Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Take the Long Way Home ~ J.A. Rock ~ Guest Post with Release Day Review & Giveaway

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It's lovely to welcome JA back to Sinfully, only this time she's here without her usual partner in crime. She’s introducing her latest book Take the Long Way Home, which Macky absolutely adored!

Be prepared for laughter and tears as Dresden and Caleb, two really endearing characters, find out that home really is where the heart is but they have to Take the Long Way Home to find it!

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Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m so happy to be visiting Sinfully today to talk a little about TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, which is now available from Loose Id. TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME is about growing up. And screwing up. And family. And…farmer’s markets. And low level kidnapping fetishes. It’s about a lot of things, but I think mostly it’s about searching for connections with people. So I’m talking today about one of the great connectors of humanity…music!

I don’t often listen to music when I write. I used to be able to write through anything—TV, music, fire drills, my brother and sister fighting... But now I like my workspace to be silent, except for my dog’s snoring—a sound both unnerving and oddly comforting in its intensity.

But it’s great when I can find a song that fits well with a story or character I’m working on. I won’t necessarily listen to it while I’m writing, but I’ll listen to it other times, until I develop I kind of Pavlovian thingie where if I hear the song, I want to go work on that book.

So I wanted to share a song that helped a lot with the writing of TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME. One that I think Dresden, the MC, would appreciate.

The song is “Bye Bye Symphony” by Foxy Shazam, which you can listen to here. They’re a Cincinnati band, so perhaps the current of Ohioness that runs darker and deeper than blood through my veins is what drew me to them. Or maybe it was my roommate Chris, who was playing the song one day while I was home.

The lyrics and energy seem to fit Dresden well.

I'm kinda sick of losing
It makes me wanna cry
It seems everything in life I try for
I'll never get before I die
But what's the point in moaning?
Oughta leave that for the ghosts
It's better to think it through
Find the words that bring you hope
Oh hope, I need you
Life is a bitch, but she's totally doable
She'll knock you around and she'll lend you a hand
Life is a bitch, but she's totally doable
She may be a beauty, but life, life is a bitch

The rest of the lyrics are here. I’m a particular fan of the last line.

Do you guys have any songs that you relate to now, or that remind you of a certain point in your life? Or that you’ve used to connect with characters? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Take the Long Way Home by J.A. Rock

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Title ~ Take the Long Way Home

Author ~ J.A. Rock

Publisher ~ Loose Id

Published ~ 20th January 2015

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance

Rating

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Synopsis

Dresden Marich has failed out of high school three months shy of graduation. He’s infatuated with his online friend, Evan, alienated from his family and former classmates, and still trying to recover from his father’s death six years ago. He’s also keeping a troubling secret about his older brother, Gunner, who is away at boot camp.


Then Dresden meets Caleb, a judgmental environmentalist who’s hardly Dresden’s fantasy come true. But Caleb seems to understand Dresden’s desire for rough sex, big feelings, and, ultimately, safety. As Dresden becomes embroiled in a farmers market drama involving Caleb, a couple of bullying tomato enthusiasts, and a gang of vigilante vegans, he discovers he might be willing to trade a fantasy relationship with Evan for a shot at something real with Caleb.

But Dresden fears telling quick-to-judge Caleb his secret, and the news that Gunner is coming home sends him fleeing to California for a chance to meet Evan in person and hopefully fall in love. When the encounter doesn’t go as expected, Dresden faces a choice: stay in California and carve out a new life, or take the long road home to his family, Caleb, and a past he must face if he has any hope for a future.

Macky’s Review

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Laughter and tears are never far apart on the scale of things and that's how it was for me whilst reading this funny, unforgettable, quirky, affecting story. And it's all down to the unique, voice and thought processes of its narrator and central character: eighteen year old Dresden Marich. Named by his mum "after a firebomb" he's pretty much a time bomb himself, angry and emotional, he's one big walking insecurity, made that way by two life changing events involving the death of his father and his volatile big brother who's now at military bootcamp. Incidents that have impacted on how he views himself, his relationship with his family and future in general.

