You know what sucks?

Saying goodbye.

I can’t speak for other authors, but when you spend as much time with characters as I have with Bear, Otter, and the Kid (and Anna, and Creed, and Mrs. P), they almost take on a life of their own. The boys are a part of me, and I won’t ever be rid of them as long as I live, not even if I wanted to be. I’ve spent the better part of four years with them, in one version or another, and when I finished writing Who We Are, it was very difficult to believe that it was over. I wrote the last words, and while it was a time for celebration, I wanted frantically to continue the story and just write and write and write some more so I wouldn’t have to say good-bye to them. I love them for everything they are, warts and all. They’re not real, of course. But that in itself is a lie because they are real to me. In my head I know how they sound, how they walk, how they laugh, and how they cry. I know the clothes they wear, what their likes and dislikes are. What they fear. What they cherish.

Sometimes, I wonder if I know them better than anyone else.

I wanted to discuss a few things about the book, so obviously there will be spoilers. If you haven’t read Who We Are, its best you go there first before reading any further. For the rest of you, here’s a little taste of why certain things happened.

ABOUT THAT PROLOGUE…

Okay, here’s the deal. While I was initially writing Who We Are, Chapter One: Where Bear Goes To War was initially the prologue, an introduction back again to the boys. I was doing the first round edits for Elementally Evolved Book I: Burn and reading an m/m shifter book, when a realization hit me. One, it seems that a lot of m/m shifter books have collapsed in on themselves, becoming nothing more than the same story over and over and over again. Alpha Werewolf (or were-duck or were-penguin) is leader of his pack/almost leader of his pack/should be leading his pack and does not have a mate (and has never considered that his mate might just be a man! GASP! SHOCKING). Enter in said mate, most likely tinier in stature, but may also be… wait for it… A CHOSEN ONE!!!!!!! ZOMG!!!! Angst and strife ensue, but they always end up together. And then I realized that for all intents and purposes, I’d sort of done the same thing with Burn. Oh sure, there’s no shifters in the Elemental world, but essentially, it’s the same thing. It seemed I couldn't escape certain clichés even though I tried, so I wanted to poke fun at myself and the shifter genre as a whole. Thus, the prologue to WWA was born. I tried to pile on every single cliché I could think of when writing it and had a blast doing so. This prologue was written back in September and was submitted with the finished manuscript to WWA.

However, certain… events… conspired earlier this year, as have already been discussed to death. I was asked repeatedly if the Kid would ever have any kind of response to these… events. Hence a certain snarky response about how shifter stories all seem the same and how people on the internet need to find things to do. That’s the only change I made to the prologue. Obviously, it was not born of any kind of malicious intent. Some people seem to find it funny, others seem to be pissed off that I wrote that specific line. Look: the whole prologue was me making fun of myself, and I really don’t have a mean bone in my body for it to be some kind of angry statement. I’ve learned it’s easier to laugh at something than to get angry. A little self-deprecation never hurt anyone. Lighten up!

THE MOST AWKWARD DINNER EVER

The dinner scene. Most of the major players in the BOATK world together for the first time. Many of the responses I have received about WWA have mentioned this scene in one way or another. Before I began writing WWA, I made a conscious decision that I wanted the sequel to be funnier. I felt that certain parts of BOATK were dragged down by unnecessary melodrama and really, hadn’t Bear and the boys suffered enough? (And, already knowing how the last quarter of the book was going to go, I also wanted to lure the reader into a sort of false sense of safety as they read, only to get to the last section and have that ripped away. Yes, I am somewhat of a sadistic bastard.) For the dinner scene, I wanted the dialogue to snap, and be continuous, with multiple conversations running over each other, in a way that would initially be confusing, but would melt together into Creed’s revelation of his anger/weirdness at the end of BOATK. It was probably the most technically difficult scene that I had to write in WWA. It went through several revisions until I was satisfied. I think Bear’s drunken coming out stream of consciousness speech to Otter and Anna’s parents is probably my favorite part of the whole book. Bear is a light weight mess and I adore him. From the Kid inadvertently spilling that Anna and Creed are doing the baby-making floor tango, to Creed’s realization that he has to let Bear go (and that maybe, just maybe, he’s in good hands regardless), I wanted to show that families can be just big, drunken clusterfucks. I hope you got that from it too.

A QUESTION I’VE RECEIVED QUITE A BIT…

Is Bear gay? Straight? Bisexual? Gay for Otter? Gay for Otter’s penis? To answer this question, I’ll refer you to one of the last lines in Bear’s narrative, where I think I quietly put that question to rest: “I’m a gay bug zapper, remember?” It can be read two different ways.

