Thursday, October 1, 2015

Author Of The Month - TJ Klune - Week One

Welcome to our month-long celebrations for the super-talented 

We're kicking off with Bear, Otter and The Kid, better known as BOATK in M/M romance circles, with super-long excerpts, plus a list of Tj's favorite things. And way, way down at the bottom is a chance to win one of his books!

The first book in this series, Bear, Otter and The Kid:


Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world... something or someone.


I REACH back and shake the Kid a little bit, trying to wake him. He doesn’t like to wake up in strange places, so this is gentle work. Eventually he opens his eyes and hunts around until he finds me and visibly relaxes.
“What’s going on, Bear?” he asks, yawning.
“We’re at Creed’s house. Remember how I said we were going to hang out here tonight? Is that still okay? If we stay here for a while?” I had actually planned on crashing here tonight, but now that Otter’s here I don’t want to. Long story.
The Kid stretches in the seat and nods. “Do you think Creed still has the History Channel on his TV?”
I try to hide my smile but don’t do very well. “I’m sure he does. Don’t you want to watch cartoons or something, though?” He looks at me like I’m crazy. I sigh and remind myself once again how normal he isn’t and how okay that is. I hesitate with my next words, but only for a moment. “Guess what else, Kid? Otter’s here too.”
The Kid pauses for a moment, thinking. “It’s been a while,” he finally says succinctly. He quickly unbuckles his seat belt and steps out into the rain. I zip up his coat, noticing how small it is on him now, wondering if I need to go get him a new one. I try and think if he has any other coat in the closet at home, but I can’t remember. But that’s all right. For now. For now, he seems to be okay.
“Bear, you coming inside or what?” Creed asks from the doorway. I startle, realizing that Ty has already run inside, and I’m standing in the driveway getting soaked. I grin sheepishly and rub my hands through my hair.
As I enter the house, I hear Ty yelling for Otter as he runs up the stairs. Creed rolls his eyes at me. “I guess I’ve been replaced already.”
“Don’t feel too bad,” I say. “The Kid thinks you’re cool, but ‘Otter rocks!’” My voice rises to the octave of the Kid.
“Story of my life,” he mutters.
“So, why is he here?” I ask, trying to sound casual, but Creed doesn’t hear me.
I follow him into the kitchen, where I hear Otter thumping back down the stairs and Ty already babbling away at him. I see them pass by the aquarium near the bottom of the stairs, and I notice Ty already resting on Otter’s back, his arms thrown companionably around his neck as he giggles into his ear. Otter has the same lopsided grin on his face that he always has. I remember when he used to be able to carry me like that. He’s a bit shorter than Creed but more muscular than he is. Everything else, from the closely cropped blond hair to the green eyes is the same. Of course he’s older than Creed and I, twenty-nine years old to our just-turned twenty-one. He hasn’t really changed much over the years. I find myself uncharacteristically fascinated by the veins that bulge out on his massive arms, the way his back looks like it goes on for miles under the shirt he wears. His gigantic hands, the crinkles around his eyes that form when he smiles. There’s something there, in the back of my mind, but I can’t look at it now and berate myself quietly for noticing these things about him. About myself. What the hell do I care?
Otter sets down the Kid on the countertop in the kitchen, still giving Ty his full attention. Ty’s telling him some story involving the evils of ham production and looks down for a moment. That’s when Otter glances up over Ty’s head just for an instant and searches for me. His eyes find mine, and Otter grins the Otter grin before quickly diverting his attention back to the Kid. He knows as well as anybody that when Ty is talking to you about something as important as ham processing, you pay attention like it’s the last thing you’ll ever hear. I try not to notice how my step stutters when he looks away.
I walk into the kitchen. Creed grabs beer out of the fridge and offers one to me, which I take. He throws one to Otter who catches it deftly with one hand while never tearing his eyes away from Ty. Ty pauses in a sentence, and then Creed interjects, “Kid, you want a beer?”
Ty’s eyes widen and then narrow suspiciously. “What if I say yes?”
Creed shrugs. “Then I’d tell you you’d have to ask Papa Bear.”
The Kid glances sideways at me then goes back to Creed. “Bear and I already talked about it, and he thinks I’m old enough.”
I snort. “Like hell we did! You little liar.”
The Kid looks back at Otter, who is struggling to keep a straight face. “You believe me, right, Otter?” he asks, making his voice sound as if he were some poor orphan boy asking for a meal. Otter can’t contain it and bursts out laughing, a loud bellowing sound that echoes throughout the tiled kitchen. Ty crosses his arms and scowls.
Otter sobers up for a moment, looking down at the little boy in front of him. “How about this,” he says. Ty instantly perks to attention. “How about I give you a sip of my beer and just a sip, and then I go get you some soy ice cream?”
Soy ice cream? I should have thought of that.
Ty looks at Otter for a moment to make sure he’s not joking and then looks at me, eyes pleading. I pretend to mull it over for a moment while Otter, Creed, and the Kid begin making pitiful noises, begging, just begging. I throw my hands up in the air, and Ty knows he’s got me beat.
Otter picks up his beer bottle and hands it over to Ty, saying, “You can sip until I count to three, and then you’re done, okay?” Ty nods and lifts the bottle to his lips. “One… two… three, and you’re done.” He takes the bottle away from Ty, who sits there a moment before letting out a great burp. We all laugh, and Otter gives a high-five to the Kid, who is grinning, knowing he’s one of the boys.
Otter picks Ty easily off the counter and sets him on the ground, asking him first in his gruffest voice if he is too drunk to walk and did he know that was against the law? Ty says he knows it was against the law, but he was peer-pressured into it, just like Creed pressured me to drink the first time.
Creed rolls his eyes and leans over and whispers to me, “So, that’s what you told him? Damn liar.”
“What can I say?” I whisper back. “I was young and impressionable, and you coerced me.” Creed snorts on his beer, spilling it onto the ground. He searches around for a towel while cursing my name. While smirking at Creed, I feel a strong arm drop onto my shoulder. I look over and see Otter standing next to me, crooked grin and all. His teeth are big and white.
“Hi, Bear,” Otter says. There’s determination in his eyes.
“Hi, Otter,” I say, looking back at him, fighting against the urge to throw his arm off of me.
For a moment he looks like he’s about to speak but something must cross his mind, changing it, and he takes it back. He gives me a one-armed hug and then steps back to stand in front of me, looking down at the beer in his hand. I wonder what just happened and what he was going to say. I wonder a lot of things, but it’s all batted down by the sound of rain on the roof. I look down at Creed, but his attention is still focused on the spilled beer, so he didn’t see anything. Not that there would have been anything to see. I look back up to Otter and am trying to make out the mess that is my mind when he says, “So, what’s the word, Papa Bear?”
I shrug. “Same, I guess. What’s new with you? I haven’t seen you since what, the Christmas before last?” I say this last bit coldly, as we both know damn well when the last time I saw him was.

