Caleb said. “Angelo, we are so, so appreciative you’re doing this. And while I get you’d like things to look professional, here’s the thing: this isn’t a woodworking manual. The VBA is counting on this calendar. You’re our August. Decks, deck-building, deck-weather. And you look…” He swallowed. “Well…trust me. Jian’s lighting, the make-up? You’re many things Angelo, but none of them are ridiculous.”

Caleb waited. Both men were staring. They looked a little shell-shocked.

“Oh,” he said. “I’m done.”

“Sorry,” Jian said, at exactly the same moment Angelo said “My bad.”

They grinned at each other.

Caleb raised his camera. “Shall we?”

Jian stepped back. But Angelo raised his hand. “Wait.”

Caleb sighed. So much for speaking up. He wasn’t sure what else he could say, but—

“Pencil,” Angelo said.

Jian handed it to him, and Angelo put it in his mouth, picked up the saw, and stood over the piece of wood.

Caleb raised the camera and started shooting.

 

Writing Wednesday – Flash a Naked Heart

It’s that time of the week again!

I’d hoped to start today’s entry with an update about the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Challenge, but they’re delaying results fifteen hours. Womp-womp. But I did have the thrilling, not-at-all intimidating realization that if I do make it through to the third round, I’ll have to write my next piece during Naked Heart, which is this weekend.

Womp-womp indeed.

nakedheart_websiteheader

If you haven’t heard about Naked Heart, it’s an LGBTQ Festival of Words running into its third year this year. I’m looking forward to it, and the schedule was released and posted (it was a bit last-minute to find out what was going on, and some events still have the speakers/readers listed as TBD, but like I said, it’s a young festival).

There are a third less as many panels this year (down from twelve to eight)—replaced by upping the number of workshops (up from nine to thirteen)—but there are always readings to go to as well, and if you’re in Toronto it’s still worth checking out even if you’re a reader rather than a writer. I’m heading down this weekend for as much of it as I can (I’m not speaking or reading) and I’ll have to head out before it’s over (one major downside of events that run late into Sunday is having to leave before the event is over if you’re not a local), but if you’re going to be there, please say hi!

Okay, on to my update-of-progress-in-public-to-keep-myself-honest.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I’m humming along now. I’m still waffling over the timeline, but I think I’ve finally clicked that it’s okay to skip days if I write a decent transition, and that’s likely the path I’m going to take. This is why we have editors, though. I trust Jerry to say, ‘Woah, ‘Nathan, no.” if I need to hear it. And he’ll be at Naked Heart, so I get to see him soon!

In other words, I’m on track for the end of the month.


Open Calls for Submission

Writing Wednesdays are also about keeping track of open calls for submission I’m keeping an eye on, as well as tracking how I’ve done thus far for the year in submitting things for publication myself.

On the latter front? Previously this year thus far: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April saw 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that). July: 1 submission (1 new). August: 1 submission (1 new). September and October: While I was more or less offline here, I did manage 2 submissions (2 new), and I had 1 acceptance, but all that pretty much happened in October. My goal is to average one a month, and I’m still ahead of that, but only because I started the year off with a bang. Still, it counts. November thus far is zero submissions, but I might have to do one in a hurry this weekend if I make it to the next round of the Flash Fiction Challenge.

And now, the open calls:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • Apex Magazine—Super-short flash fiction, theme of “Valentine’s Day Invasion.” 250 hard word count limit; deadline November 30th, 2017.
  • Quantum Shift—Annual celebration of quantum-inspired call for flash fiction; 1000 word count limit; deadline December 1st, 2017.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500-5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k-120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.

Monday Flash Fic – Glimpse

It’s possible I found another flash fiction group, Monday Flash Fics. I don’t imagine I’ll often manage both Mondays and Fridays, but the Monday pic just posted was so perfect for two of the characters in my Village novella project that I couldn’t help myself.


Monday Flash Fic

Caleb yawned. After a long day photographing animals for Furever’s rescue program, he’d finished cropping and retouching any obvious problems. The photos finished uploading to the shared folder. Justin and Mat would put them together for the new website, and then the rescue program would be ready to go.

Caleb yawned again, and eyed his bed.

How many people had he made eye contact with today? Too many. But he couldn’t stay awake forever. He brushed his teeth and stripped down to his boxers. Crawling into bed, he set his alarm and exhaled.

Just like every night, Caleb looked up at the ceiling and asked the usual.

Nothing awful, please.

Caleb closed his eyes.

*

Justin and Gabe were married. It was a gorgeous day, they looked amazing, and the light was perfect. Caleb couldn’t help it, he always thought with a photographer’s eye.

Even when the eyes he was using weren’t his.

He half-heartedly hunted for clues, but didn’t find any. Sometimes he’d glimpse a newspaper, or whoever he was checked their phone, but not right now. Someone was giving a speech—Marion, he thought, just a second before his head turned and she came into view, proving him right. The older woman looked much the same as when he’d seen her in the park that afternoon, only now she wore a gorgeous peach suit and held up a glass of champagne.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Marion said, with a tiny smile. “These two? Only got together because of me.”

Whoever’s point of view it was that Caleb was enjoying stole a glance at the grooms. Justin leaned in and whispered something in Gabe’s ear, and Gabe laughed. Just for a second, Justin leaned his forehead against Gabe’s, and they both closed their eyes as Marion described how a flustered Gabe had needed a push to even introduce himself to Justin—a push she’d been happy to provide. Both men laughed.

*

The alarm woke him. Caleb stretched.

Thank you, he thought, eyeing the ceiling. As futures went, that had been a lovely one to glimpse.

He was the last one to their small office. Justin leaned over Mat’s shoulder, pointing at something on the screen.

“Good morning,” Justin said, when Caleb came in. “You were up late.”

“These are great.” Mat nodded to his computer. “Furever is going to run out of animals.”

“We can hope.” Caleb lifted a paper bag. “I stopped at Sweet Temptations.”

“I love you,” Justin said.

“Don’t let Gabe hear you say that,” Mat said.

Caleb glanced down. “How are you guys doing?”

“Great.” Justin grinned. Then it faltered. “Too great?”

“Oh my God,” Mat said. “Why can’t you enjoy a good thing?”

“It’s just…” Justin blew out a breath. “It’s new. I shouldn’t jinx it.”

Caleb smiled.

“What?” Justin said.

“Nothing. But, I think you two are good for the long run. Didn’t Marion introduce you?”

Justin blinked. “Sort of. How’d you know?”

“I heard it somewhere.”