Something Beautiful (SFW)

Standard

Rainbow Advent 12

Hi, everyone! For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome.

It’s my turn to get a little festive today as I add my story to the wonderful Rainbow Advent Calendar. Click the banner above (or here for our wonderful Facebook gròup) when you’ve finished reading, to find more free stories from a variety of excellent authors throughout Advent!

This story features two of the characters from my debut novel, Submerge, but it stands alone, it’s safe for work, and it’s (major) spoiler-free. I’ll add a buy link at the bottom if you want to know more about how the two of them met. Meanwhile, the story itself is free, but if you do like it and want to show your appreciation in any way, please consider making a small donation to the NSPCC today. It’s nothing to do with the story, but it’s a charity very close to my own heart and they do great work helping children who need protection, often from those who should be doing the protecting. If not, no pressure whatsoever – as I say, this is a very short, very free story!

So, without further ado…

Something Beautiful
By Eleanor Musgrove

Jamie came home from the office party to find that Christmas had exploded in Miles’ living room.

“What on Earth happened here?” A pile of decorations – paper chains, by the looks of it, though the tangled mess was hard to conclusively identify – moved in the corner and a familiar bowler hat popped out of the top, followed by Miles’ face and arms.

“You’re home! I, er-”

“Hold on. Let me try out my deductive powers. First of all, your job search went about as well as usual.”

“Correct. Still a surprising lack of opportunities for former managers of disgraced nightclubs. Shocking, I know.”

“Sorry. So… you got fed up and bored, and you knew I’d be home late today, so you decided to go for a walk into town.”

“Yeah…”

“And in town, you were entranced by the pretty lights and the glitter and the tinsel and now here we are.”

“Good try, but you missed a bit.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” Miles shrugged. “I had an accomplice.”

“Who would help you collect this much shiny- oh. Gina.”

“Yeah… in my defence, she bought even more than I did. Her flat is going to be insane.”

“And yet I expect she’s managed to get at least one decoration up.” Jamie couldn’t help but smile fondly at the general mess Miles had made. He got it; Miles struggled to concentrate when he was having a tough time with his depression, and even just unpacking all the assorted Christmas tat covering the floor must have been a mammoth undertaking.

“After I unpacked it all, I started making paper chains and… I suppose I fell asleep.” Miles was obviously embarrassed, but Jamie thought it was adorable. “I only woke up when you put your key in the door.”

“Come on, then. If you can get out of that pile without ripping them all, I’ll help you put all this up.”

 

It turned out that Miles had actually bought more fairy lights than they had power sockets to plug them into – and that wasn’t even counting the strings of cheap, battery-powered bulbs he’d picked up at the local pound shop. They’d have to get themselves a couple of safe extension cords the following day. For now, even without getting all the lights plugged in, there was plenty to get on with. Miles must have made ten metres of paper chains before he’d fallen asleep, and although his flat was comfortably spacious, it wasn’t big enough to fit ten metres of paper chains across the ceiling without looking ridiculous. They hung them anyway, giving the living room the impression of a jungle with hanging vines in festive colours.

“Right. Tinsel?”

Jamie wasn’t sure where they were going to put it, but he took one end of a strand from Miles all the same. Eventually, they draped it along the edges of surfaces, wrapped furniture legs and – of course – stuck it around the frame of the painting on the wall. Miles, Jamie noticed once they’d finished, was also wearing a short length as a fantastically sparkly tie.

“Suits you. What next?”

“I, er, got some more baubles and things, for the tree.”

 

Jamie had bought their tree, a couple of weeks ago, and decked its plastic branches with lights and the handful of baubles he’d taken a fancy to in the shops. Miles had added his own decorations, but there hadn’t been very many of them. Too many were overtly Christian in theme, and since neither of them saw Christmas as a religious experience – the holiday was based in the wrong religion for both of them – it hadn’t seemed appropriate to cover their tree in angels and tiny baby Jesus figures that played Christmas hymns when pressed.

