Saturday, June 29, 2013

Awesome News

Hello All,
So this past nine months I have been in a residency program in my field. This pretty much means that I get to work full time, take classes, and be professionally supervised all while earning a tiny little stipend which is barely enough to live on. And be excited about it. From the beginning I knew and the place I work at knew it would be over on September 6, 2013. So I have been searching for jobs elsewhere because my lovely gainful employment is gone (poof!) in very little time. And here's the good news: I FINALLY GOT AN INTERVIEW!!!

On Tuesday morning I will be putting on my big girl panties and venturing forth into the real world and begging to be given a chance to earn money. So I can eat. And pay my rent. And, you know, buy books. Any thoughts, prayers, energies through the ether, or other good wishes you can send my way would be greatly appreciated!

And now, as I go to prepare for my interview, I leave with some pretty that will hopefully show how much I love you all! :D

It doesn't get much better than men in kilts who are kissing...maybe if there were waistcoats involved...

Monday, June 24, 2013

One More Shot

Hello All - 
I have a bit of a treat today. Over in the Less Than Three Press Goodreads group, one of there editors does little prompt challenges. This week's challenge was "Give me one more shot." Here is my response to that prompt. Enjoy!

One More Shot

By Kathleen Hayes

“Give me one more,” I said as I signaled the bartender to refill my shot glass. One more shot and I would go home and pour myself into bed. I had just enough alcohol in my system that the crap hill that had been today was fuzzily out of reach.

It didn’t last long. By the time I got home and collapsed on my bed, the nice haze I built up at the bar had begun to fade. It felt like someone had died. A bit melodramatic, I know – but the person who has been there every day for the past fifteen years, through ups and downs, heartaches and happiness, regular days and crazy days, was gone. And it was all my fault.

I’d been in love with Bas since about five minutes after I met him. Granted I was 14 years old at the time and what I thought was love was probably more like a bad case of lust. However, over the years I had never had cause to change my opinion.

Bas’ bastard of a boyfriend had given him an ultimatum – marriage or break up. Bas had come to me to talk it out and I couldn’t take it a moment longer. If he had been happy, if he had wanted to get married, I would have let it go. I wouldn’t have said anything. But marriage is so final and he looked so miserable, I had to give him another option. That’s how I rationalized it to myself.

I had leaned across the expanse of my couch and kissed him. For just one breath it was glorious. He tasted like nothing I could have imagined and his lips were soft but just a little chapped. Heat and joy and sense of rightness spread through me in a fraction of a second. And then it was gone, shattered, when Bas pushed me away.

The look of pain and anger on his face was clue enough for me of his thoughts on the matter. I stammered an apology and fled. That was six hours ago. I’d turned my phone off and was too afraid to check it. Unfortunately, I used my phone as my alarm in the mornings. If I had any hope of being on time to work I would have to turn it back on and set the alarm.

I steeled myself. Three missed calls. Four text messages. All from Bas.

What the hell? Call me.

Tor – Don’t you dare ignore me.

Don’t make me come and find you.

Damn it – I’m coming to your place – you better be there.

I blanched at that last one and checked the time stamp. It had been sent only 20 minutes before. I swore under my breath. He would be arriving any minute. From the bottom of my bed where I was standing I looked at myself in the mirror over my dresser. My brown hair was disheveled from running my hands through it all evening. My green eyes were blood shot and red rimmed from too alcohol and a bout of self pity tears. My face was haggard, my clothes were a wrinkled mess and I smelled like a seedy bar.

When I heard his knock just a few moments later I contemplated ignoring it. But Bas could be stubborn with the best of them. Knowing him he would just stand there and keep knocking until either I answered the door or one of the neighbors complained to the cops.

I swung the door open and growled, “What?”

He barged in, anger flaring in his eyes. “You look terrible.”

I scoffed in disbelief. “You came all the way over here to tell me I look terrible? Thanks. I could’ve figured that one out for myself. If that’s all you can go now. I’d like to go and cry in peace.” I winced that I let that last bit out.

He was pacing around my living room. The overstuffed couch, battered coffee table and huge flat screen television were probably as familiar to him as his own apartment. He spent almost as much time here as he did there. He was able to swerve to avoid the protruding edge of the coffee table without pausing his pace or paying any attention to his course.

He paused long enough to glare at me. “That was a piss poor thing to do you know that.”

“Yeah, I know.” I spoke at a normal tone but he ignored me as he spoke over me.

