Coming Soon!

Dolphins in the Mud releases from Harmony Ink Press on August 8! And it’s already up for pre-order on their website!

I’m really looking forward to the re-release of this book. It was originally published several years ago, and has been out of print for about two years. To me, some of the content is very important. In the story, main character Chris has family stress to deal with, and believes he’s isolated from his peers, since none of them seem to want to spend time with him. He has a younger sister who’s autistic, and sometimes Chris seems to be the only one she’ll relate to. And he makes a new friend–and potentially more–who turns out to have an untreated mental illness.

I wrote the story so long ago I can’t even remember where the idea originally came from. But I’m pleased that Harmony Ink has decided to give it a second life, and I hope readers will enjoy it as well.

I would love to share the cover art, but as I type this, my website is not letting me upload any images. I’ll work on it!

 

What I’m Working On

I’m currently working on revising another of my out-of-print novels to send to another publisher. This one is interesting to work on. It’s different from most of my books.

For one thing, there’s sexual content in this one. Not explicit, but it is there on the page, rather than just being mentioned or not happening at all. And it happens between a 15-year-old and someone who claims to be in his early 20s. (It’s portrayed as being predatory and unhealthy; that’s part of the point of the book.)

For another, this is a direct tie-in with one of my adult romance series (which is also now out of print). I had a series about the world’s only gay vegan werewolf and his mate, the pack Alpha. Something in the Alpha’s backstory struck me as good YA fiction fodder, so with the publisher’s agreement I wrote the book and they published it under their children’s/YA imprint. The official story was that “Jo Ramsey” was a fan of “Karenna Colcroft” and got Karenna’s permission to write the book.

(Some people still don’t realize that I’m both of those authors…)

The book has its disturbing bits. I remember how badly I triggered myself writing the scene where the main character, Tobias, realizes that the older guy he’s crushing on actually intends to harm him. But it also has what, in my opinion, is some pretty good writing.

I don’t know what the future holds for the book. I will be submitting it to a new publisher, but there’s no guarantee they’ll accept it. It remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the revising.

Teaser Thursday- Nail Polish and Feathers

Nail Polish and Feathers_200

While I was sulking at the kitchen table and ignoring Mom’s attempts to joke me out of my mood, the landline phone rang. Mom went to answer it. Her “hello” sounded okay, but after that her voice rose. “Why do you have to start this now? He’s getting ready for school. I’m getting ready for work.”

As soon as I heard that, I knew Dad was on the phone. And I knew I would rather die than talk to him. But when Mom walked back into the room and held out the phone, I took it. “Hello?”

“What the hell am I hearing about you wearing a dress?”

Dad was practically yelling, which immediately sent my temper soaring. Whoever had blabbed to him deserved to be shot. At the same time, my stomach turned inside out and I felt like I was going to puke. I forced myself to speak calmly. “I went to the Homecoming dance wearing a dress. And a wig.”

“What were you thinking? What kind of kid are you?”

I held the phone away from my ear. Mom reached for it, and I shook my head. I could fight my own battle with Dad. “I’m the kind who isn’t afraid,” I said. “And if you keep yelling at me, I’m hanging up. I don’t deserve to have you talk to me that way.”

“I am your father! Show me some respect.”

“I’ll show you the same amount of respect you show me.” I felt cold all over. He could cause a whole lot of problems for Mom and me if he chose to. But I was done letting him be a jerk to us. He’d pretty much given up on me when he’d met his current girlfriend, and he didn’t have the right to barge in and play concerned parent now. “I told you at the hospital, I’m gay. And yeah, sometimes I wear things that wouldn’t exactly be considered guylike. That’s who I am. It doesn’t mean Mom’s doing a bad job, and it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. It just means I’m who I am. You can accept it or not.”

“Don’t you dare talk to me that way.” In spite of the words, his voice got quieter. “Your mother lets you get away with murder.”

“No. My mother loves me and accepts me, even when she doesn’t agree with me. Say one more thing like that, and I’m hanging up.” I suddenly realized he was afraid. Afraid of what, I wasn’t sure. Of losing me, maybe, even though he pretty much already had. Or of me getting hurt again. An awful lot of people seemed to be telling me what to do because of fear.

“I’m taking your mother to court,” he said. “I thought you should know. I don’t approve of the way she’s bringing you up.”

