Adam Stephens’s simple life working in Denver as a computer programmer is turned upside down when his mother suddenly dies. His crazy relatives in Virginia want him to move in with them because they believe his autism makes it impossible for him to care for himself. But life improves, at least for a time. One day while wandering through the botanical gardens, he runs into struggling wildlife photographer Trent Osborn.
As a hesitant love blossoms between the two, Adam’s aunt and uncle push for him to live with them. Adam again refuses. The struggles between his desires and what everyone else wants collide. Adam disappears, and Trent is unsure if he’s run off to escape life’s pressures made worse by his autism, or if something far more sinister has happened. Trent embarks on a cross-country journey in search of Adam. What he discovers changes the course of his and Adam’s lives and the lives of everyone connected to them.
The Power of Words
by A.J. Marcus
First let me say thanks to the gals here at Two Chicks Obsessed for the opportunity to be on their blog during the blog tour K.T. Spence and I are doing to promote our new book “A Bouquet for Adam”, out on June 17th from Dreamspinner Press. Originally I’d planned a few posts on the joys, heartaches and other emotions of dealing with coauthors(trust me, there’s a lot of emotions when being creative with other people), but after everything that happened this weekend, I decided to change things up a bit and talk about the how writers use words and ideas to help shape our books and often indirectly our world.
There’s a lot going on in our world right now. I think all of it illicits a variety of emotions from everyone. Sometimes we simply roll our eyes and wonder how a supposedly intelligent, educated person could possibly say the things that just came out of some public official’s mouth. Sometimes we see violence and catastrophes so horrendous the only thing we can do is stop and mourn in our own personal way. As a society we should be tired of mourning. I know I am.
As a writer, I am very aware of how my words can affect the people who read them. I can make people laugh, I can make them cry. (I know I’m doing my job right when one of my hardcore editors tells me I made them cry.) I hope I give readers hope for better lives, or open their eyes to new ideas. In our world that is so full of darkness, I think we all need as much hope as we can get, on a regular basis. That’s one of the big reasons most romance books have a happy-ever-after ending. It’s one of the universal hopes everyone craves, whether they admit it or not. Everyone wants their Happily Ever After. I think we all deserve it in whatever form ours should take.
By crafting my stories I show people that even workaholics can find love. Even someone who thought they’d given up can stumble upon that one someone who’s going to start their heart beating again. We can’t let despair get its hooks in us, we have to stand up and reach for the light. As a writer, my words show people they can be happy, they will have hope.
For generations people have carefully chosen their words to accomplish many things. Words can convey hate as easily as hope. Those of us who dedicate our lives to words have a responsibility to the people impacted by our words to do our best to make sure our words are used to their best power. More than a few times I’ve wondered what our forefathers would say at how the words they put in our legal codes have been twisted from what they’d originally meant. And don’t even get me started on how religious texts of various forms have been twisted to get the responses the people who twist them want. Words are very powerful things, particularly when the brains of the readers or listeners aren’t fully engaged.
One of the big subjects that K.T. Spence and I tackle in “A Bouquet for Adam” is autism, which impacts a growing percentage of our population. A couple of generations ago, we rarely heard of it, now most of us know at least one person affected by the condition. We’re hoping our book and the careful way we portray Adam, help shed some light on others and help people have a better idea of who and what they’re dealing with when they meet someone with autism. Through our words, we’re hoping we can give people more understanding and maybe open a few minds and make people’s lives better, because words have power.
Right before they reached the narrow pull-off that served as parking for the area, a cow elk with two calves in tow crossed the road. He was driving slowly enough that he didn’t throw a lot of dirt around when he slammed on the brakes, but he and Adam were tossed against their seatbelts.
“Wow. An elk mama,” Adam whispered.
Trent automatically grabbed his camera from the bag that sat in the rear floorboard between the seats. If Adam hadn’t been there, it would’ve been in the passenger seat. At that moment, he didn’t care if was supposed to be photographing flowers. He wasn’t passing up an elk with twins.
The mother elk stared at the Jeep as he rolled down the window to get an unobstructed view. She stayed between the Jeep and her calves as they walked sedately across the dirt road toward a meadow full of wildflowers to the west. Trent started clicking away, catching every movement he could as the three large animals sauntered away from him. The view of the meadow was slightly obscured by the trees, and then they cleared the forest and stepped into the bright light. Trent scrambled to get the right exposure, and the pictures unfolded before him. It wasn’t the big bulls he was famous for photographing during the rut, but the shots would be breathtaking nonetheless.
A cloud passed over the sun, changing the light. Trent blinked and realized he wasn’t in the Jeep anymore, but standing against a large lodgepole pine at the edge of the meadow. He didn’t remember getting out of the Jeep or even turning it off. The elk were far enough away now that the pictures wouldn’t be as good as he needed them to be, and beyond the flower-filled meadow, the background wasn’t that great, just lots of trees.
