Free Short Story – Eli

From 10.14.19 – 10.17.19, I am posting short stories centered around characters from previously released novels. All of these short stories were once released in a compendium titled ‘Four Short Stories from the Books of Chase Connor,’ but it is not longer in publication. You will be able to read these stories in the posts themselves, or you can download a PDF of the story to read on the go. If you download a PDF, feel free to share them with friends, family, whomever you think might enjoy them. The copyright belongs to me but I am giving everyone permission to share them as they see fit. You may not reprint them, claim credit for the work, or modify the work in any way but you are free to read them as much as you want and share them as much as you want.

These stories may contain spoilers, so if you have not read the books these stories are based around, you might want to read the books first.

Today’s short story is centered around Eli from ‘Gavin’s Big Gay Checklist‘ and is a brand new story about Eli going to buy a certain book…

Enjoy!

Eli Short Story

I thought I was gay once. Okay. Maybe that’s not entirely true. I thought I wanted to be gay once. When Gavin finally admitted to me that he was gay, I thought it would be nice if I was gay and we could just be boyfriends. We always spent all of our time together. We had all of the same interests. He made me feel appreciated and loved, and like I wasn’t the weird home-schooled kid next door with the super-religious parents. Even though Gavin is half-Latino, he didn’t care that I am white as the underbelly of a fish. His parents never treated me as anything but an extended family member. His mom always called me “sweetheart,” and his father often referred to be as “mi hijo blanco favorito.” It was fine that he called me his favorite white son because Gavin is not completely white. So, Gavin was still his favorite son overall.

          The entire Marquez-slash-Ratner family treated me like family and never complained that I was around all of the time. In fact, one time, Gavin told me that Dr. Ratner, his mom, asked where I was at dinner time, such a common occurrence it had become for me to be present.

          I mean, sure, Gavin has some…unique…ideas about what constitutes real music and he didn’t fully appreciate his parents like he should have, but he was still the best friend I’d ever had. Probably would ever have. We’d probably end up going to the same college together, being dormmates, graduating college together, getting jobs in the same city, being roommates, we’d be omnipresent in each other’s lives. So, it stood to reason that we would have made a fantastic couple. The only problem was…I like girls. Like, a lot. Not that Gavin was an unattractive guy by any means—though I loved to tell him he was ugly like his father did—but he was still a guy. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around wanting to or actually having sex with a guy.

          Now, don’t get me wrong. The thought of sex with a guy doesn’t repulse me or make me run for the hills. People are people. Nothing is disgusting, generally, about any human body. However, as much as it didn’t repulse me, it didn’t entice me, either. Guys are guys, girls are girls. Well, there’s a lot of in-between with the genders, too. But, I realized that I liked girls and that’s all there was to it. Which is why it didn’t bother me in the slightest that Gavin liked guys. We all are sexually attracted to what we’re sexually attracted to, and we all love the people we are meant to love. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. It’s just the way that God made us. God made me straight and attracted to females. God made Gavin gay and attracted to males. Who the heck was I to say I knew better than God? That God had made a mistake—as if that were possible.

          God is love, right?

          Why wouldn’t love be an extension of God?

          It doesn’t matter if it’s a guy loving a gal or a guy loving a guy. Or anything else for that matter.

          We all find our person we are meant to love, and we run with it.

          There’s nothing shameful or sinful about that. Love is extraordinary.

          There’s something deeply woven into the human soul that makes us want to seek out love, to want to give love, to want to bare our soul to another human being through acts of kindness and caring and comfort. To want to look another person in the eyes and say: “I love you for you, and I won’t dishonor it by questioning that.” I can’t think of anything more religious than that. God is love. I loved my friend. But not sexually or romantically. And that was okay. We’d still be best friends forever and be dormmates and roommates and eventually the best man in each other’s weddings. I would stand proudly next to my friend as he held the hand of the man he loved and was marrying. And I would look up to the heavens and tell God: “Excellent work, sir.”

          And, when we were both married and started families, we’d have barbecues at each other’s houses. Attend each other’s holiday parties, take family vacations together. Gavin’s husband and my wife would probably stay in the kitchen sipping wine and trading war stories while Gavin and I burnt hamburgers on the grill. I would love and support my friend for who he was just as much as he would love and support me. There was nothing any preacher—or my parents—could say that would make me doubt that that was an integral part of God’s plan. I would never allow a preacher or my parents to speak for God. I wouldn’t even let any version of the Bible tell me what my soul told me was intrinsically true was a lie. If it wasn’t love or kindness, then I had no interest in even trying to believe it.

          God is love.

          Love comes from our soul.

          Let the soul speak.

          That’s what I believed above all things.

          And I was more than certain God approved of that belief.

          I’ve only lied to my best friend once in our entire friendship. Well, I didn’t necessarily lie, but I decided to not share a truth with him. Gavin struggled with being gay and deciding to come out to his parents. But the thing was…I knew that his parents knew he was gay. Dr. Ratner and Mr. Marquez never explicity said anything to me about knowing that Gavin was gay or anything. But, unlike Gavin, I paid attention to his parents. Mr. Marquez would mention going to the college to help the LGBTQ Alliance work on a project—and his eyes would linger on Gavin. Dr. Ratner would talk about one of her colleagues who happened to be getting married to a same-sex partner, and she’d glance at Gavin.

          I saw those looks.

          They were pleading with Gavin.

          Trust us with your truth.

          They wanted Gavin to give it up to God.

          Dr. Ratner and Mr. Marquez wanted Gavin to trust them with every bit of his soul so that he could find out how much they loved him. So that he would know that they didn’t care in the slightest that he was gay. He was their son. He was their joy. Whether he liked boys, girls, everybody, or nobody at all, he had come about from the union of their souls. So…there was no way that they could not love him. Gavin was gay. I didn’t care at all. His parents didn’t care at all. God didn’t care at all.

          No.

          God cared.

          God thought that was glorious.

          How can anyone not look upon their creation and not feel unequivocally exalted?

          So…I really wanted Gavin to know that his parents and God were exalted by his mere existence. And when he decided to live his truth—he was giving meaning and honor to that.

          But I didn’t tell him that.

          Instead, I just loved my friend and supported him. Let him decide what was best for his soul and his life. It was easy to do. I loved my friend. And I knew that when he finally found his courage, he would realize that all of his fear had been for naught. He would still be Gavin. He would just be Gavin unmasked. And Gavin would be perfectly okay afterward. Until senior year and he decided to make a checklist.