“That means you don’t approve of me,” I said. “And in that case, I don’t have anything more to say to you. Do what you have to do, and I’ll be sure to tell the judge how you stopped having visits with me because your girlfriend didn’t like me, and how you spend all your money on her kids now.” I hung up and dropped the phone on the table, because that seemed like a better thing to do than throwing it across the room like I wanted to.

Teaser Thursday- Kissing Scars

FirstTimeForEverythingHARMONY

I pushed apart some of the bracelets on my left wrist, the one with the worse scars since I was right-handed, and pointed to the messy white lines. “I did these when I was eleven. And twelve. And… you get the idea. You’re the first person I’ve showed them to besides my mom and my doctors.”

She frowned. “Why me? Because of the bandages?”

“And because I think I can trust you.” Explaining why I’d shown her was hard to explain. It had just seemed like the right thing to do so she would know she wasn’t alone.

“What happened to you?”

I should have known she would ask. I had to think about what to tell her. When I heard about bad things that had happened to other people, sometimes it made my own crap so much worse. I didn’t want to make things harder for Alyssa.

“Someone did something to me,” I said finally, keeping it vague on purpose. I’d had tons of practice talking to my therapists about the incident, and nowadays sometimes I didn’t even show any emotion when I recited it. But Alyssa didn’t need details. “I was eleven. I wanted to die afterward, but I knew that would hurt my mom and sister, because it hadn’t been too long since my father had died. So I did this to myself instead.”

Her face went pale. “Did they know what happened to you?”

“Yeah. It was kind of hard to miss.” I didn’t want to think about that day, so I clenched my fists and pushed it out of my brain as hard as I could. “My mom took me to doctors and therapists and stuff, but I still… I felt like I had to do this.” I touched my scars. “Like I deserved it and it let all the poison out. But the poison never totally goes away.”

“Does it get better?”

Her voice was so tiny and scared I almost cried. I pushed the tears away to hang out with the memories and answered fast. I had to give Alyssa some hope. And myself. “Yeah, it does. I didn’t used to be able to go to school. I spent a lot of time in the hospital during middle school. That’s why I’m a year behind now. They tried to hold me back two grades, but my mother talked them into letting me make up one online.”

“That’s good.” She tilted her head to one side and studied me. “You were in my class in sixth grade, weren’t you?”

“Probably.” I didn’t remember much of that year, and I wasn’t about to try. I’d started the year as Alexandra, and I’d forgotten most of her life.

She took the hint and changed the subject. “Thanks for telling me about that.”

“We have to stick together.” I touched the scars again so she’d know what I meant. Even though she hadn’t told me why her wrists were bandaged, I didn’t doubt my guess about it. “So yours?”

“I wanted to die.” The way she said it made me think she was using my words on purpose, which was fine. Sometimes using someone else’s words made talking easier.

Teaser Thursday- High Heels and Lipstick

HighHeelsandLipstick200

The cold air outside helped a lot. In Massachusetts, the temperature was rarely warm in the winter, but this year it had been even colder than usual. In spite of that, I only wore the thin pseudo-leather jacket I’d had all fall. I didn’t do winter jackets. They were bulky and wrecked my usual look.

Today I wore skinny jeans and a long-sleeved sheer green top over a matching cami. I looked hot, even with the damn fake-fur-lined low-heeled black boots Mom had insisted I wear for walking to school in slush and ice. A winter coat would have spoiled the whole outfit, even if I wouldn’t have been shivering during the entire walk.

People yelled at me out the windows of a couple of passing cars as I walked to the donut shop. It was a little too cold to drive with car windows open, but the idiots didn’t seem to care. They were too busy trying to make me feel like dirt. I didn’t really register what any of them said. I didn’t have to hear it clearly to guess the basic idea anyway.

Holly and Evan were the only ones at the donut shop when I got there. That made it easier for me to walk in and sit at their table. The only other person who wouldn’t have worried me was Guillermo. Anyone else might make a comment or something, though mostly they didn’t do it with my friends around. Holly had already gotten into a fight with one of her best friends over something the other girl said about me. Now they didn’t even speak.