Struggling daily with all this inner turmoil, he's flunked out of school, and that has driven a wedge between him and his mum. On the cusp of adulthood, Dresden is caught between worlds. Through his inner dialogues we see flashes of wisdom and profound thoughts, but like most teens he can't always see beyond the pain, suffering and indignities of his own personal life, which puts him at odds with his mum, who of course is also trying to cope (through no fault of her own) with what life has dealt her, and is enduring the best she can. Not perfect, she has made mistakes with Dresden, especially how she's chosen to handle what helped make him the way he is, so their relationship has got lost in a mess of embarrassment, disappointment and awkwardness. But the love between them is there and every now and again there are tentative, tender moments showing that, which touched me deeply, as you see beneath the anger there's still a little boy, craving comfort from the one person who he was always able to go to before his dad died; but because of his state of mind, now pushes her away because he's scared of confronting his feelings and her true thoughts about him.

The one person who seems to make at least some of his trauma go away is Evan, a twenty six year old guy he chats to on the internet, who he's never actually seen but has decided he's probably in love with, even though it's a weird ass relationship based more on a sharing porn links, silly video's and odd snippets of guarded information about themselves, than a true emotional connection. All played out behind the x-rated avatars in the chat room of a sleazy hook up site called Fagland.

Then he meets calm, patient Caleb who has family issues of his own. A guy who notices things about people and stuff going on around him. Pulled to each other, they slowly drift into an idiosyncratic, sexual relationship that works because in a sense they're both misfits; yet there are times when Caleb isn't wholly sure what Dres wants, or needs from him and being the personality he is, Dresden can't always put it in words and its this, combined with sudden, unwanted circumstances at home, that ultimately pushes their budding love to the edge, and Dresden away, causing him to run to California to see if his destiny does lie outside of Caleb and the people around him at home.

So...I suppose at this point I'm making it sound like it's just a huge melting pot of doom, gloom and angst? Omg! That is SO not the case! Yes it's poignant and sad in parts, but that's all made up for by the force that is Dresden. I loved this kid!

As a character he's a bit of a neurotic mess, but more often than not, he's a funny neurotic mess! All seen through his POV, his ramblings range from the sublime...to the ridiculous... to the sublimely ridiculous! Funny in that dry, witty, self deprecating kind of way; he goes off at tangents that kind of go into shaggy dog story territory, but always with an innate sense of savvy at the bottom of it all. Sometimes exasperating, often unfathomable but always endearing, I couldn't not help falling for Dresden. If he wasn't making me snort, I was laughing out loud, or at the opposite end of the scale; eyes brimming and spilling over when that laughter turned to tears, because they were never really far from the surface. I spent the majority of the book wanting to hug the crap out of him because he crawled into my heart. The same with Caleb, who in his unassuming way dissects everything, a trait that makes Dres sometimes see him as judgemental, but that's not really the case. He just looks at the world a different way to him. He's a sweetheart and he tries so hard to give his conflicted, complex boyfriend what he wants, even if that means rougher, contrary at times sex or the sort of role play that could get you arrested! Gentle and supportive of Dres. How do you not fall for someone like that?

Sometimes it's about not taking shortcuts. Sometimes it's about taking the long way home; dealing with the potholes, coping with major bumps in the road and allowing yourself to make wrong turnings every now and again before you get back on the right track; the one that leads you to the place you're meant to be...your true home.

I absolutely adored this book. I highlighted so many passages that either highly amused me, touched me deeply or just had me in awe of JA Rock's brilliant writing style and wit because at the end of the day, Dresden's 'voice' comes from inside her. There are some great supporting characters. Dres's nine year old sister Babykate, who plays 'Mafia dolls' in her dollhouse, 'The Greensleeve's', three extreme vegans who are buds of Caleb's, The McKernisse's who grow giant tomato's and are the bane of Caleb's life and of course mum and Gunnar, who drives a lot of his neurosis. And tissues...keep them handy. Not just for possible tears but because you might just pee yourself when you discover what a 'Thoughtful Paul' and 'Detroit Beyoncé' are...hahaha...I'm still snorting!!!

I could quote tons of emotional, thought provoking, meaningful stuff but I'll leave you with a few slices of pure Dresden:

'Why is it that sometimes he's like, Ooh, organic beet paste, and sometimes he's like, Lie sexy on my worktable, while I go get a vibrator? He's like a filthy Captain Planet.'

'I shoot my load while I'm trying to undo my fly. "Oops."

I glance down, one hand still on my zipper.

"Seriously?"

"Uh-huh."

