Russell J. Sanders on the Titanic, Tex-Mex, and his new release ‘Titanic Summer’ (guest blog)

Titanic Summer by Russell J. Sanders
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links: Harmony Ink Press |  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Russell J. Sanders here  today talking about his latest story Titanic Summers. Welcome, Russell.


Titanic Summer: A Li’l Travel, a Li’l Politics, and a Lotta Enchiladas

By Russell Sanders

The best hobbies are those that give you joy, engage your mind, and lead you on a quest. You lose yourself in the research, the acquiring, the sheer happiness of just sitting and staring at your treasures. Oh, how I’ve experienced all that! I can spend hours at the piano, playing and singing for only me. I can peruse cookbooks, looking at variations of a single recipe just to decide how I, the amateur chef, will compose a delicacy. I can lose myself in the vast internet, planning an exotic trip—booking those flights to Bali, choosing the seats for that Broadway show, reading all about the museum in Boston so I’ll savor every moment, drooling over the thought of the Mexican food I’ve found in Bar Harbor of all places. And I can never flip the TV remote past a documentary on the Titanic, that magnificent ship that sank on its maiden voyage.

The story of the Titanic has everything: mystery, majesty, the rich and famous, the downtrodden seeking new lives in a new land, the hubris of designers and ship line magnates declaring the ship unsinkable, and it has Molly Brown, the unsinkable wannabe society dame from Colorado, filthy rich and not afraid to spend it! The tale of the Titanic has everything, and I can’t get enough. Books, movies, TV, exhibits…I’ve read ‘em all, seen ‘em all, visited ‘em all.

So fresh off a pilgrimage to the Titanic graves and the Titanic museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ten years ago, I began another journey. I wanted my next novel to feature that Titanic experience in some way.

I write novels intended primarily for teen readers. My ego and my desire want them to be far much more, great works that everyone wants and needs and has to read. So pick up a copy of Titanic Summer. You won’t be disappointed even if you’re sixty-five and still a teen at heart. But I digress. I knew that most teens would not be all that excited about the ship that hit the iceberg. But what if a teen’s dad was? And what if Dad took his son on his pilgrimage? And what if teen got into the whole Titanic thing because he loved his dad?

Ah! Now that’s what stories are made of. With little more than that, I began writing. And writing. And writing. Ten years later, ten zillion revisions later, Titanic Summer became what it is today. The book that Harmony Ink Press decided to take a chance on. Oh—I forgot. Add another revision to it all because even after Harmony Ink accepted the manuscript (and yes, that was only after I did a further revision for them,) the editing process began and that first edit was like re-writing the whole novel. I have never worked so hard on an edit in my life. But it was worth it. Titanic Summer is now as magnificent as the ship it rode in on. Yeah, I know—that’s for the readers to decide. If an author can’t use a little hyperbole, who can?

Somewhere in all those revisions, teen Jake became gay, and in real life, Houston city council passed an equal rights ordinance. That bit of history was ultimately defeated by the voters, and I, a devastated Houston gay man, realized that any poor teenage Houstonian gay would be profoundly affected by it all. And another layer was added to Jake’s story.

Titanic Summer is a travelogue. Readers—I’m talkin’ to you out there because you just gotta read this book!—will journey from Houston to Philadelphia to Boston to Portland, Maine, to Halifax, and back to Philly and Houston. There are lots of sights to be seen.

Titanic Summer is also another kind of journey. A sixteen-year-old boy who knows he’s gay and doesn’t want to accept it. He doesn’t care if anyone else in the world is gay, but he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it for himself. Not because he doesn’t want to be gay; he just doesn’t want anyone to know about him. It’s a roller coaster ride for Jake, folks. Step right up and see the kid try to take the next rise and sudden dip—whoosh! Will he live to ride again, or will he end up tossing his cookies, vowing never to get on that Texas Hurricane again?

Titanic Summer is Tex-Mex. Oh, it is Tex-Mex. Believe me, if you don’t finish this wanting some nachos, some enchiladas, some chips, some salsa, some guac, then you seriously are not a Houstonian. But we can make you one real fast. Dive in, the water’s fine (make that a Margarita; that is, if you’re legal—we don’t advocate underage drinking, y’all.) Search Yelp and find the nearest Tex Mex near you, jump on your pony, and head out to the feeding trough. And better yet, if there’s a Chuy’s near you, that’s the place to go. If you’re a novice, start with the Panchos. Then graduate to the Classic Tex Mex enchiladas. After that, you’re good to go. Do like me. Find you some Mexican food wherever you travel. It might turn out to be great (Jakarta, Indonesia) or might turn out to be rather strange (Rome, Italy) but it’s always an adventure. And if you’re not craving chips and salsa after reading Titanic Summer, I’ve not done my job. By the way, I am NOT a paid spokesperson for Chuy’s Restaurants. But if I got a little rebate from each time I’ve eaten there, I’d be a wealthy man.

So there you have it—the lowdown on Titanic Summer. Part Canada, part New England, part Houston, and all heart. And Tex-Mex. Don’t forget the Tex-Mex.

Blurb—Titanic Summer

It’s 2015, and teenage Jake Hardy is hiding something. During a summer trip to the Titanic Mecca of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jake’s father makes a confession, and though Jake feels upset and confused, he also wants to be understanding. But he feels deceived—much like he’s deceiving those he cares about. Jake is gay, just not ready to tell the world.

Jake and his father are far from alone in their secrets, as Jake discovers back in Texas, where the fight for and against the Equal Rights Ordinance rages. He’s surprised to learn how much the outcome will affect his friends, and he’s torn between standing with them and the wishes of his religious fanatic mother. Being true to himself won’t be easy or painless, and it will come with sacrifices—and rewards.

About the Author

Russell J. Sanders is a lifelong devotee of the theater. He’s a singer, actor, and director, winning awards for his acting roles and shows he has directed. As a teacher, he has taught theater arts to hundreds of students, plus he’s also taught literature and writing to thousands of others. Russell has also traveled the world, visiting Indonesia, Japan, India, Canada, the Caribbean, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice—and almost all the US states. His friends think he’s crazy, but wherever he goes, he seeks out Mexican restaurants. The Mexican food in Tokyo was great, he says; in Rome, not so good. Texans cut their teeth on barbecue and Mexican food. Russell’s love for enchiladas led him on a quest to try them wherever he can find them, and he has found them in some very out-of-the-way places. And good or bad, he’s delighted to sample his favorite food. Most importantly, Russell is an out-and-proud gay man, living in Houston with his husband, a relatively recent marriage but a relationship that started twenty years ago. He hopes that his novels inspire confidence and instill pride in his young gay fans, and he also hopes others learn from his work, as well.



Visit my website:

Follow me on Facebook at Russell J. Sanders, author:

Follow me on Twitter: @russelljsanders

Visit my author page on Amazon:

View my about me page:

View my book trailers:  (all book trailers use free use public domain images and music)

Thirteen Therapists:

Special Effect:

The Book of Ethan:


All You Need Is Love:

Titanic Summer:

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.