Join Prism Book Alliance® as CJane Elliott goes Outside the Margins today.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
— Leonard Cohen
In this time of the year when the light slips away earlier and earlier and remembrances arise of happier times, I love the words above of Leonard Cohen. I guess it’s a fact of growing older that each Christmas seems to hold more loss. My father died a little over a year ago, I no longer have a “tiny tot” with his eyes all aglow (he’s a 20-year old guy who I love dearly, though), and I live far away from most of my family. And then there’s the world and all the hatred and horrific events we’ve witnessed just in the past year.
I’ve long ago given up being perfect but I find myself still anxious during the Christmas season about doing all the right things and getting the right gifts. I need to forget my perfect offering, knowing there is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.
We either can harden our hearts and hide inside our brittle shells, or we can allow the cracks – of loss, of imperfection, of the poignant sense of life’s fleeting nature – to break us open. If the cracks are how the light gets in, then good, because I’ve got enough of them!
So this holiday season I intend to ring the bells that still can ring. I have so much to be grateful for and to celebrate – my health, my family and friends, my opportunity to make a difference as a hospice social worker, the pleasure of writing and the wonder of having readers who love what I write.
As my less-than-perfect offering, I wanted to include a winter solstice story I wrote several years ago. It’s about two college guys sharing their first kiss and it makes me smile every time I read it, so I thought I’d offer it to you. Because it’s too long to include in this post, here’s a link to it on my blog: http://cjaneelliott.com/rooftop-kisses-and-moonlight-wishes-a-winter-solstice-story/
Tomorrow I celebrate a new novella coming out from Dreamspinner Press. It’s called There You Are and is the second story in the Wild and Precious series. It features one of the main characters in Wild and Precious, Cody Bellstrom, and how he becomes able to allow love to happen. It also features a cameo appearance by Alex Harrison, one of the main characters in my novella Mercury In Retrograde, with a return to the river rafting lodge from that story.
Here is the series blurb for the Wild and Precious Series:
If you knew you had one wild and precious life, would you jump in and live it fully?
This band of lively characters isn’t afraid to take a chance on themselves or their dreams. Creativity runs through their veins—they’re writers, poets, singers, guitarists, and even beautiful drag queens. Beyond art, each man will discover that living a wild and precious life means opening himself to love, and each couple will encounter some unforeseen twists along the path to their happy ending.
Here’s the cover and blurb for the first book, Wild and Precious:
Wild and Precious
Aspiring writer Brent Granger has good friends and a great job at an arts magazine in DC, but he’s batting zero in the arena of love. Brent begins to get a clue why things aren’t working with women from his strong attraction to his gorgeous, gay, and already attached boss, Graham Stoneford. When he sees a personal ad from a man that quotes his favorite poet, Brent decides to do something wild and answer.
Enter Cody Bellstrom, easygoing bisexual musician, who is happy to initiate Brent in the ways of gay sex. Brent now has a new problem: he realizes he’s gay and no one in his life knows it. Cody tires of hiding their relationship, but Brent finds it challenging to come out to family, friends, and especially to Graham. In the end, Brent must confront the truth of where – and with whom – his heart lies.
Thank you for reading and let’s keep ringing those bells! Talk to you in the new year.
Title: There You Are
Author: CJane Elliott
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 12/23/2015
Cover Artist: AngstyG
Bisexual musician Cody Bellstrom is a free spirit, easygoing and unattached. On a cross-country trip, Cody befriends young Sandy Nixon and gets him safely to Portland and his uncle, Phineas MacDonald. Beautiful Phineas turns Cody’s life upside down, and Cody learns he’s not as unattached as he aspires to be. With the hard-won knowledge of what lies underneath his need to be free, Cody wins a chance at real freedom and true love.
Ever since his longtime lover Allen died, Phineas MacDonald has lived a circumscribed life. He stopped performing as fierce drag queen Phanny Hill and works part-time in a bookstore. Phineas never expected to find love again. But when sexy and caring Cody Bellstrom turns up, Phineas feels his orderly life slipping out of his control. Cody brings him alive again, but now Phineas must find the courage to let go of his grief over Allen and give love a second chance.
