Today I am so pleased to welcome Maggie Blackbird to Joyfully Jay. Maggie has come to talk to us about her book, After the Snow Melts. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Since my latest short story, After the Snow Melts, is a young adult, interracial, m/m contemporary romance set in the eighties, I thought I’d talk about this decade of decadence. The eighties were a great time for most people, but not all.
As for the Ojibway community I’m from, this decade meant progress. Gone was the old band office and in came a new one that was big enough to house the various departments of the reserve, such as education, social services, family services, finance, economic development, etc. We also had our own busses by then to transport us into town for school. Keep in mind the reserve I’m from is a stone’s throw from a township of nine thousand people and on the Canadian/US border.
During the seventies, my reserve was dark, but the eighties ushered in street lights. Nobody had to make trips to the outhouses anymore, because indoor plumbing was installed. The new convenience complex was built and the tiny old one torn down. A senior’s building also went up, where my maternal grandparents resided.
While we were enjoying our new luxuries, the northern reserves in Ontario weren’t. They were still dealing with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, a housing shortage, and a big lack of education. My hero, Elliot Wasacase, hails from an isolated Ojibway community one can only access through air travel or driving an ice road for a good four hundred and fifty kilometres during the winter months of late December, January, and February.
The majority of these communities had to send their students to townships and cities that could provide education for those in high school, because most schools only went up to grade eight. In my short story, Elliot’s schooling ends at grade ten, and he has to relocate to Thunder Bay to finish his education. Being isolated his whole life, he’s culture-shocked and very lonely, staying with a new family who agreed to host him.
Enter the rich and popular Bryan Deschamps who befriends Elliot. To find out what’s in store for them, you’ll have to read After the Snow Melts.
“That was Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer,” the radio announcer said. “Up next on your favorite radio station R-O-C-K, we have a special dedication going out to Elliot Wasacase. Here is The Smiths and I Want the One I Can’t Have.”
Elliot flew into a sitting position and scrambled for the ghetto blaster the Deschamps’ had presented to him for his birthday, on the nightstand. The song hummed through the speakers. With a shaky hand, he cranked the volume. While the lyrics and Morrissey’s familiar crooning and falsetto cries engulfed the room, his body quaked.
The revelation slapped him across the face. The Smiths were one of Bryan’s favorite bands.
No. This was crazy. The card couldn’t be from Bryan. The dedication had to be a joke. A let’s pull one over on the red.
Someone knocked on his door. Mrs. Jones poked her head inside the room. “Telephone.”
Limbs mushier than gelatin, Elliot managed to roll off the bed just as the song ended. He forced his shaking legs into the hall upstairs where the second phone was and picked up the receiver. “Hello.”
“Hey, what’s happening?”
“Oh, uh, not much.” Weird. Why was Bryan calling at nine-thirty at night? He never called at this time. This was when he studied. Elliot toyed with a figurine on the side table. “What about you?”
“Listening to the radio and studying.”
A tingle of warmth he’d never experienced before crawled along Elliot’s cheeks. “Uh… so uh, you probably heard then.” Shit, everyone at school had probably heard. His dedication from the mystery person would be on all his classmates’ tongues tomorrow.
“Do you…” Elliot cleared his throat. “Do you think it’s Raquel?” Of course it wasn’t. The handwriting on the card belonged to a dude.
“Do you think it is?” There was something strange in Bryan’s voice, almost accusing.
A twitching erupted in Elliot’s stomach. “Uh… no.” He coughed. “Probably some… probably a joke. Y’know?”
“You think it’s a joke?” The frown most likely on Bryan’s face carried over the telephone wire.
“A joke? I dunno.” Elliot threw out his hand.
“What was that card really about then?”
This was fucked up. When had Bryan decided to grow a temper? As of late, he was snapping more than one of the snapping turtles down at the docks on the reserve. “Why’re you ticked?”
“I’m not ticked. I’m simply asking if you think it’s a joke.”
“I don’t know. I’m not a mind reader.”
“So, the card was from someone, hmm? Not the chess club?”
Oh shit, Elliot’s main man was on to him. “Err… yeah, the chess club.”
“I thought we were buds. Why you holding this so close to the chest?”
‘Cause I know it’s a guy who’s digging on me, and if you found out the truth, you’d hate me. “I dunno. I… I didn’t think you’d care if someone might think I’m the bomb.”
“We’re buddies. Why wouldn’t I care?” The accusation in Bryan’s voice softened.
Elliot held the receiver to his chest and glanced up at the textured ceiling resembling popcorn. Why couldn’t Bryan more than care? Elliot leaned against the wall done up in flowered paper and pressed the receiver back to his ear. “Whoever it is digs Morrissey.” You dig Morrissey.
“Yeah, so do I.”
The moment of crackling silence seemed to reverberate inside Elliot’s veins where his blood had slowed to a crawl. Something weird was happening. Something very weird. They’d never had a dust-up before. But Bryan didn’t sound mad, more close to frustrated.
“I’ll see you tomorrow. Later,” Bryan said flatly.
The phone line went dead.
Elliot darted back into his room. Maybe he was crazy, but there was one way to find out if Bryan was the anonymous… err, secret admirer.
He’s got to find a way to tell his best friend that he wants him—or lose him forever.
Rich, popular, and gorgeous Bryan Deschamps pines from afar for his best friend. He loathes the idea of helping Elliot score a date for the snow dance. With his time running out, Bryan must find a way to capture his buddy’s attention—and that means boldly leaving an anonymous card in his main man’s locker.
Grateful for Bryan’s friendship ever since he moved from his Ojibway community to Thunder Bay to attend high school, Elliot Wasacase can’t disclose his true feelings, or he’ll lose the one true friend he has. Upon discovering an unsigned card in his locker from an admiring dude, he’s terrified someone knows his secret but suspects the person might be Bryan.
When Bryan’s car breaks down, stranding them on top of the mountain during a snowstorm, the two must either take a leap of faith or let fear and clashing beliefs cost them what they truly desire.
An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.
- Web Site: https://maggieblackbird.com/
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Maggie has brought a copy of After the Snow Melts to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Monday, April 13th at 11:59 pm ET.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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Welcome, Maggie! Thanks for sharing some of your own story as well as the excerpt from After the Snow Melts. Best wishes for its success!
Thank you, Kareni. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂
Great excerpt the agony of youth and the hope too.
Thank you, Shirley. I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt. TY for commenting!
This one is on my TBR. I enjoy stories from different perspectives.
Hi Jennifer. Good to see you here! And I’m happy to hear the story is in your TBR list. TY for commenting!
Thank you for the excerpt. It looks interesting.
I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt, H.B. TY for stopping by and commenting!
Thanks so much for the excerpt. I would love to read more.
I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Debra. And TY for stopping by and commenting. 🙂
Sounds really good. Friends to lovers is a favourite trope of mine. Thank you for the chance
I hear you, Susana. I also love friends to lovers. It’s my fave. TY for stopping by and commenting.