Sweetness In Innocence- Book Two of the Take me to Church Series

I’m so excited to reveal the cover for the second book! The eBook is already available for preorder on Amazon!

Special thank you to Bibi and Daria for making this cover come to life. They will also be working on the third and fourth, which I am so excited for.

Summary

Luka Thomas is leading a double life. Publicly, he is a God-fearing Christian with a loving girlfriend. What happens in the shadows of his reality tells a different story. Because of one boy, he has begun to question everything.

Harlan Sharp promised himself he wouldn’t fall for Luka, but he doesn’t know how to stop it. Each kiss, each touch, each gentle caress they share only leads him further toward revealing the secrets of his past and bearing his scars.

The nature of their relationship must be hidden from everyone. If they are caught, Luka will be kicked out of his family’s house and disowned. He will lose everything. It’s a sin that Luka isn’t ready to confess. He can try to keep his secret from everyone, but God is all-knowing. This limbo can’t last forever.

The Take me to Church Series is a real depiction of falling in love in high school as a gay teen amidst the rampant homophobia of the south and the mental health issues many people face. It’s explicit in the ways that life is. It’s raw, beautiful and real. Readers will scream in anger and cry in pain but also laugh in joy and healing as they grow with these characters.

Cover Photo by Bibi. Follow her Instagram: @moon_sun_thyme
Cover Design by Daria. Follow her Twitter: @ghostiemedicine

Sweetness In Innocence will be released August 10, 2021! Follow me on my social medias below for more content such as sneak peeks, giveaways, and more!

Music Speaks- The Songs that Inspired Born in Sickness

As you know by now, I have always used music as an inspiration to my stories, and this book is no different. Below, I will walk you through each song that inspired Born in Sickness: Book One of the Take me to Church Series. You can also find the playlist I created on both Spotify and YouTube.

Take me to Church- Hozier

Lyrics:

No masters or kings when the ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
Amen, Amen, Amen

The reason why this one was included is pretty obvious. The song inspired the series in a lot of ways. Of course, this series took on a mind of it’s own, but the song fits perfectly!

Welcome to my Life- Simple Plan

Lyrics:

Do you ever feel like breaking down?
Do you ever feel out of place?
Like somehow you just don’t belong
And no one understands you

If there was one emo song that defined my teen years, it would be this one. You will notice for this playlist, most of the songs fit into some kind of rock category. I really like this song for the first few chapters, specifically from Harlan’s point of view. He is the classic outcast teen that thinks everyone hates him and nobody understands him. You either were that person or knew that person in high school, don’t lie.

No Me Importa- In This Moment

Lyrics:

You’re so brave from your side of the glass
And you, you can’t compute, you can’t do the math
And you’re, you’re playing god with your remote control
But I already know that there’s a flaw in my code and the
The truth is you silently study me
And there are consequences that you cannot see
And you ask yourself how did I unplug
But the simple truth is that I just don’t give a fuck

Again, this one is mostly from Harlan’s POV. It also refers a bit to Luka’s frustration with not being able to read Harlan’s body language. He doesn’t understand how Harlan works, but he is is trying to, especially early on in their relationship. Harlan is very closed off.

Black Honey- Trice

Lyrics:

I keep swingin’ my hand through a swarm of bees
I can’t understand why they’re stingin’ me
But I’ll do what I want
I’ll do what I please
I’ll do it again ’til I’ve got what I need

This song is mostly referring to Harlan’s desire to do everything he can to help his family, and Luka’s desire to get Harlan to open up a bit.

5. Your God- Stone Sour

Lyrics:

Say something, anything to me
I do believe, but I have doubts
So many reasons to hold on
Conflicting interest, isn’t it?
I guess I’m better off in the end
‘Cause you were always there to blame
I haven’t felt so bad in I don’t know how long, you know

This song is definitely more from Luka’s point of view, and how he really starts to question everything he was taught about religion. This fits that first chapter where a real theological debate between him and Harlan takes place. I thought this song really fit both of their points of views. How Luka is questioning his faith and how Harlan has already lost his and feels as though he doesn’t need Luka’s God.

Dyers Eve- Metallica

Lyrics:

Dear mother, dear father
What is this hell you have put me through?
Believer, deceiver
Day in, day out, lived my life through you
Pushed onto me what’s wrong or right
Hidden from this thing that they call life

I think the reason why I chose this song is obvious. The song is very much about how parents force their doctrine and religious belief on their children. How they shelter them from life, which in the end, does more harm than good. They push their narrative of what’s wrong and right, and force a certain way of life on their children. Luka goes to the church homecoming with this family, starting to resent his step-dad, Matt. He starts to realize how fucked up his religion really is and open his eyes, even if it’s just a tiny bit.

Natural Born Sinner- In This Moment

Lyrics:

Did you really think by pushing me
I would become what you want me to be?
And did you really think by hurting me
I’d open up and just hand you the key?
I know you’re scared and don’t understand
This is my life, this is who I am
What I do know is come judgement day
Before the lord can you say the same?