WOOKIEE CRY FACE

People who follow my posts know that I alluded to a scene in WWA where even I couldn’t keep from breaking down. Did you figure it out? No, it wasn’t when the Kid and Bear were lying in the bed after Otter and Bear returned from the gay bar (though, I will admit, the line the Kid says to the effect that without Bear, he’d lie down and die got me a bit choked up.) No it wasn’t when Otter came home to find Bear in the bathtub. It wasn’t Bear at the beach in his Tux waiting for Otter to show, knowing he wouldn’t and the reason why. It wasn’t the poem that followed (Bear! Bear! Bear!), or the rings, or the hospital, or Julie Mckenna returning. It wasn’t even Otter waking up.

It was the transition, you see, between Otter waking up and Mrs. Paquinn passing away.

Holy fuck me sideways was I a mess writing that.

I knew the whole last quarter of the book was going to happen before I started writing the book itself. I needed Bear to get knocked on his ass so he could finally open his eyes to see just how strong he really is. And I knew the only way he could see that is if everything happened at once. Otter. Mrs. Paquinn. Anna and Creed’s pregnancy. Julie returning with the truth of it all. I needed him to be the strong one, but of course, being Bear, it would be somewhat misguided (it is Bear, after all).

But what I did not expect was how much it would hurt getting to Mrs. P.

It’s a relatively short scene, her passing. Bear and the Kid in her room by themselves, knowing how their future is now awake in another room, watching part of their past slip away in front of them. It’s relatively short because I could not write more about it. I’ll admit to having a Wookiee cry face while I wrote that scene, and when Bear said, “Go on, old girl”? Gaaaaaaaaaaaah. I took a break for a few days after that to make sure it’s what was right for the story, that it was right for the characters.

And I found that it was.

I needed Bear to find his strength. And he did.

And I needed the Kid to hold his head tall, because well... I'm not done with him just yet.

ABOUT THAT EPILOGUE…

So. The Kid is in love with Dominic. And Dominic is…what? Gay? Bi? Straight? He told Bear he was fucking hot in the car. At the end, he’s dating some big-boobed woman named Stacey. And a separation is looming between Tyson and Dom, the Kid graduating early and going to school across the country, Dominic staying in Seafare where he's a cop.

Out of everything I’ve received as a response to WWA, the majority of it surrounds the epilogue and basically boils down to this: “TJ, you aren’t going to leave them like this, right? There’s going to be another book, right? RIGHT?!?!?!?!?!”

Come on, folks. What kind of an asshole do you take me for? If I didn’t feel that I could continue the story, I would not have left the epilogue as it was. That’d be a big ol’ downer, wouldn’t you say? So, while it may not be today, or tomorrow, or even in the next couple of months, you should know by now as well as I do that the Kid will start chattering in my ear again one day and I’ll feel the need to open up a new word doc and start a new story about Ty and Dom (and, just between you and me, I already have some of the story worked out in my head, and already know the first line and what the first chapter (prologue??) is going to look like). So yes, definitively yes, saying right here and now: BOATK3 will happen.

So that’s it. For now. I have to say goodbye and let them go, at least for a little while. The boys will go do their thing and I will go do mine. We’ll meet up again, down the road. And who knows what will happen then?

But… but… if I close my eyes, there are times that I think I can hear the ocean, that I can smell the salt in the air. There are times I’m on a little section of beach that no one really seems to know about. One eye is trained to the sky, to watch out for a certain seagull. In the distance, I can see three guys. One of them is big. One is just a little guy. The last is somewhere in between.

They all raise their hands and wave and it’s like they’ve been waiting for me.

I wave back.

And my God does it feel like coming home.
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Published on May 05, 2012 10:19 • 832 views
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message 1: by Kaje (last edited May 05, 2012 10:38AM) (new)

Kaje Harper Thank you so much for confirming that Ty and Dom will get their book. And for all the rest. There's nothing like having wonderful imaginary friends, right, except it's even better when the whole world also believes in them. Hard to let go... until the next guys wrap their hands around your heart. Hopefully there's room in your heart and your imagination for a whole lot more guys whom your loyal readers will get to meet and experience too.


message 2: by Manuela (new)

Manuela You cannot bring me to almost tears even with a blog post. You just can't! And still, you did.

I'm glad there'll be another book in this universe because I have a hard time letting go of these characters that I've come to love like they were real people and friends of mine.

The prologue was great and I for once really enjoyed it and laughed out loud. I think everything would be better if people in this little m/m world would take themselves less seriously. There are a lot of clichés in the genre and I think that's not the end of the world but I also think it's ok to acknowledge it and even joke about it.

Mrs. Paquinn passing away was difficult to read and accept because I loved her, but you handled that beautifully.

