Anyone that follows my blog has probably seen the billions of posts I make involving cover reveals, blitzes, & updates for Sarah Daltry’s Flowering Series. She is an author that I came to be familiar with about a year ago and on top of being an awesome person I respect her writing style. So, I’m pleased to have her take over today as a guest poster. She will be giving a bit of insight on how the Flowering Series came to be. Sit down and grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and let’s welcome SARAH DALTRY
Meet Jack and Lily
So, when I decided I would finally try to write and publish, it took me a while to decide what I was doing. As I worked on novels, I wrote short erotica, because there was a market for it. I wasn’t really intending to be an erotica writer, though, and I’ve done a lot of rebranding, I suppose, over the last few months because of that. For all of the advantages of self-publishing, there are lots of disadvantages and that’s one. You have to jump in feet first and figure it out as you go. There’s no team designing a strategic marketing plan for you.
Anyway, one of the short stories I wrote was called “Her Brother’s Best Friend.” It’s a very short (around 8 pages) erotica story about a girl, Lily, losing her virginity to Derek, her brother’s best friend and the guy she’d always had a crush on growing up. It was never intended to be realistic or even more than a story. However, that one seemed to catch on with people. So I started thinking about Lily and Derek and the next steps of that relationship. We all sort of have that “one who got away” and it was the original goal of Forget Me Not, to write about going away to school and trying to figure yourself out.
I got about 10K words into the novel, though, and realized it wasn’t much of a story. At least not in the direction I’d intended it to go in. So I revised my plan and announced it as a novella. I introduced Jack, who was just going to be a flat character to tempt Lily and Derek was going to come in and everyone would live happily ever. Jack had other plans, though.
As a character, he started to interest me more than Lily and Derek – and then I realized that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t the one I had planned to tell. It wasn’t about winning the guy you wanted as a teenager; it was about realizing that the person you are as a teenager isn’t who you become. So, as these things do, the story changed – and a short erotic story gave birth to a series: Flowering.
Orange Blossom is coming out April 4, and Jack and Lily have grown up. She started out as a naive and flirty and lost girl, trying to adjust to living on her own, being an adult, figuring out her sexuality, and deciding how to be Lily and not just someone’s girlfriend. Jack started as a borderline alcoholic with serious family trauma, hiding from really connecting with another person.
I’ve outlined the series as it stands. I don’t know what genre this is. I thought it was romance, but I don’t really think it is. Yes, it’s a love story, but it’s heavily based in realism. It’s about growing up, a true coming of age, a blossoming or flowering, if you will. Love is a wonderful part of life, but it’s not the only thing. Jack and Lily and Alana deal with a lot of crap – and they deal with it like people do. No one magically comes along and fixes everything. No one wins a billion dollars or stumbles across some big secret or really does anything except try to survive. If you like New Adult contemporary fiction, especially realistic fiction, that’s the goal with this series. I wanted to write about real people transitioning from YA to adulthood. When I’d heard about NA, I thought that was the entire point. I like fantasy, too, but this series is not escapism. Instead, it’s about finding hope – and finding someone who loves you for all of you, flaws and all.
This is a coming of age story, but it isn’t always sweet and innocent. If dirty talk, bedroom toys, and threesomes offend you… this is not your book.
“No one tells you when you start school just how homesick you will be, or how hard it will be to start life over with no direction and no friends or family. No one says that becoming your own person is terrifying.”
I never wanted anything but Derek, my brother’s best friend. When I chose a college, it didn’t seem to matter that he would be an hour away. We could survive it. After all, we were in love. But almost immediately, things change between us. I blame myself. Maybe I’m just not sure how to be a girlfriend and independent.
Life seems to be getting away from me – and then there’s Jack, the guy down the hall. He’s rude and vulgar and my parents would be shocked by him, yet every single time I see him, I feel like I’m being pulled toward him. It’s physical, sure, but there’s something in Jack’s eyes – and I want to know him.
I know I don’t always make the right choices, and I’m the only person at fault when everything falls apart. How do I tell Derek, the guy who was supposed to be everything, that I don’t feel like fighting for him anymore? And do I run to Jack, when I know his past is way too much for me to handle when I’ve just turned 19? Finally, where do I end up in all of this? Can I be more than just someone else’s idea of what I should be?
Jack’s story isn’t pretty. He’s suicidal, depressed, and he uses meaningless sex and alcohol to survive. However, the story is about finding light in the darkness, but sometimes the road there isn’t always easy to walk.
“No one tells you about pain. They tell you that it hurts, that sometimes it’s consuming. What they don’t tell you is that it’s not the pain that can kill you. It’s the uncomfortable numbness that follows, the weakness in your body when you realize your lungs may stop taking in air and you just can’t exert enough energy to care. It’s the way taste and color and smell fade from the world and all you’re left with is a sepia print of misery. That’s when the shift starts – the movement from passive to active. I fall asleep, hoping that the morning will bring back the pain. At least the pain is a thing.”
