Make Waves Excerpt: Dinner at Mom’s

I haven’t put out snippets or anything for Make Waves, and I thought, “That’s not fair…” So, today’s the day I fix that. Here’s a scene with the Scott brothers and their mom. The narrator for this is Max.

The next night, Will, Jon and I are at Mom’s for dinner. She didn’t cook; Will brought something that smells amazing from Shea’s test kitchen. It doesn’t really matter what it is–I know it will be locally sourced, healthy and delicious.

Mom has more color in her face than I’ve seen in a while, and more energy, too. Even though I offer to set the table, she insists that I allow her to be useful while she can be.

While Will follows his wife’s specific instructions for reheating the dishes, Jon and I sit in the living room and catch up. “How’s home life?” I ask him. “All the girls?”

He nods. “We’re all good. Liv says hi. The girls miss you and Callen. You guys need to come over.”

“After the trip to Washington,” I tell him. “We’ll take them out to dinner or something.”

“Oh, they’d love that.”

“Any talk of… more kids?”

He laughs. “Livvy and Shea are plotting. They have a grand plan to raise one at the same time.” He rolls his eyes.

“You don’t want to have another one?”

“Oh, I’d like to… maybe try for a boy. I’d be fine with either. But Shea and Will aren’t ready yet. Sorry. Will isn’t ready yet. He’s going to go work with NASA and the Fermi team next year, and that may put him out of the country for a few months. He doesn’t want to leave Shea on her own.”

“Yeah, I forgot about that.”

“But our brother’s going to work with NASA,” he says, nodding with a prideful grin. I smile, too. “Are you looking forward to your trip? When do you leave?”

“Sunday morning, and fuck yeah. I cannot wait.”

“How’s your arm feel?”

I flex my fingers and wrist. “It’ll be fine,” I tell him with a cocky expression. “Holding a paddle’s easy. The motion only bothers it a little.”


“Why don’t you guys get off your asses and eat before I take it all?” Will says loudly from the kitchen.

“Will, stop,” Mom admonishes him, even though he was joking and neither of us took him seriously. Of course, we are going to the dining room table to get our fair share.

Jon offers Mom the chair between him and me, smirking at Will and me because we didn’t think of it first. It wasn’t that he was simply the first. Will and I were sitting down. We literally didn’t think of it.

“Thank you, Jonny,” she says.

“You’re welcome, Mom.”

“You look really nice today, Mom,” I tell her.

“I already told her that,” Will says, just to be troublesome.

“Me, too,” Jon pipes up.

“So? Can’t I tell her, too? I was gonna say so earlier, Mom, but Will wouldn’t shut his fat, fucking mouth.”

“Whoooooa!” Jon and Will both shout. Will shakes his head in mock disapproval.

She laughs at us.

“Sorry, Mom,” I say, smiling sheepishly and giving her a peck on the cheek.

“It wouldn’t be a family dinner without the cursing,” she says, patting my leg. “I gave up long ago. Can I say grace, though? To balance it out?”

She prays while the rest of us listen; she knows we all have our own beliefs or disbeliefs, and at this point in her life, she’s accepted all of us as we are. After switching churches about five years ago, her outward views changed, and love and tolerance became her new core values.

“Amen,” she says. Jon and I say it with her; Will nods.

All three of us make sure Mom has food on her plate before we take any, so at least we’re all in sync there. Once we all start eating, my mother glances at each of us and smiles.

“I got my results back yesterday.”

Jon sets down his fork. “Mom, I was going to go with you. You were supposed to call me.”

“I wanted to go alone, Jonny. It’s okay.”

She swallows and closes her eyes for a second; her lashes become wet with tears.

“What is it, Mom?” Will asks.

“There is good news,” she starts. “The TACE did what it was supposed to do. It shrank the tumors in my liver.”

“That’s great,” I say, holding her hand. It’s very cold.

She crinkles her nose and one of the tears drips down her cheek. “But the prognosis isn’t any better. In fact, my liver function is worse… he says one to three years.”

I bite my lip to keep from crying. My brothers maintain stoic looks.

“What can we do?” Jon asks. “What’s left?”

