Today we shine the spotlight on Taylor Saracen and Electric Soul Rise Up #3
Joey Mills doesn’t know who he wants to be. He isn’t even sure who he doesn’t. All he knows is that he thinks about it less than other people who try to mold themselves into certain boxes they are convinced they need to fit into. He always fit in just by being himself. Or maybe that is what he trains his brain to believe, that he is who he wants to be, and that people want to be around whoever he is. Thinking about it too much is a dangerous exercise in self-doubt, one he doesn’t have the patience to participate in. Why doesn’t he tell people he is gay? Why is it off-limits if he truly doesn’t worry about what people think of him? Maybe it’s time for a change. Rise Up is a series of new adult novels that illuminates pivotal moments in the lives of LGBTQ youth. Each novel features a fresh protagonist and his experience navigating the ups and downs of adulthood. While the characters change and the stories vary, common themes--including the struggle for independence, identifying one's passions, searching for acceptance and for love--are interwoven through the pages of the novels. These stories will open your eyes to worlds of possibilities, both conventional and off-beat, as these men take you on their journeys to self-discovery.
Excerpt: Joey didn’t know what he wanted to be. He wasn’t even sure what he didn’t. All he knew was that he thought about it less than other people who were trying to mold themselves into certain boxes they were convinced they needed to fit into. He’d always fit in just being himself. Or maybe that was what he’d trained his brain to believe, that he was who he wanted to be and people wanted to be around whoever he was. Thinking about it too much was a dangerous exercise in self-doubt, one he didn’t have the patience to participate in. Why didn’t he tell people he was gay? Why was that off-limits if he truly didn’t worry about what people thought of him? For someone who didn’t actually have sex, he found his sexuality oddly significant. He knew what he wanted and who he was attracted to, but he’d never acted on the draw. Fuck, it hadn’t even been a year since his first kiss with a boy. Yet, he couldn’t define himself completely unless he acknowledged the fact that he was gay. He was a son, a brother, a friend, and he was gay. He was a stoner, a creative, a fuck up, and he was gay. It was the focus of so many of the internal assessments he took of himself and he was pretty sure that made him a hypocrite. If it was so much of him, and he was so unconcerned about peoples’ thoughts on him, why did he feel compelled to hide it? He was just as bad as his classmates who squeezed into the compartments they built around themselves. Either way, Joey’s momentary catharsis on the bike was validation that he felt more trapped than he’d ever admitted to himself. It was a release he didn’t know he needed, and he needed to know why it mattered as much as it had. All he knew was that he didn’t want to worry about worrying about something. He didn’t want to overthink his emotions just because they were present. They could easily be ignored.“You’re avoiding table nine,” Bridget stated, as she entered the kitchen. Joey was leaning on the pass, bullshitting with Ernie, and most certainly avoiding table nine.“False,” he replied, not bothering to glance at his mother. He could see her glare, though he didn’t lay eyes on her. He’d seen it enough to memorize its attributes. “True,” his mother asserted, slapping his butt with her pad. “C’mon. I’m not picking them up.”“What do you have against high school football players? I thought you were cool with a lot of them when you were in school,” Joey teased, earning another whack from Bridget. “I should’ve washed your mouth out with soap when I could have,” she tsked. “I didn’t curse,” Joey laughed. “That’s for cursing.”“I should have washed your brain with soap,” Bridget corrected. She tapped his forehead with mock aggression. “Your brain.”“Honestly, you probably should’ve. There’s some wild shit in there.”“I don’t doubt that,” Ernesto inserted. He pointed at Joey and shook his head at Bridget. “He’s wild.”“You don’t know the half of it,” she promised the cook.“Yeah, neither do you,” Joey replied. “Where’s Mattie?” “She’s taking care of her tables,” Bridget answered. She pointed at the door to the dining room. “Go.”Realizing he wasn’t going to be able to pawn the table off on his friend, Joey straightened his green D’Antonio’s t-shirt and headed into the dining room. There were six of them, which should have meant he would get a good tip, but he knew he probably wouldn’t. The only kids from his school who tipped well were the ones who waited tables or had parents who did. Football players had practice, they didn’t have shifts at pizza parlors. “Hey. How are you guys doing?” Joey greeted, as he approached the table. “What drinks would you like?”“Beer,” Jock One said nonchalantly, tapping his fingers against the menu. “You don’t just order ‘beer,’” Jock Two whispered. “You gotta tell him what kind.”“A cold beer,” Jock One clarified. “You’re literally wearing your varsity jacket,” Joey laughed. He gestured at the rest of the guys. “All of you are.”“They could be old. We could be juniors in college, reliving our glory days,” Jock Three offered with a smirk. “Yeah, that would be super pathetic,” Jock Four tsked. “I don’t even want to play along with that. Beer isn’t worth it.”