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Secondly, there is Who We Are:


Bear, Otter, and the Kid survived last summer with their hearts and souls intact. They’ve moved into the Green Monstrosity, and Bear is finally able to admit his love for the man who saved him from himself.

But that's not the end of their story. How could it be?

The boys find that life doesn’t stop just because they got their happily ever after. There’s still the custody battle for the Kid. The return of Otter’s parents. A first trip to a gay bar. The Kid goes to therapy, and Mrs. Paquinn decides that Bigfoot is real. Anna and Creed do… well, whatever it is Anna and Creed do. There are newfound jealousies, the return of old enemies, bad poetry, and misanthropic seagulls. And through it all, Bear struggles to understand his mother’s abandonment of him and his brother, only to delve deeper into their shared past. What he finds there will alter their lives forever and help him realize what it'll take to become who they're supposed to be.

Family is not always defined by blood. It’s defined by those who make us whole—those who make us who we are.


We were at war, he and I.
I’d inadvertently fired the opening salvo on the day forever known as the Big Move (It’s About Time). It was not intentional, but I’ve learned that maybe the first shots never really are. Of course it wasn’t intentional; who in their right mind would want to face the wrath of the smartest nine-year-old vegetarian ecoterrorist-in-training on the planet?
Not I. Much greater men than I have fallen to him.
It was one of the last boxes in the apartment, and there were only a few things left to pack. I’d gone into the bedroom to make sure we’d gotten everything, that nothing was left behind. It’d startled me, if only for a moment, to see how empty the room was: divots on the floors showing where bedposts had rested for years. Faint outlines of posters on the walls. A stain in the corner that I just knew wasn’t going to allow me to get the damn deposit back (and I really didn’t want to know what it was; it was a greenish-bluish thing that screamed “bad tenants.” I thought maybe I should at least try to clean it, but it looked too gross, so I just left it alone). I was struck, oddly, by a sense of sadness at the empty space before me. I don’t adapt to change very well, even if it’s a good thing. So much had happened here, so much that had changed everything about our lives, that it seemed important that I stop and at least send up a grateful thank-you to who’d ever take it.
So I was distracted, okay? It wasn’t intentional. I swear.
I noticed something light blue near the closet. A shirt that somehow had gotten missed. I picked it up, rolling my eyes at the MEAT ISN’T NEAT slogan across the front. I don’t know how the hell he’d missed this; it was literally the most favorite thing he owned. Well, that and the random collection of other shirts he started ordering online with my credit card (once he’d learned that all it took was punching in the numbers into the website and he could order whatever he wanted—you’d have thought that Jesus had come back and told him that vegetarians are the next step in human evolution; he’d been that excited.) Every few days a new box would show up at our door, containing shirts with such winners as GIVE ME TOFU OR GIVE ME DEATH or one with Gandhi’s face and his quote underneath: “You can judge a society by the way it treats its animals.” That one had made me feel a little guilty. And way creeped out, because Gandhi’s eyes seemed to follow me everywhere, like he knew, just knew I was thinking about pulled pork.
But it was when that last one had come that I had to draw the line. Imagine, if you will, sitting down for breakfast one randomly bright and sunny morning, and your little brother walks into a room wearing a shirt that says WANT LONGER LASTING SEX? BECOME A VEGETARIAN! Seriously? Come on. Seriously!
I was in the middle of saying something to Otter when the little shit walked into the kitchen, pretending not to notice me noticing him. My spoon had dropped from my hand and clattered onto the table, and Otter had followed my line of sight as the blood drained from my face and my jaw dropped open. And did that big bastard help me? You bet your ass he didn’t. Otter started bellowing great gales of laughter and pounding the table with his gigantic paws, causing it to rattle and shake. I glared at him for a moment and then looked back and waited for He Who Was About To Have His Internet Privileges Seriously Revoked Forever to turn around.
