Thursday, August 6, 2015

Story Time

(Came up empty for a topic today, so I rooted through my WIPs and found a snippet. This is M/M, but in a genre new to me: contemporary. No shapeshifters, no vampires, nothing (ahem) supernatural. Just two guys dating. Maybe that's why it stalled on me. I think I may have a few ideas to get it going again. We'll see what the future brings. In the meantime, here's the opening.)

Ryan Barnes was sitting in his favorite coffee bar with a French vanilla and a chocolate cake donut when the man of his dreams walked in. He froze with the donut halfway to his mouth and watched the man stroll from the door to the counter. His walk showcased a trim build and khaki slacks wrapped around the proverbial ass to die for. The man reached the counter and murmured to the barista. Ryan couldn't see his face, but he pictured a smile that could launch a thousand hard-ons without breaking a sweat.

Starting with the one in Ryan's pants.

The man raised his voice slightly. He had a pleasant tenor. That voice screaming Ryan's name in the throes of hot sex would sound like birdsong. Ryan set his donut down with a little worshipful groan.

"I have got to hit that," he told his cousin Jordan, seated across the table from him. "Like, right this minute."

"Forget it." Jordy sipped his own mint-mocha with a blasé disregard for the dream come true at the counter. "He's not your type."

"Says who?"

"All the laws of nature. I've seen that guy around. He teaches at the community college. He reads books. Rumor has it he's writing one. The man has a brain, Ry. He's out of your league."

"I read. A lot of sex happens in the brain. I read that in a book once."

"You work with a band saw."

"I make furniture. That's practically an artist. An artist is practically up there with a teacher." All the while he continued to stare at the MOHD's fine khaki'd ass. Teacher or not, the guy must work out. Had there been any hint of a belly under his pullover sweater? Ryan hadn't noticed one. He hadn't noticed any flaws at all.

He couldn't hear precisely what was said, but when the barista put two chocolate cake donuts into a bag he knew Fate had arranged this. The MOHD could drink crappy English tea and read depressing Russian novels and it wouldn't make a difference. The chocolate cake donuts had spoken.

Ryan got to his feet. Jordy grabbed his arm. "Don't you dare."

"What? I need a refill." He tipped his cup. Coffee sloshed near the bottom. Ryan hastily chugged it. He winked at his cousin. "Wish me luck."


Ryan shook off Jordy's hand and sauntered up to the counter. The barista flicked a glance his way from over by the urns. The MOHD didn't even look around. Ryan took note of the coffee she was drawing for him. Basic black. No mocha, no latte, no frappe, no frills. Just straight up, bitter caffeine. Okay, he could work with that. The man ate chocolate cake donuts.

He clacked his mug on the counter to get the barista's, and the dream's, attention. "Can I get a refill here?"

"Just a minute, sir. Be right with you."

Ryan waved to let her know she could take her time. He turned his head to flash a smile at the man of his dreams. The MOHD was looking at him.

Ryan's smile, throat and brain dried to sawdust.

About a dozen years ago, right after he'd got out of high school and before he landed his first job at Craig's Custom Furniture, Ryan had taken his savings, graduation and birthday money, refurbished a van, and gone on a six-month tour of the States as a gift to himself. One of his unplanned stops had been at Crater Lake in Oregon. He remembered the deep, inviting blue of the water, so cool and pristine in its volcanic caldera. This man's eyes surpassed the lake in both hue and depth. Ryan was convinced if he moved so much as a toe he'd fall into them and drown.

Slowly the rest of Mr. Dream's features came into focus. Average height, three, maybe four inches shorter than Ryan's six-one. Dark hair, probably combed early on but now tousled by the wind outside. Skin that saw more fluorescents than sun, with a touch of stubble already reasserting itself after the morning's shave. Moist lips in a firm but almost pretty face. Those lips were frowning slightly. He blinked but didn't speak.

"Hey," Ryan said. It was all his tongue could manage.

"Here you go." The barista returned with the dream's coffee in a tall, lidded Styrofoam cup. The MOHD flashed a brief smile. Ryan's dick throbbed with wanting. The man thanked her, paid for his coffee and donuts and walked out of the shop, all without a word or another look at Ryan. The wind gave his hair another artful toss. He ducked his head against it, stepped beyond the view of the front windows and was gone.

Inside the shop, inside his brain, Ryan kicked himself in the balls.

The barista tugged his empty mug out of his hand, yanking Ryan's awareness back to the now-empty and colorless world around him. "Make it a black," he said on impulse. "What he had. The guy who was just here." He fumbled for his wallet, and an excuse. "Y'know, I swear I've seen him around before. Doesn't he teach at WACC?"

"Mr. St. James? Yeah, I think so. History. Or bio. Some science." She shrugged. Her interest in the customers stopped after they ordered. "You want another donut?"

"Maybe on the way out." Ryan paid and stumbled back to his table in a daze.

"Smooth," Jordy welcomed him back. "I should have taken notes."

"Screw you, stringbean. At least I know what I like. You can't even make up your mind. What are you on this week? Men or women?"

"I don't believe in limiting myself."