          I was really proud of myself—sorry, God—for not laughing at the checklist when Gavin first showed it to me. I mean, it was kind of ridiculous. Why didn’t he just march downstairs and tell his parents that he was gay the next morning? Then text all of his friends that he was gay? Or write a Facebook or Twitter post? Then we could’ve raided Mr. Marquez’s candy supply and watched a movie or something. Why didn’t he just bite the bullet and put it all out there?

          I’m gay, and God is fine with it, so you better be, too!

          But…as I mentioned…I’m not gay. I’m white. I’m not even half…anything. I’m privileged. I’m white. I’m male. I’m straight. I come from a well-to-do family, I live in the right neighborhood—or barrio blanco, as Mr. Marquez would say—and I have nothing to explain to anyone. It’s not right—but I’m the “default” character in life.

          That saddens me.

          White and straight and male should not be the “default.”

          Why can’t “kind” be the default?

          Isn’t everything else just an arbitrary characteristic?

          It’s almost as if a person is white, male, and straight they can be anything else, and no one bats an eye. But, God help you if you’re a half-white half-Mexican, half-Catholic half-Jewish, gay kid from the barrio blanco. You are going to be explaining everything about yourself for the rest of your life. No matter how kind or inherently good you are. And I just can’t even begin to imagine that God had that figured into his plans. It would have been wrong to judge my friend’s decisions about his own life to begin with, but everything else considered, it would have been exceptionally cruel to think he was weak or cowardly for taking his time in coming out.

          But, I didn’t have to do nothing.

          I went to a bookstore. Alone. I had to walk because my mom wouldn’t let me take Driver’s Ed and get my permit at fifteen like everyone else—and she certainly wasn’t going to let me get my driver’s license at sixteen. But my trip to the bookstore was paramount, so I walked in the heat of the early Texas autumn so that I could get a book for Gavin. I didn’t have much luck finding what I wanted online first so that I could just ask for a specific book, but I knew someone who worked at the store could help.

          When I had walked into the bookstore by the college, it was obvious that I was out of my element. A lot of college-aged kids, dressed like hipsters or punks or…anything but just plain. I felt bad for it, but I laughed a little when I saw the Pagan section and thought about how my mother would have a stroke if she saw it. However, I thought it was nice that the store had a fairly large section dedicated to Paganism. They also had sections for Judaism, Islam, Buddhism…all of the major religions, really. Who cares how a person builds their relationship with God, right? Those of us who believe in God, we’re all just trying to find our way to him. Who cares what path that is?

          The bookstore was massive. Not quite a Barnes & Noble or anything, but pretty close. Except this bookstore had shelves that nearly went to the ceiling. Shelves and books were everywhere. So were CD’s, old LP’s, comic books, really anything you’d expect to find in an independent bookstore. It was intoxicating and bewildering and overwhelming. I was in love. After several minutes, I finally stumbled upon the LGBTQ section—which was rather large—and I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

          For at least twenty minutes, I searched through books on the shelf, looking for the perfect book for Gavin. But I got nowhere really fast. I couldn’t really tell from reading flyleaves and back covers which book really fit Gavin’s situation. But, man, I worked hard and tried my best to find something just right for my very best friend. Gavin was a great guy—I wanted him to get the best possible book I could find.

          When the bookstore employee approached me, it was like God had listened to the desperation in my thoughts and sent someone. The girl, who was probably a year or two older than me, and was probably a college student, approached me with a smile. Her hair was purple on one side and black on the other, and she had more piercings in her ears than I had ever seen on one person before. But…she was really pretty. And she was smiling. She looked really kind and obviously wanted to help. So…I wanted her help.

          “Can I help you find a book?” She asked.

          “Yeah, thanks.” I smiled back. “My friend is having trouble coming out to parents and friends—and I thought a really great book might make that a little easier, or not as scary, I guess.”

          She smiled oddly at me.

          “Is your friend a guy or girl?”

          I couldn’t help but grin. I was naïve—but even I heard the inflection in her tone immediately.

          “My friend is a guy, and it’s not me.” I laughed.

          She just smiled.

          “Seriously.” I nodded, holding the last book I had picked up. “He’s my next-door neighbor, and we’ve been best friends forever. I’m the only person he’s ever come out to and, well, I love the heck out of him and hate to see him struggle with being who he is. ‘Cause, I mean, he’s a really awesome guy. He’s the best friend I’ve ever had.”

          She watched me for a moment.

          “It’s not you?” She asked again.

          “No. Promise. I like girls.”

          “Okay.” She looked like she believed me. “Well, there are a lot of good books with coming out stories—a lot of young adult, adult, erotic—”

          “I’d really like something non-fiction,” I said. “Preferably by a person of color or someone who is biracial. My friend is half-Mexican and half-white, and I thought he might connect to the story more if the author was at least biracial.”

          The girl stared at me.

          “And…if there were also religious—or actually, spiritual—undertones, that would be good, too.” I continued. “His mom is Jewish, and his dad is Catholic, and I want him to know that God loves him. And…my family is really religious, and I want him to know that I accept and love him no matter what he is.”

          “Are you serious?” She asked with incredulity.

          “Um, yes. I think so.” I chuckled nervously.

          “You want to buy a book for your biracial best friend that talks about coming out and knowing that God is okay with it?

          I glanced around nervously, suddenly doubting myself.

          “Um. Yes. Please.

          “What’s your name?”

          “It’s Elijah.” I swallowed. “Everyone calls me ‘Eli,’ though.

          “Well, Eli, you’re my new favorite person.” She smiled widely at me, to my great relief.

          She reached up, barely having to look, and pulled a book off of the shelf. Then she held the book out to me, offering it to me.

          “The Excruciating Pain of Being Extraordinarily Happy.” She announced the title as she held it out to me. “The author is an African American man. He talks about coming out and how some family members and friends didn’t accept him. How his church looked down on him. But…he realized that he still had the friends and family who truly loved him, no matter what he was, and then he found a church that was accepting of and loving towards the LGBTQ community. And he found the love of his life. It’s extremely honest, raw, sad, joyful—everything you might want for your friend.”

          I held the book in front of myself with reverence. Flipping it over, I saw the author photo. The guy couldn’t have been older than mid-twenties.

          “It’s perfect.” I exhaled, then looked up at her, so grateful. “Thank you.”

          “So…it’s really for a friend?”

          ”Yes!” We laughed loudly together.

          “You’re straight?”

          “Yes.

          “Do you take classes at the college?” She asked, suddenly shy.

          “Home-schooled,” I answered. “Finishing my high school senior year.”

          She stared at me.

          “I know.” I shrugged. “That’s weird.

