Yesterday the weather was warm enough that you could walk outside without a coat, the first day that had happened in a while. The sun stayed out all day, no clouds to hide behind, but it’s still winter, so it was almost completely dark after 5:30.

That didn’t stop the kids in my neighborhood. My windows were open and I could hear the kids in the background, out playing until they were forced by their parents to come in. I didn’t pay much attention to them as they yelled and ran around and did whatever kids do, but there was one sentence that got my attention because it sounded like the speaker said, “I wanna be a Jedi.”

It was a petulant sounding boy, and sure enough, he wanted to be a Jedi because an older, more confident boy replied, “You can’t be a Jedi, that’s not fair.”

I’m not really sure what happened next, there was some whining and commotion, maybe the first boy got mad and stormed off. I didn’t hear anything else until a third voice said “just let him be a Jedi.” Two against one, the boy got to be a Jedi.

So, I guess the moral of the story is to follow your dreams. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t be a Jedi.

 

 

 

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Presents

For my nephew, Christmas is probably the best and worst time of the year. He gets time off from school, he loves snow and there’s an absolute mountain of toys waiting for him on Dec. 25. The downside though, is all the days before Christmas. He’s a wonderful ‘just because’ shopper. If it’s a slow day, the best way to brighten it up is to buy something.

That doesn’t work in December. “You don’t need any toys,” I told him. “Christmas is almost here.”

“Let’s just go look,” he said instead. “I won’t ask for anything.”

I shook my head. “No way, I’m not falling for that.”

“I mean it this time,” he tried, but I didn’t budge.

He has a big Christmas list already. He wants lots of toys and video games, a few clothes and some accessories for the sports he plays.

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I don’t know why he likes this thing so much.

My younger nephew took a more imaginative approach this year, asking for whatever his heart desired no matter how impossible. He listed a few toys, mostly things from Minecraft like a creeper stuffed animal, but he wants both a toy version and real version of the witherstorm.

 

 

He also asked for ten baby kittens.

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He wants the creepiest thing ever, then the cutest things ever.

I’m slightly more prepared this year than last year, getting my Christmas shopping done a whole five days before the actual event. I guess that means I can think about what I want now. So, in the spirit of materialism, I mean, Christmas, I decided to come up with my own wish list. I’ve been good this year Santa, I swear.

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Oh well, here’s my wish list:

 

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Black Sails DVDs – Bless everyone that had the idea to take Treasure Island and make it really gay. It’s a crazy beautiful show that’s brimming with action and adventure while also being well-plotted and full of excellent character moments. It’s like a book and movie at the same time, but it’s actually a TV show and a super gay one.

 

 

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Godiva Chocolate – If I’m going to indulge, I might as well go big.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – This book had my interest with the first words of the description, “A young bisexual British lord.” Plus, it promises a zany journey filled with humor and best friends falling in love.

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Stranger Things Collectibles – Maybe this is my nephew’s influence, but I want at least one toy of my own.  My current obsession is Stranger Things. When I saw some ST action figures at Game Stop, I was definitely tempted to convince my nephew he wanted them instead of a Minecraft zombie. I managed to resist, so that is at least one good deed I’ve done this year, Santa.

I don’t know why the one version of Steve I found from Funko Pop Television is all bloody. They have Brenner and Mr. Clarke, they can’t make two Steves? But I want it anyway. He even has a little bat!

That’s my Christmas wish list, what’s on yours?

 

 

 

 

Optimism

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Today is grey and bitter. There’s no snow yet, but the winter is truly here. The sky is empty, the trees are stripped bare of leaves, and no one is venturing outside more than they have to.

I’ve been having some trouble with positivity lately. It’s easy to get discouraged as a self-published author. The weather doesn’t reflect my mood, it’s not pathetic fallacy, it’s just December in the Midwest.

Being a self-published author isn’t the easiest thing. I won’t moan on about all my struggles and difficulties, but I’ll just say it has some challenges. Doing it on your own means you have to do so much from writing, editing, making graphics, marketing and more all while competing against people with bigger teams and budgets.

