Tom Early on Writing, Characters, and his new release ‘The Final Season (Seasons Rising #3) 

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The Final Season (Seasons Rising #3) by Tom Early

Harmony Ink Press
Published June 11th 2019

Cover Artist: Sadie Thompson; Cover Design by Paul Richmond

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

 

✒︎

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Tom Early

How much of yourself goes into a character?

  • Fay is fun. He was one of the first characters I’d ever written, and he is, at this point, rather like who I might be if my time past high school went very differently. The rest are their own, with aspects from other people I admire or am intrigued by that I went and snagged like a magpie and built a character around.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

  • I’m not sure it matters, really. If it’s enjoyable to read, what’s the point in saying a character is too perfect? (That said, if the character is enjoyable to read, that probably isn’t a problem).

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

  • For sure! Characters often have minds of their own, and when I hit a hard scene, they like to scatter and hide until it stops smarting. I have to tempt them out sometimes to finish the scene; it’s a fun time. Usually if it happens, it’s about a week for them to come back, but I’ve hit patches with a hard ending that I had to put aside for months, and eventually realized I was being told this needed to be rewritten.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

  • This series has had all the covers done by my childhood friend, who’s credited on the inside cover of the book. They work with me to make covers that we feel accurately reflect the core concept of the book! And wow, what wonders they’ve made…

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

  • I’m proudest of The Final Season, because I wasn’t sure if I could write it. It gets at a feeling I’ve had very strongly for a while, of… the sense that just because you have been on a path for a long time, doesn’t mean that you are bound to it. Especially if the actions or expectations of others are what placed you on that path to begin with. It isn’t giving up to realize you aren’t who you are when you started on an ambition. And that’s okay. This last book is about that feeling.

What’s next for you as an author?

  • Good question! I have a fun book called The Kingdom and the Crow, which is YA Fantasy, and follows an assassin named Jasper who’s having a bit of an identity crisis in the middle of a world-ending conspiracy. I don’t know what will happen with it yet, but I’m hopeful. I’m also working on another novel that more or less is my take on deconstructing some of the story beats of the Ancient Greek concept of a “Hero’s Journey”. It is, unsurprisingly, a romance. A witchy one. We’ll see what happens.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually it becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

  • Good lord, no. I believe it was Patrick Rothfuss in one of his books that said it is a beautiful thing to love “because”, but a rare and powerful thing to love “despite”. I think some of the greatest love stories out there include characters who are terribly flawed, but find ways to be loved, and to love, and to find a measure of peace despite it all.

   

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

  • Oh my. Yes. Several. The Final Season has one. Not much of it survived, but parts of it exist near the beginning. They tend to be a little bit more embarrassing than I usually am able to write.

 

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

  • The Edinburgh Botanics is a lovely place to write! Big garden, lovely café, quiet and surrounded by nature. I like ambient noise and people around me when I write, so quieter but active places like that are my favorite.

 

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

  • I write for me, and to help others like me. We could all use more of ourselves in stories. And we could all use the reminder that no matter what, it’s worth it to keep trying.

 

What’s next for you as a writer?

If you find out, please do let me know. I’m terribly curious.

 

Sequel to The Doorway God

Fay is no longer a boy haunted by the spirit of Winter—he is now the embodiment of the cruelest Season. If he thought access to the immense power that grants him would make his life easier, he couldn’t be more wrong.

 

The return of the Seasons is tearing Gaia—the magical realm that mirrors Earth—apart as factions form to either take advantage of the shift in power, fight against it, or use it to spur societal change. Terrifying enemies emerge to face Fay and the other Seasons, even as the Seasons plan their own battle strategy.

 

Fay, Sam, Tyler, and their friends and allies are facing a final test unlike any other. To survive the chaos unleashed on his world, Fay will have to choose what to hold on to and what can be sacrificed.

About the Author

Tom Early is a native Bostonian, coffee addict, and gay disaster. When he’s not off doing weatherly things for work, he can be found writing, talking about his characters with anyone who’ll listen, and giving impromptu lectures on the importance of representation in genre fiction, especially fantasy. There is a nonzero chance that he is actually a dog.