          “That’s not what I was thinking.”

          “What were you thinking?

          “That it’s a shame you aren’t in college.” She chuckled. “Then I could have asked you out for a coffee.”

          I blushed so deeply so quickly that she laughed. She laced her arm through mine and pulled me towards the front registers.

          “But come back and see me next summer.” She whispered in my ear. “If you want to.”

          Then we were at the register, and I turned to look at her.

          “I would want to.” I knew I was still red.

          She rang up the book for me and put the book in a bag for me and gave me my receipt. For several minutes we stood and talked about books and school and coffee and anything we could think of to talk about. And I found out that she actually owned the bookstore. She was in her mid-twenties and had the store passed down to her from her dad. She was probably too old for me to even consider going to get coffee with, but I didn’t care. She was kind. And I could have talked to her forever. But, then I had to leave. She was working, after all, and I had to walk back home. It pained me to walk away from the first girl to ever flirt with me, but I did. I wanted to take my friend his book. And I wouldn’t tell him about the girl at the bookstore.

          Maybe, once Gavin had found someone to call his own, I would tell him about the girl who owned the bookstore. Well, maybe I’d tell him if I ever had the summer coffee date with the bookstore owner. What could possibly keep that from happening, after all?

Free Short Story – Alex

From 10.14.19 – 10.17.19, I am posting short stories centered around characters from previously released novels. All of these short stories were once released in a compendium titled ‘Four Short Stories from the Books of Chase Connor,’ but it is not longer in publication. You will be able to read these stories in the posts themselves, or you can download a PDF of the story to read on the go. If you download a PDF, feel free to share them with friends, family, whomever you think might enjoy them. The copyright belongs to me but I am giving everyone permission to share them as they see fit. You may not reprint them, claim credit for the work, or modify the work in any way but you are free to read them as much as you want and share them as much as you want.

These stories may contain spoilers, so if you have not read the books these stories are based around, you might want to read the books first.

Today’s short story is centered around Alex from the ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude‘ series. This is a scene from the first book, told from Alex’s point-of-view. Hopefully, it will give you a little more insight into the character.

Enjoy!

Alex Short Story

Cooper was the quietest person I knew. Sometimes you could be in the same room with him and not even know he was there if he wasn’t in your direct line of sight. He was too mindful. Too thoughtful. Too…everything. Cooper was perfect. Spending any time with him at all made my body feel overwhelming things. It made my heart ache. But in all of the best ways. My best friend in the whole world was the most wonderful person on the planet, as far as I was concerned. Even if he could be so quiet that it seemed like he wanted people to forget that he was there. But I would never forget. Even if he was out of my line of sight, I knew he was there. It was like my body continuously called out to his and desperately wanted his to answer. Even on the opposite side of the room from me, I knew he was there. My body just knew it, whether there was evidence of his presence or not.

          I didn’t like it when Cooper was out of my line of sight. When I couldn’t see him, I ached in places that I couldn’t quite understand—at least not on a logical or intellectual level. I knew it was love. But love wasn’t a big enough word for how my body longed for his. How my heart longed for me to turn my head and put him in my line of sight. Let my eyes caress the warmth of his skin that was just a shade lighter than my favorite caramel candies. Then let my eyes rise to his and see him look back at me and smile in the way that only Cooper knew how. The smile that said: “I see you, Alex. I know who you are more than anybody else does. I understand you.”

          It’s fucking unbearable. Being in love with your best friend. When your best friend doesn’t even know you exist as a sexual being.

          Day after day, at least on the days that I saw Cooper—which was almost every day—it was a struggle to not pull him into me and try to climb into him. That sounds weird—but I just wanted to feel his body so close to mine that we were practically one person. I wanted to feel his skin against mine. His breath against my lips. His mouth on my mouth. I wanted to feel the hardness of him digging into my thigh as his body reacted to mine. Hell, I would have been happy to just have him lace his fingers through mine and hold my hand.

          Even when I didn’t see Cooper in a day, I struggled to not text him and confess that I would never love anyone as much as I loved him. I would pledge my unwavering love and devotion to him. I would take an oath to go to the ends of the Earth on a dangerous quest to win his hand. I would cut off my own ear. I would prostrate myself before him day after day if he would just do something as simple as hold my hand in a way that wasn’t just friendly.

          When I had those thoughts, it was inevitable that my mind began to wander to other ways that I wanted to know Cooper and his body. In class, I’d gaze at Cooper, and my mind would race with images of us in a variety of passionate acts. But…I knew that he was daydreaming as well. And it wasn’t about me. It was about Thom. That’s where Cooper’s desires lay. I saw his moony-eyed looks at Thom in math. I saw the way his Adam’s Apple bobbed in his throat as he swallowed hard and took in Thom’s physique. And I knew those thoughts he was thinking—because I thought them, too. Just not about Thom. And then Cooper would drift off into a reverie about Thom, and my heart would shatter.

          It didn’t keep me from having my own daydreams, though.

          It never would.

          Cooper and I had become friends in freshman year when he transferred to Dextrus Academy from public school. I hadn’t known him before that. But, that first day of freshman year, I was standing by my locker, talking to A.J., whom I had met a week earlier in orientation and found out would be trying out for lacrosse with me, and the door to Smythe Hall opened. And the late summer breeze blew down the hallway. Sunlight streamed in radiantly and haloed the kid walking through the door. Gangly, but with a quiet strength, his head held level, his back straight, his bag slung over his shoulder.

          When the door finally slid shut, when this kid was a few yards away, striding down the hall, I was no longer blinded by the brilliant sunlight. But then I was blinded by sheer and sudden…reverence. He was immediately an oddity at Dextrus. He was a black kid. Well, biracial. That was rare. Still kind of is. I was utterly enamored with and also concerned for him. Would people treat him poorly due to his skin color? Something about the way this kid held his head and shoulders, the way his one hand held the strap of his backpack—I knew this gangly, lanky, beautiful kid would have no problems. And if he did—I pitied the guy that messed with him.

          It was weird to see a scrawny kid and think: “I bet he doesn’t take shit off of anyone.” But it was just true. I knew this kid was not like the other kids at Dextrus Academy. He wasn’t putting off an air of arrogance or superiority, he had a quiet confidence and strength that I could feel as he passed my group of friends and me. As he passed, his head slowly turned towards me, probably because I was staring. And I suddenly felt so self-conscious and aware that I had been staring, which might have given him the impression that I was thinking mean things about him. But…he just smiled.

          It was like watching the sunrise.

          Like hearing a choir of angels.

          It wasn’t a conscious effort, it just happened.