“Those don’t exist,” Jamie had exclaimed, when Miles had told him as much. Miles had showed him the website. “Those shouldn’t exist,” he’d corrected lamely.

 

Now, however, Miles seemed to have come up trumps, with non-religious baubles covered in glitter in fantastic patterns and colours. He watched with interest as Miles blushed slightly before rummaging in a carrier bag, pulling out a long train of sparkly reindeer. They seemed to just keep coming, until finally the string ended with an equally glittery sleigh.

“It… er… it called to me.” Miles seemed utterly ashamed of the decision, but Jamie only cared for one detail.

“Show me that first reindeer.” Miles obliged, and Jamie peered carefully at its face. Then he looked at the second one in the string. “Yes. That’s good. They can go on the tree.”

“What were you-? Oh, it’s Rudolph! I didn’t even notice that. And the rest have black noses?”

“Of course. There can only be one Rudolph. Let’s see… if we start Rudolph just under the star on top, and then wrap the whole thing round…” They were lucky; when they reached the end of the string, the sleigh just rested neatly on one of the lowest branches.

“Perfect,” Miles told him happily, looking not only at the tree but at the festive chaos of the room around them. He was practically glowing, and it warmed Jamie’s heart to see it. Miles had told him once, during a particularly bad spell, that when he was struggling with the darkness in his mind it helped to see something beautiful. There was no denying that the flat had been transformed into something beautiful now. “Perfect,” Miles repeated, but Jamie shook his head.

“Not quite. Close your eyes.”

 

Miles narrowed his eyes before he closed them entirely, clearly a little suspicious. Still, he followed Jamie’s instruction and even tipped his hat forward a touch to ensure that he couldn’t be accused of peeking. Jamie made his way quietly over to his discarded jacket and reached into the inside pocket for the item he needed. He had to stand on tiptoes to tuck the sprig of mistletoe into a paper chain above Miles’ head, and it took a moment to get it in just the right position so that it didn’t fall out. Then he took Miles’ hat from him.

“Open your eyes, then.”

Miles’ eyes darted around the room, looking for any difference in his surroundings. It took a few moments for him to follow Jamie’s gaze upwards and spot the innocent-looking little plant hanging above his head.

“Oh. Yes, that really does make it-”

 

Jamie was impatient; he moved forward and pulled Miles into his arms, barely waiting for him to lean in before he claimed his lips for his own. By the time they broke apart, they were both a little breathless.

“…Perfect,” Miles mumbled, grinning like an idiot. Jamie was sure he was wearing a similarly dopey expression. “Where did that come from?”

“The mistletoe? I stole it from work. They really shouldn’t put it up at work parties, anyway, that’s just asking for someone to need a sexual harassment seminar in the New Year.”

“You stole it? From work? Remind me what your job is again, Jamie?”

“Oh, stop it, it’s hardly the crime of the century. Even we have to have fun sometimes. Do you like it?”

“It’s definitely staying here – and so are you.”

 

Miles wrapped his arms around him again, his embrace warm and comfortable amidst the riot of colour and light they had turned the flat into. Truly, Jamie thought to himself, this was something beautiful.

You can find out more about Jamie and Miles in Submerge, available here and here. If you’d like to make a donation to my chosen charity, you can do so online here. Thanks to Alex Jane for letting me join this wonderful project, and for organising the whole thing. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Rainbow Advent Calendar

Advertisements

Discounted eBooks!

Standard

Hi everyone,

Sorry, I’m late to put this on the blog, but here we go…

You can pick up Manifold Press eBooks at a fantastic 25% discount on Smashwords until the 11th of March – including Submerge. Head over and find yourself a bargain!

It’s part of Smashwords’ “Read an eBook week”, so there are loads of titles on offer. I definitely recommend checking out what Manifold have to offer!

Here’s a link to the books on sale. Don’t miss out!

Paperbacks + a change of plan!

Standard

Hi everyone,

Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed that, once again, it is not Friday. I seem to be having trouble remembering to post on a Friday, so I’m going to move my weekly blog to Saturday in the hope that it will be easier to fit in. I apologise if it does jump around a bit, though – life can be a bit hectic at the moment, so I have to try to fit things in where I can.

