What's New?
This month, we're releasing a collection of our previously published short stories! Steam Heat and Other Stories consists of six stories, all of which are under 20,000 words each. Four of the stories were written by Ari and me together, and the remaining two are stories I wrote solo. 

Love knows no boundaries and in this collection of six short stories, the writing duo known as Ari McKay explore how finding your soulmate doesn't mean you have to be part the same social scene, work in the same field, or even inhabit the same plane of existence!

The Whole Kit and Kaboodle — Grey is smitten with seemingly shy librarian Henry, but Henry has a secret that could stand in the way of their happiness.

A Hundred Lonely Halloweens — Micah forms an unexpected connection to the ghost haunting the historical home he’s refurbishing.

Steam Heat — Coworkers Joss and Trey realize they have far more in common than they thought when they encounter each other at a Steampunk convention. 

Caribbean Blues — Jon isn’t the type to indulge in vacation flings, but he can’t resist Derrick, a marine biologist who studies dolphins in the Bahamas. 

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around — Landon thinks he needs to wear drag to catch the interest of his crush, but when he starts getting lessons from drag queen Raul, he finds himself growing hot for teacher instead.

As Fair Art Thou, My Bonny Lad — Shopkeeper Adie has tried to keep his desire for men a secret, but Niall, a newcomer to the colony of North Carolina, tempts him to risk his reputation in the little port town for a chance at love.

Steam Heat and Other Stories is available on Amazon!
Behind the Scenes
Organizing a collection of stories presents its own kind of challenge, and Steam Heat and Other Stories isn't the only collection I've curated this year, so I've had a little practice. There are different ways to approach organizing a collection, and as with most things related to writing and the writing process, there isn't a right or wrong way to do it. There's simply the way the author chooses. 

In general, the longest story is often the last story, and the title will often come from one of the stories, usually the one the author feels best represents the collection as a whole.

You can start the collection either with your strongest story or the story you feel best prepares the reader for what they can expect in the collection as a whole. The story might set the tone or the theme of the collection, or it might be something shocking or edgy that the author wants to use as a way to prepare the reader for what to expect from their writing. 

For our collection, I didn't put the longest story -- which was "Caribbean Blues" -- at the end, although I did put it last in the list of our collaborative stories. Instead, I organized the collection with our four collaborative stories first and my two solo stories at the end. 

I opened the collection with "The Whole Kit and Kaboodle" for two reasons. The first reason is that Ari and I are both still fond of that story. We wrote it for a call from Dreamspinner Press for one of their short story anthologies which had a theme of characters that had a secret. In our story, Henry is the character who is keeping a secret, namely his drag alter ego, Kitten Kaboodle. 

The second reason is that it does set the tone of the collection, in a way. Out of six stories, we had two stories featuring drag queens, a vacation romance, a historical story, a Halloween/ghost story, and a story set at a steampunk convention. A definite hodgepodge! So I chose to start off with Kitten as a way of showing the collection is unconventional. 

I put my solo stories at the end simply because I figured most of our readers would be interested in our work more than my work, but I did want to include them to round out the collection and to give them a home after being orphaned. 

Normally, Ari and I write in Google Drive, and then I download the manuscript and edit it in MS Word, but for this project, I used Scrivener. I created a new folder and document for each story so I could drag and drop the order until I was satisfied. Then I edited each story anew because the collaborative stories are all a good 3-5 years old. In fact, "Steam Heat" and "Caribbean Blues" were released during our first year of writing professionally. 

I enjoyed revisiting these stories and getting the chance to tweak them and make them a bit better. Ari and I hope our readers enjoy seeing them again as well!
Coming Up
October 1 — We're releasing "The Boyfriend Sweater Curse," a new holiday short story about a knitter who grows convinced his love life is doomed following a series of failed relationships. This story will be available through Amazon.

November 8 — Fortune's Slings and Cupid's Arrows will be released by Dreamspinner Press. This is book two of our Lawyers in Love series. It's a second edition, but it's been heavily revised.
Sneak Peek
This month, I'm debuting a new section of our newsletter: the Sneak Peek! This is where you'll see an exclusive excerpt from something we're currently working on. This month's Sneak Peek comes from "The Boyfriend Sweater Curse," which will be released through Amazon next month. 

“You’re sure you want to do this?” Gabriel gestured to the stacked plastic bins that held his Christmas decorations. There were nine total, each one of them stuffed full. Most of them held his ornament collection, which took up a lot of space because he kept them in their boxes for safekeeping, but he also had a lot of ornaments because he’d begun collecting the fannish Hallmark ornaments when he was a teenager.

His tree was already set up. He’d purchased a live tree from one of the local tree farmers and gotten it delivered the day before. The delivery men had even helped him fit the trunk into his tree stand, so all he had to do was water it. He’d invited Noel over to help him decorate, but he hadn’t expected Noel to accept. His previous three boyfriends hadn’t been into decorating as much as he was, and he’d expected Noel to have the same attitude.

“Of course I do.” Noel smiled, giving Gabriel a quick, one-armed hug. “I can’t wait to see all your ornaments. I never got into the collectibles myself, but I inherited my grandmother’s stash several years ago, so my tree is always in the wooden toy and ceramic angel style. This will be fun.”

“Okay, but do you want the full Gabriel Sutton tree decorating experience?” Gabriel asked, giving Noel an arch look. “Or should I try to keep it cool since this is your first time?”

