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G B Ralph, Author

Novella: Duck and Dive

I did it! My first piece of fiction available for sale (UK, US, AU, CA), to anyone in the world. I’m pretty excited for you to read it. I’ve included the blurb/description, first chapter, and links to buy below – if you’re so inclined. Please let me know what you think!

Duck and Dive
Rise and Shine – Book One
Published: May 2020

Buy on Amazon Kindle: UK, US, AU, CA, etc.

A gay romantic comedy novella about trying to come out and failing spectacularly.

Arthur knows it’s about time he came out – and he’s determined to do just that. The problem? Each and every attempt has been derailed. Thwarted, if you will. If it’s not the stress injury, it’s the takeaway deliveries or the nosy neighbour checking in with her spiced apple muffins. Then there’s the elderly residents of the Sunset Villas retirement home complicating matters, not to mention the gorgeous straight guy from the driving range.

If only Arthur could get his act together…

I didn’t know what to expect, but I genuinely enjoyed it. I’m glad I did, otherwise that would’ve been a very awkward conversation.’ Author’s partner.

I have learnt self-publishing is fairly involved, but I enjoyed the process. And hopefully I’ll be quicker next time! The Bestseller Experiment podcast, hosted by Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux, is such a valuable resource with useful advice from themselves, bestselling authors, and others in the writing/publishing industry. It’s so inspiring and motivational – highly recommended. David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should has a wealth of knowledge too, and pretty much does what is says on the tin. Guido Henkel’s Take pride in your eBook formatting blog post series (also published as the ebook Zen of eBook Formatting: A Step-by-step Guide To Format eBooks for Kindle and EPUB) provides a fantastic, methodical approach to formatting.

Now I’ve published my novella on Amazon (UK, US, AU, CA), set up my Amazon Author Page (UK, US), added my book to Goodreads, and applied for the Goodreads Author Program (Profile). All I need now is for some lovely strangers to read my book!

For a preview sample, I’ve included the first chapter here:


Chapter 1 – What’s the hurry?

‘I’m gay.’

I’d never said it out loud before.

‘I’m gay,’ I said again, staring myself down in the bathroom mirror. It wasn’t so hard, I could tell them. ‘I’m—’

‘All right, mate! Bloody hell,’ someone said. ‘You’re gay – I get it. Just let me take a shit in peace.’

My eyes went wide with horror. I was sure I had the bathroom to myself – was there another stall around the corner?

‘I’m sorry! Sorry, I’m leaving…’ My heart hammered as I shot from the bathroom. I dropped onto a nearby bench outside, head in my hands, red with embarrassment.

Then I realised… I’d just come out to someone, hadn’t I? It was to a complete stranger, someone who hadn’t even seen me. Still, it was a start, right?

I leapt to my feet, a fresh wave of anxiety rushing through me. The hidden shitter could step outside at any second. He’d see my face. See me all hot and bothered and know I was the blithering idiot who’d been coming out to his reflection.

Thinking only of distancing myself from that awkward situation, I ran along the decking, rounding the corner of the building—

And slammed straight into something. I rebounded, arms swinging as I stumbled back, about to crash on my backside when two arms shot out to catch me.

‘Whoa, what’s the hurry?’ the something said, holding me in place as I got my legs back under myself.

Once I could support my own weight, I stood up and stepped back. Looking up to take in this wall of muscle properly for the first time, I almost lost my footing all over again.

He was stunning.

Thick legs, well-defined chest, wide shoulders, and sculpted arms – that’s the word they used, wasn’t it? Sculpted. I’d never had cause to use it, and now one such arm rested on my side, as if I could collapse at any moment. His form was evident despite being covered by the navy blue, driving range uniform. Finally I’d worked my way up past his name badge – ‘Gabriel’ – to make eye contact. His eyes were a deep brown colour, his skin a warm, olive tone. And his face – gorgeous, angelic even, how fitting – was caught somewhere between amused and concerned. ‘You OK?’ he said, head tilted to one side, wavy black mop jostling with the movement.

I was still speechless and gawking like a dork when someone tried to shuffle past us. My mind was too scrambled to process he’d come from the same direction I had – the bathroom. Not until I clocked the subtle lift of an eyebrow as he walked past did I realise who he must be – the reason for my mad dash.