Andi Van on Writing, Dragons, and their new release Magic Triumphed (The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #3) (author guest post)

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Magic Triumphed (The Mages’ Guild Trilogy #3)  by Andi Van

Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon | Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Andi  Van here today to talk about writing, and dragons and their new release Magic Triumphed, Welcome, Andi.

 

 

“Write me a story with a dragon.”

You never think that a single sentence could change things so drastically. Or at least I don’t. But in 2007, when I decided to participate in this thing I’d heard of called NaNoWriMo, that’s exactly what my grandmother told me when I called her to tell her I had no idea what kind of story to write.

So I wrote her a story with a dragon. That was in 2007, mind you, and the original iteration of Tasis’ story was only one book long and badly written in places. Especially the ending. The ending was horrible. But I was lucky enough to have a chance to fix that, to expand my fictional world into an entire universe.

It’s been almost twelve years, and  I never thought I’d be so incredibly sad about having a book released, because Magic Triumphed being released into the world means it’s over. Done. The thing I poured my heart into as a tribute to my late grandmother is complete, and it’s kind of like losing a piece of my soul.

(When I said this to my mother, her immediate reaction was to ask me when I’m writing the fourth book. I pointed out that a trilogy is only three books long, and her response was “That didn’t stop Douglas Adams.” I mean, she has a point, but…)

It’s been a labor of love, for sure. I wrote Magic Wept and Magic Triumphed back-to-back, without a break. I lost Koi, my much-loved feline companion and deleter of chapters (via sitting on my keyboard), in the middle of the process due to old age. My roommate was pretty sure she was going to have to take me to the hospital before I ended up dead from lack of sleep (I’m not even joking about that, sadly). The characters weren’t cooperating. I had to have deadlines extended. And I had to write something near the end (don’t worry, no spoilers) that pretty much destroyed me, even if I knew how it was going to turn out. On the final day, I was up until 5 in the morning, with another author friend keeping me company until I hit send on my submission email. (Then I promptly fell into bed and stayed there for a week.)

We all know how I am by now, though. There’s a baby who can do magic he shouldn’t be able to do, and we have to know why he can do that, right? He should be getting his own story, shouldn’t he? Plus I’ve already been talking with friends about doing some crossover stories. So chances are, this isn’t the last you’ll be seeing of The Mages’ Guild.

But hey… I wrote a story with a dragon for you. I hope you like it.

You can follow along with the blog tour at http://andivan.com/magic-triumphed-blog-tour. Since the dragons are what started this whole mess (both in reality and in the story), it’s the dragons I’ll be talking about for most of the tour. Keep your eyes peeled for a random giveaway or two!

 

 

 

Blurb:

Zaree Muna would follow her brother Tasis anywhere, but she never imagined that path to lead where it has. After Tasis and his familiar fall under a magical sleep from which no one can wake them, she and her party prepare to face the mad king of Archai without him. They don’t expect the journey to lead to the Maker herself, who predicts three deaths will occur as the battle to save their world from Archai and a jealous god nears. Two of those deaths will be loved ones, and if things go wrong, the third death could spell the end of everything.

But no one ever accused Zaree of being a coward, and as she and the others go into battle to save what Tasis has rebuilt, she is ready to laugh in the face of death. The thousand-year wait is over, and none of them will accept anything less than triumph.

***  Excerpt

Vashk was waiting for them when they made their way into the cavernous dock, and Zaree, with Yldost riding on her shoulder, couldn’t help but wonder just how much the water dragon knew. She respected and trusted him, certainly, but she didn’t kid herself. He was hiding something from them. Multiple somethings, likely, and all of them important.

Yldost leaped from her shoulder and would have landed on the ground in a small heap if Zaree hadn’t caught them. Clearly the dragon wasn’t used to not having all of their feathers in place. Instead, Zaree very gently set Yldost on their brother’s snout, which was likely the place Yldost had been aiming for in the first place. They gave Zaree a grateful chirrup before turning their attention to their sibling. “Vashk. Seri na.”

Seri na,” Vashk replied, his clear voice rolling through the grotto.

