Making the Holidays Happy Again
By Pat Henshaw
Pat Henshaw has a new MM holiday romance out:
“Making the Holidays Happy Again.”
Blacksmith Butch has secretly loved his best friend, science nerd Jimmy, since grade school. Now their shops in Old Town Seven Winds, California, are only doors from each other.
They’re about to turn thirty, and Butch refuses to wait another day to make a decision: propose to Jimmy and start the family he’s always wanted or forget his dream to avoid risking their friendship.
Why can’t the choice be as easy as creating decorative ironwork in his forge?
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/book/making-the-holidays-happy-again/
Special Guest Post with Pat Henshaw
Where I Get My Ideas…
Like most authors, I am a thief. There I’ve admitted it and confessed to our major sin. Not only do we steal plot ideas and characters from our reading and from lurking at coffee shops and other public places, but we also steal from family, friends and their families, and acquaintances. If you’re in the vicinity of a writer, you’re fair game.
Am I serious? Oh, yes, I am. If you push them hard enough, most writers will admit this.
What do I mean?
For example, I knew the main character of Abe Behr from “Behr Facts” well. Abe, except for the boyfriend lover and a few other details, is my father. My dad was the oldest of four children. He spent his lifetime helping his brother and two sisters. And after he married my mother, he even helped and supported her family. He was a prominent figure in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, and ran for a seat on the Airport Authority. He fought to get major airlines to land in Lincoln and to build an airport the community could be proud of. You can see his picture prominently displayed in the airport today.
Contractor Abe Behr, like my dad, is a major businessman in the small Sierra Nevada foothills town that was once a bustling gold rush destination. He’s protective of his two brothers and the town itself. But Abe isn’t just created from traits my dad displayed.
He’s also partly my best friend’s husband Bill. Bill is the head of a large family and has employed many of them in his architecture business. Like Bill, Abe’s had his share of ups and downs with family as employees. The subplot of “Behr Facts” is loosely taken from something that happened in Bill’s family.
Another example of a character who walked into one of my stories, “Redesigning Max,” from a pastiche of real life people I know is Fredi. Fredi is partly characteristics from a costume designer I knew early in my working career mixed with a couple of students I taught later in life with a dollop of gay man whom I knew well when I was a theater student at the University of Nebraska.
Fredi is made up of the brilliant vision of one, the brash self-confidence of another, the loyal friendship of a third man, and the dress sense of the fourth. It was only when I sat down and started writing the Cinderella-esque tale of how Fredi helps Max realize who he really is did any of those qualities gel into one person. Both he and Max are products of theft, however.
Oh, yes, and I can’t forget a certain man I know through Facebook who posted that he always wanted to be a piano player. Since I was looking for a name for the piano player in “Waking the Behr,” I messaged him and asked if he’d like to lend his name to the pianist. I was delighted when he said he’d be happy to be a nightclub piano player in the book. What’s the man’s name? Well, read the book, and you’ll find out!
Currently I’m working on a story called Into the Dark Night about two ghosts who, even though they are completely different, become lovers in their after lives. No, I didn’t steal from any ghosts, but my fictional men, like so many others, are pieces together from my past associations.
You’ve probably seen the t-shirts, mugs, and signs saying something like “Novelist at work: Bystanders may be written into the story.” You might have even thought it was a joke. Nope, it’s not.
“Okay, what’s up?” I sat on the bench with my back against the bricks at the Old Time Pub. “You’ve been pissed since last week.”
My best friend and secret love of my life Jimmy glared but didn’t answer. We’d known each other for so long that I waited him out like usual. I crossed my pumped arms and sat back, smelling my sweat-soaked T-shirt in the AC blowing around us.
The past summer in Seven Winds, once a Gold Rush town in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountains and now a tourist trap, had been brutal. A record number of days over one hundred degrees had turned a lot of the shop owners into snarling dogs.
As the resident blacksmith, I took the heat as business as usual. So I was hot and sweaty? I was always hot and sweaty. The day I ain’t I was either sick or dead.
I figured Jimmy’s problem was more than the heat though. He’d been acting funny lately. Like he had something caught in his craw but he couldn’t spit it out.
Jimmy wasn’t looking at me, but down at his hands. They was long and thin, completely different from mine. I had a collection of burns and scratches, scars from the forge and the tools and all.