‘I… uh… yes, thanks,’ I said, returning my attention to the man in the navy blue polo – Gabriel – as the other guy passed. ‘Yes, I’m fine.’ Despite having regained control of my body, my mind was still a few steps behind. ‘Sorry, I was… I was in a hurry to get back to the tee. My friends will be waiting for me.’

‘By all means, don’t let me hold you back,’ he said, smiling as he stepped aside and lowered his arm. ‘But please try not to bowl over anyone else today. I don’t want you hurting yourself.’

‘I won’t, promise.’ Was… Was he flirting with me? No, he’s clearly straight, just doing his job. Keep it in your pants.

Not knowing what to say next, I made my best decision of the day. I kept my mouth shut, gave him a small smile and nod, then headed back to my friends at the tee.

***

Jared and Richard were there waiting. None of us were golfers, but at the driving range it didn’t matter how you chopped it, each swing was a fresh chance. It was great for a laugh too. We even had a few kids with their mum and dad giving it a go at the tee next to us. Wholesome family fun.

‘There he is! We thought you’d fallen in,’ Jared said. He was the loveliest guy – though a bit of a goof, and forever recycling the same, limited set of jokes. He only ate pre-approved, pre-packaged meals, which consisted – as far as I could tell – solely of boiled chicken breast and steamed vegetables. I sometimes wondered if this strict regime prescribed by his personal trainer had impaired his brain development, or maybe just the ability to think for himself. His alcohol intake wouldn’t help with this either, probably rendered the diet pointless too.

And he was forever falling victim to girls who only wanted a beefcake on their arm. They’d trot him around town for a week or two then just call it off. He liked to pretend he was the player, but each time this happened it would break his soft, squishy little heart.

‘Stop dicking around and get your arse over here. It’s your shot.’ That was Richard. He didn’t have an inside voice, or any sense of decency. I’d never met anyone with such a filthy mouth – he could shoehorn an insult or curse into any sentence. And where Jared was beefy, Richard was just all cake – crumbs lost in his unkempt beard, or piling up on his paunch.

‘Come on Arthur,’ Jared said, cutting off Richard before he could voice any more choice phrases in front of the kids. ‘Grab a club and get up there.’

Jared was my best friend, had been since primary school. We were inseparable – even now he still looked out for me. I felt bad keeping something so important from him, but was terrified coming out would impact our otherwise easy friendship. We still saw each other every week, often multiple times, despite not living so close anymore and both working full-time.

Stepping up to the tee, I took some practise swings, hoping to calm down. Relax and try to enjoy my weekend. I didn’t have to tell them right now, maybe later.

On my third trial swing Richard leapt up. ‘Arthur, what is wrong with you? You’re wound tighter than a nun’s c—’

A scandalised gasp from the next tee cut across Richard, parents clapping hands over the ears of their impressionable youngsters.

‘Yeah, loosen up or you’ll throw your back out, old boy,’ Jared said.

‘You’re so stiff, and not in a good way,’ Richard said, grabbing me from behind. ‘Just swing the hips.’ Pressing himself into me, he gyrated my hips together with his, first side to side, then thrusting forwards and backwards. Richard was laughing and whooping all the while, despite my protests.

I certainly wasn’t relaxed now. If anything I was wound tighter than before.

Just hit the bloody ball. Then they can busy themselves with their next shots. That might buy me a couple minutes to sort myself out.

Still, rigid with all the pressure and stress, I swung hard.

I knew before I’d even hit the ball that my stroke was off. As I connected with the golf ball, I felt a slight twinge in my lower back. On the upswing, my spine was set alight. Screaming in shock at the sudden and excruciating pain, I collapsed where I stood. My head hit the decking hard, and I blacked out.


If you’re keen to read more, Duck and Dive can be found on Amazon (UK, US, AU, CA) – I hope you enjoy the story. If you do, please tell your friends – personal recommendations are the best! Also please consider leaving reviews on Amazon (UK, US, AU, CA) and Goodreads. Reviews are important for making my work more visible to other readers and in encouraging me to write more.

For my latest updates and a free short story I encourage you to subscribe to the mailing list on my website: www.gbralph.com. You can also find my other stories there, and links to my social media if you’d like to drop me a message – I’d love to hear from you!

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