I’m a plague, a cancer. My mom is dead – and my father is in prison for it. I survived high school because college was my way out. I needed to escape, to get away from my family and the people who tortured me, but it hasn’t grown any easier.
I don’t pretend that I’m a good person. I drink far more than I should, and I use my best friend, Alana, because together, we thrive on destroying each other – as well as the parts of us we hate. I don’t believe in love, but sex is fun and it also makes me feel something.
The morning I see Lily, the beautiful princess who smells inexplicably like strawberries every time I see her, I realize I’m in trouble. I should hate her. I want to hate her, because the alternative terrifies me. However, as she continues to crash into my life (often literally), I can’t avoid feeling something that is the one thing I swore I would never feel. I can’t fall in love, because people like me don’t live in a world where love saves anyone.
She just won’t go away, though, and I don’t know if I can keep running. The voices and the darkness hover over me and they threaten to bring me back to the safety of my hate, but the stupid scent of strawberries lingers on the horizon, as something like hope.
Warning: This book deals with topics of abuse and may trigger reactions in people who have experienced those things in their own lives. It remains a story about healing, but it’s not always an easy journey.
“Four. My life has been shaped by four people. Four men, to be more specific. My father, my stepfather, my best friend, and my boyfriend. The first two shaped it in horrible ways, but what I am, who I am, is all because of four men.”
Over the last twenty years, I’ve learned how to keep secrets. It doesn’t really matter, since everyone already seems to think they know everything about me. So I hide. I avoid confrontation, I treat Xanax like a magic pill that will make it all go away, and I become everything they think I am. A slut. A whore. Nothing but trash.
I can only name two guys who have ever made me feel like I was more than that. Jack is my best friend and I’ve loved him since I met him. Now, though, he’s in love… with someone else, and I guess I need to get over him. Somehow.
And then there’s Dave. The guy I never gave a chance. The guy I used almost as much as people used me, because I wanted to pretend I was someone worth loving. Two years have passed since we last spoke, but I don’t know how to stop thinking about him.
My new therapist is making me face my past, and she tells me that life inevitably changes without our permission. I believe it, but I know what I am. I hear what she’s saying to me, and I want to try again with Dave, to help Jack find joy, to love myself, and to move on. I just wonder if anyone can do that, really.
This is a holiday novella-length story that follows Forget Me Not and Lily of the Valley.
“With you, Jack, it was the first time I ever felt real. It was the first time anyone looked at me and saw substance. It was the first time I wanted to make someone see me.”
Jack: New Year’s Eve. I’ve somehow managed to get here, and now I’m wearing a hideous and unreasonably itchy sweater, because I want to impress Lily’s family. I want to do anything for this girl who has made me believe in second chances.
Lily: The house is beautiful and shining with light, but it feels empty. At least until Jack gets here. I know how desperately he wants this – a family, love, a home. If I can be the person who can give it to him, it’s all I need, but I hope I can keep him from seeing how hollow it all really is.
COMING APRIL 4, 2014
“I’ve never understood a year. A year was always a measurement of something bad for me. A year in my father’s prison sentence, a year since my mom’s death, a year left of school before I could get far, far away from here. Now, as I look down the end of my college career, with only a little more than a semester to go, a year seems like something magical. It has been a year since Lily chose me, since she sat with me on the old swing set and made a decision that I was worthy of her. And every minute of the entire year has been better than the last.”
You already know their stories: Lily, the perfect princess, always living someone else’s life. And Jack, the broken boy, who had stopped believing in hope. Somehow, though, they found each other and what was one night blossomed into a love story.
Now, a year later, Jack and Lily are dreaming of the future. Despite all of his promises to himself that he would never be indebted to anyone, Jack makes a new promise – this time to Lily – that he will be there for her forever. But when life unravels for them, he starts to pull away, and Lily worries he’s out of reach for good.
When Jack does the unthinkable, Lily is left destroyed. Is it possible to have a happily ever after? Does love ever really save anyone?
About the Author:
Sarah Daltry writes about the regular people who populate our lives. She’s written works in various genres – romance, erotica, fantasy, horror. Genre isn’t as important as telling a story about people and how their lives unfold. Sarah tends to focus on YA/NA characters but she’s been known to shake it up. Most of her stories are about relationships – romantic, familial, friendly – because love and empathy are the foundation of life. It doesn’t matter if the story is set in contemporary NY, historical Britain, or a fantasy world in the future – human beings are most interesting in the ways they interact with others. This is the principle behind all of Sarah’s stories.
Sarah has spent most of her life in school, from her BA and MA in English and writing to teaching both at the high school and college level. She also loves studying art history and really anything because learning is fun.
When Sarah isn’t writing, she tends to waste a lot of time checking Facebook for pictures of cats, shooting virtual zombies, and simply staring out the window.
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