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Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway! Winging It by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James

Join us as Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James share with us the secrets of their co-writing process!

Winging It

by Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James

Blurb

Gabe Martin has a simple life plan: get into the NHL and win the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t include being the first out hockey player or, worse, getting involved with one of his teammates. But things change.

Dante Baltierra is Gabe’s polar opposite—careless, reckless… shameless. But his dedication to the sport is impressive, and Gabe can overlook a lot of young-and-stupid in the name of great hockey. And Dante has a superlative ass in a sport filled with superlative asses.

Before Gabe can figure out how to deal, a tabloid throws him out of his comfortable closet into a brand-new world. Amid the emotional turmoil of invasive questions, nasty speculation, and on- and off-ice homophobia, his game suffers.

Surprisingly, it’s Dante who drags him out of it—and then drags him into something else. Nothing good can come of secretly sleeping with a teammate, especially one Gabe has feelings for. But with their captain out with an injury, a rookie in perpetual need of a hug, and the race to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995, Gabe has a lot on his plate.

He can’t be blamed for forgetting that nothing stays secret forever.

Guest Post 

While Morgan and Ashlyn where here, we asked them about the cowriting process…

The Cowriting Process

Morgan: I used to wonder how two people could write a book together. The idea was ridiculous—it’s not as if they can both hold the pen. But now that Ashlyn and I have published four books together, I find it difficult to imagine a day when I won’t want to write with her.

Ashlyn: Awww, ditto. It’s nice to be loved.

Morgan: Our plots have always been collaborative ventures. We talk about where we want the story to go in broad terms and who we imagine our cast of characters to be, but we also linger over details. For our first two books, we went away and wrote whole sections or chapters solo (for our first novel, we each picked a character and wrote all the content from their point of view), but after we got about 30,000 words through our third novel (as yet unpublished because self-editing is hard) and stalled out for several months, we changed our process.

Ashlyn: Self-editing is hard, and so are superhero novels. Contemporary romance rolls off the fingers a little easier!

Morgan: These days we tag-team. We wrote Hard Feelings in six weeks by writing a thousand words at a time (give or take, depending on how talkative our muses were). Not only is it faster for us, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun.

Ashlyn: There’s nothing quite like the instant gratification of having someone squee over what you wrote five minutes after you wrote it. It’s motivating.

Morgan: When it comes to reading and writing, Ashlyn and I have very similar tastes. We seldom disagree about what’s good and what isn’t. We are, dare I say it, totally drift compatible.

We spend a lot of time on instant message chats and in e-mails flailing at each other about plot. Madly typing out our next ideas, often forgetting punctuation, sometimes employing all caps. Or ranting about how the characters just won’t do what we want!

Winging It was written in this style. I wrote a thousand words, then Ashlyn wrote a thousand, and so on. Each of us edits the other’s work as we go—adding things in, deleting things, fine tuning—and then once the first draft is done, we each take a turn editing, once again adding, deleting, tweaking.

Ashlyn: I’ll be the first to admit I’m a tweaker. I’m very picky, so I’m lucky Morgan puts up with it, really. But I think the constant on-the-go editing of each other’s work is what helps us write books that feel seamless.

Sometimes the unthinkable happens and one of us accidentally writes the other into a corner. Then we talk about the problems, and sometimes a few hundred words get deleted to make way for the plot to move forward. Sometimes it goes back to whoever originally wrote it so they can solve the problem. It really depends.

Morgan: By the time we have a manuscript ready to send to the publisher, it’s difficult even for us to remember who wrote what. I remember once reading a piece from Neil Gaiman about Good Omens, in which he said that there were passages he and Terry Pratchett both insisted they’d written, and passages that both swore they hadn’t. I believe there was even the suggestion that parts of the novel wrote themselves. I’ll probably never again feel such kinship with him. I think that describes our process quite well.

Ashlyn: There have been a few times where I’ve said to Morgan while we’re proofreading a galley, “Good job, nice line!” or “I’m so pleased with myself for this one” only to have Morgan say, “Um, I didn’t write that” or “That was me.” It’s embarrassing, so in the future I think I’ll just stick to quoting the line and saying “high five.”