I'm looking forward to read about the Kid and Dominic, whenever you're ready to write about it. I know I cannot wait to see Bear dealing with it :P


message 3: by Jerry (new)

Jerry I just want to wallow in their world for quite a while. These boys have entered my heart in an all encompassing way. I will try to be patient as we all wait for the next installment.
Thanks for the explanations above. I didn't have any problems with the story at all. How can you not know that Bear is gay when all thru the book the blood rushes south!!??
Now about the cover art...? You are always describing Otter as so much bigger than Bear and yet there is only a tiny difference between the two on the cover. Also I think The Kid looks a little too old. But these are minor quibbles....I so LOVE this series.


message 4: by Marc (new)

Marc Tj -
I have been accused of being cold, and I know I'm not particularly emotional but I am TOTALLY invested in the lives of Bear, Otter and Tyson. You nearly made me cry a couple of times reading WWA, and I can't remember the last time that happened. I think describing BOATK as 'm/m' is a little misleading - it is better than the credit it is given.

I read BOATK a long time after it was released, so I missed all of the drama you allude to - probably a good thing, coz I'm sure I'd wanna 'clean some clocks' for you. The 'you' that you express in your blog is totally congruent with the heart you show in your work, so screw 'em all.
Bring on BOATK3!


message 5: by Dea (new)

Dea you made my day! I will wait patiently (I'm totally lying- I don't know the meaning of that word) for the day when I'll be able to hang out with the Kid. Who knows where the future will take him. Considering Bear often said he's a ecoterrorist-in-training, and Dom's a cop will he have to arrest the Tyson one day?-- hmm kinky :)


message 6: by Michi (new)

Michi Rosa Gaaaaaaah.
I'm soooo relieved!
I just now finish BOATK 02 and was already planning my desperate review to you TJ.

Thanks to calm our hearts confirming there'll be a BOATK 03.
I'll be waiting for it, desperately.


message 7: by Debbie (last edited May 05, 2012 06:51PM) (new)

Debbie *lip trembles* BOATK3? Is gonna happen? For reals???

Photobucket

But I have to say, I also am really looking forward to Break :).


message 8: by momokaachan (new)

momokaachan I am happy to hear that there will be another book. However, even if not, I am happy and satisfied with what you did with Who We Are. My low point was Mrs. Paquin's death - I put my Kindle down cuz I was crying. I was happy for Otter's recovery, but wondered why it had to happen with Mrs. Paquin's crisis and passing,,,. Anyway, even if I didn't agree with everything, a damn fine read and now the only thing I have to wonder about is who is Bear talking to?


message 9: by FlibBityFLooB (new)

FlibBityFLooB Looooovvved the sequel. I laughed for hours and shed some tears. Very powerful writing :)

I'm glad to hear you think you will write more of the Kid's story. I'll be waiting to buy a copy as soon as I can. Keep writing :)


message 10: by Deeze (new)

Deeze So Tj, what do we have to do this time to get a short or two?

There has to be a few bits with the Kid and Dominic that never made it in?

Just let us know what we need to do this time.


message 11: by Connie (new)

Connie One of the things that I appreciate the most about you is the fact that you share with us everything that goes through your head (everything that is appropriate that is)
So, thank you for giving us the boys, for sharing them with us.
Thank you for an amazing sequel, it was funny and emotional, just perfect.
I'm so excited there is going to be BOATK3, the Kid deserves his turn.
And the truth is, we can't let go of them either. :)


message 12: by Deeze (new)

Deeze Vladimir wrote: "Yay, BOATK3!!! Hurrah for Ty and Dom!!!"

OMG I can't believe I actually had to stop and thing Ty? who? for a moment. I swear he will always be the Kid to me, no matter how old he gets lol.




message 13: by D (new)

D Thank you! I just finished WWA and I am so, so happy that this won't be the end. I had to reread BOATK first because I loved it so much and I loved it just as much the second time around. There haven't been any books in quite a while that have me laughing my ass off and sobbing like a baby at the same time. Thank you so much for giving us books with feeling. :)


message 14: by Karla (new)

Karla I just finished WWA and I have tears streaming down my face, because I don't want to say goodbye to these wonderful friends that I adore so much. Then I read this post and...OMG...BOATK3?! Thank you, thank you...I can wait as long as I know they will be back with us someday. Now I can sleep tonight!!


message 15: by Imogen (new)

Imogen I can't believe people are still asking you if Bear is gay. What part of bear-gets-fucked-in-the-ass-every-night-by-otter-and-loves-it do they not understand?

Also... how can the kid be gay? Not that I wouldn't love a 3rd installment, but didn't he tell Bear in book one that he liked girls? Is he bisexual?