“He said we could go through another round of TACE in a few months and see if that can shrink it further–”

“Then we’ll do that.”

“But the damage is done.” She shakes her head, releasing my hand and taking her napkin to wipe her nose. “At the most, it could add six months. It’s a waste of money–”

“Money shouldn’t be a consideration here, Mom,” Will says. “Any of us can help you now. You just have to look past your pride.”

“I don’t want it!” she says loudly.

“I don’t care!” he argues. “I’ll find a way to give it to you. That’s not going to be the reaso–”

“The treatment, Will.” Her voice is soft. Her shoulders slump. “I don’t care about the money. I’m tired of feeling sick, and those treatments make me feel like I’ve poisoned myself. I feel better without them, regardless of what they do. They’re not helping like we want them to.”

“But you could have more time with us.” I stare at her, not understanding.

“What do you think that last six months is going to be like, honey? Do you expect quality time with me?”

“But you’ll have six more better months before that,” I argue, unable to stop the tears.

“Maybe,” she says. “Maybe. But then I have to endure months of the procedure again, and the illness and recovery from that again. Do you see how this works?

“Max, I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You wouldn’t be,” I tell her. Jon and Will seem to know something else.

“I’ll be a burden you love; a burden you won’t mind bearing, but a burden nonetheless. This is my fate, but, boys,” she says, now looking at all of us, “I wanted you all to know that I am grateful of how my life has turned out. I owe it all to you.” Jon hands her another tissue. “I was a burden you all hated before.”

“That’s not true,” Jon says. I shake my head. Will looks down at the table; we all know their relationship was much more strained than ours.

She huffs and smiles, waiting for Will to look up. When he finally does, she continues. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mom.” His eyes water as he starts tugging on his hair.

“I love all of you.”

“We love you,” Jon and I both tell her, hugging her from both sides.

“But I could have a good three years left in me, right? If tonight is any indication, I would say that’s definitely happening.” She picks up her fork and takes a bite. “I feel better than I have in a very long time.”

“That’s really good,” my oldest brother says, sighing. My brothers and I look at one another before we start eating again. I’m not as hungry as I was earlier, but I pick at the good food, forcing myself to eat it because I don’t want it to go to waste.

“There’s one last thing,” Mom says when we finish. “Jon, can you make some coffee? Decaf?”

“Uh… now?”

“Yes, please. I have some homemade zucchini bread in the oven, too, if you want to heat that up.”

The dining room table is still in the kitchen, so Jon isn’t too far while Mom continues talking.

“I want you two to reach out to your father.” She takes a sip of her water while Will and I stare at her, mouths agape. “Sometime. It doesn’t have to be now, but I will rest easy knowing that things are settled between you three.”

“As far as I’m concerned, Mom, things are settled,” Will says, standing and picking up his and Jon’s plates.

“Sit down,” she tells him. “Jonny can clear the table. You cooked.”

I look up to see Jon leaning against the counter, his arms crossed, his eyes on us. He’s not in any hurry to do chores. Even though he doesn’t share the same father Will and I do, he knows the pain The Asshole has caused us, and he will stand united in any decision we make.

He disowned me, Mom. Remember?” I ask. “Because I’m queer.”

“No, because he’s ignorant,” she argues. “I want you to be the bigger person.” When neither of us says anything, she continues. “I have his number. He lives in a trailer home in Divide, Colorado.”

“We know,” Will and I say.

“How do you know?”

“Doesn’t matter.” He shifts in his chair, leaning back. “All I can say is it’s Max’s call. It will always be Max’s decision, and I don’t have any say in the matter.”

“Hard pass.” I shake my head. “I’m dead to him; he’s dead to me.”

“But he’s not dead, and I’m afraid you’ll regret that decision when he is,” she says.

“Will he? If died, would he care?”

“Don’t even say that… but it doesn’t matter what he has to live with for eternity. I care about you.”

“Mom…” Everyone can hear the minor annoyance in my voice.

“It will put my mind at ease,” she says. “Even if you don’t believe in it, I still do.”

It’s not that I don’t believe in it; it’s that I have plenty of time to figure out what I believe, that’s all. I’m just not committing to anything yet.

I give it about two seconds’ thought. “I can’t, Mom.”

