After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free.
Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.
He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap. For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.
Author Name: E E Montgomery
Book Name: Just The Way You Are
Series: Just Life #4 (Can be read as a standalone, but there are elements in the other stories that will add depth to this one)
Release Date: April 17, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Pages or Words: 70,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25163510-just-the-way-you-are
JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.
The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.
At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.
He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.
The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.
Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.
A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.
The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.
“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.
Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Two things: never stop learning, never give up. Even when what you’ve written seems like it’s the best it can be, there’ll always be something to improve, either with this one or the next. So keep learning your craft, re-learn things you’ve done before. You never know it all. Sometimes, something you write will be perfect; sometimes it will be absolute dreck. Shit happens; don’t assume it means you can’t write. Rewrite it, write something else, work out why it didn’t work and fix it. If writing is your passion, don’t ever give up.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I’m not sure if I’d call it writer’s block or something else. There are times I don’t know where to take a story, I can’t work out how to edit the stories I have finished; my head is totally empty of new ideas. Sometimes these times last for days or weeks, sometimes longer. What I do about it: I worry. I stare into space. I worry some more. I go for a walk and worry while I walk. Eventually, I sleep—for a long time. That usually works.
Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?
I’ve always been interested in Australian history and have often wondered what the Aboriginal people really thought when Europeans landed and decided their home was a good place for a penal colony. That’s inspired the novel I’m writing at the moment. It has three different timelines over two planets and two dimensions. Only one timeline is told chronologically so, after about 13000 words, I realised I’d have to plot ahead of writing it to make sure I don’t miss any important things. It’s coming along slowly. I’m enjoying writing out of my comfort zone, but struggling to make sure all the different and varied elements are connected strongly enough to hold the readers’ attention.
Once I started getting involved in that story, I realized I needed something a bit simpler to work on as a break for my brain. I picked two characters from the novel and wrote about when they met, up to when they first appear in the novel. It was fun but you can’t tell it’s SF because it’s written entirely in the contemporary timeline. By the time I finished that, I had another idea, and now I’m writing a very different SF story that’s inspired by random elements from American slavery, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Animal Farm, and an article I read a while ago on the circumstances under which people turn to cannibalism. It’s sort of a dystopian throwback society. Of course with all that swimming around inside my head, what was once a simple 5000 word short story target might end up something else entirely.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Editing. That’s where I have to check that the overall structure works, that everything everyone does makes sense for their character, that the plot elements interweave properly and are interesting, that I’m showing and not telling, that I’m writing actively and not passively… the list goes on. Anything that doesn’t work has to be changed. Sometimes the changes are minor, sometimes major. There are so many things whirling around in my head, I can’t keep track of it all, and even though I write it all down, I still miss bits. Some days it does my head in and I have to walk away from it. Other days, I get into a groove and resent every interruption.
While I prefer to just make stuff up and write it down—that’s the fun bit—I know editing makes my work stronger, so I persevere. I got stuck half way through Just the Way You Are. For a long time I couldn’t work out why it didn’t feel right. Then I started looking for the gaps in the narrative.
I ended up plotting everything quite carefully and found I had to completely remove one plot thread, change two characters’ roles and combine another two characters into one character (Tahlia was originally Tahlia and Thelma but Thelma didn’t do anything Tahlia couldn’t do). I also had to remove Mark’s point of view scenes because there were too many heads talking.
Those things in themselves are doable, but it became complicated when I kept coming across things in the plot lines I was keeping that had been impacted by the one that no longer existed. Removing a character left a gap in pace and dialogue that I had to work out how to fill, and combining two characters meant I had to change all the physical descriptions and dialogue so it all matched the new character. Some actions had to be attributed to another character for it to make sense. The process got easier the deeper I delved into it. The hardest part was deciding how to make it work and then starting.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
It depends if I’m working my day job or on holiday from it. My day job has periods of intense pressure that ease off at regular intervals. I carry my laptop with me everywhere, even if I think there’s no chance at all of getting any work done. I have a USB around my neck all the time, just in case I’m in front of a different computer and find myself with five minutes to spare. I schedule ‘me’ time where I leave the house and the family and go somewhere no one knows me so I can pull out my laptop and write for a couple of hours solid. I try to make sure I have at least one complete scene in my head, ready to roll out onto the paper. I have regular holidays with my work. Officially, the ‘holidays’ are to prepare for the next intense session, but I try to get organized earlier so I can use my holiday time writing. That’s the time I pull all the five minutes slots together and start making the random scenes coalesce into a cohesive story.
Because my writing time is so unpredictable, I can’t keep it all in my head. I rely heavily on notebooks and have one for every story. The notebook gets filled with character profiles, plot arcs, sketches, maps, anything I need to keep the story alive. Depending on whether or not the story builds itself in my head chronologically or randomly, I also use different software to grow the book.
The most important thing is that I accepted quite a long time ago that I can’t do everything. Some things just have to slide. For me, that’s housework. My house gets cleaned—the floors, clothes, kitchen, bathrooms. It’s clean enough I don’t have things growing where they shouldn’t be. That’s all that gets done, though. I don’t iron, I don’t dust, I don’t put things away very often. My writing is more important.
Read our review of Just The Way You Are here
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.
Where to find the author:
You can contact E E Montgomery at [email protected]; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://www.eemontgomery.com/blog.
Rafflecopter Prize: One copy of the each of the first three books in the series
Tour Dates & Stops: April 20 – May 1, 2015
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