          I smiled back so widely that my face hurt.

          He nodded…and then he was gone.

          Fucking hell. I was in love. I was only fifteen at the time, but I knew that I was gay, even though I was still closeted to everyone. And I knew love when I felt it. And this new kid had my heart with a single look and a smile.

          When I went to AP Biology first period, which was actually a sophomore class, the kid was seated at a table. Battling against all of my nervousness and the somersaulting of my gut, I walked over to his table and slid onto the stool next to him. He looked up, saw me, realizing the kid who had slipped in next to him was the kid he had smiled at in the hallway, and he smiled again. There wasn’t a single fake thing about that smile. He seemed genuinely happy to see my face. And I never wanted to stop looking at his.

          “I’m Alex Johnson.” I had held my hand out.

          “Cooper Weissman.” He took my hand.

          God. His skin was so soft, and his handshake was so firm for such a scrawny guy. His fingers slid against the back of my hand, and I almost shivered. He was absolutely intoxicating.

          “Weissman?” I cocked my head.

          “Like Mr. Weissman?” He said. “The Comparative Lit professor? He’s my father.”

          “I have him next class.”

          “I’m sorry.” He winked slyly.

          I chuckled.

          “My dad’s the headmaster.

          “Sweet!” Cooper had smiled. “In case I don’t do well, you can get him to flub my grades.”

          We both had laughed at that and turned our attention to our teacher as he started class. Obviously, Cooper did not need my help. In fact, that was obvious from the first few minutes of the first lecture in Biology. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, nonchalantly taking notes, his eyes always on the teacher, ever present and mindful. I knew within ten minutes that Cooper, if not quite an actual genius, was pretty damn close to being one. He didn’t need anyone’s help with anything. I wanted to be jealous, but instead, I was just in awe. And entirely enamored.

          From that first day of freshman year, I spent every minute of every day with Cooper—at least when he was available. He probably spent as much time at my house as he did at his own. And my parents adored Cooper. My mother loved his kindness and polite demeanor. My dad thought he was the smartest student Dextrus Academy had ever seen. Cooper was always welcome at our home due to the fact that my parents adored him. In fact, it was at my house, during the summer before sophomore year, out by our pool, that I came out to my best friend.

          Moment of honesty. Cooper and I were laying out in the loungers by the pool. My eyes had drifted over to him, laying there in his swimsuit, the almost caramel color from his chest so enticing. His eyes closed happily; his mouth turned up in a smile. Lower places on his body calling out to me. I had to tell him that I was gay and pray that, one, it didn’t make him hate me, and two, maybe he’d want me in the same way that I wanted him.

          “I’m gay, Cooper.” I had sat up and spat it out before I knew what I was doing.

          Slowly, excruciatingly, anxiety-inducingly slowly, he propped himself up with his elbows, looked over at me, and then finally said:

          “Me, too.

          Then he laid back down. He didn’t ask if I was interested in him in a sexual or romantic way. Simply put, he confirmed that we were in the same tribe as always. We were more of a team now than ever. But…he didn’t say that he thought I was good looking. Or sexy. Or that we should date. Nothing was different other than the fact that now we both knew each other’s sexual orientation. It was a relief. It made my heart break.

          “So…this doesn’t change anything.” I had said softly, looking down.

          “Well, you admitted it first, so I think that means you have to go get us sodas.” Cooper had quipped.

          By that, he meant I should get a soda and bring him anything except for a soda. I laughed and went towards the house. But the laugh was subterfuge. Because I couldn’t say what I really thought. I couldn’t even force myself to tell my friend that I was in love with him. And now that we both knew we were both gay, I wanted him to want me like I wanted him. I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried. I had thrown down a bear trap, and Cooper had walked right over it.

          That was the day that I started to call him “Coop.”

          Saying “Cooper” made my heart ache.

          Saying “Coop” made being in love with my friend hurt a little less.

          There was now “Cooper,” my best friend who I loved with every fiber of my being, and there was “Coop,” my best friend that did not think of me as a sexual or romantic human being. I compartmentalized my own friend. If that isn’t fucked up, I don’t know what is. I only ever said the name “Cooper” in my own head when I was all alone and felt safe doing so.

          And now that he was laying on the futon in the corner of my basement bedroom, quiet as a mouse, but obviously still awake, my heart was killing me. Earlier in the evening, I had brought up the new transfer student coming to Dextrus Academy. I had told Cooper that Martin had said that the new student looked “fruity.” That wasn’t true. Martin didn’t even know about the transfer student. I had thrown down another gauntlet. I had told Cooper that I wanted to know if the new student was gay so that maybe I could date him.

          In my wildest fantasies, the way I saw that playing out, Cooper would get incredibly jealous, angry even. He would grab me by the shoulders, stare fiercely into my eyes, and tell me that he would kill someone before I gave myself away. That I was his and only his. Then he would kiss me, and I would melt into him. Then we’d…do things. Preferably in front of a fireplace as sappy music played, but that was negotiable.

          “Coop.” I breathed out the word. “You awake?

          Coop’s voice came back to me immediately, pretending to be annoyed, but mostly amused.

          “If you need to masturbate, Alex, just do it.” He teased lowly. “Just try to keep your moaning quiet.”

          My throat tightened at the thought of stroking myself with Cooper in the same room. It did things to the lower parts of me.

          “Come here,” I said throatily.

          Yes, come over here. I wanted Cooper to get into my bed, look me in the eyes hungrily and wrap me up with his body. Then masturbation wouldn’t be a necessity anymore.

          “Pass.” He chuckled.

          Goddamnit that hurt.

          “Come talk to me, assface.” I somehow managed.

          Coop sighed and climbed out of the futon and shuffled over to my bed. I threw my covers back, hoping that Coop would see me there, bare-chested, only in my boxers, and it would do something to him. Make him feel some kind of way. Have a revelation. Instead, he slid into bed next to me, snuggled in, and pulled the covers up to his chest.

          The urge to grab him and shove my mouth over his, to push my body along the length of his, to just take what I wanted was overwhelming. But, if I did that, and Coop didn’t want me to do that, I would be horrified. And it was clear that he did not see me in that way. I might have mentioned that. Coop loved me deeply. As his best friend. He had never indicated that anything about me was attractive in any other way. Was it because I was white? Was I not defined and muscled enough? I worked out a lot to make myself more desirable. Did he think I was ugly? Were all my jokes and ruses too much and they didn’t come out as the signals that they were, but more like the ribbing one would get from a very best friend?

          God, I had so many questions.

          And the answers were within Coop.

          The person I loved above all things.