She looks at Will. “No.” He shakes his head.

Glancing up at my oldest brother, she pleads with him. “Jon, please do something?”

“Mom, there’s nothing I can say.” He goes back to making her coffee, and Will and I clear the table, trying not to let the awkwardness ruin our night.

Make Waves ©2019 Lori L. Otto 

Are you ready to read? Get Love Like We Do (side a), Love Like We Do (side b), (It Happened) One Friday and In the Wake of Wanting… or check out ALL of my books!

Pre-order Make Waves today!

Make Waves is coming!

Yes, we have a release date! On May 1, you will FINALLY get a new full-length novel after two and a half years. I know, I’m a horrible person for making you wait so long.

Make Waves will be available exclusively on Kindle and paperback, so if you’d like to preorder the ebook, go right ahead!

Here are the details about my first release of this year:

On a humid, spring morning in New York City, the love affair between a young man and his hometown began to fade with the notification of favorable surf conditions on the other side of the country and a breakfast of leftover guac on stale bread.

Max Scott has been waiting for a sign to leave ever since.

He’s not worried about his family and friends. They won’t be roadblocks to his relocation; they barely missed him while he put in four years at Long Beach State. And his job? Crash test dummies are treated better. They probably get paid more, too.

But things are happening that make it difficult to leave anytime soon.

There’s his mother. After finally getting clean, cancer took up residence in her body, and she doesn’t have much time left. Max won’t leave her behind.

There’s Callen, his boyfriend of seven years. Next summer, he’s set to take over his dad’s company, which is based in Manhattan. That could create a 3,000-mile complication.

There’s the state of the country. After four repressive years, a standout candidate for president is a senator based in NYC. He’s younger, single and gay. Max is inspired to help elect the nation’s first queen.

Hiding the restlessness bubbling just beneath the surface, Max finds himself caught between a placid routine of the life he’s accustomed to and the wild, raging curiosity of what’s waiting on the other side.

He just needs that push off the deep end.

Make Waves is the first in a two-book duet.

Author’s Note: Before reading this book, it is recommended that you at least read the following books: Love Like We Do (side a), Love Like We Do (side b), (It Happened) One Friday and In the Wake of Wanting.

MakeWavesFinalCoverRGB small

If you’re excited, let me know in the comments!

I’m Still Writing… and Rambling…

I haven’t quit the book world or anything… or the blog world. Well, I’ve taken a huge step back from the blog world, and I apologize. There are just too many social “touch points” these days, and I feel I’m spread too thin. Lately – and I mean in the past three months “lately” – I’ve decided to put my novel writing above everything else. I did participate in NaNoWriMo in 2018, and I did win with over 83,000 words for the month of November. It didn’t really make up for the rest of the year, when I wrote about 16,000 words I threw out, but I have to move forward and not look back.

I’m spending time with Max Scott right now. Most of you don’t know him well – Love Like We Do wasn’t a popular series of mine, but he’s the one talking to me, so he’s the one who gets my time and attention. It’s the life of a (this) writer, what can I say? Love Like We Do was a passion project of mine. All the books since have been, in fact, and all of them have been well received by my very-very-inner-circle, and that’s about it.

The fact that very few people read Love Will and In the Wake of Wanting put me into a tailspin at the end of 2016, if I’m honest. That, with everything else going on in the world at the time, I found myself in a bad place creative and emotionally. The book I’m working on now, Make Waves, was conceived in that time, but it was completely different. I started and stopped this story about four times, and I am so happy I never continued with earlier drafts. It is so much better now. There’s humor and love, and that wouldn’t have been present before.

I did write nearly 100k words in 2017, too, in another book. It’s a keeper… it’s about Livvy and Jon, mainly. 🙂 Once it’s finished, it will come out after my current one. That’s where it goes chronologically…

And then there’s one more planned in the Hollandtown universe. I suspect it will be the last one in the timeline.

That’s not to say I won’t go back and work on Steven’s series. I still love his stories, but I literally started them nearly 10 years ago… style-wise, I’ve changed. It’s intimidating to have to rewrite from scratch.