“I wouldn’t have fallen for it anyway,” Joey stated. “So, do you want water, Coke, Mountain Dew, something else? We have pitchers.” “We’ll get two pitchers of Coke,” Jock Four decided quickly. It was apparent from his affect that he was embarrassed by his friends. Joey nodded. “Got it. Do you need more time with the menu or do you know what your having?”“Are we doing the Meat Lover’s pies and garlic knots?” Jock Five asked. “What about wings?” Jock Two questioned. “We have to get something with protein.”Jock Four rolled his eyes. “The pizza has a ton of protein.”“I can come back with your drinks and give you some more time to figure it out,” Joey offered as he began to walk away. “So, you’re coming back with my cold beer then.” Jock One uttered with no trace of amusement in his voice. “Not happening,” Joey replied over his shoulder. It should have been a crime for impressive muscles and chiseled features to be wasted on a guy like that. Not one ounce of the dude’s attitude was attractive to Joey, yet somehow he could see past it when he focused on the cuts of his jaw and the bulge of his bicep. He bet the dumb jock would be good in bed. Joey had never been fucked before but he was sure he wanted to be. There wasn’t much to like about the football player, and in spite of that, Joey couldn’t think of anything but being on his hand and knees while the guy plowed him. Shaking his head as if he’d just swallowed a bitter pill, Joey filled two pitchers with ice and soda. “What’s your problem?” Mattie asked, tickling Joey’s side as he sloughed her off. “Cranky,” she tsked. “Not cranky.”“What are you then?” she pressed, hands on her hips.Horny. Confused. Sober. Tired. Bored. There were a lot of ways that Joey could have answered the question, but he decided that, “annoyed,” was the most apropos. “At those football players?” Mattie wondered, rising to her tippy toes to get a view of the guys. “A few of them are cute, so at least there’s that.”Joey clicked his tongue as he wiped the exterior of the pitchers with a paper towel. “But I guess that doesn’t matter much to you,” she continued, placing her hand on Joey’s shoulder. “Too bad its not girls from the cheer squad, right? Maybe that would make it suck less.”“What would’ve made it suck less was you taking them,” Joey said, earning a chuckle from Mattie. “What?”“I don’t hate myself enough to do that voluntarily. They’re going to leave you, like, three bucks if you’re lucky.”“What happened to ‘a few of them are cute, so at least there’s that?’” “I was just trying to say something that would make me feel better about busting my ass for a bunch of douches who would no doubt stiff me,” Mattie admitted.“And that’s the best you could come up with?”Mattie thought for a moment before nodding her head. “Yeah, that’s the extent of it.”Unenthused, Joey sighed and walked over to the table. Pouring the cola into each of the guys’ red plastic glass, he listened to them argue over what he assumed was a play. “It’s on Carson,” Jock Two asserted. “He’s been lagging and it’s completely throwing off the tempo.”“He’s fast as fuck,” Jock Four disagreed. “Jeff needs to get faster.”“I’m fast as a motherfucker,” Jock Six cried, tossing packets of parmesan across the table at his teammate. Joey sighed, trying to keep it together. “Have you guys figured out what you want?” “That beer,” Jock One stated, lifting his eyebrows and holding his hand out in aggravation. “Ignore him,” Jock Four directed. “We’ll have four Meat Lover’s pizzas, three dozen wings, and two orders of garlic knots with extra sauce.”“Damn,” Joey muttered as he scribbled the order. “For the wings, do you want mild, medium, or hot?”“One of each,” Jock Four said. Joey nodded. “Got it. Anything else?”“That beer,” Jock One repeated. The guys at the table groaned and Joey rolled his lips in tight before walking away from the table. It took a lot to get under his skin, but that asshole was buried deep. For the most part, Joey loved waiting tables. He was outgoing and it was a fun way to make money while bullshitting with people. The problem was sometimes he had to deal with people’s bullshit. “Make the hot wings atomic,” Joey told Ernie as he took his usual spot leaning on the pass.“Those guys are dicks.”“Can’t do that,” Ernie chuckled.“They ordered one basket hot, so just make them really hot.”“Joey,” Bridget warned from the other end of the kitchen. “Don’t be a dumbass.” Mattie laughed “Sage advice from mama Mills.” “Always,” Bridget grinned. “Somebody has to tell him.”“Lucky me,” Joey said sarcastically.But he knew he was.
About the author:
Taylor always had a passion for storytelling, but never thought she would become an author. Her parents said a job in writing wasn’t practical and suggested she find a career that would actually make her money. In true Sagittarius style, she decided to chase the big bucks and become a teacher.
After eleven years of shaping the minds of America’s youth, Taylor decided to give writing a go. She’s published three novels in 2018 and has traveled the nation doing book signings with the subjects of her new adult Rise Up series.
Taylor lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she is a wonderful mother to her three-year-old twins, a hard worker for 13 Red Media, and a rather adequate wife.