Diisen var?”

“If you would speak a language we could understand, it would be appreciated,” Zaree said, catching Jorget’s nod from the corner of her eye.

Seri na is a greeting between family members,” Vashk told her.

“There isn’t really a translation for it, but it signifies family ties as well as affection. You would use it when greeting Tasis, but not when greeting Sireti.”

Zaree tilted her head slightly to one side without thinking about it, and groaned inwardly when she realized what she’d done. She’d been spending far too much time with Yldost if she was picking up their mannerisms. “I wouldn’t use it with Sireti even though he’s blood family?”

“You dislike him,” Yldost piped up. “Seri na is for loved ones. And blood does not make families.”

About the Author


Andi Van is a foul-mouthed troublemaker who lives near San Diego with a baseball bat that’s forever being used for things other than baseball, and a fondness for rum and caffeine (though not necessarily together).

Andi is fluent in three languages (English, sarcasm, and profanity), and takes pride in a highly developed—if somewhat bizarre—sense of humor.

Social media info:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DefiantAndi
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/defiantandi

John Goode On Writing, Characters, and his new YA Release Jordan vs. All the Boys (author interview)

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Jordan vs. All the Boys by John Goode

Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Rissarare@Fiverr

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have John Goode here today talking about his latest YA novel from Harmony Ink Press, Jordan vs. All the Boys.  Welcome, John.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with John Goode

 

 

How much of yourself goes into a character?  Very little if I am to be honest. I spent a lot of time finding my guys and rarely do they have anything in common with me. They have a lot I wish I possessed but most of the time they come from outside sources.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures? I research everything. Like everything, everything. I learned baseball for Tales From Foster High, I learned basketball for Going the Distance and for Jordan vs. All The Boys I researched surfing, non alcoholic drinks, gay dating apps and various video games. No matter how small the detail, I can spend hours on hours finding the exact fact for it.

For example, in 151 Days, the third book in the Foster Series, I literally went to the high school schedule for the school Foster High was based on, and literally counted the days from Christmas break to graduation to find how many days were left in the year, hence the title 151 Days. I am research crazy.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? I grew up reading sci fi, fantasy and comic books mainly. So except for Lords of Arcadia I would have to say no, I never read YA fictional books except for Outsiders by SE Hinton.

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?  I have more than once. I wrote the end of 151 Days months before I started the book because just the scene itself made me cry like a baby. I had to distance myself from it just to be able to approach it because it was just too much for me.

 Do you like HFN or HEA? And why? I like whatever fits the story more. I am not afraid to make an ending dark or unexpected because that was what the story asked for. Sure there should be some pay off for a reader to go through all of that emotion so I don’t throw dark or depressing stuff in unless it’s needed for a story point but I think making an ending happy just because is as bad as making bad things happen to people in the story for no reason. If there is a purpose, then everything is possible.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Douglas Adams, SE Hinton, Peter David, John Byrne

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going? Love it, the ability to carry a library around with you in your pocket is right out of Star Trek and hope it continues to grow.

How do you choose your covers? I make them myself, I just look at the feeling I am trying to convey and then start crafting the image around it. It’s a completely different set of muscles and I love using them.

What’s next for you as an author? I continue to write Foster High on my Patreon and am working on a couple of things for Harmony Ink.

Blurb

Everyone has that one summer, the summer where you take your first steps into adulthood. The nights are longer, the songs are better, and the friends you make are forever. For Jordan, Brandon, Ethan, and Dominic, that summer is now. This pack of self-proclaimed nerds set out on an adventure that defines every young man’s life—the search for love, or at least what they think love is. As with all great quests there are pitfalls and challenges ahead of them and they will have to overcome their greatest enemy, their own egos. But the power of true friendship could give them the strength they need to complete their quest and win their prize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 180 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2019 by Harmony Ink Press

Jeff Adams Guest Vblogging on Writing and his new release Schooled (Codename: Winger) (YouTube Vlog and giveaway)