 

 

Available for purchase at
Excerpt

 

Since the
whole impending disaster was his idea, Baller insisted on paying for their
tickets. Gabe let him, too overwhelmed by sunshine and happy families to do
otherwise. Baller forked over the money, ushered Gabe through the stiles,
grabbed a couple of maps, and then basically frog-marched Gabe onto the
railroad.
“You are
really excited about this,” Gabe observed with mounting trepidation.
Baller
grinned manically and threw his arm over Gabe’s shoulders. “Disneyland, Gabe,” he said, as if that
explained his completely bizarre behavior. Maybe it did, in his world. “We are
going to have fun today if it kills us.”
Gabe
thought it actually might.
They got
off at the first stop, according to Baller’s extremely detailed plan of attack,
and Baller just stood there for a moment, beaming, like he couldn’t imagine
anywhere he’d rather be than Anaheim, California, in the middle of a losing
streak. Gabe gave in to his own sentimentality and snapped a picture with his
phone.
“Pirates,”
Baller sighed happily, grabbing Gabe’s arm and herding him to the right. “Come
on. Maybe they have some poor sucker dressed up as Will for you to ogle.”
Gabe was
reasonably sure the people dressed in costumes were for the kids to interact with, but he decided to
keep it to himself. Even if today did nothing more than deepen Gabe’s pit of
ill-advised feelings for his teammate, Baller still deserved to have a good
time.
As it
turned out, Gabe did not have to worry about Baller having a good time. The
line for the ride was surprisingly short, and Baller spent the whole ten
minutes bouncing on his toes, peering around at the scenery and humming “A
Pirate’s Life for Me” under his breath like a loser.
“Some days
I forget you’re only twenty,” Gabe said with a self-deprecating smile as they
reached the front of the line and took their seats on the ride. “Today’s not
one of them.”
“Stop
being so old for five minutes and relax. I’m trying to cheer us up.”
Gabe
raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. You’re in charge. I’m just along
for the ride. Rides.”
Once he
admitted to Baller (and himself) that he was not in charge of the situation, it
made for a pleasant afternoon. At the end of the ride, they emerged into the
sunshine again and Baller made a beeline for a cart selling elaborate hats to
match the theme. He tossed a tricorne at Gabe, then grabbed something in mauve
with an ostrich feather plume and shoved it on his own head. “What do you
think?” he asked, running a finger along the brim, his eyes dancing.
Gabe
wanted to kiss him, but he distracted himself by trying on his own silly hat.
“Well, you’re no Will Turner, but I suppose you’ll do.”
Baller
stuck out his tongue and forked over a handful of bills for the hat.
Baller
bought them Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream for lunch, and they ate standing in
the shade of a big tree by the Haunted Mansion.
“We going
on this one too?” Gabe asked.
“Everyone
knows you have to work up to Splash Mountain,” Baller said loftily. He threw
his stick away and licked a drip of ice cream off his thumb.
It
probably wasn’t purposely pornographic. Probably.
After the
Indiana Jones Adventure, Baller tried to buy Gabe a fedora that looked even
worse on him than the tricorne.
“Only
douche bags wear fedoras.”
Baller
smirked and took a picture with his phone. “So, no problem, then.”
Gabe made
a face.
“Come on,
you said I was in charge,” Baller wheedled.
“I didn’t
think that meant I was going to have to cede control of my wardrobe.”
Baller
rolled his eyes. “Grouch.” He tossed a headband with Mickey Mouse ears at Gabe
instead.
“Compromise?”
At least
Baller hadn’t invited anyone else along to witness Gabe’s humiliation. He would
definitely never hear the end of it if any of these pictures got out. Fifi
would chirp him forever, and there’d probably be a whole media circus if they
got caught goofing off when they couldn’t win a hockey game for love nor money.
Gabe
sighed internally and put on the headband.
Three and
a half hours later, when they stumbled out of Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters for
the fourth time, he was smirking. “Another rematch?”
“Screw you,
no, you smug bastard.” Baller pouted, but he couldn’t hold it. His grin won out
a second later. “Seriously, are you hiding a secret video game addiction?”
“Admit it,
I just have better hand-eye coordination than you,” Gabe said, adjusting his
ears as he preened. They were starting to hurt his head, but the deal was
Baller had to wear the stupid hat as long as Gabe kept the ears on. Gabe wasn’t
going to be the first to give in.
“That’s
not what the statistics say, buddy.” Baller had pulled ahead in their points
race since that game against the Sabres. “In fact, I—” He stopped midsentence
and cocked his head at Gabe, an odd smile twisting his lips. He took a step