So… what I’m saying is that beyond the three books I have planned, my publishing future is up in the air. I know I’ll continue writing because it’s a part of my soul and it’s what brings me joy, but I don’t know if publishing is the right path. I don’t like the marketing. Signings are incredibly difficult for me. And keeping everyone constantly engaged with social media posts and emails and blogs and books and books and books… well, it’s never been sustainable with my job-job. It was my dream to make fiction writing my job-job, but I make more in two hours at my job-job than I do in a month with books nowadays. And believe me, I’m not boasting about my awesome job-job salary here. My book sales are that bad. (For all you new writers, this is what happens when you slack off in all the ways I mentioned above – there were a few months I tripled my monthly salary selling books, so… it’s a fickle business.)

Anyway. Progress is being made. There WILL be a new book this year. Possibly two. If you’re fans of the Emi and Choisie series, you will NOT want to miss the one after Make Waves. It has feels like you won’t believe.

You’ve all been warned, and hopefully your patience will be rewarded.

Now, let’s see what happens when I try to post this thing without a picture, because this is where my efforts run out today.

Four Free Ebooks! November 3-7


From November 3-7, I’m GIVING AWAY the first books in four of my series! Click on any of the links to learn more about each book. And for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, all of my books are in the program, so you can read for free anytime! DON’T MISS OUT!

-`ღ´-   LOST AND FOUND | Emi Lost & Found – Book 1   -`ღ´-

-`ღ´-   CONTESSA | Choisie – Book 1   -`ღ´- 

-`ღ´-   CROSSROADS | Love Will – Prequel Novella   -`ღ´-

-`ღ´-   LOVE LIKE WE DO (SIDE A) | Love Like We Do – Book 1   -`ღ´- 


In Memory of Ben…

Benjamin Noah was born in New Braunfels, Texas, in the spring of 2002. Due to catastrophic flooding there in early July, he was relocated to the Dallas SPCA. After the sudden loss of my wire fox terrier, Ruby, my mom and I found ourselves in the SPCA in mid-July–just looking, of course, and only for a female dog, which we found. The cute, black terrier puppy was adopted, but the man at the shelter pointed out her brother, a little brown puppy who he was sure was part border terrier and would look like the dog in “There’s Something About Mary.” Well… I knew that dog. I loved that dog! I had to have this puppy. This male puppy.

And so Benny came home with me the next day after getting neutered. I named him Ben because I’d never met a Ben I didn’t like… but mainly after Ben Folds. And Noah, of course, because of the floods that sent him to North Texas.

He was a tiny pup with a long tail. He lived so long that I don’t have any puppy pictures at my fingertips… I guess there are prints in a box or on some dusty hard drive somewhere. He came around before Facebook… but, as most of you know, he had plenty of time to get famous there. I think he worked his way into many hearts on there and on Instagram.

For those of you who know me in real life, it may surprise you to know that Ben and I did go to PetSmart’s obedience school. I think we may have skipped the last day, but I know I can’t blame his anti-social behavior on that. He lived with a hermit… what can I say? He loved me like no one else ever could, and I did the same for him.

In his younger days, Ben loved to walk, sniff everything in sight, find any chicken bone that people had tossed out, and play with his Babies. (He never stopped *ahem* loving his Babies.) Before he got pancreatitis, he used to love treat-and-peanut butter-filled Kongs. He would sleep in my bed–under the covers, if it was too cold. He loved to cuddle right next to me and take up way more than half of the bed. I’ve probably bought him at least 10 dog beds in his lifetime… but he scoffed at those. Obviously they were made for other dogs. Lesser dogs.

In the mornings, he would walk up to me, lie down on my chest and roll around on my neck. And then he’d stare at me with the cutest, scruffy face. It was the best way to start any day.

When I would shower, he would always cry. For years. Like he thought I’d snuck away without him. I used to be able to soothe him by talking to him… in the past year, I’d poke my head or hand out and wait until he was close enough to find me, just so he’d know I hadn’t left him.

Aside from me, Ben loved two other people–my dad and my mom (aka his Nana). And that’s pretty much it. He learned to tolerate company as he matured, as long as they didn’t bother him. He was the alpha dog, and he knew it. I knew it. Everyone knew it.