You would have thought the Kid was the greatest method actor in the history of the craft. He calmly took a packet of oatmeal from the cabinet and laid it on the counter. He took a bowl from the dishwasher and placed it next to the oatmeal. He walked to the fridge and took out his filtered water and walked back to the counter. He tore open the packet and dumped the oatmeal into the bowl. He threw the packet into the garbage. He unscrewed the cap on his water and poured a bit into the bowl. He screwed back on the cap and walked back to the fridge and put the bottle inside and closed the door. He walked back to his bowl and walked over to the microwave and clicked the button and set his breakfast inside. He closed the microwave and set the timer for three minutes. While it counted down, he watched it with disinterest, glancing down at his fingernails, picking at something on his arm. He fixed his hair in the reflection off the microwave and got a spoon from the drawer. The timer finally dinged, and he took out his oatmeal and blew on it, grimacing slightly as if the bowl was hot. He grabbed the spoon and walked toward the table. He pulled the chair out and sat down, spreading a napkin in his lap. He politely asked Otter if he was done with the first pages of the newspaper. Otter—who by this time was gasping for air with tears streaming down his face—waved his hand in the Kid’s direction. The Kid picked up the newspaper and muttered to himself about this and that (depending on what day it was, it could be anything from the economy to gay marriage laws—that last he’d really taken an interest in, much to my horror) and opened the newspaper. He picked up the spoon and stirred his oatmeal for a bit, blowing on it to cool it further.
And while this whole thing was happening, while my little Marlon Brando was giving the performance of his career, that vein in my forehead grew bigger and bigger, and my jaw began to ache as I ground my teeth. My eyes had never left him, not once since he’d entered the room. I knew he’d felt them on him the moment he’d walked in. I knew he’d heard Otter doing his best impersonation of what it must sound like to be murdered by laughter. And through it all, Tyson McKenna’s face remained bland and passive, as if he were unaware of his surroundings.
I cleared my throat.
He flipped a page in the newspaper.
I cleared my throat again, louder this time, and it came out like a growl.
He took a bite of oatmeal, hissing a little bit as if it was still too hot.
I cleared my throat yet again, not so much a growl as me sounding like I was trying to start a lawn mower unsuccessfully.
He went back to the newspaper and said, “Gee, Papa Bear, I sure hope you’re not coming down with something. Especially since it’s so close to the Big Move (It’s About Time).”
“Kid,” I said through gritted teeth.
Otter looked back and forth between us, that crooked grin on full display, the gold and green in his eyes shining brightly. I made a mental note to kill him later.
“Oh, look,” Ty said, “Newt Gingrich made himself appear crazy again. Bless his heart. You’d think he’d know by now that he’s better seen and not heard.” He paused. “Well, maybe not even seen.”
“Kid,” I said louder, sharper.
“And the weather! Well, I never! The extended seven-day forecast says there’s a 40 percent chance of rain every day? I shall have to remember to take an umbrella when I have my engagements.”
“Tyson James McKenna!” I shouted.
He calmly folded the newspaper and laid it down on the table before folding his hands in front of him and finally looking at me. “I’ve noticed,” he said seriously, “that when people don’t have anything meaningful to add to a conversation, they usually just raise their volume.”
I didn’t get it, so I dismissed it. I figured he was insulting me somehow. “What… in all that’s holy… are you wearing?” I ground out. Quite loudly.
His eyes widened in surprise as he looked down then back up at me. He glanced at Otter as well, a look of gentle confusion on his face. I could hear Otter starting to lose it again, and I knew I needed to end this now.