"Right. You date women who look like men and men who look like women. Why don't you just hook up with brother-sister twins? Make it easy on yourself."

"You didn't even get his name, did you?"

"I got a name. And you were right. He teaches at the college." Ryan took a gulp of coffee and almost spit it out. Strong. This was good. This was a good thing. A man who drank this on a regular basis wouldn't hesitate to swallow anything waved at his mouth.

He took a more cautious sip. Jordy watched in silent amusement. "You're going to make a total idiot out of yourself, aren't you? Yet again."

"You want to find out what else a band saw's good for? Didn't think so." Ryan dumped sugar into the coffee until he could stand it. Yeah. That'd get a man's motor running. He flashed a cocky grin at his cousin. "I think it's time I went back to school."


Savanna Kougar said...

Verra m/m entertaining, Pat! And great dialogue... I'd change the opening lines, though.

"Ryan Barnes was sitting in his favorite coffee bar with a French vanilla and a chocolate cake donut when the man of his dreams walked in. He froze with the donut halfway to his mouth and watched the man stroll from the door to the counter."

Maybe something like this... *just a suggestion*

Ryan Barnes swept his gaze around his favorite coffee bar, then drew in the rich aroma of his French Vanilla latte. First though, the chocolate cake donut begged to be eaten.

Pat C. said...

You think he has a donut fetish? That could take the story in a whole new direction.

Savanna Kougar said...

Yeah, a secret donut fetish... okay, maybe not so secret... but, seriously, I just figured that way of expressing it, expressed Ryan's character, as you wrote it. I'm sure you can come up with something better. ~smiles~

Pat C. said...

I did -- my original opening, which introduces both Ryan and the man he's going to fall in love with. When you're aiming for a line with a stated upper word limit, you have to dive in quick.

Savanna Kougar said...

Ahhh... truthfully, okay, as a reader that opening line seemed flat to me as far as being interested in reading the story -- especially when compared to the rest of your great entertaining scene. Now maybe that's not true for devoted m/m readers. Don't know. However, if I picked up a man-woman romance that began that way, I would put it down as a reader. I'd have no interest whatsoever in Ryan, or whatever hero, who *was* [passively] sitting in a coffee shop. Or, I don't feel anything for him. I don't resonate with him as a character. Now, maybe that's not true for other readers. You could ask, take a poll.

Ryan Barnes swept his gaze around his favorite coffee bar, then drew in the rich aroma of his French Vanilla latte. First though, the chocolate cake donut begged to be eaten. About to take a bite, Ryan stopped in mid-action. The man of his dreams had just walked in. Wowza!

Why the stated upper word limit? Is that what the publisher wants?

Pat C. said...

I'm aiming for a short-story line. I want to save words for the sex.

If you don't like my hook, that's your opinion. I'm going to leave it as is unless and until an acquiring editor tells me differently.

Savanna Kougar said...

Got it, about the short story line.

Yeah, obviously, it is my opinion. That's why I suggested you ask *others* about your opening line. Not trying to be mean or overly critical, Pat. I wouldn't bother saying anything at all, except for the fact that I like your story, so far, and want you to be pubbed. *If* an acquiring author doesn't like the opening hook, they might not bother with reading beyond that point. Then again, of course, even if the hook doesn't hook them, they could read beyond the opening line, and suggest a change.

Actually, it's not your hook I don't like, it's how you wrote it. It's telling not showing. WAS is a killer, imho. However, like I say I don't know the m/m market and that line, written as it is, might hook those particular readers.

And please don't shoot a messenger who is only trying to help... and is only offering an opinion. After all, I LIKE the rest of what you've written, a lot! And, of course, I respect your right to disagree. No problem. Not trying to force anything on you. 'Cause I don't like it when people try force me... however, if they offer a suggestion which betters my story, THANK YOU!

Pat C. said...

So this whole flap was over the word "was"? Yeesh.

I'm keeping it as is. End of discussion.

Can we get back to our lives now?

Savanna Kougar said...

I support you keeping it as is... Peace.

Serena Shay said...

OMG... Pat, I'm drooling!

I like the way you're working the contemporary read. I know when I wrote mine it was a bit strange not working in a paranormal component, but it was also kind of a blast. You've totally got this and I'm ready to read!! :D

Pat C. said...

The holdup is I'm not quite sure where Misha's character is going. Once I get a better grasp of him, everything should fall into place.

Yes, his character was named in honor of Castiel's vessel. And yes, that's Sam with "Dean."

Serena Shay said...

Ah, still getting to know Misha's character...I hear ya. Sometimes they're quite resistant in what they want to share. If you need a sounding board feel free to shoot me an email. :)

Hehe, I figured that must be Sam, you have perfected their banter!

Pat C. said...

The basic original premise was manly guy Ryan pursues bookish schoolteacher Neil, only to discover Neil's a full-on alpha and Ryan's a closet sub. Suddenly Ryan's in over his head. Luckily Neil likes the artsy type. I think some mild bondage may work its way into the new version. I need to do research.

Serena Shay said...

Oooh, the old switch-a-roo... I like stories that use that tool, and Dean, ah, Ryan as a closet sub... dayum!

I'm going to email you a great research site. ;)