He began losing his sight first a few years ago, and then his hearing went, too. He was still able to get around really well in our small apartment because it was familiar. Over a year ago, I noticed that dementia was beginning to set in… and he didn’t always recognize me or trust what I was doing when I was simply putting a leash on him or picking him up to carry him to bed. He’s always been a biter, but he was getting more and more aggressive as his mind continued to deteriorate.

And I realized it was time. When I realized the only thing he really looked forward to anymore was eating, my heart kind of hurt. And as I planned his last days, and thought of doing his favorite things with him, I realized he didn’t really have any anymore–and that’s when I began to think it was not only time, but maybe past his time. Perhaps I’d waited too long for him. Perhaps I was too selfish.

There were moments when he knew me, though. I think he knew me every day when I got home from work. Or I like to think he did. He wagged his tail. Walked right up to me. Let me pet him. And last night, I rubbed him behind his ears for a good 15 minutes, much to his delight. This morning, we cuddled on the couch while I cried. He licked the tears off my nose a few times. I know he wouldn’t behave so kindly to a stranger.

Maybe he still found pleasure in a few simple things. Maybe he still loved me.

Benjamin Noah lived to be 16 years and 1 month. He was the best friend and companion of my life, regardless of the number of scars he’s left on my skin. They’re just reminders that he lived. I’m grateful to have so many pictures and silly videos of him so I can always look back at that little face that brought a smile to my own every single morning. I loved him with all my heart and will miss him with all my soul.

Find peace, baby bear. Peace of mind… and enjoy sight and sounds again! No more darkness and silence. No more mind-playing-tricks-on-you. Knowing you’re not living like that anymore is the only way I can accept this is the right thing for you.

I love you, Benny. Always.


Benjamin Noah Otto 5/1/2 – 6/1/18

My NaNoWriMo 2017 (Winning) Schedule

So, for those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November, and the challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Well, we all know my novels don’t fit in 50,000 words, so I just aim to write part of a novel in 30 days.

Mathematically, that breaks down to 1,667 words-per-day. I normally try to stay on pace with this, at least, but being the overachiever that I am, I like to stay ahead of that.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may have noticed that I took some time off from writing. Now, I’ve been writing bits and pieces of things behind the scenes, but I haven’t been consistently working on anything specific, and I certainly haven’t been talking about anything publicly. (This blog is living proof–well, except for the novella that was released. And yes, I *will* get around to making a paperback for that someday.) The point is, I had gotten out of the habit of writing, and I was fearful committing myself to NaNoWriMo this year.

But I knew I had to. For the sake of the stories, the characters, and my own sanity, I knew I had to.

So, I devised my own schedule. November (on the calendar) worked out perfectly this year, considering weekends and my company’s (and many others) corporate holidays.

If I wrote 1,000 words every word day, and 3,000 words every day I didn’t have to work, I would end up writing 50,000 words. That would mean that it would look like I was behind the standard schedule for most of the time, and that would be something my overachiever brain would just have to accept… because I’d catch up on weekends, and maybe even get ahead.

Well, it worked! I did get ahead a few times, took one day off during the month, and finished on the 28th!

For those of us who work and can’t take time off, I think this is a very workable schedule to go with. Or, if you’re struggling getting back into writing, the 1,000 word-a-day schedule is quite realistic. Then you just have to push yourself on the weekends. Sometimes, I’d break up my Saturday and Sunday sessions by cooking or taking a nap. It really made a difference for me.

I think I like the pace, and now that I’m well into the story, I think I’m going to keep it up… maybe go for a 50,000-word December.

Happy writing!

(It Happened) One Friday is here!

I tried to be proactive. I wanted the book to publish on Friday, and Amazon says it can take 72 hours to publish… so I was giving it plenty of time.

And then it took one whole hour. It took less time for Trey and Zaina to… well, you know. Or wait! You don’t! You haven’t read it yet! Why are you still here!!? Go read it!


(IT HAPPENED) ONE FRIDAY  | $0.99 ebook

He did it. After everything they’d been through, Callen McNare crossed the line into a territory from which there was no coming back. Max Scott was always patient and loyal, but he’s not quick to forgive or forget.

