Block and Strike, by Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 6, 2017
Welcome to the blog tour for Kelly Jensen’s newest release, Block and Strike, which is out today! Today we have Kelly on the blog to talk about the book, the characters, and writing two stories about two different men in one book.
And Kelly’s brought along a giveaway: Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
So check out this incredible new release, and Kelly’s post about writing alternating POVs!
Jacob Kendricks is three months out of prison, estranged from his daughter, and ready to get his life on track. Taking care of the bum curled up on his doorstep isn’t part of the plan. When he realizes the man has been assaulted, Jake takes him to the hospital, where he learns that Max is his downstairs neighbor… and that he could really use a friend. Keeping Max in the friend-zone would be easier if he wasn’t so damned cute.
Maxwell Wilson has been bullied for years and the only person who ever cared lives too far away to come to his rescue. Now his upstairs neighbor is offering support. Max remains cautious, suspecting he is little more than a project for the handsome Jake. When he learns Jake has had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, Max has to reevaluate his priorities—and muster the courage to take a chance at love.
Just when a happy future is within their grasp, life knocks them back down. A devastating blow leaves Max lower than ever and Jake wrestling with regret. They both have to find the strength to stand on their own before they can stand together.
I plotted Block and Strike with Max’s character arc in mind. I wanted to tell the story of a young man who finds confidence through the study and practice of a self-defense. The book didn’t quite turn out that way. Honestly, I’m not sure if any book I’ve ever plotted has turned out the way I wanted it to.
When sketching out the bare bones of Block and Strike, I knew that Max’s love interest would be an important character. He would have to be the one who helped Max up when he fell down, then hold him up until he found his footing. He’d have to be strong, self-assured and somewhat together. Yeah, that didn’t go as planned either. Jake is all of those things and more. He’s also bossy as f*ck and started not taking directions even before I’d written a single word for him.
My plan (you see where I’m going with this, right?) for the first chapter of Block and Strike was to have Max falling afoul of miscreants while walking home from the train station. I got as far as having him walk through an underpass where shadows detached from walls, threatening sneers in place, when Jake stepped up, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “No. Don’t start there. Give me the first chapter.”
Initially I was relieved at not having to write the actual violence of what happened to Max at the beginning of the book. As I worked through the story, and on to revision rounds, I came to understand that Jake had been right in more ways than one. That scene didn’t need to be on the page to make an impression. We didn’t need to see that low point to appreciate Max’s journey forward. Jake finding Max in an alley way is more than enough. All we needed to see was the effect finding Max had on Jake—particularly as Jake started filling me in on his back story while I was writing. Yep. I started writing Jake with little to no idea who he was. After that first chapter, though? I had a character, and it was then that I opened a new file and began fleshing out his history and personality—all dictated by him. I didn’t create Jake. He created himself.
There is always a concern, when writing romance in particular, that you have enough story for both of the main characters, even when there is only one point of view. When there are two points of view, you want to make sure they both need to be on the page, meaning both characters have to take a journey. The book has to be about both of them. I hadn’t a fully formed idea of what Jake’s story was when I sat down to write Block and Strike. I was focused on Max. By the time I was done, however, Jake’s story became just as important. In many aspects, it’s more important. He’s not just the love interest. He’s a man with a daughter he loves more than breathing. He’s a man who has made so many mistakes that he believes his very existence is accidental. While Max sees Jake as strong and focused and prepared for the world, Jake envies the presence and strength he senses inside of Max.
I set out to tell the story of a young man who finds himself, and ended up telling that story x2. In fact, this book is so much Jake’s now, that one of my editors cast Max in the role of love interest—and that’s okay. I don’t mind which character captures the hearts of readers in this one, because they both have a worthy story to tell. They both made me laugh and cry, they both twisted my heart until it nearly stopped beating, and by the end of the book, I loved them both so much, I nearly didn’t want to share their story with anyone else.
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Thanks for following my tour! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. Two winners will each receive $25 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store.
Question: When you’re reading romance, do you prefer one or two points of view?
Follow the Tour!
1/6 The Novel Approach “Behind the Book”
1/6 Just Love: Queer Book Reviews “Jake’s Book”
1/9 Sinfully Gay Romance “Writing Kids and Family”
1/9 MM Good Book Reviews “Character Casting”
1/10 Joyfully Jay “The Max and Jake Playlist”
1/10 Boy Meets Boy Reviews “Chatting with Jake and Max”
1/11 Love Bytes “Martial Arts Movies”
1/11 Prism Book Alliance “Driving Movies”
1/12 Gay Book Reviews “Learning to Make Noise – Why I Study Self Defense”
1/12 Diverse Reader “Hobbies”
1/13 Rick R. Reed “Fruit of the Forest Pie”