“You really zone out when you’re taking pictures.” Adam’s soft voice behind him made him jump slightly. “When I do that, people get upset and think I’m having a fit or something.”
“Did I turn off the Jeep?” Trent patted his pocket and didn’t feel his keys.
Adam held up Trent’s key ring. “No, but I did. I rolled up the windows and locked it too before I followed you. That was awesome. Does that happen to you very often?”
“Spacing out while I’m shooting? Once in a while. Shots like that? Not as often as I’d like.” Taking his keys from Adam, he started back toward the Jeep. “Thanks for taking care of me. One of these days, I’m going to get lost in the moment like that and get into a lot of trouble.”
Adam grinned as he fell into step with Trent. “Lost in the moment… I know that feeling, and I like the sound of that. Is it something I can use? I don’t want to steal your phrase.”
Trent laughed. “I wouldn’t call it my phrase. Sure, use it all you like.”
With an odd clarity, Trent suddenly realized that he and Adam were more alike than he realized. They could both get lost in the excitement of the moment.
This review is actually going to be difficult for me to write! Because I just don’t even know if I can put into words how much I loved this book, the feels, and how beautiful a story it was for me. Please note, that I didn’t say it was perfect, because of course, there is no perfect book. But everything I took from this book was a perfect storm of what I needed to read, when I needed to read it, and how immensely the story touched me.
Adam was such an amazing character, written so well. Just as A.J. discusses, at this point in society, most everyone knows someone who is on the autism spectrum. I have a brother that at 20 was diagnosed with autism, and I can see so many of the social cues in this character that have been there all along the way with my brother. Adam is literal, which is what makes him the fantastic programmer he is, and socially awkward. He is high functioning, and yet, when change occurs that he is not ready for, he deteriorates and has tantrums (words used in the book, not my phrase). When his mother dies, his world upends, and at the perfect time, he finds Trent, who needs someone just as much as Adam does.
Trent is so patient with Adam, so loving and caring. He knows that Adam is different, yet he revels in those differences, in knowing exactly where he stands with the man. They are separated too quickly after starting to make a connection, but Trent goes all out to find Adam. Obstacles that likely would have set back many men from actually taking a chance, and not giving up on Adam, are pushed aside, so that he can find the man he quickly fell in love with.
Is this book perfect? Just as I said above, it isn’t. Some people will take issue that they fell in love too quickly, yet I saw it as those kinds of circumstances making you realize that you either want to move forward, or you want to leave it in the past. In addition, people may think Adam was being taken advantage of (and he was, but not by Trent), but despite his limitations, Adam was clear what he wanted. He couldn’t always verbalize it, but he knew.
Adam’s strength grew in this book. Yes, he was a bit of a mess at the climax of the book, but considering the circumstances and stress he was under, I challenge anyone, with or without autism, not to be. Yet, you could see his growth and maturity as he dealt with the outcome, and consequences of his family’s actions. It gave you hope for his future, as well as his future with Trent.
There are not many times when I would necessarily like to see a follow up book, a follow up short story, yes, but a book? Not usually. This book, I feel like could easily have an entire other book to tell how Adam is able to move forward, find his niche, and work through a new relationship, even as he continues to grieve for his beloved mother.
There is so much I love about this book, that I could talk about it for days (I already have, recommending it two days in a row, even buying it for someone). My heart was so full after I finished reading it, that I had a book hangover, and I wanted to jump right back in and read it again.
I would give this 10 pieces of eye candy if I allowed more than 5. Wait, it’s my blog…so 10 it is!!!!
A.J. has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives in the mountains with his extremely supportive husband. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, trail riding, or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer. Don’t get him started talking about his birds, because he won’t stop for a while.
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K.T. Spence is a Colorado author owned by a one-eyed cat named Jacq and has a daughter who is on the autism spectrum. Both want all of her attention, albeit in different ways, and she manages to scratch out stories in her spare time. K.T. Spence is a Colorado author owned by a one-eyed cat named Jacq and has a daughter who is on the autism spectrum. Both want all of her attention, albeit in different ways, but she manages to scratch out stories in her spare time. K.T. is an avid reader. Having learned on her own to read when she was three, she has never not had a book in her hand. In the winter while her mate and daughter are skiing, you’ll most likely find her with a book in one hand, a hot toddy in the other, escaping into whatever world she’s come across. Or she’ll have her fingers on her laptop keyboard, pounding out the next story or thoughts that come to mind. Her dreams include self-sufficiency from writing and riding and owning her own horses. If not writing and/or taking care of her daughter, you’ll find her down at the barn, grooming and learning as much as she can.