          Right next to me in bed.

          But…that was a lost cause.

          I swallowed my pride. My desire. My love. And I actively decided to stop lusting after someone who obviously didn’t lust after me in return.

          “Do you think that maybe Martin is right?” I whispered.

          Darkness requires whispers.

          “I wouldn’t trust Martin’s opinion about anything.”

          Of course, “Martin’s opinion” shouldn’t be trusted; the whole set up had been a lie. However, I had wanted Coop to tell me that he didn’t want me to think about any guy if it wasn’t him. That’s what I wanted.

          “But…what if?” I turned to face him.

          Was he going to tell me that it was ridiculous to fantasize about another guy I’d never even seen, let alone met, when he was lying right there, and we could have each other?

          “Then ask him out, I guess.

          And there it was. Coop was not going to tell me that he wanted me to himself. He wasn’t going to demand that I think of him and only him. Because he didn’t feel the same way about me. That was when I decided that I had to find happiness—even if it would only be a fraction of how happy Coop made me—somewhere else.

            “You’re the only person that I’ve ever come out to, Coop,” I whispered.

          “Well, what’s one more?”

          I didn’t have an answer. I was at a loss. And my heart hurt.

          “Fine.” He sighed. “I’ll see what I can find out for you.”

          Coop was really going to help me find some other guy to try and love. It should have made me happy. It had the opposite effect. Up until that moment, it was the saddest I’d ever been in my life. I smiled as widely as I could so that I wouldn’t cry.

          “Really?” I asked.

          “Yes.”

          “But you’ll tell me before you Grindr him, right?

          In case I change my mind. Because I’ll change my mind.

          “Excuse me?” Coop snorted.

          “You’ll tell me what you find out before you tell him you have a friend that’s interested, right?” I explained.

          I didn’t really want Coop to set me up with the new guy. I didn’t even know him. However, I knew he could never compete with Coop.

          “I didn’t volunteer to be your pimp.” He rolled his eyes with a snort and looked up at the ceiling.

          “Please?” I pleaded, hoping that something would make the switch flip in Coop’s brain. “Well, not my pimp, but hook me up.”

          One last chance, Coop. Tell me you love me as much as I love you.

          “If I say ‘yes,’ can we go to sleep?” He asked.

          My heart fell.

          “Yes.” I had to force myself to reply.

          “Then…yes. I guess.” He shrugged.

          It was done. Coop didn’t think about me in that way. He was going to talk to a guy about going out with me. Because he didn’t want to go out with me. He didn’t want to feel my body against his like I wanted to feel his against mine. Coop was merely my best friend. It hurt so bad, I didn’t know what to say. So, I smiled again.

          “You’re my best friend.” I wasn’t being nice. I was confirming the fact to myself, reminding myself that that was all Coop would ever be to me.

          “Gross.” He stated blandly as he flipped the covers off of himself. “But you’re my best friend, too.

          That was the first time someone had said I was their best friend, and I wanted to die. It was also the first time that I realized that Coop would end up dating, loving, and having sex with someone besides myself. As Coop went back to the futon and slid back under his own covers, anger welled up in me and my eyes watered. Thinking about Coop with any guy besides me physically hurt. As I willed myself to drift off to sleep, I rolled to my side and curled up, my tears dropping from my eyes onto my pillow.

          I made a promise to myself. I would hate any man who got to love Cooper in a way that I didn’t.

PS – Don’t forget to click on the picture on the right-hand toolbar to win a seat in a Writing Workshop led by Sam Hiyate, Literary Agent and CEO of The Rights Factory!

You can now sign up for the Chase Connor Books newsletter by clicking here!

LGBT History Month

I often speak of October as being my favorite month because of Halloween. And I stand by that. Halloween is the best holiday. Fight me. But not really. That’s mean and I love you.

Another reason that October is an important month is that it is also LGBT History Month. If you hadn’t noticed, I am part of the LGBT community. I know that everyone is probably clutching their pearls and gasping or fainting, but facts are facts. I’m here, I’m queer, I’m about tired of LGBTQIA people facing discrimination and inequity and inequality every day.

Sigh.

I’ve been thinking about what I would want to post on my author website blog about LGBT History Month for a while now, and I was struggling with it. What could I have to write that would have an appropriate amount of gravitas, but also be interesting to read? Then, I remembered…I’m a freaking writer. Being queer and a writer is one of the greatest things in the world. It’s like being any marginalized person who creates art and sends it out into the world.

Being an artist, creating something that will live on long after yourself, has been important in every era of human history, but especially for marginalized peoples. Art informs. It teaches. It builds bridges. It rebels. It normalizes. It creates discussions. It says: “fuck you,” to the people in power who need to hear it the most. Art, in and of itself, is a form of rebellion, because it recognizes no rules besides those it imposes on itself.

Art is putting on drag and throwing a brick at riot police who are oppressing a community.

Art is women putting on pussy hats and pink shirts and marching in the streets of Washington, DC (and other cities) and refusing to be classified as lesser.

Art is a clever, homemade sign held up to the face of oppression and ignorance.

Art is speaking up when everyone is shouting you down.

Art is holding onto a lunch counter in peaceful protest as police try to drag you away and throw you in jail for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Even if they get water cannons and batons or show up at your house in the middle of the night with nooses and burning crosses–no matter the level of violence, you stand your ground.

Art is recognizing and calling out the nonsense people in authority try to make you believe.

Art is giving money you could be spending on a fancy meal to a presidential hopeful’s campaign because you believe they will help lead your nation out of dark times.

Art is, obviously, writing a book about people like yourself–people that bigoted persons in power would want you to believe are not worthy of dignity, respect, and rights.

Art is painting rainbows over the words “Faggot” and “Dyke” and “Tranny” on a brick wall.

Art is being courageous when you have every right to be afraid. Or, maybe it is being courageous even though you are terrified. It’s doing what needs to be done, regardless of how it makes you feel or how it might impact you personally, because you know the long-term effects outweigh anything that might come from your rebellion.

Art takes many forms. All of them are amazingly beautiful and inspiring.

Even bad art is pretty freaking good.

I’m a writer. So, how could I not have something worth saying?

The thing I think that I would want to say most about LGBT History Month is this. We are not alone. The loud voices screaming against us are far fewer than the ones shouting for us–though the volume may make it seem untrue. We are only alone if we do not remember that we are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, demisexual, pansexual, gender queer, gender non-conforming, black, white, brown, Latinx, Asian, Muslim, Christian, male, female, neither, both (and all of the people I may be forgetting to list); We are louder and more powerful than the opposition, but only if we show each other the love, respect, and dignity others would deny us.