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Schooled (Codename: Winger) by Jeff Adams
Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Jeff Adams here today talking about his new release Schooled. Welcome, Jeff!
I’m thrilled to be back at Scattered Thoughts & Rouge Words to celebrate the release of “Schooled.” I’ve got a video post below where I talk about how the importance of Theo’s family and friends are in “Schooled” and the broader “Codename: Winger” series. Plus I do a reading as well. There’s also a Rafflecopter below that’s got the chance for you to win a copy of the book!
Book Blurb:
Secret agent and teenage computer genius Theo Reese lives in two separate worlds—and they’re about to collide.
Theo’s high school computer science club is gearing up for a competition, and Theo agrees to lend his knowledge of cybersecurity to help them win. The covert agency he works for also needs his talents. An encrypted key that allows access to the nation’s electrical grid has been stolen. Theo’s skills are crucial in its recovery before disaster strikes.
When the file shows up at the competition as one of those to be decoded, Theo must find a way to be both an average high school student and Winger, his secret identity. The file must be secured—all while protecting his teammates from those who will use any means necessary to get the file for themselves.
Buy Links:
About the Author
Jeff Adams has written stories since he was in middle school and became a gay romance writer in 2009 when his first short stories were published. Since then he’s written several shorts and novels.
Jeff lives in northern California with his husband of twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance.
Jeff is the co-host of Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to gay romance fiction as well as pop culture. New episodes come out every Monday at biggayfictionpodcast.com.
Learn more about Jeff at http://jeffadamswrites.com/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

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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.

Website: www.russelljsanders.weebly.com   

Facebook: www.facebook.com/russell.sanders.14

Visit my website: www.russelljsanders.weebly.com

Follow me on Facebook at Russell J. Sanders, author: https://www.facebook.com/Russell-J-Sanders-author-514666448554674/

Follow me on Twitter: @russelljsanders

Visit my author page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Russell-Sanders/e/B00AVXOY80/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

View my about me page:  https://about.me/russell.sanders

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

Thirteen Therapists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH-zdafR2c8&feature=youtu.be

Special Effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrVphGxgXqc&feature=youtu.be

The Book of Ethan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6IBm1CBINg

Colors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwkLr2TTpcI

All You Need Is Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsQUwQUoUzs&feature=youtu.be

Titanic Summer: https://youtu.be/tVqWvlOP-PQ

Julie Aitcheson on historical romance, young adult literature and her release Being Roy (guest blog)

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Being Roy by Julie Aitcheson
Harmony Ink Press
Expected publication: October 3rd 2017

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Available for Sales

AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-MillionHarmony Ink Press |

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Julie Aitcheson on her Being Roy tour. Welcome, Julie.

✒︎

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with  Julie Aitcheson, author of Being Roy ~

What did you read as a young adult?

Honestly, I don’t remember “young adult literature” from my time spent inhabiting that demographic. It was the early nineties, before the genre was even properly defined. I was too busy reading The Great Gatsby to death in English class and writing papers about the significance of the green light at the end of the dock.  Then there was the copious required summer reading, which included Death Be Not Proud— the devastating memoir of a dad losing his beloved son to cancer. That book was beautiful. I can see that now, from the remove of many years and personal losses later. But at the time, it shattered me. It ruined every single day that it took me to read it, the pall of death dimming the summer sun. Every page was a heartbreak, and by the end I was seething with rage that I was forced to witness such horrendous pain as a tender, self-absorbed fifteen year-old.

This is not to say that I wasn’t reading beyond my academic requirements, but only that when moments of literary leisure presented themselves (usually around eleven p.m., after I was finished with homework, but before I’d found a way to manage my insomnia), I reached for something very different. You see, I come by my bookworm genes honestly. My mother was an English major in college, then an editor, and remains one of the most voracious readers I have ever known. She endured many more years of enforced reading lists than I, analyzing her way through most of the classics. She has had hundreds of Gatsbys and green lights in her past, and this is her justification for the contents of her personal library.  These days, it consists almost entirely of true crime novels and murder mysteries, but when I was in high school, her book stash was one hundred percent bodice-rippers.

