Writing is a funny thing. It’s an act of will—brain sending nerve signals to a writing implement—and also requires the writer to use language to dream on the page. Authors often call this mental process their Muse. I never named mine. If anything, she is also Me. I talk to her anyway.
Breaking the Ice came about because Muse noticed our home state was not getting the love we felt it deserved. We don’t usually take on projects, you see. I have a very full plate in my non-writing life, and she… well, she is very stubborn about what she’ll take on. That’s what happens when a writer allows a Muse to set the rules. Sometimes, though, we’re on the same page, like the day we looked, just to satisfy our curiosity, what U.S. States had been claimed for Dreamspinner Press’s States of Love submission call.
“Perhaps,” Muse whispered, “if Pennsylvania is there…”
“We could write Holy Cannoli,” I agreed. That story would follow up The Last Cannoli, my only other contemporary work. An Italian-American gay wedding could be grand fun.
But Pennsylvania had been claimed. Just as well, we thought. We didn’t need another project. Muse and I had already answered an invitation by Kim Fielding to join her and other authors in writing a story for the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology. We were hip deep in the Wild West creating the characters and world of “After the Wind.”
“Well, well,” says she. “Look. Wisconsin.”
“I see that.”
“We can do Wisconsin.”
Yes, we could. I had been born there. Muse showed up about a decade later, somewhere in Texas (which explains her interest in the Wild West), but she followed me back to Wisconsin later. Teenage me and Muse aquired a measure of adulthood there, enough to raise three sons and undertake a series of non-writing careers that put food on the table. We knew Wisconsin well.
“Wait,” I counseled. “Maybe someone else will take it. I know at least three other authors who might want to do Wisconsin.”
“Not the way we would.”
“No. But the guidelines say contemporary. We write fantasy.”
“We,” said Muse, “can write anything.”
Muse is nothing if not confident.
We waited. Ultimately, I have the final say, at least when it comes to timing. I control the brain to fingertips part of our partnership. But Muse controls the imagination, and has a way of inserting story ideas into my daydreams. She began feeding me ideas about Wisconsin.
A few weeks later, we took another look at the States of Love listing. Almost all the states were now taken… but no one had taken Wisconsin.
“That’s just not right,” said Muse.
I agreed. “Wisconsin is such a great state for stories! It’s quirky.”
“It’s interesting. It’s fun!”
I sent off a proposal for one of the daydream-stories Muse had come up with.
Muse comes up with good stories, and she went to town on Breaking the Ice. I hope readers enjoy reading about Matt and John, and the wacky world of sturgeon spearing. I hope they find lots to love about Wisconsin and its people and culture.
Caring what readers think is an author thing. Muse just moves on.
For Matt Wasko, February in Wisconsin is the best time of the year, and ice fishing on Lake Winnebago is his idea of heaven. With shanty villages cropping up, barbeques on the ice, monster sturgeon to spear, and plenty of booze to keep everybody warm, things couldn’t be better—until a surprise storm hits and an uninvited guest shows up at his frozen doorstep.
Matt’s not happy to see John Lutz, a coworker who cracks lame gay jokes at Matt’s expense. But John’s flimsy new ice shelter got blown across the lake, and it wouldn’t be right to leave even a jerk outside to freeze. Would it?
In the close quarters of Matt’s fabulous ice shanty, between stripping off wet clothes, misadventures with bait, and a fighting trophy-sized walleye, the two men discover creative ways to keep the cold at bay. And when John confesses his long-running attraction, Matt must decide if he can believe in John’s change of heart—and crack the ice for a chance at finding love.
About Tali Spencer
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, including works in progress, check out her Pinterest boards.
Visit Tali’s blog at http://talismania-brilliantdisguise.blogspot.com