"I'm that good?"

"I think I'm just that eighteen." '

"Rudy was my best friend, second through eighth grade. When we were kids he used to hold me down and spit on me. On reflection, it wasn't the healthiest friendship."

Oh Dresden, Dresden, Dresden! I DO love you!

 

Buy it Here

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AMAZON GLOBAL LINK

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Meet J.A. Rock

J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. lives in Chicago but still sees West Virginia behind Illinois’s back.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

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Giveaway

Do you guys have any songs that you relate to now, or that remind you of a certain point in your life? Or that you’ve used to connect with characters? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

One commenter will receive a choice of any backlist title—including co-written titles. The winner will be drawn at 11:59 p.m. on January 23rd.

57 comments:

  1. Yes!!! Barcelona song Background makes me think of Ella Frank Temptation Series!!! Then Back in Black and Summer of '69 makes me think of high school and running carefree!!! Love listening to Sundy Best and their song Coming Home cause it reminds me of growing in this are of Ohio, KY and WVa

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    1. Woot, Summer of '69! I think that song makes everyone feel awesome. :)

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  2. Hoobastank's The Reason always reminds me that no one is perfect, and that we can all strive to be better. And nothing brings back middle/high school like Backstreet Boys. Is it bad that I still know most of the lyrics? :)

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    1. Oh my god, I was listening to a 90's marathon on the radio the other day. Lots of BSB! All I needed was an awkward dress and an unenthusiastic date, and I would have been back at the 8th grade dance. And yes, I knew waaayyy too many of the lyrics.

      And The Reason used to be on my workout mix in college. :)

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  3. There are many songs that remind me of sweet or sad moments in time in the past... Particularly Still Got The Blues by Gary Moore reminds me of my first relationship (long time ago!) and how it feels falling in love... ;)

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  4. :::IMPORTANT NOTICE:::

    PLEASE CAN YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESSES WITH YOUR COMMENTS SO THAT WE CAN CONTACT YOU. HUGE APOLOGIES FOR NOT REALISING THAT THIS WAS NOT STATED IN THE POST. IF YOU HAVE LEFT A COMMENT AND YOU SEE THIS NOTICE, PLEASE LEAVE YOUR ADDRESSES IN A NEW COMMENT SOTHEY CAN STILL BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN DRAWING A WINNER. THANKS AND GOOD LUCK GUYS. PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGIES.

    Macky. X

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  5. Sounds great!!! mevalem258 AT gmail DOT com

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  6. i have to say my wedding song "I knew I loved you before I met you "by savage garden b/c i went to a physic before i met my husband and she dais i would meet a guy with his initials and marry him and i did so i think the song fits....
    jmarinich33@aol.com

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  7. This sounds so good!!! Can't wait to read it. :)
    lkbherring64(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. When I first saw the title of your new book, I immediately thought of the Supertramp song by the same name. Brings back lots of memories of my high school years. I actually still have that album, Breakfast in America. Now I feel kind of old...lol. :)

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    2. The Supertramp song was one of the reasons I went with that title. Love that song! :)

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  8. I'm not really that into music, though I was in Burger King at lunch and they were playing a really catchy song from the 80's (I already forgot the title) and I found myself singing it under my breath (and caught another woman doing the same).

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  9. At Last by Etta James always bring back happy memories
    cvsimpkins@msn.com

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  10. With or Without You by U2 encapsulates my romances in High School. Thank goodness I got over that!
    karadg@hotmail.com

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    1. Hahaha! Great song, but yes, perhaps a bit dramatic for high school romance. In most cases. ;)

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  11. Man of Colours by Icehouse and South Central Rain by REM are a couple songs that evoke memories/feelings for me. Thanks for the post and review!

    jen.f {at} mac {dot} com

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    1. I don't know either of those. I'll have to check them out!

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  12. There are definitely songs that bring back particular memories of different periods in my life. For instance, 90s music, especially Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys always brings back high school memories. amaquilante(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I never got into the Spice Girls, but you weren't cool in middle school unless you were down with the BSB! I still sing "I Want it That Way" on occasion. :)

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  13. You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette always reminds of my first boyfriend, the rat bastard!

