My heroine, Julia Forrester, is dyslexic. Now, the book takes place in 1885, so they didn't call it that back then. A doctor in Germany termed it "word blindness".
I'm a special education teacher, and Julia's story is very dear to my heart. Her feelings of uselessness, of embarrassment, etc., are what my students battle every day. I shed tears while writing this book, let me tell you.
As luck would have it, sweet Julia is in love with the town genius, Alex Davis. But when she realizes he loves her in return, she gets scared. She feels her academic weaknesses would be a burden to him and rejects his proposal. Which causes Alex to take on the fight of his life, proving to Julia that she is, in fact, quite brilliant.
This was the book I was writing when my publisher went out of business a year ago.
You can imagine the sadness I felt, as Alex and Julia's story is VERY important to me. I wanted this one in the hands of readers so badly. But now, I didn't know what to do...
I wondered if I should keep writing.
I agonized over it, because I wasn't sure if I could publish a book on my own. And, quite frankly, I wasn't sure if I was even doing the right thing. Writing takes time. As does publishing. Then marketing...well...that job never stops. I also had my day job to contend with, which can be pretty demanding. And writing takes time away from my family.
So, I wondered if it was all worth it.
And then, about one month after my publisher went out of business, something happened...
My fabulous editor sent me the following message:
"I wanted to thank you. I've struggled with reading all my life and your book got me to thinking about color again. I discovered I can actually change the color of the page in Word. I finally figured out a way to make editing easier for me. But it helps with my writing, as well. I actually look forward to writing now!"
My joy was immense, let me tell you. I mean, I have tears now reading this. Goodness! So...her message sealed it for me. I was going to figure out how to self-publish come Hell or high water.
THE INVENTOR'S HEART
Pike’s Run, Texas, 1885
Alex Davis has just returned to Pike's Run, Texas, from Yale with a fabulous invention that could revolutionize the use of electricity. He can't wait to show his work to his family and his dearest friend in the world, Julia Forrester. But from the first day he arrives home, Julia avoids him. He doesn't understand and tries everything he can think of to spend time with her, but he fails.
Julia Forrester has loved Alex Davis since their school days. He was her confidante and her champion whenever she struggled with her studies. She helped him with his inventions, spending as many of her free hours as possible with him. She'd thought he'd loved her, but when he went off to college without her, her heart broke. And the infrequency of his letters proved his feelings didn't match hers. Now that he has returned, she is determined to move on with her life. She has written a symphony, and she won't let past hopes and dreams overtake her again.
But Alex won't give up, and when Julia confesses the reason for her distant attitude, the "Genius of Pike's Run" realizes his stupidity. He is in love with Julia and will now move Heaven and Earth to have her. But he is battling more than her distrust. Julia has another reason to keep away from Alex, and he sets out to fix it. Will the "genius" be able to prove his theory?
“You don’t want to stay here with me? Why?” Alex tried to calm his rising anger, but hurt at her obvious want to escape him overruled his will. “You prefer to be caught under the mistletoe and kissed by every fellow in town?”
Julia reared back. “I want no such thing!” she declared, trying to tug her hand free of his.
He would not let go. “Could’ve fooled me. Fitzsimmons practically had you off your feet. And Hollister is married and lingered entirely too long when he grabbed you.”
With force, she tried to yank free, but he was having none of it.
“It’s just a game,” she argued with a scowl. “I didn’t plan it, and I can’t control how any of the men kiss me.” She lifted her chin. “Besides, it’s all in good fun.”
Fun? Every embrace had torn him inside out. “None of them should have touched you. You’re my friend.”
“What does that mean?” she asked, her voice rising. “I belong to you?”
He almost shouted the affirmative, but he controlled the overwhelming feeling of possession. Instead, he kept quiet, not knowing how to explain his statement.
“You’ve been gone for five years, and I have other friends. Am I supposed to sit on a shelf waiting for you to come home?” She glared up at him.
Was she considering stepping out with someone? Jealousy roared inside him. “You think another man is better for you than me?”
“Emmet might have swept me off my feet, but at least he paid attention to me, at least he seemed to be interested in me, at least—”
Unable to take her compliments of another man a second longer, he yanked her forward and slammed his lips on hers. As desire engulfed him, he plundered her mouth, snaking an arm around her waist and pulling her up against him.
She moaned, and the sound spurred him on. He shoved his tongue inside, demanding she open for him, needing to prove that he was the man she wanted. He turned her and shoved her up against the wall, and she let out a whimper as she ran her fingers through his hair.
A shudder went through him, and he drank from her, never wanting to let her go. How had he not understood that her arms were his safe place? Why hadn’t he ever realized his best friend could set him on fire? His heart pounded hard, echoing in his ears and making him sing with life.