Welcome to our Grand Finale celebrations for the amazing
In our final post, we'll look at rock and nest. We also have our author interview, and there's one more chance to win!
First up, rock
When Cooper’s parents divorce, he finds himself landed in Week About—one week with his mum and one week with his dad.
Only, it’s not just his dad he has to live with. There’s Lila, too: The other woman, the one who stole the rock-solid foundation of his life. And then . . .
There’s Jace. Lila’s son. Lila’s smug, regurgitated-fish-scale-blue eyed son.
All Cooper wants is to have his family back the way it once was, but there’s something about this boy that promises things will never be the same again.
Resisting the realities of his new life, Cooper and Jace get off to a rocky start. But rocky start or not, after hundreds of shared memories together, they forge something new. A close . . . friendship.
Because friendship is all they can have. Although it’s not like they are real brothers. Technically, they’re not even stepbrothers . . .
But how does that friendship evolve under the pressures of life? Under pressures of the heart?
Later comes sooner than I predicted. That night, Jace charges into my room and drags me out of bed. “Shhh,” he says, jamming a finger to his lips. When I ask what the heck is going on, he presses his warm finger to my mouth. “Just be quiet, would you? Put your shoes on.”
The light of the full moon slithers into my room through a gap in the curtains. Jace is dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt that’s inside out.
I pull on a pair of pants over my boxers, shove my bare feet into my Puma shoes, and shrug on a light jacket. I’m too curious to put up a fight or demand to know details. I follow him downstairs and out the back door. He closes it quietly. Usually a sensor light comes on but apparently Jace has disengaged it.
When we head into the thick of trees, my pace begins to lag. Pines loom above me, basking in a silver glow as they stretch toward the sky. “Jace, where are we going?” And why are we out here together?
Twigs snap and leaves crunch as he continues walking. “It’s been bugging me,” he says.
A breeze on the cusp of summer blows his words back to me. I quicken my step until I’m next to him. “What has?”
His lips part but he closes them and shrugs. I hate his shrug. I want to know what he’s hiding.
“Come on.” I shake my head. “You can’t expect me to follow you out into the bush in the middle of the night!”
He smirks. “And yet here you are.”
“Wipe the grin off your face.” But I’m feeling one twitch at my lips too.
We walk around a bend of a hill where water from a creek tinkles nearby. At the bottom of a steep bank covered in tree roots, Jace stops. “I want to make up for shutting you in the closet.”
I frown. Dragging me into the woods with a sinister smile is the way to do it?
He chuckles nervously and holds out his hand, which strikes me as strange. “Do you trust me?”
I shake my head. “Not really.” But I grab his hand, which is rougher and warmer than mine. He leads me to a parting in the bank. “A cave?”
He squeezes my hand. “I discovered it last year. It’s small, a bit bigger than the two of us, but it’s cool. Keep to whispers inside, okay?”
He ducks into the cave and pulls me in with him. He’s standing incredibly close so I can’t see much else. For a second, I fluster, panic rising like it did in the broom closet. Why did he take me here! Why? Why? Why?
Jace whispers, “Wait. No. Turn around. Look outside. You’re not trapped.”
I gradually relax as I take in the vines and the curve of the stream.
Jace releases my hand. “Since you want to be a geologist, I thought you’d get a dig out of this.” He smirks and steps back, opening up the view.
Hundreds of green lights speckle in bunches over the entire cave. “Glowworms!”
“Sorry,” I whisper. My stomach spins as though I’m standing on a cliff with my toes dangling in thin air. A wonderfully daunting rush.
“It makes me think I’m looking at the stars,” Jace says, standing close enough that our sleeves are touching.
I try counting the beads but I give up after fifty-seven. I’d rather watch Jace. “Have you ever counted them all?”
“No. Think it might be impossible.”
“Like Stonehenge. No one knows exactly how many stones there are.”
“One guy tallied them once. He recounted to make sure and he came up with a new number. Every time he counted, he came up with a different number.”
The coolness of the stagnant air sends creeps over me. I rub my hands together and peer at Jace over my fingertips.
Jace beckons me outside. “You know a lot about rocks and stones, don’t you?”
“As much as you know about music.”
He slows his steps, staring toward the creek. “What is the difference between a rock and a stone, anyway?”
I move to the creek and stand on a large flat boulder. “They have different feelings.” Jace joins me, his weight shifting the rock underneath us like a seesaw. We move instinctively to balance. “To me, a rock is massive—something that portrays strength. Rocks are complicated clusters of minerals that have baked for a long time.”
I jump off the boulder to the stones edging the creek. Jace gracefully leaps off too. I pick up a small white stone that shines in the moonlight. “A stone is a fragment of a rock. Like a snapshot of a bigger picture.”
“Is that why you collect them? A stone for every memory?”
I hand him the stone, forcing myself to ignore the heat that rises in me when my sensitive fingertips brush over his soft palm. “If you collect enough stones and minerals and heap them together, does it become a rock?”
Jace rolls the stone and lifts it in midair. “I don’t know. Is this a moonstone?
“No. River stone.”
“You sound disappointed.”
He shrugs. “Nah. Moonstones are pretty cool, don’t you think?”
“They’ve been revered for thousands of years,” I say as we re-enter the path. “Hindus believe that moonbeams form stones that can reveal your future if you hold it in your mouth on a full moon.”
Other than a shared smile, we’re quiet until we approach the trees that fringe Jace’s backyard.
“I don’t know if that would be a blessing or a curse. Knowing your future, I mean.”
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Book 2 in today's line-up, nest
It just happened. I wasn't ready, but it didn't matter.
You smiled, and it knocked me from my nest, took my breath away, and left me falling,falling,falling.
