Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James for taking the time to talk with us today.
Title: Winging It
Author: Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance
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.
1. We are here today to talk about Winging It. What can you tell us about it?
Winging It is our fourth published novel with Dreamspinner Press. It’s a love song to hockey and hockey ass, team brotherhood, and Canada. But while it celebrates all those things, it also examines the problematic supermacho side of professional sports.
Our protagonist, Gabe, is crushing on his teammate, Dante, who’s not only young and seemingly the perfect stereotype of a professional athlete but one of his linemates, which means they’re usually paired together on the ice. Their chemistry could sink the team or clinch a title. But Dante’s new to the team, so Gabe tells himself it’s just a crush until they get to know each other better. Then Dante calls him in the middle of the night and—well, more would be telling.
2. Tell us more about Gabe and Dante?
Gabe doesn’t care about meeting someone. He doesn’t intend come out; he just wants to keep his head down (metaphorically, not on the ice) and play hockey. He’s very focused on that. Finding out he actually does want more in his life throws him for a bit of a loop.
Dante’s sort of the opposite. Of course he wants to be the best at hockey too; he wouldn’t have made it to the NHL without that competitive spirit. But he’s much more of a grab-life-with-both-hands guy. He’s a little more used to facing adversity than Gabe, and he’s not afraid to be in the spotlight.
Together they’re sort of an odd couple. While Gabe is older and more grounded and has life experience, he doesn’t really know how to be in a relationship, and Dante has a lot to teach him about emotional maturity. That sort of lulls Gabe into thinking Dante doesn’t need him at all, which of course isn’t true either.
3. What about Winging It makes you the most proud?
Morgan: There isn’t one thing that comes to mind, but there is so much about this book that makes me glad. Like our cast of supporting characters who tried to steal the show, our integration of hockey and hockey facts, or that every single one of our editors said, “I don’t care about or watch hockey, but I really enjoyed this story.” We really hope our trend of pleasing both hockey and nonhockey fans continues.
4. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Ashlyn: Write! Write more! Keep writing! Find someone you trust to give you honest feedback, and then honestly evaluate it. If you disagree and it upsets you, put it aside and come back to it when you can be rational. Keep writing. Write things that make you happy. Write things that make you cry. Morgan: Edit. Learn the difference between hate and constructive criticism. Ignore the hate; always listen to the constructive criticism, even if you disregard it in the end.
5. What is the nicest thing a reader has said to you in a review, email, in person, or on social media?
Ashlyn: Someone once told me they pulled out one of our books to read when they were having a bad day. That’s always nice to hear! And I actually had a fan e-mail me fan fiction of American Love Songs—that was amazing. I felt like a rock star.
Morgan: Probably when someone told me that they’d just finished reading the whole book, so now it was time to restart it.
6. How is working with a co-author different (better, worse, etc) than writing alone?
Ashlyn: Instant feedback, encouragement, and a get-out-of-writer’s-bock-free card. If I get stuck, I can hand over the reins to Morgan.
Morgan: Also, we write so much faster. Working on projects solo we’re lucky if we average a thousand words a day for any sustainable time. With Winging It we had extended stretches of time where we averaged 2-3000 words a day.
7. What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?
Morgan: I recently started reading Peter Pan for the first time, and next on my TBR is… well, it may change depending on my mood, but Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville is up there!
Ashlyn: Am I supposed to have time to read?! Probably whatever’s next from Amy Lane or Shira Anthony. I think Amy owes me something that won’t break my heart, so I’m looking forward to that!
8. Rapid Fire Time
Love Story or Thriller?
Ashlyn: Love story
Morgan: Love story
Vanilla or Chocolate?
Underwear and socks: folded in the drawer or tossed?
Ashlyn: Tossed for me, folded for hubby Morgan: underwear tossed, socks folded
Music or TV/Movies?
Ashlyn: Music Morgan: TV/Movies
Electronica or Jazz?
Morgan: um, jazz, sometimes.
Coke or Pepsi?
Fire or Ice?
Ashlyn: Fire! It’s been -20 here for a week and a half. (Though the smell of the ice at the arena is just as good a smell as wood smoke, if not better.)
Morgan: Neither? Though I’d rather be too cold than too hot, and then have to find more layers.
Salty or Sugary?
9. What are you working on? What is next?
Morgan: Oh man, a tricky question! We’ve got a novel that needs some severe edits (and that probably won’t get them for a while yet), the first few chapters of a book we lovingly call Golf Pygmalion, and a rampant story idea that will probably take over all our writing time shortly about a con man with a heart of gold. (Yeah, we’re looking forward to that last one too.)
Ashlyn: That’s pretty much the extent of it. The first one is sort of an homage to superhero comics, and we’re pretty picky about that, so we want to polish it up really well before it sees the light of day. Golf Pygmalion is suffering from “where-do-we-go-next-itis.” But Pros & Cons—that’s the working title for the con man story—I kind of can’t wait to start on that one.
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.
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.
“Hmm,” Gabe said. His eyes wouldn’t quite focus on the laptop screen.
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 Author:
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).
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/morganjames007?fref=ts
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.
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ashlyn.kane.94?fref=ts
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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