“I’m trying to decide if I am going to get married and you just come off and kiss me. What in the hell were you thinking?” He hadn’t raised his voice at all but by the end of his little speech, he had reached that scary quiet voice – when he was so angry, every word was extremely precise and barely audible.

“I said I was sorry.” A look of pain flashed through the anger – barely visible and then gone – at my words.

“I didn’t ask if you sorry. I asked why you did it. You had to have a reason. People don’t just kiss each other for no reason. At least I know you well enough that I know you don’t kiss people for no reason. So… why did you kiss me?” Each word was punctuated by a brief silence that only emphasized his question.

Fear sped my heart. His eyes bore into mine and I knew I had no choice but to give him an answer. My mouth started speaking before my brain was able to figure out what that answer should be.

“If you were happy I wouldn’t have. But you’re miserable. He makes you miserable. I couldn’t let you marry him. I wouldn’t have done anything, I would have kept it to myself but I couldn’t let you marry him and be miserable and never had given it a shot. It was fine as long as you were happy. But he was sucking the joy out of you and you didn’t even notice. And then he wanted to marry you. “ I had to stop to breath and noticed tears streaming silently down my face.

I turned away from him and began tidying the practically empty kitchen table just to have something to do with my hands. “I really am sorry. I never thought I would lose you.” At that though the tears I had been doing my best to keep at bay couldn’t be held back any longer. My shoulders shook with my emotion.

I felt his hand on my arm. He tried to turn me to face him but I resisted. It was easier if I couldn’t see him. His grip became a little more forceful and I was forced to turn or actively break his hold. I turned.

Nothing could have surprised me more than his hand on my face. It was only then that I noticed the red rims around his eyes and the moisture clinging to the edges of his brilliant hazel eyes. “Who said you were losing me?”

“I just figured with how you reacted, I would never see you again.”

“I was angry and confused and hurt and a whole lot of other things. And you kind of dropped the whole thing on my lap like a ton of bricks – when there was already quite a bit on there.  It just took me awhile to process.”

“And what was your conclusion?”

“I went to see Rick and told him to shove his ultimatum where the sun don’t shine.”

I gave a weak chuckle at that. “Yeah?”


“Do you think you could give me one more shot at that whole kissing thing?”

He grinned. “I think you can have as many shots as you want.”

He drew my face to his and this kiss was everything the first kiss was and so much more.

The Beginning.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

HELP! It's Monday...where did the weekend go?

Hello All,
It has been a busy week so not much new to add. I finished up the first draft of Falling Apart and sent it off to my betas. I have gotten it back from all of them (superb job on the quick responses ladies). Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to do more than glance at them. Thankfully I do not have any overnight shifts this week so that bodes well for evening productivity. Yay!

Alas, we come upon the most dreaded day of the week...Monday morning. I am not sure where my weekend went (Thank you netflix and my lovely Fringe marathon on Saturday). I must gird my loins and prepare myself for the work week to must we all. Therefore, I am using some pretty for the aforementioned girding. Feel free to do the same. I wish you a Monday filled with massive amounts caffeine, many pretty boys and no stupid people. :D

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cover Art

Happy Monday my Blog Readers!
Today I bring you Cover Art. Because I generally live paycheck to paycheck, whenever I have cool covers for my stories I have made them myself - either with cheap/free stock photos or photos taken by myself, my friends or my family. I load my chosen photo into Pixlr Express and go to town. I usually go through three or four (or even five or six) cover design ideas before I settle on the one that ends up going with my story. Thankfully my usual beta is good about being a sounding board for cover art as well. She has often steered me clear of ideas that seemed wonderful in the moment but really really weren't. I have just recently made two covers - for my two upcoming Love Has No Boundaries stories. This is also the grand revealing of their TITLES. I hope you enjoy the little look behind the scenes at my cover art. :D

Love Has No Boundaries story #1: Pick Up Lines
You can find the prompt here.

My initial plan for this cover involved pints of beer on a bar. Then it shifted and I was going to have the title printed on a sign/menu board for a pub. Then the bubbles from a beer were going to be the background. Eventually after not finding any stock photos that I liked, I gave up on the whole pub angle. I shifted my focus to the other character. The prompt photo portrayed a man dressed to the nines in a tuxedo so I started searching for men in tuxedos, close ups on tuxedos, bowties, cuff links, etc. I generally try to avoid using faces on my covers because I hate when books have covers with the main characters on them and they do not live up to the image in my head. This photo originally had a head - I cropped it out. Since this is a lighter story than a lot of the stories I write I decided to soften the focus and go with a whimsical font. The red color came from the fact that I needed a color to be able to see the title over the changing background color. Red is significant in the story because one of the major plot points is anger. A fight is what drives one of the aspects of the story forwards. Also, red can be romantic.