On to word counts and projects! I have written 5282 words over the last week, most of them on Sprawl, my hopeful Submerge sequel, which I’m about halfway through. On Thursday, I took a break to work on An Englishman’s Home. I wrote a total of 22036 words in January, which is about half of what I’d usually write in a NaNoWriMo month and probably a lot more than I would have written without my 500 word goal. So far this year, I’ve written nearly 24 thousand words (not including the odd bit of fanfiction)!

I’ve also finally finished proofreading the paperback edition of Submerge, which is very exciting. I know several people wanted to read the book but prefer tangible books to the e-versions, so with a lot of help from Manifold Press, I have now got it sorted out. I’ll be releasing the book for sale on the 7th of February, so watch this space for a one-off blog post then!

Talk to you soon!

Oops

Standard

Hi everyone,

Well, I’m backdating this by about an hour because I completely forgot to update today. So much for that resolution! Still, next week I’ll try to remember.

This week I have once again been working on a redraft of Sprawl (working title), which I hope will shape up into a passable sequel to Submerge. I had planned to take Thursday to work on my submission for the Call to Arms anthology being put together by Manifold Press, but I got well and truly stuck. So I started writing a new project I’d begun work on before my old laptop died, and never got back to. It’s called A King’s Ransom (working title), it’s built on the remains of The Perfect Garden (whether that will ever see the light of day, I don’t know) and I’m quite excited about it.

I’ve written at least 500 words each day, and I’ve written 10170 words this year so far. I hope I can keep this up!

I’ve also been waiting, somewhat impatiently, for a proof of the Submerge paperback to arrive. I love having a paperback copy of my work to keep on a shelf, and I’m hoping that a paperback edition will also be easier for some of its target audience to access. I will, of course, let you know when that arrives.

Talk to you next week!

Happy new year!

Standard

Hi everyone,

Well, I’m sure you’re all busy celebrating the end of the year in your own ways, so enjoy it! I just wanted to take a moment to wish you the very best in 2017, and to reflect a little on the good things 2016 has meant for me, in a professional sense.

There have been a lot of things going on this year, not all of them good, but for me as an author, it’s been a landmark year. This, after all, was the year I got my first novel published, and that feels amazing. I’ve wanted to be a published author – to share my stories with the world – since I was very young, and although I’ve had some short stories published (including some this year, too!) it’s always been my dream to have a novel with my name on the cover. This year I was fortunate enough to finish something I felt confident enough to pitch to my dear friends at Manifold Press, and even more fortunate that they saw potential in it. Submerge is one of the proudest achievements of my life so far, and I hope I can build on that experience to write something even better.

This has also been a great year for me in terms of self-esteem and mental health. After years of getting half-measures of treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety, I finally found the right counsellor and the right course of therapy at the right time to really turn things around. I’m not cured, not entirely – that’s not really how mental illness works – but I do feel a lot better and more capable of dealing with things. It’s part of the reason that I managed to enjoy Queer Company 2 even more than I loved the first Queer Company. And I did have so much fun at that event, made some great new friends and really reassured myself that I can belong in this world of fantastic storysmiths.

I couldn’t do this without the support of my friends at Manifold Press – publishers, proofreaders, editors, and fellow authors – or without the other authors I’ve met along the way. Above all, I couldn’t do this without readers. Those of you reading this blog, those of you who’ve read any of my stories – I owe so much to you, because a story means very little with nobody to tell it to. A story, kept to oneself, is barely more than a daydream.

So thank you, all of you, for your support in 2016, and I hope that 2017 will bring better times for all of us.

Talk to you next year!

Interview links

Standard

Hi everyone,

I promised to share a couple of links with you, since I neglected to share a couple of interviews in the craziness of NaNoWriMo. So, without further ado:

I’m working on restructuring and finishing my NaNo novel, while I’m still on a roll with it, and then I hope to get back to my rewrite of the second Bowler Hat book. Hurrah!

Talk to you soon!