Storyteller, Part 7


This final installment in the “Storyteller” blog series features the last book in the Moran Family series, “Educating Sophia.”


In the last blog post, I talked about how I struggled to write book 4, “Revealing Bella”. Thank goodness I didn’t have the same struggle with “Educating Sophia”!


I don’t exactly recall how I got the idea for this book, but I know it had a lot to do with the lead male character’s muse, who I was obsessed with at the time. The hubby and I started watching “Hell On Wheels” and the main actor in the show was the broody/gorgeous/tough Anson Mount. I knew just by watching him on the screen that I wanted him to be Sophia’s love interest. The problem was, Sophia was in her early 20’s and my character (Caleb Bonham), based on Anson Mount, was in his late 30’s. I knew the age gap would ruffle some feathers in the Moran family, so I decided to go with the old stand-by trope of student falls for teacher/teacher falls for student.


Sounds pervy, I know. In my head, it certainly wasn’t, so I set out to give it my best shot. I still snicker at the opening line of the book….”I’m not a stalker.” Sophia was clearly a G-rated stalker when it came to her crush on her professor, whom she had been crushing on for awhile. In all seriousness, it was important to me to show that there was nothing inappropriate with their relationship. They were two adults making an adult decision to be together.


Because you all know I prefer writing from the male perspective, I only have a picture of my muse for Caleb:











I loved writing this book and these characters. Sophia, the youngest of the Moran siblings, is fed up with being babied by her parents and siblings. She goes away to college in Louisiana to find her independence and create a life separate from the strong ties of her family, while working toward her masters in education. We see it backfire on her in a host of ways. We see how fiercely she fights to prove that she can provide for herself. We really see her fight for Caleb, after big brothers Cruz and Marco take him to task for being with their little sister.


There are only a few supporting characters in this book: Sophia’s best friend, Charlotte and Caleb’s father, Ezra (who I adored creating and writing). We get to see Sophia’s close relationship with her older sister, Bella, as well as the friendship between she and Bella’s beau, Jace. But what stands out most for me is the way the members of the family rise (and sometimes fall) together, creating the perfect ending to wrap up this series that is so near and dear to my heart.


I can tell you that by the time I was ready to release Sophia’s book to the world, I was completely worn out. I did some half-assed marketing for the release, mostly because I’d been so discouraged during that process for the other books. Honestly….I just wanted it all to be over with (publishing…that is).

In the last post, I told you about losing my cover designer and how my brother stepped in at the last minute to design it. For Sophia’s book, I found a new designer….Sam. She did a great job of seamlessly wrapping up my series and making it appear that all 5 covers were created by the same person.

The editing during this book is something I don’t even remember, so it’s fair to say that I made it easier on Max (and myself) this time around. That’s not to say I didn’t continue to learn new things and improve my writing, just that it wasn’t nearly as painful and frustrating as it was for Bella’s book. As with all the other books, Stacy from Champagne Formats stepped in to provide her expertise as only she could.


“Educating Sophia” was published in August of 2018, much to my relief. It had been not quite a year since publishing Bella’s book, but this time around I wasn’t worried that I’d lose my audience if I waited too long to publish. Frankly, my ‘audience’ wasn’t that large. I really did not have it in me to rush to publication, even though I did look forward to putting a nice big bow around this series.


It’s no wonder I was exhausted by the time Sophia was out into the world. I’d published 7 books in four years, and written others during the little downtime that I had. It’s important for you to understand that I write at a swift pace (or at least, I used to), and even though I was ready to put an end to publishing my work, I was not at all ready to stop writing. I learn better and stretch my writing muscles more when I’m furiously pounding on the computer keys. I have a good stockpile of some really great stories, should I ever decide to release them.


One thing I did discover during this time were gay romance stories, particularly male/male romance. The first book in this genre that I read was “Him”. I was instantly hooked….and it sparked an idea….I should try my hand at gay romance.


The first gay story I penned was “His Secret”. It told the story of Oliver, a cocky, tattooed lawyer who starts a job with a new firm. Oliver’s boss, the devilishly handsome Jackson Andrews, refutes Oliver’s attempts at flirting and insists he’s as straight as an arrow. Their story was a hoot to write and to this day I’m still madly in love with my two handsome men. Their story also spawned three subsequent books in the series and my hope is to one day bring all four to you.


Discovering this new writing genre helped reignite the spark of excitement I felt toward writing as a whole. By the time Sophia’s book was out, I’d grown tired of the same old romance stories. Writing in this new genre helped me fall in love with writing all over again. Now, it’s the only genre I write in. More on that in another post.


It was bittersweet to put an ‘end’ to my beloved Moran family. I’d spent so many hours/years creating their worlds that it began to feel as if they were actual members of my family. Don’t get me wrong…I still adore all of them (and the supporting characters too), but now they feel like very distant relatives you only see every five years or so. Recently, I went back and re-read through the series (as one does), and it wasn’t difficult at all to rediscover my affection for them. Side note: my mom has read through the entire series MULTIPLE times, and she often tells me she will re-read Cruz’s book (her favorite) when the books she gets through Kindle Unlimited are ‘terrible’ and she wants to read something “good”. Gotta love my mom…it’s not like she’s biased about my work or anything.


Before I wrap up this blog post series, I want to thank all those who helped me get to where I am. I may still be awkward as hell when someone asks about my writing, but I’m only here because those closest to me believed I could do it. First and foremost I want to thank my hubby Mark, whose unwavering belief in me got me started on this publishing journey. My kids, who never once doubted that mom could pull this writing thing off. My parents, who still to this day, will tell ANYONE that their daughter is a published author. My cousins, Deb and Dee, for providing constructive criticism/proof reading/editing for all my books. My cheerleading pals, made up of close friends, my daughter’s friends, and even my next door neighbor. And of course, my extended family of cousins and honorary family who are loyal to the end. I’m a lucky girl and I’m surrounded by people who believe in me. I will never, ever take that for granted.


I also want to express my undying gratitude to my editor, Max, who has made me into a better all-around writer. Without her expertise and guidance, I firmly believe I would have walked away from writing altogether.


And so, with this blog post, I say goodbye to the Moran family and hello to all the new characters that are hiding in the shadows just waiting to burst forward. I thank you all for taking the time to read my work, leave reviews, and offer your opinion (which I will never take lightly).

Much love,

AJ





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