Love Has No Boundaries story #2: Falling Apart
You can find the prompt here.

My initial plan for this cover involved darkness and shadow. Both of the images from the prompt were highly shadowed so that was definitely a theme I wanted to continue with in the cover. Because I paid for the picture I needed for my previous cover - not much but money is money - I had to find something free for this cover. I searched through screen after screen of free stock photos inputting searches like "darkness", "shadow", "fire", "death" and nothing was striking true. Before I had completed writing the story I had mocked up a cover involving a skeleton walking over calm water surrounded in flames. However, as I completed the story this cover did not fit the feel or the themes of the story. Then I hit a sudden inspiration. I had a series of pictures taken of the fireplace at the cabin where I honeymooned last month. I dug them out and found this one. I knew I had found the photo I wanted to use. I tried a few different fonts and settled on this one because it was clearly visible on the background, was not too frou-frou and had some ragged edges which made me think of the dystopian nature of this story. I softened the whole a bit, gave the font it's shifting color and put a canvas texture over the whole thing. I am not 100% sure about the canvas texture and that may change before publication. The placing of the font is taken directly from the typewritten note that is a part of the prompt itself.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my mind as I create the cover art to go along with my stories. I sometimes find myself saying, "Wouldn't it be great to be able to afford to pay a professional cover artist?" but I enjoy this almost as much as I enjoy the writing so I don't think I would give it up.

Adieu for now,
Kathleen :D

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Custom Written Ficbit - Happy Birthday to Me

During the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia I offered up a custom written ficbit of at least 1500 words. KimberlyFDR is the lucky - at least I hope she feels lucky - blog reader who won that drawing. She requested a story about a male to female transgender person. This was a bit outside my comfort zone as I generally write male main characters. I hope you all enjoy my first story with female romantic leads!! Without further ado, I give you....

Happy Birthday to Me
by Kathleen Hayes

I walked quickly with my emotions tightly reigned in until I had safely shut my office door behind myself. Then I let out a string of curse words I rarely say since I work with kids. I shook myself. I didn’t know what was with me today. Usually I didn’t let snotty ignorant teenage comments get to me.

Granted, it was never fun to be called a ‘tranny bitch’ but I was usually better at letting it roll off my back. I could tell the new kid, Antonio, was going to be problem from minute he made an extremely loud rude noise when I introduced myself by saying, “Hello, my name is Sandra Meeker but I was born Jonathan Meeker.”

I liked to get that out of the way as soon as possible so the kids didn’t feel like things were being hidden from them. I was in charge of counseling at Lifeline Center – a community center for LGBTQ kids who had been thrown out or were having a tough time at home. It’s the kind of place I wish had existed 20 years ago when my parents threw me out at 17 because my Dad found me wearing my Mom’s clothes.

A light knock at the door startled me out of my fuming. I turned as the door began to open. Cristina’s red head slowly peeked around the edge of my cracked door. She was moving with exaggerated slowness and a ridiculous look on her face as she mimed checking to make sure the room was safe.

I motioned her in impatiently, “Get in here, Cris. I’m not going to bite.”

She laughed a bit as she stepped inside my office and shut the door. “I couldn’t be sure with the way you stormed out after that last Group Support Session.”

“Shit. I’ve heard worse a thousand different times. I don’t know why I let it get to me today.”

She reached around me and grabbed my phone off my desk. She shook it and gave me a pointed look as she said, “It couldn’t have anything to do with this, could it?”

I sighed. “Probably.”

I clicked open my texts and looked down my most recent text.

Have you seen the light yet? Have you washed off the filth of your choices and come clean? I regret giving birth to you for all the suffering you have caused this family.

I threw down the phone and bit out, “Happy Birthday to me.”

Cris gave me an apprising once over. “What you need is alcohol.”

“No. What I need is ice cream. You up for it?”

“Sounds good. I’ll meet you at your place in an hour.”

I watched as Cris left and wished, for about the thousandth time since I met her 3 years ago, that I had the courage to ask her out.