And for Zaina Mishra, she finally got her wish. Trey Holland did it. They did it–after two and a half years of waiting. It was all that she wanted, but maybe not all she’d really hoped for in the end.

They were four friends from high school on a trip to paradise after graduation. They were two couples in love.

There was always a possibility that everything would change some day.

It happened one Friday.


Cover Reveal: (It Happened) One Friday

Daniela at DCP Designs is amazing. What can I say? I told her I wanted a text-y cover because I had looked for the perfect image for over a year, and what did she go and do? She found the perfect image AND produced the perfect text to go with it–and only by knowing the bare minimum about the book. Needless to say, I feel blessed to know this incredibly talented woman. So I won’t make y’all wait any longer… here is the cover for (It Happened) One Friday. Below it, you’ll find the description, too!


He did it. After everything they’d been through, Callen McNare crossed the line into a territory from which there was no coming back. Max Scott was always patient and loyal, but he’s not quick to forgive or forget.

And for Zaina Mishra, she finally got her wish. Trey Holland did it. They did it–after two and a half years of waiting. It was all that she wanted, but maybe not all she’d really hoped for in the end.

They were four friends from high school on a trip to paradise after graduation. They were two couples in love.

There was always a possibility that everything would change some day.

It happened one Friday.


Add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads today!


  • Is it a standalone? No.
  • Where does it fall in the lineup of your books? Ideally, between Love Will and In the Wake of Wanting.
  • When’s it coming out? Soon. I’m editing it now.
  • Is it up for preorder? No. Will it be? I don’t think so, but if I change my mind, I’ll post about it here!
  • How much will it cost? 99¢.
  • Where can I buy it when it’s out? It will be Kindle-exclusive for at least the first 90 days.
  • How long is it? About 25,000 words.
  • Will there be ARCs? I don’t think so. Why not? Because it’s been so long since I’ve released anything and I’m just excited to get something out there.

Reflections on Naming Characters

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now–years, actually. I do something rather self-indulgent when I write. I know many people (friends, acquaintances, readers) think I do it for them, but I get something out of it, too, that’s pretty special.

I name characters after people I know. When I first started writing, the first character I named after a friend was Teresa, who was Emi’s best friend. Well, Teresa was my best friend at the time, too, and I wanted to honor her with a permanent place in my books. Over the next few years of writing Emi Lost & Found, I named quite a few characters after people I knew. Melisa, Chris, Andrew, Brandon… those are just a handful of characters from that series that were named after either friends, peers or former coworkers.

I did the same with the Choisie series and carried it throughout Love Like We Do, Love Will and In the Wake of Wanting. In fact, the women in the Brothers Night scene in Love Like We Do (side a) were all my beta readers of that series – Daniella (Daniela Conde), Angila (Angela Meyer), Nicky (Nikki Haw), and Kristi (Christi Curtis). Do I model these characters after the people? No. That’s not what’s important. Just having their names jump off the page at me is what I love to see. After all, I’m writing fiction. 🙂

As I re-read my books–and if any of you know me, you know I do it often–it’s sort of like a time capsule for me. I get to see who was important in my life as I was writing each of these books. In 10 or 20 years when I read these again, I’m going to remember each of these people with such fondness, even if I’ve lost touch with them – and sadly, I have lost touch with many of them already.

I accept that people come into our lives for different reasons and that not everyone is here to stay forever… but having a little part of these important people in my books will keep the memories of them with me for as long as I can read.

Side note to Katie and Clarinda, my two besties… Katie, I named a character after you before I met you… Kaydra… and she was so much like you in spirit (and her nickname is Katie) that I couldn’t name another after you. Although I haven’t finished her book, she’s still a part of my universe. Clarinda, I just haven’t found the right character for you. You’re not a side character. You’re too special for that, but I think you knew that already.

All of my books are now exclusively on Kindle!

This means that if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read them ALL for free!

The Emi Lost & Found series? Free to read in KU, or buy the whole series for under $12.


The Choisie series? Free to read in KU, or buy the whole series for under $16.


All of the brothers’ books? Free to read in KU, or buy all five for under $17.


And don’t forget about Number Seven and Hollandtown Extras! They’re in the program, too!

Find them all on Amazon!