His hands was pale white with a bunch of freckles that went with the freckles all over the rest of his body. When we was kids, the tiny red hairs on his arms stood out almost more than his carroty hair. The bright red had changed as he got older and was now more muted. Me? I’d stayed hairy brown all over.
I tapped his hand with my blunt fingers.
“Whatever it is, you know you can just spit it out.”
He stared at me, and I swear his green eyes got darker. He was making me uneasy. What the hell was wrong?
“You ever look at your life, Butch, and ask yourself, ‘Is this all there is?’” He sighed. What the fuck? What had gotten into him? “Don’t give me that look. You’ve got to know what I’m talking about.”
“Sure. But you know me. Something’s wrong, I make it right.” Takes me time but I figure it out eventually. “So, uh, what’s wrong with your life?” I wanted to make a joke and laugh, but he was too damned serious. And Jimmy’s never this serious.
“I mean, look at us. We work all day in our shops. We make good money. We got nothing to spend it on but ourselves. We go out drinking with the guys on the weekends. Or we go into the city to a game. Or we go fishing, camping, riding around.” He shook his head. “But in the end, what have we got?”
“Fun. Friendship. I don’t know. Life?” It wasn’t much of an answer. I knew where he was coming from. I figured it was because we was about to turn thirty after Christmas and it was time for us to grow up. I’d been thinking on it a lot lately.
“Don’t you want something else, Butch? Something more? Something better?” He sounded desperate, like he was drowning and I wasn’t saving him.
“Yeah, sure. I guess. I mean, I want a husband, a house, a dog, you know, stuff like we talked about when we was kids.” I’d had it mostly planned out. I’d been saving my money.
I was surprised Jimmy hadn’t already figured it out. He was usually two steps ahead of me in everything. “Okay, I gotta ask. What brought all of this on? What happened?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve been sitting around thinking lately. And mom’s been on me to move out.”
His mother Hazel’s a character. She’s an old hippie with graying auburn hair and grass green eyes. Her face is a roadmap of lines cuz she spends so much time outdoors. And she worries. She thinks we need her to run our lives. We mostly let her think that even though it’s not true.
“She says she wants me to move out of the farmhouse.” Jimmy said it like it was a death sentence.
“So? Isn’t that what you always wanted to do?”
He shrugged, then nodded, reluctant like. “I guess.”
“Jimmy, you’ve always talked about living in your own place.”
Once I thought me and him would get together, and, you know, live happily ever after. But then he became a doctor of chemistry and natural medicine. I never finished high school.
“Yes, I know. You’re right. I’ve wanted to move out for a while now.” Jimmy sighed. “But this feels like her trying to push me out. I don’t like to be pushed.”
“I don’t get the problem. You know what you want already.”
He laughed. “I don’t like to be pushed by my mother.”
“So the Apple Festival is coming up, and I’m making some changes,” I said, moving on to another subject.
“Yeah? What’s up? Whare are you doing?”
“I wanna make the shop more family friendly.”
He looked at me weird.
“I don’t get it, Butch. This isn’t like you.” He ran a hand through his shaggy hair. “You’re making me nervous. First my mother, now you. Why is everybody so hot to change suddenly?”
“It’s like you said.” I hunkered down, putting my elbows on the table and spreading out my hands. “I took a look at my life. I figure if I don’t do something to get settled, it ain’t gonna just fall in my lap. The Big Three Oh is the first step to the rest of my life. If I don’t get my shit together, nobody’s gonna hand my life to me. I may not know everything, but I know it’s up to me to do it myself.” I shot him a frown. “And you know it too.”
He nodded and looked like dog meat.
I may not have solved his problem of moving out or nothing like that, but maybe we was finally on the same page. Maybe.
I was making changes. He had to decide on his own life.
- Is a she, not a he.
- Writes MM romances.
- Has interviewed Arlo Guthrie, Big Bird, Fred Rogers, Liberace, and Vincent Price
- Has lived and worked on all three US coasts and in the middle of the country, too.
- Has been a reviewer, costumer, librarian, and teacher.
- Has ridden an elephant, touched the pyramids, and stood at the edge of a volcano.
- Believes love is essential to everyone’s happiness.
She wants you to remember: Every day is a good day for romance!
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