I went to the counter and ordered an extra-large coffee with vanilla creamer and a ton of sweetener. I hated the taste of coffee, but lately the caffeine was one of the few things that helped me get through a day of school without falling asleep in class, and for some reason it helped my stomach. It was bad enough that my guidance counselor and the nurse dragged me down to their offices once or twice a week to “check in” with me. I didn’t want to have a reason to go there.

When I walked over to Holly and Evan’s booth, Holly moved over to make room for me beside her. I sat down and pasted a smile on my face. “Everyone ready for another fascinating day?”

“Second day back from vacation, and I’m already ready for vacation,” Evan said. He was wearing a neon pink blouse and matching nail polish. Over break, he’d dyed his hair royal blue. “But hey, at least people figured out that bullying’s not legal. Now they’re being more subtle about it. You should report what they’re saying to you, Chastaine.”

“No point,” I muttered. “I deserve what I get, remember? And most of it isn’t being said at school anyway. There’s some there, but the worst is online, and Lawrence and the rest of the staff can’t do anything about that. I don’t feel like wasting more time in the office.”

“It isn’t right.” Holly narrowed her eyes. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Neither did Maryellen. Nobody should be making you feel like crap for having a crime committed against you. Some people just shouldn’t exist.”

“It is what it is.” I’d heard Holly’s rant about fairness plenty of times, and I wasn’t up for another repetition. I agreed with her, but saying it over and over didn’t change the fact that when a girl was raped, a lot of people blamed her for letting it happen instead of blaming the guy for being a criminal.

“Yeah, and what it is, is complete crap.” Holly took a sip from her iced something-or-other.

“He said he’s guilty. They’re going to sentence him,” I said. “Maybe now people will find something else to be asses about and leave me and Maryellen alone.”

“In this school?” Evan raised his eyebrows. “Dream on, girl. Not to make you feel worse, but they still go off on me because of Jim getting arrested and those other guys getting kicked off the football team right before playoffs. And the football player thing didn’t even have anything to do with me directly. It was because of what they said to Moe.”

“Can we please change the subject?” My coffee was too hot to drink, but I drank some anyway. The pain in my tongue and the roof of my mouth yanked me out of the whine-spiral I was heading toward. “Homework. Who did it, and is there a chance in hell I can finish any of it before I have to hand it in?”

Teaser Thursday- Work Boots and Tees

Last week, I got a contract for Deep Secrets and Hope #5 from Harmony Ink Press! Tentative release November 2015. So I wanted to share an unedited excerpt.

About an hour after Delia and I got back from lunch, I was sitting in the back room finally checking into online GED classes like I’d been promising. Delia had done a lot for me. The least I could do was follow through when I made promises.

“Jim, Manny’s here,” Delia said from the other side of the curtain.

I looked up from the tablet but didn’t answer. After all the stuff that had come out while I was in the hospital, I was even more positive making friends with anyone wouldn’t be a good idea. Now that I’d opened my mouth about what he did to me, I was afraid if someone

“Jim? Did you hear me?” Delia’s voice cracked.

“Coming.” The last thing I wanted was for her to think I’d hurt myself with her right in the other room. The way she sounded, I was pretty sure that was on her mind.

I put the tablet on the desk and went through the curtain. Manny was standing at the counter with a big smile on his face. “Hey. Heard you were sick. Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah, mostly.” I walked over to the register so I could keep the counter between him and me. “Delia said you asked her where I was.”

He shrugged. “I’ve kind of gotten used to seeing you in here. Do you want to go for a walk or something? It’s pretty nice out, and Delia said you’ve been stuck out back all day.”

“We’re supposed to be getting a shipment.” I looked at Delia, who was fixing a display of paintbrushes. Or at least pretending to. She wasn’t actually moving anything, just touching the packages.

“Go ahead,” she said. “It’s your birthday. You can take some time to enjoy yourself.”

“Ohh. Happy birthday,” Manny said. “I should have made you a card or something.”

My face heated up. “You didn’t know,” I mumbled. “Yeah, let’s go for a walk, I guess. Let me grab my jacket.”

I went out back and picked up my coat from the chair. I had to be crazy. The only good thing that would happen from me hanging out with Manny would be a day or two of having someone my own age around before something bad happened.

Then again, I didn’t have to wait for anything to happen. I could tell Manny everything myself. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore, and if he told other people, I would deal with it. At least I wouldn’t have to keep wondering when it would all go wrong.