“What are you talking about, Bear?” the Kid asked me. “I’m wearing clothes. It’s a thing people do. It’s kind of a societal norm.” He paused for a moment, his face scrunching up. “Well, except for nudists. Did you know that they have resorts where people can go and just walk around naked? CNN did this in-depth investigative report on one, something about how the main nudist dude was embezzling from other nudists or whatever, and for the life of me, I just can’t see the appeal in that, because it seems like it’d be kind of gross to have to stare at people’s dangly parts all day while you’re playing shuffleboard and sipping mimosas. I mean, what if you wanted to eat a veggie corn dog? The visual alone must be enough to make you ill. And don’t get me started on other phallic foods. You’d think Mother Nature was a nympho with how many foods are shaped like penises.”
“Tyson—” I said again, starting to stand, knowing if I didn’t end this now, he’d likely go on all day.
“What are swingers?” he asked, cutting me off.
Otter broke and started hyperventilating. Big help, that one.
“Are you out of your mind?” I shouted at the Kid.
“It’s true!” he shouted back. “There are so many foods that look like dongs!”
“That’s not what I’m talking about!”
“Then spit it out! I’m not psychic, Bear!”
“You can’t wear that shirt!”
He glanced down at it, then back up at me, a slow smile spreading across his face. “Why?” he asked. “Worried the soul of that cow you consumed last night won’t allow you to reach your full potential?” He looked over at Otter and reached out to pat his hands. “I’m so sorry,” he said quietly. “You must be so bored by now. You know. In the bedroom.” This last part came out as a whisper.
“Hey! He eats meat too,” I reminded the both of them angrily, as Otter looked like he had just been given the Nobel Prize for Awesomeness.
“He does,” the Kid agreed. “But he at least has the common sense to feel guilty about it afterwards.”
“I do,” Otter whispered. “Sometimes, it’s hard for me to get to sleep at night, knowing the next morning I’ll be eating a big pile of bacon while I cry.”
“Oh, Otter,” the Kid sighed greatly, the weight of the world on his shoulders. “If only there was a vegetarian church where you could go confess and be absolved of your meat sins.”
“Like the Church of Edamame?”
“Church of Tofu?”
“Church of—”
“So help me God, I will punish the both of you,” I growled, ignoring the smirk in the Kid’s eyes and the flare of lust in Otter’s.
“What is your major malfunction?” the Kid asked. He and Otter had recently watched Full Metal Jacket, and Tyson had thought Gunnery Sergeant Hartman was God. He asked me that question at least six times a day now. I told Otter he was never allowed to pick out movies ever again. Otter had just grinned and told me to shut up.
“You can’t wear a shirt that talks about sex!”
“Who says?”
“I do! You’re nine years old!”
“Oh, please. I’m not wearing it because I have sex. I’m wearing it because it’s a proven fact. And I’m nine and one-quarter. That’s practically ten. Double digits, Papa Bear.”
“Proven by who?” I asked suspiciously.
He looked at me as if I was stupid. “PETA.”
I was incredulous. “PETA said that? PETA? Tyson, that’s like the NRA saying guns don’t kill people, that people kill people. Of course they say that!”
“I think both guns and people kill people,” Otter said, obviously contributing to the conversation.
The Kid looked at me with some newfound respect. “That was a highly intelligent observation, Bear,” he told me. “Color me surprised.”
“Yeah, well,” I said, blushing.
“No, seriously. It sounds like you may have actually read something.”
“Well, there was this thing online. You know. It just kind of caught my eye.”
“Good for you. It’s awesome to see you are broadening your horizons.”
“Yeah. And there was this other thing? On, like, how there’s all these uprisings? You know, in like Egypt and Syria and stuff like that? That looked… bad… for all those people.”
He nodded gravely. “A lot of suffering going on across the pond. I hope one day they can find peace and all the citizens can be free.”
I felt relieved. “Me too.”
He clapped his hands together. “Well,” he said. “This has been a most interesting breakfast. I really feel that we all learned something today. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some… things… I need to do online.”
“Okay,” I said, smiling at him. “Just remember, you need to start packing up your books this morning too.”
He grinned at me and it was dazzling. “I know, Papa Bear. I can’t wait for the Big Move (It’s About Time).”
My smile widened. “Me either.”
He cleaned his bowl in the sink and whistled as he walked out of the room.