closer and raised a hand to the headband. “Duck your head a little? You’ve got
something on your…”
Gabe froze
when Baller grabbed his right wrist for balance as he reached up. His hat
tipped back precariously, but Gabe couldn’t have made a grab for it if his life
depended on it. He was stuck, not breathing, while Baller shuffled closer until
Gabe could see his pores. He brushed his fingers over Gabe’s mouse ears.
“I think
you walked into a cobweb. You’ve got a leaf…. There.” Baller pulled his right
hand away but left the other where it was, clasped around Gabe’s wrist. There
was a papery sound as whatever he’d pulled from Gabe’s head hit the asphalt.
Their eyes
caught.
For one
eternally stupid second, Gabe thought Baller was going to kiss him.
Then the
moment passed, and Baller let go and took a step back. He slapped Gabe on the arm.
“Much better. Good thing you have me to look after you.”
Gabe
forced himself to unfreeze and shake his head in mock disbelief. “Right,” he
said as they started walking again, toward Space Mountain this time. “I’m such
a handful.”
Baller
snorted. “Too easy. You know better than to feed me a line like that. Come on.”
“I’ll feed
you something,” Gabe promised
jokingly, regaining his equilibrium.
Baller
tripped over nothing on the pavement. Gabe grabbed him by the back of his shirt
before he could take a dive. Crap. He’d gone too far.
Huffing at
himself, Baller righted his hat, then poked Gabe with his elbow. “You know, I
was starting to be afraid you were never going to make that kind of chirp
again. Good to have you back.”
Sometimes I don’t understand you at all. But for
once Gabe let himself be honest. “It’s good to be back.” Then he saw the line for Space Mountain and winced. “Good
thing we have Fast Passes.” They only had an hour left before they had to leave
the park to be back in time for team dinner.
Gabe had
forgotten all about their stupid headgear by the time they returned to the
hotel. When they walked into the lobby, Fifi looked over from the concierge
desk, a gym towel slung over one of his shoulders, and barked out a laugh. “I
guess I don’t have to ask what you got up to today.”
“We went
to Disneyland!” Baller said unnecessarily. The feather on his hat flopped from
one side to the other in time with his enthusiasm.
“No shit.”
Fifi rolled his eyes and reached up to flick Gabe’s ears.
Gabe took
them off.
“You’d
better have plenty of energy left for the game tomorrow.”
Gabe
bristled. “What? I got him home in time for curfew.”
Affecting
wide-eyed, earnest innocence, Baller nodded. “Yeah, Dad. He was a total
gentleman. Didn’t even try to steal second.”
Fifi
smacked the brim of Baller’s hat down over his eyes. “Fine, fine. Hurry up and
get ready for dinner or we’re eating without you.”
Somehow
Chef snuck into his room and stole the ears while Gabe was showering, and he
showed up to dinner wearing them, so of course he and Baller got ragged on.
Gabe hoped Chef didn’t put it up on Twitter, but at least Gabe wouldn’t be
featured wearing the ears in any pictures. The teasing only got worse when they
begged off going out for a drink because they were both too tired to do more
than flop on Gabe’s bed and finish watching Pirates.
“Hey,
Banksy?”
“Hmm,”
Gabe said. His eyes wouldn’t quite focus on the laptop screen.
“Just…
thanks.”
Blinking
gritty eyes, Gabe managed, “For what?”
He heard
Baller answer, but the words got lost on his tired ears as he finally fell
asleep.

 

 

About the Authors
 Morgan James started writing fiction before she could spell it. It was in high school that she started writing her first novel about a gay character, and she thanks the Internet for helping her realize that didn’t make her crazy. Coincidentally, she also thanks the Internet for the role it plays in her long distance friendship with Ashlyn Kane. Geek, artist, archer, and fangirl, Morgan tends to while away free hours with imaginary worlds and people on pages and screens—it’s an addiction. She lives in Ontario with her family and is the personal slave of three cats and a poodle (who isn’t named Ringo, but who does like to poke).

 

You can find Morgan at 


      
Ashlyn Kane is a Canadian former expat who is now happy to be reunited with televised hockey at acceptable waking hours. She has reached the age of “twentysomething,” which she will be for at least the next fifteen years.
She has a bad habit of staying up too late, a husband who likes to go to bed early, and a baby brother called Miracle Whip. She is allergic to cleaning, unless you mean cleaning up manuscripts, in which case she gets a little obsessive. Feel free to drop her a line—she’s probably in front of her computer right now, since she’s attached to it at the eyeballs.
 You can find Ashlyn at
            
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