We have finally arrived at the official release day for A Different Shade of Blue! Honestly it feels pretty surreal, despite the fact that I finished the book almost two years ago now. There was just so much waiting, the snafu with the publisher, and just a whole lot of other things that held it back from an earlier publication. It seems like just a few days ago though we started working on the editing process and now….we’re here!

A lot of people helped make this book what it is, and I can never thank them enough. Jess, Mandi, and Jerri all took a crack at editing, and they did a tremendous job! Mandi also designed the cover, and did a re-design of the cover for A Crooked Mile as well to make them a bit more cohesive. The books look great, and I’m so proud of how they have both turned out.

When I sat down to write A Crooked Mile I had nothing in mind beyond a standalone novel that I had penned for NaNoWriMo. Then, the following fall, the idea for Blue hit me out of nowhere. I wanted to check in with Bryson, to see how he was doing, and slowly his personality began to flesh out. He always felt like a kid with a secret, much like his brother Alec in that regard, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out what that secret was.

SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!

For those who have already read the book, you already know that Bryson is part of the LGBTQ community. He’s a young gay man, who is trying to figure out how to be himself despite the fear that comes along with it. He sees himself as being a potential second blight on the family, and he knows that his father will not react well to the news. He isn’t quite sure how his mother or his friends will take it either, worried constantly that people will view him in a negative way despite the fact that nothing about him as a person is really any different at all.

The decision to make Bryson gay was never really a decision, that’s just who he was in my head. I had no desire to change him or his story, and sought instead to show how difficult life can be for young people like him. People who feel that they can’t be out, that they can’t be open, and that they have to feel a certain degree of shame for who they are. I took a lot of inspiration for him from friends of mine that I have known throughout my life, predominately some of my best friends from high school. They all had their own story to tell, their own way of confronting the world, and they were some of the bravest people that I have ever known. I’m immensely proud of all of them, for being so courageous. The world we’re living in right now is a tough one, especially if you’re seen as “different”, and I just want the people who are struggling with these so-called differences to know that you are seen.

You are seen, and you are wonderful the way you are.

I knew when I wrote this book that some people would not want to read it, based purely upon Bryson being gay. That makes me incredibly sad, because his story deserves to be told just as much as Alec’s. I just hope that people who might have shunned the story still give it a chance. There are SO many wonderful stories out there to tell,  and everyone deserves to have one that they can identify with. We are all different, we are all unique, but at the end of the day we are all still human. Our struggles, our burdens, and our secrets don’t define us. They are just simply part of who we are.

I was taught to never, ever hate anyone. Even if you don’t agree with them, don’t carry hate in your heart. It will only weigh you down.

So give Bryson, and this book, a fair chance. I think you’ll see that it’s a story about overcoming obstacles and coming into your own, which is something we have ALL done in our lives. It’s about grief, moving on, and being who you have always wanted to be even if it sets you apart. It’s a little bit about live, a little bit about family’s, and a little bit about being seventeen years old. It’s a lot of things, and I’m very proud of it.

If you have been here with me before, welcome back to Rust. If you are new here, you are welcome just the same. I appreciate your support, and all the things you have all allowed me to do with my writing just by reading it.

Remember, we are all just a different shade of blue.

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