Don’t forget that people like you do not always look like you. They do not always have the same skin tone or hair color or genitals or body type or religion. We must be inclusive within our own community and celebrate the diversity within our community. We must love and respect each other.

Please. Be kind. It literally costs nothing except time and patience and a little bit of being empathetic and compassionate.

When you think about it, those are the most rebellious things you can be.

And, if you want to support LGBTQ+ stories, here’s a list to get you started:

The Ultimate LGBTQIA+ Pride Book List

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

A Divergence of Writers

Recently, I saw a tweet from a fellow Writing Community member about collective nouns, asking what everyone’s favorites were (i.e. a murder of crows, etc.). Stupidly, I did not screenshot the tweet so I cannot share it here, but it was a fun tweet with an awesome, fun thread. Twitter, being what it is, has now taken it from me for eternity. I will miss you, thread about collective nouns. If the writer who created that thread sees this, you are my hero.

This tweet made me think about what a collective noun for writers would be. I knew that there had to be an official term for what you call it when a group of writers cluster, so I did what any reasonable person would do–I went to Google, even though I knew this might lead me down a rabbit hole.

I found a lot of answers to my question but none that I felt had been stamped as “OFFICIAL” by anyone of authority. I don’t know if there is a Supreme Ruler of Writers or a Dark Lord of Typing, so I’m not sure what I expect when I say “official.” Regardless, I did find this fun article on Quill Cafe with a long list of ideas for writers’ collective nouns.

I’m sure that someone knows of a collective noun that is most commonly used and deemed semi-official, but I decided that I didn’t care to find out any longer. I realized that I knew what my favorite collective noun for a group of writers would be:

A Divergence of Writers

Why? Well, I have found, even in similar genres and subgroups of writers, we are all very different individuals. Not just in how we look, dress, love, fight, express ourselves socially and politically, or what foods we like best. It’s not just in how fast we type, our outlining process, our pantsing or plotting or plantsing, our handwriting or typing, or how we decide in which order to write scenes. We are just very different people brought together by the love of a single thing. Writing.

So…we diverge quite often. We split off from a center and go in many different directions. Even a group of Sci-Fi writers may do things in a million different ways. They will all have different ideas and opinions about how to achieve their goals. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s inspirational, in fact, because it lets people who want to get into writing know that there is not one single way things have to be done.

In vector calculus, a “divergence” refers to the scalar field produced by a vector operator. They do not always look this way, but they can look like flowers or starbursts. Sure, they are simply lines from one point to another (or, I suppose, off into infinity), but if viewed in the right way, it can be kind of pretty.

That is a divergence of writers. We all shoot off on a journey from a central point, creating lines of creativity in every direction. Our stories and characters bringing beauty to an often ugly world. Our differences (both as writers and people) look like chaos, but observed correctly, look like a beauty only matched by nature.

My hope is that writers of every shape, size, color, gender, sexuality, religion, race, and ethnicity continue to diverge. Help the beauty grow. Just try to be kind in the process.

PS – Don’t forget to click on the picture on the right-hand toolbar to win a seat in a Writing Workshop led by Sam Hiyate, Literary Agent and CEO of The Rights Factory!

PPS – You can now sign up for the Chase Connor Books newsletter by clicking the ad on the right toolbar or by clicking here!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

This May Shock You

Recently, I was having a conversation with a fellow writer who is working on their debut LGBTQ+ YA novel. He mentioned that, while the work was hard and sometimes frustrating, he couldn’t wait to hold an actual hard copy of his book in his hands. In response, I said that I had only held my books in order to sign them and give them to friends, that I didn’t actually have copies of my books for my own personal use.

When I had said this, I didn’t anticipate the reaction it would get. While I knew most authors had at least one copy of the book(s) they have written on a shelf at home, I didn’t realize that not owning a single copy for yourself was extremely controversial. In following up with this conversation, and speaking with other writer friends, I found out that I am in the minority–if not completely alone–when it comes to authors owning their own books.

Starting a book, from the moment the idea sparks to life in my brain, to spending hours and days thinking about how it will work, who the characters are, why they are the way they are, figuring out the “acts” of the book, slowly beginning to write and seeing what unfurls…it’s a process. Then, actually writing the book, feeling good about what you are writing, then later feeling that you need to go back and fix or change things, wringing your hands over the climax and ending, spending weeks, months, or even years with the characters in your head is exhausting. Rewarding and glorious…but exhausting.

Needless to say, by the time one of my books finds its way into a reader’s Kindle or into their hands in paperback format, I have read every word in the book at least a dozen times. Some of my books, such as ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude‘ and ‘A Surplus of Light‘ or ‘A Tremendous Amount of Normal‘ I could probably quote word for word. I could sit down with someone and tell them the whole story in detail–with dialogue–without having the book in hand for reference.

I love my books and I adore my characters. Some books, such as ‘The Gravity of Nothing,’ were arduous to write, and won’t get out of my head, but I still love them. My most recent release, ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts,’ made my heart soar at revisiting characters I adored writing. My gosh, I’ll miss Cooper, Alex, Logan, A.J., and Mr. Weissman.

However…I’ve read all of these books so many times that I just do not want to read them again. At least for now. I do not want to walk by my bookshelves and see them staring out at me, reminding me of the sleepless nights and early mornings and the midday cram sessions. I don’t want to think about all of the fights with my editors. Or the time I got a pejorative and expletive filled email after I released ‘Gavin’s Big Gay Checklist.’ To that particular person, whether or not I’ll go to Hell for being gay is still up in the air, but I’ll keep you posted.

Ultimately, I’m not at the point in my writing career where I want to see certain books and realize that I’ll never sit for hours on end with the characters who came to be my only friends at times. My books are exhilarating to my soul, but they can also make me sad at times. They’re a time capsule of my time as a writer, pieces of my life that hold memories, both good and bad, that I am just not ready to revisit.

One day, when I am old and gray, and hopefully surrounded by grandchildren and a spouse who has put up with me through thick and thin, I will open my laptop, pull up the PDF for ‘Jacob Michaels Is Tired‘ and laugh along with Rob and Oma. I know that those snapshots of my life will make my coldest days a little warmer, and I will reflect back on even the bad times and feel nothing but happiness and nostalgia.

Until then…I guess I’ll have a few empty spots in my bookshelves.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

What We Control

As I’ve mentioned on Twitter and in Chase’s Diary, I recently ran a poll asking readers which of my upcoming books they would like released first under my new indie imprint home. ‘Between Enzo & the Universe’ was the very clear winner of that poll–which I found delightful, though surprising. Just in case anyone was wondering, that was not the book I was pulling for, but I am perfectly fine with the results.