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And third in this fabulous series, The Art Of Breathing:


Tyson Thompson graduated high school at sixteen and left the town of Seafare, Oregon, bound for what he assumed would be bigger and better things. He soon found out the real world has teeth, and he returns to the coast with four years of failure, addiction, and a diagnosis of panic disorder trailing behind him. His brother, Bear, and his brother's husband, Otter, believe coming home is exactly what Tyson needs to find himself again. Surrounded by family in the Green Monstrosity, Tyson attempts to put the pieces of his broken life back together.

But shortly after he arrives home, Tyson comes face to face with inevitability in the form of his childhood friend and first love, Dominic Miller, who he hasn't seen since the day he left Seafare. As their paths cross, old wounds reopen, new secrets are revealed, and Tyson discovers there is more to his own story than he was told all those years ago.

In a sea of familiar faces, new friends, and the memories of a mother's devastating choice, Tyson will learn that in order to have any hope for a future, he must fight the ghosts of his past.


  “My God,” Corey breathes as we pull up to the Green Monstrosity. “Photos do not do this house justice. This… this is beyond epic.”
It is. It always has been. The Green Monstrosity is way past epic. A two-story piece of offensive architecture that rises out of the suburbs like a big fuck you to the rest of the neighborhood. It’s weird, really, the feeling that hits me when I see it again for the first time in close to four years It is epic yes, the green so grotesque it should be illegal, but it’s still just a house like any other. It has walls and a roof and a yard.
So why then, when we pull up next to it, the driveway already packed full of cars I don’t recognize, does a lump form in my throat? Why is it that I can feel heat prick my eyes? It’s just a house. That’s all it is.
But that’s a lie. It’s more than that. The Green Monstrosity was the first time since I could remember that I knew that maybe, just maybe, things would be okay for Bear and me. We said good-bye to the hole-in-wall apartments with the gross carpet and the peeling walls. We said good-bye to a life where we existed merely by floating along. We said good-bye to the life where I wasn’t sure we’d make it, though I tried to put on a brave face, at least as much as an nine-year-old ecoterrorist in training could do. I was just a little guy, but I would have torn the world apart with my bare hands for my brother if called upon to do it.
It’s just a house, yes, but it’s also more than that. It’s a sign that things could get better.
“Please tell me you’re never going to paint over that,” Corey says. “Seriously. It’s like the Jolly Green Giant masturbated all over your house.”
“And there’s an image that will never leave my head,” Bear says.
“Would his semen be green?” Otter wonders out loud. “That seems like it could be true. And very gross.”
“It’d probably taste like peas and carrots too,” Corey says.
“At least it’d be good for you,” I say. “Maybe that’s what the mashed peas baby food is.”
“That is foul and offensive,” Corey says. “Most likely correct as well.”
“Thank God this is already starting,” Bear says. “We’ve been home for a minute and we’re already discussing the Jolly Green Giant jacking off for baby food. For once in our lives, could we please have a normal conversation before we enter a social gathering?”
“Bear’s just upset because now that’s all he’s going to think about,” Otter explains to Corey. “It’ll probably make him feel a little hot under the collar.”
“Gross!” I groan. “I do not want to think about Bear getting turned on because of the Jolly Green Giant. Or for anything. You guys keep your weird role playing to yourselves.”
“We don’t role-play Jolly Green Giant!” Bear says, sounding insulted. “Canned-food mascot sex is not one of my kinks.”
“You have kinks?” Corey asked, ears perking up. “Dish. Now.”
“Never in your dreams,” Bear assures him.
“You can tell me,” Corey says. “I’d listen.”