I received a lesson in optimism from my nephews. Every day they want to go to the park. The cold doesn’t bother them. Or more likely, they just don’t care that it’s cold. They still want to go outside and run around and play. They don’t let the weather ruin their fun.

Their favorite response last year when someone said it was too cold to go outside was to say, “Well, to me it isn’t.” Naturally, no one bought this. Ignoring reality didn’t work or produce results, so they’ve adapted. Now they just don’t care. Yes, it’s cold outside, but they want to go out anyway.

I dwell in possibility

Miles left me a watch and an obligation. The watch didn’t even work.

He didn’t die, but he might as well have. His family was moving across the country. Okay, there was the internet and video chat and even freaking letters if we got desperate, but it wouldn’t be the same. I was allowed to be dramatic, I’m 17.

Four of us huddled into Mile’s basement, curled into each other even though everything had been packed up and there was nothing but space. The scotch tasted bitter and burned with every swallow. The smell hung in the air every time my parents opened the bottle, so that’s why I chose it: it was strong.

Miles eye’s were glassy but his voice was steady when he said, “Before I leave, I am going to make out with Greg Morris.” Greg had a mouth that reminded me of pomegranates, a burst of red color, and eyes like whiskey, much more palatable than the scotch we drank, maybe I should have grabbed that instead.

It made sense to want to lock lips with the gorgeous popular boy, but was he even gay? Did he have any idea our little group of friends even existed? Mile’s voice rose in volume and intensity when met with any doubts, voice filled with conviction, until his mom opened the door and told us to keep it down so his parents could pretend they didn’t know what we were doing.

The door closed, and the fight left him like it was never there.  “Fine, maybe I won’t.” All his previous words were forgotten, alcohol probably had that effect, but I didn’t think that’s what this was. His eyes turned serious for a moment, aware and intent, focused on me.

“If I don’t do it, it’s up to you.”

***

Once I had three friends at this school and now I had two.

I looked across the row of lockers, saw the way Greg’s profile looked bathed in light from the sun pouring in through a window, and I wanted.

A text message alert made me tear my eyes away.

Make me proud

Make yourself proud

Greg was so pretty it hurt. And me? I didn’t know how I measured up, but maybe that didn’t matter. I had three friends at this school and was suddenly down to two. I wanted more.

I’m not just gonna walk up and kiss him I texted back.

His response wasn’t surprising. You’ll at least go and say hi, right?

I couldn’t walk over and pull him into a passionate clench. But saying hi? It suddenly seemed easy in comparison. Sometimes it’s not about what you’re given but what you choose to do with it.

I walked over.

title from Emily Dickinson

via Daily Prompt: Inheritance

One Little Word Excerpt

The hallway was quiet, just us truants, so Mrs. Sharp’s heels clicking on the tiles were loud, followed by a chastised boy, head down and grumbling under his breath. A small throng of jocks trailed behind them.

Alicia and I slowed to watch the scene.

“The rest of you get to class,” she ordered and they scurried off, leaving their leader alone. Luke Chambers. We were a relatively large community, for a farming town at least, so it was possible to not know everyone in your class, though you’d probably recognize their face if not their name. He definitely had the kind of face a boy like me remembered and a body that made me salivate. Everyone knew Luke Chambers though.

He was an all-star, a golden boy. The kind of guy kids like me dream of and don’t tell anyone about. Hot shots like him only dated cheerleaders and mean girls, and oh yeah, just girls in general. I didn’t spend much time thinking about Luke, even though he had dimples and an enticing, toned body. He was hot but an asshole. He thought he was better than everyone else, that was obvious when he had the audacity to hold the door when Mrs. Sharp tried to open it. Rumor was she was the inspiration for Medusa, her glare turned mere mortals to stone. She feasted on the souls of students who displeased her to remain young. No one tried to talk back to her. Unless you were Luke Chambers.

“Please, it wasn’t a big deal.” There were those dimples as he shot her a winning smile. I couldn’t see her react, but if was it like her reaction to everything else, she remained unmoved. I could almost feel the displeased aura radiating off her, and I soaked it in, enjoying the normally perfect, unshakeable athlete’s moment of unease.

“Mr. Chambers, you’ll be lucky if you aren’t expelled.”

