Today I am so pleased to welcome J.A. Rock to Joyfully Jay. J.A. has come to talk to us about her latest release, Take the Long Way Home. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


One of my favorite things about writing is the feel of each different project. I love playing with tone, and I love variety. I am equally happy writing something that’s all dark, all the time, like ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE, or something like WACKY WEDNESDAY, where the worst that ever happens is that characters feel embarrassed. I get kind of method actor-y with narrators too. I want to feel their energy and experience their world. Which meant I felt claustrophobic for most of WHEN ALL THE WORLD SLEEPS, that I wrote a lot of THE BRAT-TASTIC JAYK PARKER standing up and bouncing a little, and that for MARK COOPER VERSUS AMERICA, I walked around speaking in an Australian accent and ordering flat whites at every café I saw. Okay, not the last one. Lisa Henry wishes.

What was fun about TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME was that the lines were a bit blurred tone wise. It wasn’t as simple as “I want this to feel claustrophobic,” or dark, or farcical, or whatever. What I ended up latching onto was the word “try.” I wanted a story about trying. Trying to grow up, trying to let go, trying to connect with other people, trying to understand why anyone would eat beet paste… Trying to get things right, screwing up a lot, but getting a little closer each time.

I write a lot of characters who are suffering psychologically, and I don’t like to do them the disservice of a “Love has cured me!” wrap-up. I want them to still be trying, even after the story ends. This means I can’t offer many tidy HEAs, but I think there’s a lot of happiness to be had in getting closer to understanding who we are, rather than getting exactly what we think we want.

Attempting to build a satisfying romance while acknowledging that Dresden is not a “fixable” character was a challenge with TtLWH. But the goal was never to fix him—it was to give him options and get him to see a multitude of possibilities for his future. Get him out of a narrow place and into a wider world. I hope it works as a story about trying, and about all the funny/sad/familiar ways we screw up. And how we surprise ourselves with what we learn, and with the small changes we make.


JAR_take-the-long-way-home_coverlgDresden 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.


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. currently lives in Chicago but still sees West Virginia behind Illinois’s back.


J.A. is offering up a choice of backlist title to give away to one lucky reader (including co-written titles). Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, January 23rd at 11:59 pm EST.

  • By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win.  The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
  • Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
  • Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
  • By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
  • Readers may only enter once for each contest.  Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Guest Post