Block and Strike isn’t my first release, but it tops a lot of other lists for me, making this book special.
First Solo Novel
This alone makes me giddy. It’s the first novel published with just my name on the cover. I loved writing with Jenn, and the Chaos Station series will always be close to my heart for a variety of reasons. Writing on your own is an entirely different prospect, however. This book is, well, just mine. It’s my contribution to the world and it’s a story that means a heck of a lot to me. Block and Strike grew out of my own personal misgivings into a story about self-worth and self-confidence, making it a book I couldn’t compromise on. I had to tell it the way it happened for both of my characters.
First Book in Print
For a writer, this is huge. Block and Strike will be my twelfth published book—and the first one available in print; the first book with my name on the cover that I can shelve in my own personal library. I can donate copies to local libraries. I can sign this one for readers. I have something to giveaway that fans can actually hold.
I do have a copy of Chaos Station in print, provided by the publisher for entry into a contest. It’s not quite the same as knowing readers are able to buy a copy of your work for their shelves—and knowing that readers have done so and will do so.
I had the title for Block and Strike before I even started writing the book. I knew from the very beginning what the story would be about and which elements of self-defense it would include.
I wrote a dad! I loved writing a dad. I’ve already written another one and have plans to write a third before 2017 is done.
I’ve probably written close to a hundred kisses. Maybe more. First kisses are special, though, and I haven’t written a lot of those. The first kiss in Block and Strike is one of my absolute favourites. In fact, it’s between this one, and the one I wrote for Jared and Fin for Out in the Blue. Both kisses have just a touch of awkwardness brought on by the weight of anticipation. They’re important kisses, shared with someone who is going to be important to my characters. They’re not casual. They’re meaningful and, if I say so myself, beautiful.
I did art for this book! I drew Jake’s tattoo and I’m colouring a portrait of Max. I also plan to draw Jake. I’ve wanted to do art for all of my books, but have sadly fallen out of the habit of drawing over the past couple of years. I’ve been a little too busy writing. One of my new year’s resolutions for 2017 is to draw more.
Not a First
There was one first I didn’t go with in Block and Strike. For most of the book I toyed with the idea of having Jake be Max’s first everything. I’m glad I didn’t for a couple of reasons. It suited the story better for Max to have tried to be himself in college, and then be shut down again. For him to have made the conscious decision to retreat and have to be coaxed back out. Also, Max simply has enough problems. Adding inexperience in all things to the stack felt a little bit unfair—and he’s not naïve, just shy.
Because it’s Tuesday, here’s a teaser. It’s that kiss I love so much:
Jake’s smile was wry. “If we were in a movie, this would be the part where we kissed.”
Max contemplated passing out instead. The air in Jake’s apartment was still too thin. His knees shook inside his jeans and his palms itched. Oh, man, he really, really wanted to kiss Jake. But should he? Could he? Why didn’t Jake swoop down and get them started? Was he toying with him?
He lifted a shaking hand and put his palm against Jake’s chest. Warmth seeped through the cotton of Jake’s shirt. He studied the pattern of thread beneath his fingers so intensely, his vision blurred. Jake leaned into his palm.
“It’s not enough to reach for what you want, Max. You have to grab it. Take it.”
What did that mean?
Max glanced up at the face hovering so close, Jake’s breath brushed his skin. He studied the variations of gray and blue in Jake’s irises. How could he think his eyes were colorless? “Your eyes are like metal. Warm and cold and sometimes they shine.”
Jake’s eyes widened at that.
Then Max mustered every ounce of courage he did not have and lifted his chin the bare inch required to close the distance between Jake’s mouth and his. He died a hundred times in the second it took to lean forward and take what he wanted—to give it, too. He kissed Jake. He pressed his lips to those more fabulous and sighed as they softened beneath his, as Jake welcomed him, kissed him back. Their lips moved against each other, then together as they caught a rhythm. A hum rising in his throat, Max leaned in for more. Jake’s shirt bunched beneath his hand as his fingers curled. Jake snuck a hand around the back of his shoulders. Teeth clacked against teeth. Jake laughed softly, air puffing across Max’s mouth. Then Jake leaned in closer and deepened the kiss.
Max closed his eyes and lost himself in Jake’s lips, the way they danced with his. The taste—all man, with a hint of pie. The beat of Jake’s heart beneath his hand, the scent of his body. Warm and musky. The rasp of stubble as their mouths aligned and realigned, chins bumping together, noses colliding. The graze of Jake’s tongue.
Max fell. The kiss claimed him like no other. He was with a man and it felt good and right. As if he’d come home, at last, and found himself there waiting. The scratch of Jake’s beard was perfect. The shape of Jake’s mouth, the musculature bunching and shifting beneath his roaming hands. The tang of sweat with nothing sweet. The power of the arm banded across his back.
Too soon, the kiss robbed him of breath quicker than he could replenish it. Gripping Jake’s shirt, Max pulled away, dizzied, sure the floor would claim him if he let go. He opened his eyes and the world swayed. He looked up and saw Jake looking at him, his gray eyes heavy-lidded and unfocused.
“Wow,” Jake whispered.
“We could have been doing that since we met,” Jake said.
Block and Strike releases this Friday, January 6!
It’s currently available for pre-order at most retail outlets. 🙂