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    1. Oh no! Great angry breakup song, though. :)

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  14. I relate so much to music and novels all have a sound track to me.
    I just read the 3 novels in Sara York's 'Colorado Heart' series. The sexy rancher/assassins theme song could be 'Absolute Zero' by Stone Sour.

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    1. My email addy is: wendydawnswickedworld@gmail.com

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    2. Nice! I have not read that series, but "sexy rancher/assassin?" I must investigate...

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  15. Hi, I left a comment earlier, but saw the notice about leaving an email address.

    Waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com

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  16. I am always reminded on my high school years and second boyfriend (if I can call him that) by Thunderstruck by AC/DC.

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  17. I Melt With You by Modern English always reminds me of the first time my husband and I danced.
    aahickmanathotmaildotcom

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  18. I am a huge fan and looking forward to take The Long Way Home. Don't usually associate music with books I'm reading, but was able to imagine the Grateful Dead songs in SE Jakes book Running Wild.

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    1. Thank you! I haven't read Running Wild, but if you can imagine Grateful Dead songs complementing it, then sounds like I should add it to my TBR...

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  19. Congratulations on the newest release! I really haven't given it any thought. But after seeing several authors posting playlist to go with certain books I can see it now!

    juliesmall2016(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Julie! I like seeing authors' playlists--it's interesting to find out what music inspired certain books.

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  20. Who Knew by P!nk....came out at around the same time I separated from my now ex

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    1. leetee2007(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    2. Aww, bummer. Good song, but sorry about the circumstances.

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  21. I listen to a lot of music and read a lot of books but not normally at the same time. There have been a time or two in which I've associated a song to a book but it hasn't happened in a while. I'm stuck on two songs at the moment and they're both by the same korean artist(s). One's sung in English and the other a mix of both English and Korean. If you want to check them out I provided the youtube links below (beware they're a bit sadish, one deals with heartbreak/lost and the other unrequited love):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giSH-QUQSFQ (with english subs)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhc_UpS6U3Y

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    1. forgot my email, sorry: humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

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    2. Ooh, I especially like the second one! Thanks for sharing, H.B.

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  22. Feel this moment from pitbull and christina aguilera
    because i thin everyine is to worried with the future when the moment that matters is right now

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  23. Ohhh, the book sounds so, so good! I want!! As for music? I don't listen to much nowadays but one newish song that makes me think of all the books, but mostly real life, where the gay character is ostracized by family and church is Take Me To Church by Hoozier. Such a sad song but way too common in our world. It makes me cry every time I've watched the video.It's time for all the bible fanatics to realize that what they are doing is hurting kids all over the world. It's time for all the different religions to understand that you can't change what is natural in human beings. It's time for them to stop the hate!
    taina1959 @ yahoo.com

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    1. Definitely time to stop the hate! I recently started listening to Hoozier. I love Take Me to Church, and I especially love Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene.

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  24. It is next on my list to read! I love Take Me To Church by Hoozier too!

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    1. Woot! Thanks for stopping by, Ree.

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  25. There are a lot of songs that remind me of something from the past, good and bad. I go through periods where I listen to a certain band or style of music. I used to listen to gloomy rock with gothic lyrics and growling vocals mixed with instrumental or orchestra music (Opeth, Anathema, Therion, Theatre of Tragedy etc.), but nowadays I'm more interested in electronic music (stuff that you can dance to). Some songs remind me of certain movies or anime I like (Bittersweet Symphony - Cruel Intentions; Jesus bleibet meine Freude - The End of Evangelion etc.).

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    1. Nice! I like electronic--I'm a terrible dancer, but it doesn't stop me from trying.

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  26. I can't think of a specific song, but there are definitely songs that take me back to a certain time or place. Thanks for the giveaway! stephncaitlyn@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Steph! Yes, sometimes I'm not sure what songs will pull me into the past until I hear them.

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  27. I feel super old after reading all the comments. There are a few songs that remind me of a specific young love time in my life. Babe by Styx, Dust In The Wind by Kansas, and Running On Empty by Jackson Browne. I always just stop and "feel" when I hear one of these (which, considering how old they are, isn't very often).
    And yeah, I've been humming Supertramp since I started reading this blog. :-)

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    1. It is really hard for me not to hum Supertramp every time I think of the book title. :) I loooove "Running on Empty," and I just saw Styx in concert a few years--they did a great job with "Babe." They're getting up there a little in years, but they still rock!

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