This is about the moment Luka begins to take his life into his own hands. The moment he just says “fuck it” and kisses Harlan. He knows it’s wrong. He knows it’s against God. He knows it’s against everything Matt wants him to be, but he just can’t seem to care because he also knows he wants Harlan. He doesn’t want to deny himself of it anymore.

Conflicted- Halestorm

Lyrics:

And I hate that I’m conflicted
This addiction’s got me twisted on you
I’m conflicted, contradictive
Got my body confused
I’m yes or no, I will, I won’t
I’m conflicted and addicted
So come over and make up my mind

Even though Luka decided to kiss Harlan, he’s still conflicted. Simultaneously, Harlan is also conflicted. He doesn’t know if he should trust Luka and he doesn’t want to be his ‘dirty little secret’ or help him cheat on his girlfriend. He is giving Luka a chance to explain himself.

Jet Black Heart- 5 Seconds of Summer

Lyrics:

But now that I’m broken
And now that you know it
Caught up in a moment
Can you see inside?
‘Cause I’ve got a jet black heart
And there’s a hurricane underneath it
Trying to keep us apart
I write with a poison pen
But these chemicals moving between us
Are the reason to start again

This song is about knowing your kind of fucked up, but wanting someone to see it. Loving someone so much that you’re going to let them inside. You want to start with them. Start over with them even, and I think that it really fits the end of the book. They are just starting. They have a long way to go. Their path is probably going to be turbulent, but they may fall in love. They are giving each other a chance.

Recently, I got the opportunity to talk about my musical influences in an interview on the Mando Method Podcast. Listen to it here. Or watch the YouTube video blow:

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How to Write Dialogue- Seven Tips

Oftentimes, dialogue is the most difficult thing to write. It’s hard to make it sound realistic and relatable. As writers, we are told not to write like we speak however, that is difficult when writing dialogue. I get asked a lot how to write it and if I have any tips for people who are trying to write good dialogue. Below are my seven tips to writing dialogue. Yes, seven. I’ve never really liked even numbers.

Write First; Fill in Later

If I have a dialogue based scene or if the dialogue is super fucking important in a particular scene, I always write the dialogue first then fill in the details later. I also call this “bare boning” because it’s essentially the skeleton of the scene, then I add the meat later. I feel this helps me keep their conversation more organic and flow more naturally because I’m not having to constantly pause my thought or the conversation in my head to write what they are doing, physically.

Read it Out Loud

Reading it out loud helps me make sure it sounds organic. I know, personally, I have a habit of never using contractions when I write, but they are absolutely necessary in dialogue. Reading it out loud or to someone else will show any awkward phrases.

Don’t Write like you Speak

I know this may be controversial. My argument is that you aren’t your characters (not really). They probably speak a bit differently than you. They have different experiences. They grew up with different influences than you. They may not even be your age, which means they will probably use different types of slang terminology. Write like your character speaks, not how you speak.

Dialect (AKA Accents)

 I have written characters with a southern US accent, and although you can hear it in all of their words (if they were to really speak which they do in my head), I only select a few words to show their accent in the way they talk. Like, instead of dropping all ‘g’s’ on words ending in ‘ing’, I’ll choose one or two to drop in the sentence. I also try to get creative with it. I show their accent or where they are from in the words/phrases they use. Someone from the Sothern US may use phrases like ‘lick of sense’ or ‘down yonder’ while someone from the UK may say ‘lads’ or ‘mates’ instead of friends.

Don’t Write Small Talk

Your reader doesn’t give a single fuck how the weather unless it is pivotal to the plot. If there is a scene with dialogue, every single bit of it should be pivotal to the plot in some way whether it is a reveal or moving it along. If there isn’t a reason for the dialogue, then do not write it. It gets boring.

If it can be Said in Dialogue, Wait Until Dialogue to Say It

Do not reveal anything in the inner monologue. Anything. This keeps your readers guessing about certain character traits. Does your character have a secret? Don’t reveal it until he says it outload. Is the mother of your heroine dead? Let her reveal that information to someone in dialogue. This helps limit the inner monologue your characters have and keeps the readers more in the moment. It also helps you bridge various conversations to one another so you don’t have random spurts to dialogue.

Avoid Long Text of Dialogue

I know this is sometimes difficult if one character is doing most of the talking. I like to break it up with questions. Let me use my two main characters in the Take me to Church Series as my example. If Harlan is telling Luka his story (he does eventually) it would make sense for Harlan to be speaking a lot in that scene. I break it up by having Luka ask him questions and contribute to the conversation.

I hope this was helpful to you in someway! Please let me know if you have any request on other author tips. Come chat with me on my social medias below. I just posted a video on my Instagram where I read the blurb of my book, Cool for the Summer, in a very dramatic way. I plan to continue this series, so come say hello!