Meghan (mm_reads) After finishing WWA and immediately rereading BOATK, I'm ecstatic to hear there will be another installment of these amazing people who are, weirdly, only characters in a story. I'm quite fond of them. Thank you for sharing them with us.


message 17: by Tina (new)

Tina Thanks for telling us all this TJ. I loved the dinner scene and had severl wookie face moments myself. Knowing what a sadistic bastard you are is what made some of us doubt that you would give us more Tyson & Dom! I am so glad that like a mosquito, the Kid won't stop buzzing around your head. I totally got the prequel and laughed out loud. You have to be able to make fun of yourself if you expect to ever make it as a writer, right?!


message 18: by L'marie (new)

L'marie Thanks for the insight on the book. I think you know my thoughts on the prequel. I snorted wine up my nose from laughing so hard. I even warned people not to drink and read. The dinner scene rocked so hard. I loved the hell out of it! Creed will always have a special place in my heart because of his confession. I felt that was his problem all along. I should’ve voiced my opinion so others would know I was right. I ugly cried through the whole hospital and funeral part. Go on, old girl and the beach farewell. OMIGAWD!...I can’t…not at work.

I am very happy to hear that there will be a third book featuring Dom and The Kid. Gosh, I need to start thinking of him as Tyson from now on. I've never thought of Dom as a child...so glad he grew up to be a big strong cop. I am so looking forward to their story mixed in with a little bit of Bear and Otter. The end of your post was so beautiful…I’m verklempt!


message 19: by Melanie (new)

Melanie I loved WWA and BOATK. This post did answer so many of my questions and then came the thrilling news that there will be a BOATK 3. Think you might incorporate Word of the Day into BOATK 3? I loved that short. More please? thank you for Bear, Otter, and the Kid and now Dominic.


message 20: by Lora (new)

Lora OK, I loved BOATK.
I adored WWA.
I was beside myself thinking I would never see what happens to the Kid. He's only 16--he's got a lot of life to share with us.
I am estatic to see you have some plans for this story.
You Rock TJ!


message 21: by Gbook (new)

Gbook Oh, I'm so happy to hear there's going to be another book. I was stunned at the end and thought, "No! It can't end this way!" Now I know that one day there will be a continuation. Thank you. :)


message 22: by James (new)

James TJ, you are amazing. Just saying.


message 23: by Tina (new)

Tina Irie wrote: "I can't believe people are still asking you if Bear is gay. What part of bear-gets-fucked-in-the-ass-every-night-by-otter-and-loves-it do they not understand?

Also... how can the kid be gay? Not t..."

In BOATK he was what, eight? I think he wasn't really able to be sure if he liked boys, girls or goats yet.


message 24: by Fangtasia (new)

Fangtasia James wrote: "TJ, you are amazing. Just saying."

I second that emotion!

Thank you for letting us know we'll be able to see and talk to our friends, Bear, Otter, and Tyson again. I'm not finished with WWA yet and already feeling the withdrawal pangs. I don't want to say goodbye either.


message 25: by TJ (new)

TJ Thank you all, for your lovely comments. I have some of the best readers out there, and I thank you for it.

Next Sunday, the 27th, I'll be posting a new blog to give you an idea of what I'm working on now. If you follow me on FB, you'll know that a new book (unrelated to anything else) came out of nowhere last week and I've written 50K in just under two weeks on it. I can't wait to show you what's next ;)

TJ


message 26: by Tina (new)

Tina Go TJ!


message 27: by Debbie (new)

Debbie That picture you posted on FB is gorgeous. And that title! Can't wait to hear more about the story that has grabbed a hold of you and demanded to be written.


message 28: by Jenn (new)

Jenn ^^^^word, Debbie. :P


message 29: by Diane (new)

Diane Fangtasia wrote: "James wrote: "TJ, you are amazing. Just saying."

I second that emotion!

Thank you for letting us know we'll be able to see and talk to our friends, Bear, Otter, and Tyson again. I'm not finished ..."


I'll go thirds on this! i just finished my review and of course the first line was that I hope you know with how you ended it, your readers/fans will expect a Dominic and the Kid story! THEN I came here and am very happy to know that one day, there will be - no rush, we'll all be waiting and rereading BOATK and WWA until then!!!

There were so many emotional scenes in this book as well as the funny ones, the transition seemed timely as well as upsetting, Mrs P knew Bear had realized his strength, Otter was on the mend, she knew they would be okay and she could let go - peaceful!

Beleive it or not, I'm not on FB as I consider myself too boring to be on there, so hopefully the cover and synopsis you have there will make it's way to the blog sometime as well!

Take care and I look forward to whatever you have for us next, you would now be one of those authors for me that people get asked, "who is on your autobuy list", and you are right up there for me now!
Have a wonderful weekend!

As James says, You are amazing - just sayin'!


message 30: by Gwendolyn (new)

Gwendolyn Just re-read both books and I'm glad I found this post. I was still feeling iffy about the epilogue and decided to poke around and see if something was already said. There was! I just felt some foreshadowing for Otter and the Kid to get the new edition they were hoping for and it wasn't there. Glad to know more is to come. Thanks!


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