Here’s ‘Enzo’ in case you forgot which book I’m referring to.

So…my editor and the owner of the imprint had a call to discuss the future of ‘Enzo.’ And the real trouble began.

The trouble with ‘Enzo’ is that it is wildly different than anything else I’ve released up until now–even considering ‘The Gravity of Nothing.’ It has M/M Romance elements and probably falls into a New Adult category in some way–it’s obviously LGBTQ–but it’s predominantly just General Literature. It’s definitely not a book where I am trying to fit into a niche, but instead, just tell a story as openly and honestly as possible.

Then again, all of the 6 books I have lined up with my future imprint home are not exactly what you’d expect from me if you’ve read my previous works (well, ‘Jacob Michaels Is Dead’ will be, I suppose). I’ve been trying to “stretch my legs” as a writer, push myself to tell stories on a grander scale, attempt things that I wasn’t sure I could do in the past, and just prove to myself that I really am a writer.

I’ve never suffered from an overabundance of confidence or a severe lack of it, either. Confidence, in general, is a foreign concept to me. As a writer, but really as a person, I’ve always just felt that I would do my best and work hard at everything I decide to do and people will like it or hate it. How my work is received is not really in my hands, but the time, effort, energy, and talent that goes into it is something I can control.

The Lao Tzu quote: “Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” is how I have lived my life for nearly the past decade. At the end of the day, I can only be the best Chase Connor I can be and hope that everyone decides to jump in and join me on the ride.

Driver gets the aux cord first!

With ‘Enzo,’ I found myself, for the first time in a very long time, wondering if I was making a huge mistake. If maybe people will read something I wrote and say: “What the eff is this?” The blurb for the book is accurate in what to expect as far as story goes, but the structure itself, the way I tell the story, the language used…it’s all very different than to, say, ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts.’ I mean, the first 3 chapters of ‘Enzo’ are titled “The Coat Made of Sugar and Blue Clouds,” “Five is Better Than Four,” and “Red is the Color of Atonement” if that helps you picture what I am talking about here.

The themes in the book concern me as well. Family, religion, God, acceptance, poverty, loss, grief, immigration, finding one’s place in the world (and romance of course), make this one a difficult book to say: “Everyone’s going to love this!” I feel that it will be another book of mine that readers will have a love/hate relationship with–but hopefully more love than hate.

Ultimately, I’ve had to force myself to stay in the “do your job and leave the rest up to the reader” way of thinking.

That is what I’d like my fellow writers to take away from this experience of mine. Do your job. Do it to the best of your ability. Then give it over to whatever force you believe in without concern for how it will be received. None of that is within your control.

The important thing about your story is that no one can tell it in exactly the same way that you can. That’s what makes it special–not whether or not a million people want to read it–though that’s always nice. Critical or commercial success doesn’t necessarily validate or invalidate what you’ve done. As long as you can put your pen down or shut your laptop, satisfied with what you’ve accomplished, you should be proud.

Everything else is just opinions.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

We Are All Enough

If you follow me on Twitter you are probably aware that I really love Lizzo. I didn’t know about her until her song Good As Hell became somewhat popular, but I’ve loved her ever since–and I’m so glad that she is getting the recognition that she deserves. I think she is creative, funny, fun, smart, beautiful, and makes everyone who listens to her music feel good. She is one of those artists that comes along once in a long time who transcends all barriers.

Recently, I was saddened to read that this was a thing. Because she has been seen as “corny” and “pandering to the white gaze” that she is seen as “less black” than other black artists.

Something I wanted to write about today is about this mentality that people have in our society. I see it a lot in the Writing Community–whether people know that they are pushing these views or not.

We’re often told that we’re not “enough” for the groups to which we belong. There is bisexual erasure, people saying that transgender, queer, asexual, demisexual, aromantic, and other LGBTQ+ are not enough to be included. We are told that people are not “black enough” or that if we are not familiar with all of the customs of our culture that we are not enough to identify with our ethnic and cultural heritage. We are told if we write a certain genre that we are not “real writers.” If you like reading romance that your tastes are “not refined.” The examples of this way of thinking are infinite. People like to imply or outright say that if everything about you doesn’t fit within arbitrary parameters that you cannot belong to a particular group. There is no taking into account of how you were raised, where you were raised…or the fact that a lot of this was beyond your control. It’s not like your parents asked for your input before they just…raised you.

What I want to say here is that you do not need to take a test, pay dues, and join any specific club in order to be exactly who and what you are. You do not need anyone’s permission to be black, white, Asian, Latinx, male, female, funny, corny, happy…you don’t need anyone telling you that being your authentic self is not enough for them. If your authentic self happens to not fit into the parameters other people have set for what it means to be…whatever…then that is not your problem.

The thing I love most about people is when they are authentic to who they are inside, regardless of what is on the outside. I do not need someone to prove to me how black (or anything else) they are. I am just happy to see that they are true to themselves and happy doing so.

How does this relate to my blog since I am supposed to be an author blogging about writing?

Everyone falls on a spectrum in the groups they belong to in life. The same should hold for characters in a book (movie, T.V. show, etc.). Gay people don’t all love RuPaul’s Drag Race and the color pink. We’re not all stereotypes. Not that it isn’t perfectly acceptable to love those things, but don’t think your character isn’t “gay enough” just because they like things that are not stereotypes enforced on gay people.

Be yourself, unabashedly. Write your characters the same way. As long as you are respectful of the cultures of people and make sure to educate yourself on what you are writing about, it is okay. If that is not enough for certain people, take the opportunity to just not care. Because you are good enough. Just as you are. And so are your characters.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

P.S. Don’t forget to vote on which book should be the debut at my new indie imprint home! You can also still pre-order ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts‘ by clicking on the picture in the right toolbar!

The Excuse of Ignorance

One thing that I’ve heard writers say a lot that I can both relate to–and somehow not understand at the same time–is “I don’t know how to <blank>.” It is almost always a reason why they can’t start their story now or move forward in regard to trying to find an agent or self-publish…it’s often (without the writer knowing) an excuse to not achieve a goal. Maybe it’s driven by fear, I’m not sure. But using ignorance as an excuse is pretty common. A lot of us writers feel that if we can’t make something absolutely perfect, it has no value.

Now, as I type this, I think it might be a fear of what people might say about them. No one likes to be ridiculed.

I wanted to write about the value of sometimes not knowing what you are doing when it comes to writing.