Mom kept her historical romances stacked at her chairside, bedside, in the cabinets in the study, and in boxes down in the basement. I was given unfettered access, and the supply was endless. Authors like Johanna Lindsay and Catherine Coulter were my favorites. Their heroines were smart, feisty, and adventurous, and always in possession of some notable skill, like healing people with herbs or spear-throwing (despite the uniformly enormous size of their breasts). The heroes would usually start out as icy aristocrats or swashbuckling pirates. Rogues all, until a good woman’s love made them as docile as newborn kittens. 

I would stay up until three a.m. to finish “just one more chapter”, willing to suffer the gritty eyes and foggy brain of a sleepless night to find out how each story would end. It didn’t matter that they all ended the same. I needed to be there. I blew through three or four of these novels a week– more during vacations. I would bring the well-thumbed volumes to school once I’d finished and pass them on to my friends, going from one book to the next like a hamster pushing a lever for pellets. The only cure for the despond that came with watching my beloved characters ride off into the sunset without me was another book. And then another and another.

As I write this, the sheer mass of historical romance that I consumed during high school strikes me anew. These were formative years. Years during which I was indoctrinated by books with covers featuring Fabio in various guises. Given that I attended an all-girls high school, there were certain assumptions about the nature of male-female relations that went unchecked for an astounding length of time. For example, it was a while before I realized that sex did not have to happen under the cover of night in the stable behind a grand English manor house or down in the cramped hold of a storm-tossed ship. Clothes could simply be removed and placed neatly to the side rather than torn off in the throes of passion. My mouth could be gently kissed rather than “ravaged hungrily”, and love could bloom without having been first threatened by international intrigue, feuding families, or a murderous marquis.

I have since learned to love the books that break my heart, like Death Be Not Proud, and others that win prizes for the beauty of their prose or the insight of their commentary. But historical romances still hold a special place in my heart. They kept me company on the island of my angsty teenhood, and prevented me from kissing too many frogs on my way to becoming a woman. (What adolescent boy could compare to Fabio dressed like an aristocrat disguising himself as a pirate?)  They taught me how to lose myself in a book until everything around me disappeared, and planted the seed of a thought that maybe someday writing could feel the same way.

Being Roy (Fall 2017)- blurb

The greatest trial Roy Watkins faces isn’t deciding whether she’s gay or straight, male or female, West Virginia country mouse or prep school artistic prodigy. It isn’t even leaving behind her childhood sweetheart Oscar to attend uppity Winchester Academy in the hunt country of Virginia, or acclimating to a circle of friends that now includes privileged Imogen, her sharp but self-conscious sidekick Bugsy, and the tortured Hadley. No, the hardest thing for Roy to face is the world’s expectations about who and what she should be. 

As Roy’s journey of self-discovery forces her to cross one hurdle after another, her identity closes in fast. Sooner than she could have ever predicted, she’ll have to decide what that means for her, the people she’s coming to care about, and the life that lies ahead.

About the Author

Julie Aitcheson began her pursuit of writing as a screenwriter, then realized that a little exposition never hurt anyone and switched to books. She has had articles published in Echo QuarterlyCommunities Magazine (formerly Talking Leaves Magazine), Isabella, and All Things Girl.  Most recently, she received a full fellowship to the 2013 Stowe StoryLabs and won second place in the 2014 San Miguel Writers’ Conference nonfiction writing competition.

Julie lives wherever her bohemian heart takes her, and wherever she can hit the hiking trails when her muse decides to take a personal day. She has worked extensively with young adults as an experiential educator, both across the United States and in India. After spearheading an initiative to assist at-risk youth in becoming trained for green jobs, Julie threw herself into writing stories for young adults that do justice to their intelligence and complex emotional lives. Her childhood growing up in West Virginia, subsequent matriculation at an exclusive all-girls boarding school in Virginia, and former incarnation as a truck driver inspired her to write Being Roy. Her next YA novel, First Girl, is a dystopian piece due out from Harmony Ink in Spring 2018.

Julie continues to seek out unique life experiences to provide grist for the mill of her imagination, including her work as a medical actress at a simulation laboratory. There, she indulged her love of the dramatic arts and her passion for health education while amassing enough writing material to sink a barge.

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