When Mann first told me he wanted an author insight post, I had no clue what he was actually looking for. So he explained that he wanted something that really got into my head, my writing process, or something similar. I can do that, except for one teeny tiny problem. Wide Open Spaces didn’t follow ANY of my usual writing process. So instead, I figured I’d share how Wide Open Spaces was different from my usual. Genius!
I didn’t even realize that Dreamspinner Press had a call for submissions for States of Love. They wanted fifty stories, each one set in a different state, and it had to be clear what state you were in. Then a friend and fellow author, Alicia Nordwell, cornered me on Skype and told me about it and said I should claim a state. At first, I was kind of iffy because I have so many stories in the works. And then I got the “You should do it. Wyoming is still open!” And wouldn’t you know it, BAM! Out of nowhere, an idea slapped me upside the head and wouldn’t let go. Luckily I didn’t dilly dally too long, and my claim was accepted.
Now normally, I spend weeks (if not months) going over an idea in my head before I actually sit down and write it. Bad part is, I don’t normally write anything I think up down, or if I do, it’s a very short note than they I later have to try and figure out what I was trying to say. That was so not the case with Wide Open Spaces. Nope. I opened Scrivener, and started files for chapters. I never outline because I never stick to it, but wouldn’t you know, there I was, outlining each of the chapters. By the end of that first day, I was already writing it!
Living in Wyoming, I knew what places I wanted to include. There are so many unique aspects of Wyoming, but my favorite thing in the area I have the story take place is the wild horses. And of course, the Bureau of Land Management manages the wild horses, so I suddenly had a job for Levi. And Wyoming is known for its mines (coal and trona) and for the gas and oil industry as well. So which one should I have Devon be in? Well, I won’t give anything away, you’ll have to read to find that out, but suddenly Devon had a job as well. All that happened the same day I submitted my claim (even before I knew my claim was accepted) so it was obvious to me that the story was getting written one way or the other.
The biggest difference though, how quickly I got the story out! Wide Open Spaces first draft ended up at just over 34,000 words (the range for this submission was between 15K and 50K), and I wrote it in less than two weeks. I usually struggle and come up against the wall at least a couple of times, but that never happened with Wide Open Spaces. Maybe it was the encouragement I was receiving, maybe it was that I actually outlined the story, maybe it was that I knew the area, but whatever it was, the story just wanted to be told. The guys were just constantly talking to me and, in truth, they never shut up. I spent all day, every day, and part of the night working on Wide Open Spaces. It flowed better than anything I’ve ever written.
Within two weeks of starting this project, it was written, beta’d, revised, edited, and submitted. And now here we are 6 months later and it’s release day! I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I did writing it.
WIDE OPEN SPACES
States of Love – Wyoming
Cover Artist: Maria Fanning
Devon fled Wyoming as soon as he turned eighteen, leaving behind his high school love, Levi. After six years in the big city, Devon returns to his hometown. Not much has changed, except that Levi is no longer in the closet. He’s also single and living his dream—managing the local wild horse population. Both of them are very interested in picking up where they left off, but Devon is no more ready to reveal his orientation than he was as a teenager.
No one is going to shove Levi back in the closet—not even Devon. For a relationship to work, they’ll have to put the past behind them and find the courage to face the future as who they really are—a couple in love. But Devon doesn’t know if he’s strong enough. Maybe Levi would be better off without him—and his hang-ups.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Devon sank down on his couch as exhaustion swamped him. Most of it was from moving in, but the change in elevation didn’t help. He’d gotten used to being closer to sea level, so going back to the dry air at over six thousand feet was going to take some getting used to.
Bloody noses had become the norm while he stayed with Blake. Devon didn’t want to deal with them repeatedly and considered getting a humidifier until he managed to acclimate.
He looked around his living room. Boxes were scattered everywhere, and he should be unpacking, but he was too tired. At least he hadn’t had to carry everything in himself. Blake, Travis, and Seth were waiting for him when he pulled into the apartment complex. They shrugged off his objections and insisted they had nothing better to do. Devon appreciated it, but he wasn’t comfortable around them anymore. He managed to be a proper host, but damn, he was glad they left after a couple beers each. They made noise about getting together again soon, but Devon had used getting settled in as an excuse to keep from committing to anything.
He stood and wandered into his small kitchen. He didn’t bother opening the fridge or any of the cupboards. He knew they were empty. His stomach growled, reminding him he hadn’t eaten for a while. Devon dug his keys out of his pocket and headed for the door. He’d get something to eat and then maybe stop at the store to pick up a few staples. Paper plates, sandwich fixings, some chips, and he’d be good for a couple of days. At least it would give him time to get a few things—like pots and pans—unpacked. Then he could do a full grocery shop.
An hour later he was comfortably full from a greasy burger, fries, and a shake. He’d never eaten a lot of fast food, but he had few other options. He headed to Walmart, determined to stick to his list of sandwich stuff and maybe some eggs. Surely he could dig out some pans before the food expired. He headed to the chips first and scanned for the familiar bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles. They were his all-time favorite, though he also knew he’d want something else after a day or two. So he grabbed a couple of other bags and headed for the eggs and then the freezer aisle.
Sandwiches and chips would get old fast. He found some frozen breakfast sandwiches he could microwave, tossed them in the cart, and moved on. Frozen lasagna quickly joined the few other items in his cart, followed by some potpies, a few TV dinners, and a bag of chimichangas. So what if he wasn’t sticking to his mental list?
He was more focused on getting groceries for the next few days than on the people around him.
He froze when a familiar voice spoke his name. He closed his eyes briefly, ducked his head, and steeled himself. He knew it would happen eventually, when he found out Levi still lived there. He thought he’d have more time to prepare. He swallowed—hard—and turned to face the man who had at one time meant everything to him. The man he’d risked being found out for. He lifted his head and gazed into the moss-colored eyes.
About the Author
Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties. Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal. When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity of Admin, Blog Coordinator, and Anthology Coordinator.
Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters. Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works.
When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts. When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors. She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby. Once back at home, it’s back to writing.