At the heart of every great story, book, or screenplay is a darn good storyteller doing the work. A good story is the most important part to any of these things–not how technically perfect a writer is in executing it.

Sometimes, it is best to not know what is considered the “right” way to do things. Nothing great was ever achieved by working within the confines of (sometimes) arbitrary rules. Think of books like The Color Purple, Push, Their Eyes Were Watching God, or a new favorite of mine: Moonrise. All of these books do not follow “traditional” rules for structure, grammar, or punctuation–they defy what trained writers are told to do. Two are classic American Literature by women of color, one is a modern classic of American Literature by a queer woman of color, and the last one is a book in verse by a female Irish author.

Some people might say: “Well, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker were women of color born in the 1800s and mid-1900s and probably didn’t receive proper education on how to write, so that doesn’t count!” Wrong. Alice Walker went to Spellman College, Zora Neale Hurston went to Barnard College and Columbia University. Both were and are accomplished women in academics. Sapphire, the author of Push went to City College of San Francisco, City College of New York, and eventually received an MFA from Brooklyn College. Sarah Crossan went to Warwick University. None of them had the excuse of ignorance for how they chose to write their books. Yet…they went against the grain.

So, even highly educated people know the value of going against the grain–choosing a nontraditional style when writing certain stories.

So…why can’t you choose a style that feels natural to you? Why can’t you create a new way of structuring your story? Why not try to do something different and possibly great? Sure, seek education and learn as much as you can, but don’t not start because you don’t know how everyone else is supposed to do things.

And don’t let your eventual education completely bias you against trying new things, regardless of what people say you are supposed to do.

Imagine you are someone who is writing stories in a language that is not your primary–or maybe even your secondary–language. Your grammar and spelling might be a little “wonky” when you start. The way you structure sentences and put words together might seem odd to native speakers of the language. Did you ever consider that it might read as more poetic than what a native speaker might write?

Even if it doesn’t–you can ask a native speaker to help you or hire an editor if you are able. There is no reason not to start. Especially when you might stumble across a way of saying things that people who write with dogged rules might not.

Dare to imagine that there are no rules other than those the story itself creates. When you’re telling the story of your characters, what feels right in conveying it? Dare to not make ignorance an excuse but a diving board into the world of the written word. Let it drive you to begin your story, continue your education, and to prove that rules do not always have to be followed. Allow it to inspire you to inspire others to be unabashedly unafraid of chasing their dreams and goals.

All of our lives are built on a mountain of stories dying to be told. Don’t let the excuse of ignorance keep you from telling them.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Homecoming

My journey to becoming a self-pubbed author is something I don’t really talk about too much. Not that there is a huge story filled with shocking twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seats, waiting to see what happens–we all know how it ends anyway, right? I’m currently a self-published author who is set to release his 15th book on 9/22/19 (the conclusion to the ‘Just a Dumb Surfer Dude’ series).

Just a Dumb Surfer Dude 3: Summer Hearts‘ – just in case you want to pre-order it…

Since I started my journey as a self-published author, I assumed that it was the path I was going to be on until either I realized it wasn’t working out or I decided that I was tired of writing, whichever came first. Fortunately for me, I’ve sold enough books and had a decent response so that I wasn’t forced to “stop wasting my time.” There were people who enjoyed my books and characters and I had a reason to write. I’m so grateful for that.

However, there always comes a point in every career where a person has to reassess what they are doing, how they are doing it, and if they want to keep doing it. I’ve always been the type of person who is constantly thinking: “And then what?” It’s not a self-defeatist or fatalist thing that I do, I’m just always considering if my expectations are being met or if they’ve maybe changed so that I have to change the way I am doing things.

This madness of mine is what has led me to make a decision. An opportunity has presented itself and I decided to take it.

Self-publishing is hard work. A writer puts in really long hours, loses sleep, has to spend their own money to get book covers, editing, proofreading, marketing…and it’s hard to spend time on writing when you’re worried about book-related tasks that aren’t writing. It can be extremely exhausting. At some point, we all reach our breaking point, right?

September will be my last month as a self-published author because I will (along with a few other authors) be joining a start-up independent publishing imprint and they will release all of my future books. There are still a lot of details being ironed out so I don’t have a lot of information for everyone at this time. However, I’m super excited for this move and have already had so many wonderful experiences with the people at the imprint (though they are few right now). We’ve already worked out details for the next SIX BOOKS after JaSD3! The best part? I mostly just have to worry about writing. There will be other people who worry about the other aspects of publishing.

If you hear some strange sound, that’s just me sighing with relief.

While this means I will have less control over certain aspects of publishing my books, I’m fully confident that I will be working with people who really want to help cultivate my writing career and do right by my stories and characters. But they’re also interested in trying new things and aren’t afraid of failing from time to time. They are my people! It truly feels like a home and a family.

Again, I do not have many details right now that I can share, but I can tell you about the next six books coming out after JaSD3 (not in order of scheduled publication – that has yet to be determined):

A Boy Called Never – an LGBTQ YA/historical fiction/genfic mashup. Sometimes you have to look to the past to deal with the present.

A Million Little Souls – an LGBTQ YA fantasy story. Four high school kids receive mysterious invitations to visit the library at night.

It Means Something Different – an LGBTQ magical realism/genfic story. What does a guy do when the man he loves turns out not to be who he thought he was?

Between Enzo & The Universe – an LGBTQ New Adult story. When it seems like the universe is against Enzo, he decides to give it one last chance to be kind to him.

One Brick Kingdom – An MG fantasy story w/ LGBTQ elements. Love and kindness can be found anywhere, even in the roughest of neighborhoods…if you’re just willing to believe it.

Jacob Michaels Is Dead – The 6th and final book in the JMI cycle (I can say this will be out in 2020). Everything you want to know about Rob/Jacob, Oma, Lucas, Jason, Andrew, Carlita, and the rest will be revealed. But…in the end…Jacob Michaels will be dead.

So, we have a lot of stories and characters to share with each other for a while to come still.

My desire to be the best writer I can be, to deliver a better book each time one is released, is paramount in my mind. Moving to an indie imprint will help me achieve that goal so that we can all continue to experience these stories and characters with each other.

And I truly can’t wait to continue that journey with all of you.

Lastly, before I end this long-winded post, as readers of my books and blog – I want you all to know that there will soon be an opportunity for you to receive some FREE goodies from Chase Connor Books in partnership with my new imprint home. Keep an eye open on Twitter and the blog here for details when they become available.

“Just another tasty treat from the gang at Empire Records.”

From the bottom of my heart:

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase