It’s time to close out 2022 today, which means a quick glimpse back at accomplishing a few writerly time things, and doing some social media housekeeping. Let’s start with the accomplishments, though, eh?
Three Left Turns to Nowhere
First off, there was Three Left Turns to Nowhere, a trio of YA novellas released by Bold Strokes Books which included my story “Hope Echoes” rounding out the bunch after Jeffrey Ricker’s “Roadside Assistance” and J. Marshall Freeman’s “Scavenger Hunt.”
Three strangers heading to a convention in Toronto are stranded in rural Ontario, where a small town with a subtle kind of magic leads each to discover what he’s been searching for. In “Hope Echoes,” we meet Fielding Roy, who has a gift for seeing the past. His year isn’t going well—he’s had to stay behind while his friends begin their first year of university—but he’s on a trip to see them in Toronto when a downed tree forces a stop in Hopewell. He’s convinced this is the worst thing ever, but a long-lost love letter, two local boys, and the realization this situation is unique in a way he’s never encountered gives Fielding the freedom and courage to try something very new. And that gift for seeing the past? This time he might not just watch. This time, Fielding might be able to fix the present.
The tone and theme for “Hope Echoes” is one I’ve explored before: the queer past and the queer present, and how much extra effort it can take for connections to be formed between the two, but this time I got to play with Fielding also discovering what it’s like to be queer when you’re in a situation where any kind of rejection—if it comes—will be uniquely temporary. There is freedom in being somewhere you’ll never be again, and Fielding steps forward with that confidence and realizes that the feeling of being honestly himself in every way might be worth exploring elsewhere, too. I also got to do something I’ve wanted to do for ages, and that was write a YA where there’s no romantic angle for the main character. Fielding doesn’t meet the boy of his dreams in this story. Rather, he makes two new queer friends, and that new friendship is foundational to Fielding’s growth and ability to admit his own state of mind.
Faux Ho Ho on Audio
I cannot tell you how happy I was to work with Giancarlo Herrera again, nor how freaking awesome it was to hear him voice Silas and Dino in “Faux Ho Ho” this year as an audiobook release of my second holiday novella. He previously did an amazing job on “Handmade Holidays” and brought the same amazing energy and skill to Silas and Dino’s story, and I would not be lying if I said I’d already listened to it multiple times. The thing about hiring someone with the hard-earned performance skills like his is you get just that: a performance. Herrera doesn’t just read the books, he brings them to life, and I sincerely hope I have more opportunities to work with him.
If you like fake dating fauxmance, and you like queer holiday romances, and you like chosen families, and you like audiobooks performed by someone who makes you think you’re listening to a whole cast? Well. Give it a try.
Also, the scene where Dino is pretending to be a video game character for a group of kids and does a voice is so hysterically funny I scared the crap out of someone because I was listening to it while I was walking the dog and suddenly burst out laughing as this woman was walking by. Sorry, random lady. Nothing personal. Promise.
For those who asked me about the possibility of audiobooks of my other works, the short answer is a repeat of that: I hope so. But that choice is up to my publisher, which means it’s about sales, and… well, I’m a pretty wee author. But I will champion the accessibility of audiobook releases as much as I can, promise.
Ah, Felix! I can’t believe I wrote an entire novella quartet, but as of this year, it happened! “Felix Navidad” from Bold Strokes Books rounds out the journey I started with “Handmade Holidays,” “Faux Ho Ho,” and “Village Fool,” and I could not be happier with how it’s been received. One of the best parts about playing with Holiday Romance is you get to lean so heavily on tropes, and “Felix Navidad” was my turn at a forced proximity romance, as well as a dash of there’s only one bed, though the latter I played with in a way I was beyond nervous about. Happily, on the there’s only one bed front, most reviews have been positive in regards to how it turned out, so I’m pleased. Taking risks is always harrowing in writing, but this was something I wanted to showcase.
Much like “Hope Echoes,” “Felix Navidad” carries a theme of intergenerational queer history, compassion, and friendship, but also it’s about a good guy trying his best—which hasn’t always gone right, especially when he gives in to his impulsive side—and coming across the unexpected when his plans for a holiday vacation fall through. Ending up stranded in a cabin with a good friend’s ex instead of lounging in the warmth of Hawai’i is not how Felix intended to spend his first real Christmas vacation, but it’s what’s happening.
Apart from what I wanted to do with the there’s only one bed trope, with this story, I got to really highlight the way queer community has always worked and felt to me—interconnected (initial) strangers working together to try to make a future for those they don’t even know yet. That facet of queerness: that we’re born at random to families nothing like us, and have to go find each other to even being to learn about ourselves, and don’t even know what we don’t know, is something I talk about a lot here, so I won’t go over it again, but I think “Felix Navidad” is maybe the piece I’m proudest of on that front.
Also? Today is the last day for the Low-Angst Festive MM Reads that “Felix Navidad” is part of alongside twenty-three other books. If you haven’t checked that out, today is the day!
I really do wish I could send a time-travel message to myself in regards to these next two little releases, because I cannot tell you how freaking astounded, amazed, and amused past me would have been to learn I’ve been published in two more Chicken Soup of the Soul books. I used to shelve them in the bookstore and—brutal honesty moment—during the holidays they used to do this “two for $25” deal that was a huge, huge pain in the butt to try and stock and shelve and sticker and keep organized, so the idea that I am taking part would have made past me flip me off even as he congratulated me.
“Keeping Cards, Keeping Memories,” appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Christmas. It’s a story about the first time I met my husband’s grandmother, and a discussion we had about cards, and how I revisit that memory every year when it’s time to put up the Christmas card string.
“Looking for the Source,” appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Too Funny! It’s a bookstore era story, funnily enough, about that time someone came into the store and all they could tell me was they were looking for a book. Just a book. With words in it. You know, that one? That one.
I’ve enjoyed writing these little memories up for Chicken Soup, and I’ll likely continue to try for more. It’s a lovely way to sit down and the sense of accomplishment at hitting “Submit!” is good for the seretonin levels.
So, I’m going to leave Twitter as of today—for what I imagine are obvious reasons, but to state them anyway: it’s a cesspool of white supremacy and racism, antisemitism, queer hate, and I could go on for days—and while Twitter has been an amazing place for me to build a queer community, I can’t keep supporting it the way it is, even passively.
I’m over at Mastodon, under @NathanBurgoine@romancelandia.club, and I’ve also got Facebook, and an Instagram account I mostly use to share pictures of my dog, and of course, this blog. Will 2023 be the year I finally organize a newsletter beyond a sign-up page? Who knows. Certainly not me. But my current plan is to attempt to be better at using all those other channels, while mostly keeping the major news and noise coming through this blog and Mastodon.