“That’s my brother,” I say as I smack him. “And my Otter, who is my sort of dad-brother. That is not okay.”
“We could get, like, a green body suit,” Otter tells Bear. “And tape green leaves and asparagus to you or something. That’d be kinda hot.”
“This is why I have to go to therapy,” I say to Corey. “Because of stuff like this. It happens all the time.”
“You want to tape asparagus to me?” Bear asks. “I could probably get into that.”
“It’s good to know that even old people can get funky,” Corey tells me. “Gives me hope when I’m their age in like forty years.”
“That was probably not the best thing you could have said,” I say as Bear starts to sputter indignantly.
Old? I will punch your kidney right out of your body, you little—”
“He won’t really,” I say. “He just likes to sound tough. He couldn’t hurt a fly.”
“Isn’t it normally wouldn’t hurt a fly?”
“Normally. But this is Bear. He couldn’t even do that.”
“Once again,” Otter says, “I don’t quite know how we got to this point.”
“That seems to be a common occurrence with you guys,” Corey says. “I can’t wait until we go to dinner. I’ve heard Bear gets loaded on wine and cries, and then the whole thing dissolves into a big case of what-the-fuckery here everyone talks at once, and it usually ends in overshared feelings and hugging.”
“That was one time!”
“What about the Kid’s high school graduation dinner?” Otter asks.
“And when you got that teaching contract?” I ask.
“And when the New Yorker bought that photo of that homeless encampment I took?” Otter says.
“And when I made the dean’s list my first year?” I say. My first and only time.
“I might have a drinking problem,” Bear mutters.
“And an emotional-style vomiting problem,” Otter says.
“And a verbal diarrhea problem,” I say.
“It was the Green Monstrosity,” Corey says, trying to reign us all in. “That’s how we got here.”
Bear shrugs. “We talked about repainting it, especially when the paint started to peel on the siding. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. Didn’t feel right.”
“It took the Home Depo paint guy at least three weeks to match it,” Otter says. “I’m pretty sure he had to go through the Russian black market to find the components to get the color right.”
Bear rolls his eyes. “It wasn’t that hard. He just wanted you to keep coming in so he could flirt with you.”
“You were just projecting your insecurities on him, dear. He wasn’t flirting with me.”
“Oh really? Was I? So I suppose it totally matters to paint color when he asked you how much you worked out and that he thought you were just so vascular. He laughed like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman at every single thing you said!”
“I’m funny,” Otter says. “And vascular.”
“You’re not that funny. And when your veins stick out, it’s gross.”
“That’s not what you said last night.”
Bear grins and rolls his eyes.
“Last night?” I say in horror. “In the hotel? We were sharing the same room!”
Bear shrugs. “That’s why the bathrooms have locks.”
“Home Depot guy definitely wanted your penis,” Corey says.
“Here we are,” I mutter. “Back to the penises. I’m never going to get out of therapy. I’ll be in my nineties and still haunted by the memories of Bear and Otter as sexual beings.”
“Way sexual,” Bear says.
“Super sexual,” Otter agrees. “Asparagus and all.”
“I hate you all.”
“Teenage angst is hysterical,” Bear says.
“Such a little drama queen,” Otter says.
“They’re funny,” Corey tells me. “You’re very lucky.”
“Go fuck yourself, sunshine,” I reply.
“Hey!” a voice shouts from outside the car.
We all look.
Creed Thompson stands at the door. What can only be described as a miniature version of him stands next to him, imitating the crossed-arm pose of his father. One looks intimidating as all hell. The other is Creed.
“You guys just going to sit there all day?” he yells at us.
“Yeah, all day, you guys?” JJ shouts in echo.
Others begin to pile up behind them: Anna. Stephanie and Ian Grant, her mom and dad. Alice and Jerry Thompson, Otter and Creed’s parents.
I begin to wonder why it took me so long to come back.
The rain stops as I open the car door.
I am home at last.