“Are you running away too?” Sandy turned an inquisitive face to Cody after they settled into their seats.
Cody laughed. “What makes you ask that?”
“I don’t know. Sorry.” Sandy’s cheeks turned pink.
“No, I’m not offended. In fact, that’s exactly what my friends think I’m doing. I do have this gig with a band out in Portland, and if that doesn’t work out, I know a few other bands that might have a spot for me.”
“Yeah. So I don’t think of it as running away so much as running toward something new.” Cody nodded sagely, even as his bullshit meter started its annoying dinging.
“So why do your friends think you’re running away?”
Oy. This kid was too smart by half.
Giving Sandy an easy smile, Cody opened his mouth to make up some lie, then shut it, looking past him as he thought. The world beyond the train window was slipping toward evening. He had a sudden memory of Brent, his face gorgeous and animated during a twilight walk through Dupont Circle. Still watching the scene through the window, Cody said, “I’m a free spirit. I don’t like being tied down. Too long in one place and I start getting restless.”
“Also,” he added, impelled by their quiet moving cocoon to make confessions, “there was a guy.”
“Ohhh.” Sandy lowered his voice. “You’re gay?”
“Bi.” He was about to add more, but Sandy’s face lit up. “Is that good?”
“Yeah! Sorry, I’m getting excited because that’s what I think I am! Like, I like girls and all, but… but then I… you know, did it with a guy and… wow. But like, I’m still attracted to girls too, so I don’t know.”
Cody smiled. “Yeah, it can be confusing, for sure. I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to define yourself as one way or another. It’s hard because the world wants to put people in a box, and being bi kind of blows people’s preconceptions out of the water.”
“Right.” Sandy twisted the cap off his water bottle and took a drink. “So tell me about the guy.”
“I will. But first, will you tell me about why you ran away?”
“Okay.” Sandy shifted, his face getting red.
“Do you live in Chicago?” Cody asked to give him some time.
“Rockford. It’s an hour and a half north of Chicago.”
“Oh. How big is it?”
Sandy shrugged. “Dunno. Seems like a small town. I mean, compared to Chicago.” He took another drink of water. “So, I ran away because my parents are driving me crazy.”
“Um-hmm. That’s a good reason.”
“Yeah. They, like, grounded me for life and then threatened to send me away to a small religious college. After I got into The University of Chicago!” He slumped down in his seat, scowling.
“So I decided, screw that. I’m through living my life to please them.”
Cody slumped down so his head was level with Sandy’s. “I hear ya. What happened that brought all this punishment on?”
Sandy’s cheeks pinked again. “My parents found out, um, that I was interested in sex.”
That made Cody snort with amusement. “Earth to parents: your teenagers are interested in sex. Duh.”
“Yeah. They thought I was a virgin. Oops, guess I misplaced that purity ring.” He and Cody grinned at each other. “So when my mom snooped around and found some incriminating e-mails from a girl I was dating, they grilled me and I told the truth. Because why lie, right?”
“Lying always ends up biting you in the ass, for sure.”
“Yeah!” Sandy gave a vigorous nod. “But then they grounded me for, like, the rest of my earthly existence. And that was before they found out about the gay thing.”
“They… how did they find that out?”
“I left a magazine in my room. I figured if Mom wanted to spy on me, might as well let her find out about everything. They went ballistic. When they took away U of C and started talking about conversion therapy, that’s when I knew I had to get out.”
“When you say ‘went ballistic,’ what do you mean?”
“Yelling, screaming. My dad hit me across the face.”
Cody felt his lips compress into a grim line before he said, “I’m glad you got out.”
“Yeah. Me too.” Sandy’s mouth trembled and he cleared his throat. “I miss my sisters and brother, though.”
“It’s hard to do what you gotta do sometimes.” Bette and Aurora’s sad faces came to Cody’s mind.
They fell silent, watching the sunset as the train continued westward across Minnesota.
“So, will you tell me about the guy now?” Sandy asked after a few minutes’ contemplation.
“Sure.” Cody stretched his legs out and got comfortable. “His name is Brent.”
About CJane Elliott.
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.
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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