Julian: Enemy. Cousin. Best Friend. Something else?
Lenny: Confused. Fascinated. Frustrated. Broken.
Together, Julian and Lenny are the boy who smiles and the boy who falls.
Please Note: This is a second edition of the novel "Lenny For Your Thoughts". This version of the story has been restructured into a chronological progression and some scenes have had heavy rewrites. At it's heart, though, it is the same story of love and romance between Lenny and Julian.
“Ah-ha!” came Julian’s voice from around the twisting trunk of a Birch tree in the far back of our yard.
I dropped the giant wax mushroom I’d just pried off its metal stake. It rolled over tree roots and onto its red and white head in the grass.
“Find a Lenny,” he said into my ear.
My skin started to prickle, but I was left no time to bathe in it. His arms came around my waist in a hug that whipped the air from my lungs.
Next thing I knew I was staring at Julian’s shorts as his shoulder dug into my stomach. I was so close. I could poke out my tongue and touch the smooth skin that peeked out from under his T-shirt.
“Pick him up…” he continued, but the wind must have picked up his words and carried them off for how far away they sounded.
“Put me down!” I tried to sound mad, but it lost its impact when I laughed. It caught me by surprise—I couldn’t help it. “I really mean it, Julian.”
“Sure you do,” he said. Then he moved toward the back gate.
Only once we were through did he let me down. “You’ve been working all week,” he said. “Consider this an intervention.”
When I protested, he shook his head. “Just a couple of hours off, okay?”
And I was too afraid to say no. Not afraid of him or what he might do—I was afraid of missing out. What was a couple of hours, if it cracked more of the ice between us?
I followed him to a quiet spot by the river and we lay back in the welcoming shade of a large chestnut. The smell of freshly cut grass surrounded us, and I breathed it in. Nice. A much welcome intervention. Julian linked his fingers and rested them under his head, and I wondered if it was the intense heat that made it so comfortable between us, or if we’d finally latched onto the thread of friendship.
Since the moment in the shed, Julian had come around every day. At first it was only for an hour, then two, and then it was half a day. Yesterday, we’d spent all the daylight hours together, doing chores for the move. It was somewhat forced at first, but in the end it was like riding a bike. We might have been rusty after years of not doing it, but a few rounds in, and it was coming back to us.
It helped that we followed two unspoken rules:
1. We never talked about the past.
2. We never talked about the future.
Julian gave a cat-like stretch, his corded muscles stretching.
And then he broke both the rules at once.
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What inspires you? What gets you writing?
Writing needs inspiration, of course, but persistence and perseverance are where it’s really at. I have way too many ideas in my head. A couple in the café? A random ad on YouTube between episodes of Stephen Colbert? My husband’s weird fixation with another parent he doesn’t know but still calls his “nemesis”? (SOL5, you’ll see)
But then it comes down to sitting down and doing the work. And that’s what I try to do: sit down every day, write at least a thousand words, repeat.
What's your writing process? Seat of your pants, lots of sticky notes, complex spreadsheets?
I’m a bit of a mix between plotter and pantser. I like to outline the macro structure of a novel: order of scenes, main character arcs, and so on. At that point, I also bring out the big cork board to stick up all those notes, and connect them like someone trying to solve a crime ;)
But then I like to let myself really float through the individual scenes and see where the story takes me.
I will say this, though. I have to set the walls right first. I can have the pretty décor, but if the house structure isn’t solid, it crumbles. Most of my energy goes into figuring out which scenes are needed and in what order.
To be honest, 50% of writing is me staring into space, trying to figure it out.
Which character from your books is your favorite, and why?
This is an impossible question – like choosing your favorite child! A character that has really stuck with me, and whom I think about a lot, is Jamie from “Leo Loves Aries”. He is solid and dependable and so grounded. He has quick wit and a big heart, and he’s not afraid of working hard. I love how much he supports (and makes fun of) Theo. The guy is so good. Reminds me a lot of my darling hubby.
Which character is your least favorite, and why?
There are a few antagonists in my books, but often they redeem themselves throughout the course of a story. One guy that does not get this redemption is Jack from “Liam Davis and The Raven”. Starting out as a bully at the student paper where Liam Davis writes, he becomes more and more of a threat as the story goes on… but I won’t give away more not to spoil the mystery!
If you could go back into one of your books and change one thing, what would that be? And why?
I actually did that already… my coming-of-age romance “nest” was originally called “Lenny for your thoughts”, and the chapters jumped back and forth through time. I realized that it didn’t really work and confused many readers, so I rewrote a part and ordered them chronologically. I’m so much happier with it now! But, yeah, honestly this happens more often than I’d like. LOL. Sometimes I write stories in a particular mood and later decide they weren’t reflective of my best work. But writing is a journey, every story offers lessons where to improve. And, wow, there is so much to learn!
What's next for you? What amazing book are you working on?
There too many ideas, as always, but right now I’m putting the finishing touches on book 3 in the “Love and Family” series. It picks up right after “Made For You” and will follow Mort and Felix whom we both met briefly in book 2. It’s called “Happy For You”, and I hope I do their story justice!
Anything else you'd like to share with your readers?
I was reflecting with my husband recently about how much labor of love there is from readers/reviewers/bloggers/fans in the MM romance genre. What a wonderful community we have that care about LGBT stories with happy endings. I want to thank My Fiction Nook for all the support for writers over the years, the lovely reviews, and for featuring me this July! You guys really rock!
Awww, thank you!!
More about Anyta Sunday:
I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Thai.
Thank you for celebrating this fabulous author with us all month long. We hope you had a blast, learned some neat things about Anyta and found a few more books for your TBR.
Until next time, happy reading!