There were kids in third world countries that had a harder life than me, I knew that. I may indulge in overdramatics about my suffering sometimes, we all have our ways to cope, but my life probably wasn’t that bad on a cosmic level. Still. Watching Luke Chamber’s face fall as he headed to the gallows, possibly to be expelled, felt like a reward for the torment I endured daily. God smiling on me, saying here’s something to help you get through the day.

“What do you make of that?” Alicia asked.

I smiled. “Karma’s a bitch.”

***

One Little Word is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. If you’d like a free copy to review, please let me know.

Pah rum pum pum pum!

My feelings on Christmas music? Wait until after Thanksgiving to play it. Now that we’re officially into the Christmas season, I’m pretty ambivalent about it. I heard You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch on the radio the other day and with the kind of vitriol the singer spouted, it’s no wonder the Grinch wasn’t very fond of people. I’d want to steal presents from townspeople too if they called me a nasty wasty skunk with the soul of a dump heap.

There are a few songs I can tolerate like Feliz Navidad and Rudolph, and even one or two I like. Here a few of my favorites:

Of course the problem with Christmas songs is that everyone has their own version of the popular ones. The Bing Crosby version is probably most well-known, but I’m not too fond of it even though I love the song.

This one is good no matter who sings it because of the ‘pa rum pum pum pum’ part.

 

My absolute favorite.

Motivation

I’m incapable of going out of order. Books, TV shows, movies, it doesn’t matter. I start at the beginning and move on from there. I’m in Pretty Little Liars Limbo because I’ve started it three times and then quit. Enough time passes where I feel compelled to watch from the beginning again but don’t really want to, so instead I just admire Keegan Allen from afar.

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Arrow has been on my watch list since I got Netflix, but the start is just so dull. I wasn’t sure I’d ever watch it despite hearing it was good. Then Tumblr introduced me to the adorableness of Ray Palmer, and I really, really want to see Legends of Tomorrow.  I just have to get through Arrow first. I’m on season two and it’s gotten better, and I’m still eagerly awaiting Ray. Of course, I also have to watch the Flash before LOT.

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So, I’m slowly making my way through Arrow, then the Flash. However, if I ever need an incentive to keep watching, I think this is it:

Winter? Eh. I mean… yay?

December is here! The mild Nov. we’ve been experiencing in my area is gone, and the weather is supposed to get chilly and icy. I enjoyed snow in the winter when the possibility existed that school could be cancelled. Now that I’m a grown up, winter sucks.

Some people like the cold and how pretty things look covered in snow, but not me. I’m from the Midwest, and I don’t mind life on the coast at all. The temperate in the southern climate where I reside part of the year gets colder but doesn’t even require a heavy jacket.

Except I’m back in the Midwest for the holidays. Seeing my family is worth it, but I’m still going to complain about the snow. I don’t know what Ari’s thinking. Screw winter things, I want to be back there where it’s warm.

Okay, now that I’ve been a Grinch, there has to be some bright sides to the winter. Let’s see…

Hot Chocolate

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Apparently this one’s healthy, if you’re into that kinda of thing.

Sweaters

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Mmm, cozy. And sometimes the person wearing the sweater can enhance the product.

Snow Forts

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Okay, I’ve never built a successful one, but they’re still damn cool.

Twinkle Lights

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I chose this picture as a reminder that twinkle lights are not exclusive to the winter season. They’re an anytime decoration. And because it’s pretty.

An Excuse to Stay Inside

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Alright, this might be my favorite thing about cold weather. Nothing’s better than bunking down in a warm bed with a good book.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of winter?

Baby’s First Blog Post

The first of anything seems so daunting and there’s so much pressure to think of something amazing, or at least, I put that pressure on my myself. So, here’s my first blog post. I’ll keep it short, simple and sweet like me. Well, maybe I’m not so sweet. Or simple. I don’t want to insult myself.

I’m Finn Manning.  I write about queer romances, often featuring at least one awkward person cause I guess I have some experience with that. Both being queer and awkward. Right now I’ve published cute stories full of drama and misunderstandings. I have about a million ideas that I’m trying to get out. I look forward to posting more about my stories and blogging in general.