She’d worked as a chaplain at St. David’s Hospital for about ten years. We met when one of her patients – a homeless 17 year old suffering from exposure – had needed somewhere to stay. The social worker hadn’t been able to find a youth shelter to take a gay teen so Cris had gone digging. Since then, she started volunteering twice a week. It was really helpful to some of the kids to talk to a person of faith who didn’t condemn them to hell.

I shook myself and gathered my stuff to meet Cris at home. I stopped by the corner store to pick up three of my favorite pints, knowing Cris would do the same.

As I waited for Cris to knock on my door, I let myself savor the excitement and attraction I usually tried to push down. It had been a long day and I wanted to focus on someone nice. My cheeks flushed a bit in embarrassment at having a crush at my age. I had long ago given up on finding love and forced myself to settle for a fulfilling job and good friends. But the longing never really went away.

My heart jumped into my throat and, despite my horrible day, a smile spread across my face when I heard Cris’ knock at my door.

My smile turned into a grin to match Cris’ when I opened the door and saw her standing outside. She stood a little shorter than I was. Her dark hair was pulled up in a ponytail and her dark skin was smooth, almost glowing. Her brown eyes sparkled as she started singing “Happy Birthday” at the top of her lungs. She also held up her hands. One held a brightly colored gift bag and the other a grocery store sack.

Before she was able to get through the first verse, I slapped my hand over her mouth and dragged her inside.  “Shhh. You’ll disturb the neighbors,” I said over both our laughter. It was just what I needed after the text from my mother and the name calling during group.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she replied as she took the ice cream into the kitchen and put it in the freezer. “I have made the executive decision that presents come before ice cream tonight, or at least some do. She sketched a curtsey in the middle of my kitchen and held the gift bag out to me.

“For you, milady.”

I took the bag and began to open it but she stopped me before I even got the first piece of tissue paper off the top. “That is just the first part of the present. The second part is that I will use it with you.”

For a wild second my thoughts turned completely dirty but I reined them in because I knew Cris well enough that the chance of there being a sex toy in that bag was about a million to one.

“Okay,” I said drawing it out as I took the colored paper out of the top of the bag. The gift felt big and boxy but not all that heavy. As soon as I had cleared out enough paper to see what was in the bag I burst out laughing.

Cris crossed the room and took it out of the bag before I got a chance, excitement clear on her face. “I know how much you love trivia.”

“And I know how much you hate my trivia.” I grabbed the Trivial Pursuit board game out of her hands gloating gleefully, “And you already promised to play with me.”

I glanced away from the game and back up at Cris. I was shocked to meet an unwavering stare. Our eyes locked and there was nothing I could do to break the intense stare. I didn’t want to break it. My heart beat ratcheted up about four speeds and I felt hope furl out its wings in my chest.

Without breaking eye contact, I reached out to take her hand between our bodies, dropping the bag it still held on the way. It made a slight thunk noise as it hit the ground and still neither of us looked away. Her fingers curled tentatively around my own. At that sign of acquiescence, I found I couldn’t stop myself.

I leaned forward and pressed my lips to hers. A mere chaste brushing and leaned back again. I had made that first move and it was up to her to accept or reject. She made a slight sound at the back of her throat and rushed forward. Her hands were in my hair, her body pressed against mine, her tongue opening my mouth before I had a chance to take a breath.

I dropped the game I was still holding in my other hand on the counter and wrapped my arms around Cris, bringing us as close together as I could. Joy and heat battled for supremacy as we made out like teenagers in my kitchen. My heart took wing and I opened myself to Cris like I had never opened myself to anyone.

Eventually, we broke apart. We stood there forehead to forehead smiling and breathing hard for a few moments before I huffed out a small laugh, “Happy Birthday to me.”

Cris smiled back, “Does that get me out of playing the game?”

I gave her a mischievous look.  “Nope. But I will make it more interesting. How about every time you get a question correct you get a kiss?”

She glared at me for a beat before she gave an exaggerated sigh and said, “Fine.”

We gathered the pints of ice cream from the freezer and set the game up in the living room. As Cris brought spoons in from the kitchen, I marveled that this beautiful, intelligent, wonderful woman had allowed me to kiss her and seemed interested in a relationship with me.

For the first time, I thought to myself, that maybe my mother was wrong. Maybe I actually deserved this because I was a beautiful, intelligent, wonderful woman as well.

After Cris sat down we didn’t spend much time playing the game as she had promised but that’s all right because I actually celebrated my birthday for the first time in 20 years.

The Beginning.