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Tj Klune’s List of Stuff and Things: Favorites Edition

Here are a few of my favorite things (and don’t tell me you didn’t sing the song in your head when you read that):

  • Real Mexican food
  • Trees in Fall
  • Christmas
  • Star Wars (I would sell my left nut to see the new movie now, not even kidding)
  • When it rains on Saturdays
  • Stephen King
  • Calvin and Hobbes
  • Florence + The Machine
  • Fallout 3
  • Heavy pens
  • Sarcastic people
  • Sex puns
  • Old Black and white horror movies

More about TJ:

When TJ Klune was eight, he picked up a pen and paper and began to write his first story (which turned out to be his own sweeping epic version of the video game Super Metroid—he didn't think the game ended very well and wanted to offer his own take on it. He never heard back from the video game company, much to his chagrin). Now, two decades later, the cast of characters in his head have only gotten louder, wondering why he has to go to work as a claims examiner for an insurance company during the day when he could just stay home and write.

He dreams about one day standing at Stonehenge, just so he can say he did.



Thanks for joining us today. Come back next week for more about TJ's books and another fun list.

Until then, happy reading!


  1. I am not entering the contest because I have read all of TJ Klune's published works. Just wanted to say how much I love the BOATK series and all of his books.

  2. This is one of my favorite series ever :)

  3. I still have to read The Art of Breathing (the blurb scared me), but I recently read a review that said the Tell Me It's Real characters are in it, and now I MUST read it. TMIR is pretty much my favorite book ever. I loved the list of favorite things (and yes, I hummed the song as I was reading through the list).

  4. I've had this author on my to-read list for a while now and it would be awesome to finally get to read something!

  5. I have had a number of TJ's books on my wishlist for a while. Thanks for the favorite things and a look at the series that I hear so much about.

  6. I am still trying to decide which of this series I like best. I love The Kid in all of them though, he's a great character.

  7. I love this series, although the Art of Breathing is on my wish list :) Interesting list of favourite things and ouch with regards Star Wars, so I hope the film meets up to all our expectations :)

  8. I love everything TJ has ever written!

  9. Everything this man has written is genius.. even the ones that cause wookie cry face. Tell Me It's Real is my favorite though.. and the audio book was fantastic

  10. I am in awe of TJ's talent and ability to make us feel every word he writes. I am a lifetime fan, and love the personality he shows to the world.

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  12. Loved this and all of t j 's books. Always a definite re-read!!


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