Noel wrapped his arms around Gabriel and met Gabriel’s gaze with a direct look. “What I want is to be part of what you love. I want to see your enjoyment, because seeing you happy makes me happy. So I want the full ride – all the ornaments, the Christmas music blaring over the speakers, dancing, drinking, naked revels. Whatever you want to do. I’m just happy you’re letting me participate, rather than decorating by yourself and inviting me over afterward.”

Although Gabriel’s cynical side warned him not to get his hopes up, his heart melted at Noel’s apparent sincerity, and he slid his arms around Noel’s waist in return. “It starts with Christmas music and my special hot chocolate. The naked revels are for after the house is decorated. That part of the festivities is very exclusive. VIP access only.”

“Dare I hope to qualify?” Noel asked, widening his eyes in appeal. “I’ll do anything.”

Gabriel found it difficult to say no to Noel when he turned on the big, brown puppy eyes and gave Gabriel that soulful, pleading look, but Gabriel pretended to consider the question. “Well, I suppose I could put you on the waiting list.”

Noel’s lower lip quivered slightly, but there was a flash of amusement in his eyes. “I’ll have to find a way to weasel in front of everyone on the list, because I don’t want to share you with anyone.”

“It’s a short list,” Gabriel said, sliding his hands down to grope Noel’s firm ass. “You’re the only one on it.”

Noel wriggled against Gabriel’s hands. “Well, then, I think we should get started as soon as possible.”

“First, we have to set the proper mood.” Gabriel released Noel’s ass with reluctance and moved away, his heart feeling more buoyant than it had in a long time. He woke up his computer, found the two-hour yule log video on YouTube, and set it to full screen. “Crackling fireplace, check,” he said, grinning at Noel.

Noel laughed. “That’s brilliant! I’ve had the fish tank one up before. It’s mesmerizing. But the fireplace is much more in tune with the season.”

“Sometimes I wish I had a real fireplace, but this is much cleaner and safer,” Gabriel said as he went to turn on the music. “I have a Christmas playlist that my iTunes says is two days’ worth of music.” He hit Shuffle and then Play, and the first song that popped up was by Alvin and the Chipmunks, and he gave Noel a sheepish smile.

“I suppose it can only get better from there, right?” Noel asked, a teasing note in his voice. “Do you have David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s version of ‘Little Drummer Boy?’ I love that one.”

“I do,” Gabriel said. “If it doesn’t play before we’re finished, I’ll queue it up for you. Now you have a choice. You can start unpacking the bins and unboxing the ornaments, or you can watch me make the special hot chocolate.”

“I vote for the hot chocolate,” Noel said, rubbing his hands together. “I want to know all your secrets.”

“But are they safe with you?” Gabriel asked lightly as he led Noel to the galley kitchen. It was smaller than he liked, and given how much he enjoyed cooking, he looked forward to the day when he could afford a house with a spacious kitchen.

“Of course they are.” Noel propped one hip against a counter, looking completely at home. “I’m very good at keeping things private. Accountants have to be. But if something is important to you, Gabriel, it’s important to me, too.”

“And the things that are important to you are important to me too,” Gabriel said, squeezing Noel’s hand briefly. “I don’t want this to be all one way. I’ve been on the receiving end of that enough to know it isn’t fun.”

Noel smiled and returned the squeeze. “I appreciate that, and I know things aren’t one way. But I haven’t had anyone hurt me the way you’ve been hurt, babe. I know you’re not completely sure of me, not yet. That takes time, but like I told you, I’m here for the long haul.”

“You’re good to me.” Gabriel leaned in to press a lingering kiss to Noel’s lips, and then he smiled against them. “For that, I’m going to make your special hot chocolate extra special.”

Noel returned the kiss. “Oh? Will it be Gabriel flavored? Mm…”

“Sorry, but you don’t get anything Gabriel flavored until the naked revels at the end,” Gabriel said, drawing back at last.

“Darn. I guess I’ll settle for extra special hot chocolate.” Noel gave Gabriel’s ass a quick grope, then released him.

Gabriel made a show of bending over to get the pot he needed, and he gave Noel a coy look over his shoulder as he put his ass on display.

“I like this already,” Noel said. “Though too much teasing isn’t fair, since we still have a tree to decorate.”

“True, and I would like to get it done today.” Gabriel smiled wickedly and gave one last shimmy before he turned his attention to the hot chocolate, which he made from scratch using slabs of dark chocolate, milk, and heavy cream as a base. It was a more time-consuming process than heating up some milk or water and stirring in a powder, but he liked the richer taste, which he augmented with a shot of Fireball whiskey in each mug. He topped the hot chocolate with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and then he handed one mug to Noel. “For you.”

Noel closed his eyes and breathed in deep. “Oh, that smells wonderful,” he said. Then he smiled and raised his mug. “I think this calls for a toast, don’t you?”

Gabriel picked up the second mug and touched it to Noel’s. “To special hot chocolate and decorated trees.”

“To that, and to our first Christmas together,” Noel replied. “The first of many.”

“I hope so,” Gabriel said softly, gazing at Noel with far more of his heart in his eyes than he realized. “I really do.” 
You Might Also Like...
If you liked Out of the Ashes, you might also like The Charlatan's Conquest, by Vivien Dean. It's the second book in Dreamspinner Press's new Dreamspun Beyond line, and it focuses on ghosts and the havoc they can wreak on their victim's life. The angst + hurt/comfort dynamic between Cruz and Brody appealed to me, probably because Ari and I have a penchant for creating characters who are caretakers and pairing them with someone who desperately needs to heal and/or learn to trust. 
Copyright © 2017 Ari McKay, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp