Author Visit & Giveaway with J.A. Rock

We're thrilled to welcome the incomparable 
J.A. Rock to the blog today.
She's here to promote her latest.

Dresden Marich has failed out of high school three months shy of graduation. He’s infatuated with his online friend, Evan, alienated from his family and former classmates, and still trying to recover from his father’s death six years ago. He’s also keeping a troubling secret about his older brother, Gunner, who is away at boot camp.

Then Dresden meets Caleb, a judgmental environmentalist who’s hardly Dresden’s fantasy come true. But Caleb seems to understand Dresden’s desire for rough sex, big feelings, and, ultimately, safety. As Dresden becomes embroiled in a farmers market drama involving Caleb, a couple of bullying tomato enthusiasts, and a gang of vigilante vegans, he discovers he might be willing to trade a fantasy relationship with Evan for a shot at something real with Caleb.

But Dresden fears telling quick-to-judge Caleb his secret, and the news that Gunner is coming home sends him fleeing to California for a chance to meet Evan in person and hopefully fall in love. When the encounter doesn’t go as expected, Dresden faces a choice: stay in California and carve out a new life, or take the long road home to his family, Caleb, and a past he must face if he has any hope for a future.

TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME: Vegan Myth-busters Edition

I wasn’t terribly kind to my own people in TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME. Vegans kinda get a bad rap (because hey, I’m just gonna say it—smug vegans are a thing!), and some non-vegans seem to have trouble believing that vegan diets are motivated by anything other than a tree-hugging, meat-hating, hippie-fueled desire to make group dinners difficult. But I was a strict vegan for five years—though now I’m back to Mostly Vegan Except Ice Cream—and I can tell you vegans are just like everyone else. Except they hate eating at the Cracker Barrel.

Also, Bob Evans.

In TtLWH, the trio of vegan side characters is not intended to represent all vegans. These three are kind of…extreme. Here’s a look:

“Who are they?” I don’t really care, but I also don’t like being left out.

Caleb stops moving the carvings. “We call them the Greensleeves.”

“The Greensleeves?”

He drapes his arm over the back of my folding chair. He’s not wearing flannel today; he’s got on a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, and if he would just shift back a little more, I’d be able to see the outline of his pecs. “That’s just what we call them. They’re all vegan.”

I don’t 100 percent know what vegan means. “Are those, like, extreme vegetarians?”

“They don’t eat any animal products,” Printy says. “Butter, eggs, cheese, the whole deal. And these three are nuts.”

I look at Caleb, who nods. “They’re, like, the vegan Tea Party. Regular vegans don’t want to be seen with them.”

“They’re coming this way.” Printy holds the dowel rod like he might use it as a weapon.

The guy vegan is thick and muscular. One girl is tall with dark skin and hair, and the other one is short and pale and kind of hunched. “Hey, Caleb,” the short girl says.

“Hey.” Caleb glances at me. “Don’t know if you’ve met Dresden yet. Dres, this is Candace. And that’s Tate and Bev.”

“Hey.” Tate sticks out his hand and shakes mine.

“Dresden. That’s a cool name.” Bev has on some kind of long, knitted sweater with pom-pom balls on the hood cords.


Printy rocks his folding chair. “We were just telling Dres you’re insane.”

“Aw.” Candace laughs. “Not really, Dresden.”

“Well, we were telling him you’re vegan,” Caleb says. “So almost the same thing.”

“Truth.” Tate puts a hand on Candace’s shoulder. “But we’re not the kind of vegans you normally think of.”

“I don’t really think of any kind.” I watch the way Tate’s muscles bunch. It’s impressive, I guess, that he’s got muscles like that even though he doesn’t eat meat.

“We just get sick of everyone assuming all vegans love animals and eat organic and drive hybrid cars. I only went vegan to manage my weight. And I don’t give a shit about the environment.”

“It’s true,” Bev says. “He uses paper cups.”

“I don’t like animals,” Candace says. “But I’m passionate about the earth.”

“I love animals.” Bev shrugs. “But I hate yoga and spirituality.”

“Fuck tofu.” Candace picks up one of Caleb’s carvings and turns it over.

“We all agree on that.” Tate holds up his hand, and the three of them vegan-high-five.

“So is it, like…hard to find food to eat?” I’m trying to be friendly, but by the way they all turn to stare at me, I can tell I’ve said something stupid.

“Vegans enjoy a varied and nutritionally balanced diet.” Candace’s voice is low and falsely pleasant.

Tate leans forward. “If you ever ask us how we get our protein—”

“Or our B12,” Bev puts in.

“We can’t be responsible for what happens to you.”

“Uh, okay. Sorry.” I glance at Caleb, who rolls his eyes.

“All right, all right.” Caleb waves them away. “Leave Dresden alone. I told him regular vegans don’t want to claim you.”

Bev snorts. “Regular vegans? We don’t want to claim them. We’re, like, ultimate vegans.”
Tate turns to her. “Yet you eat honey.”

“I don’t care about bees.”

Today, in honor of the Greensleeves, I’d like to “true or false” some of the most common ideas I’ve heard expressed about vegans and veganism. Answers are based solely on my own experience, naturally.

Finding Vegan Food Is Hard. 
In most American restaurants, true. Pretty much anywhere else, no. If you cook for yourself, making vegan stuff is super easy. And the only foreign country I ever had trouble eating in was Scotland. Cloudy with a chance of haggis.

Vegans Don’t Believe in Eating Meat.
False. I believe in it. I used to do it. I’ve seen other people do it. I know it’s real. I don’t think it’s morally wrong. The only thing I want to stop is the abuse of animals while they’re alive.

Being Vegan Means You’re Always Hungry.
True. I’m sure not every vegan experiences this, but I definitely did. Vegan food tends not to hang out inside you too long, if you get my drift. I definitely had trouble staying full.

Vegan Euphoria Exists.
Yep. I heard other vegans talk about it before I was vegan. I thought they were just being smug and vegany. But it’s true. If you eat a balanced vegan diet, you may experience unparalleled bursts of energy. My theory is it’s because you go to the bathroom pretty much every fifteen minutes, so you feel super light. And then you can use your newfound energy to dart between toilets.

Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein.
False. I’m with the Greensleeves on this one. Don’t ever ask a vegan where they get their protein. It’s in so many things. Even broccoli.

Vegans Love Yoga.
No, no, a thousand times no. I admire yoga for the joy and hard abs and centeredness it has brought millions of people. I just…kinda find it super boring. (Don’t come after me, yoga fans—I’ll give you ice cream!). I recently started muting my yoga DVD and listening to episodes of Serial while I do the routine so I can replace the relaxing music and the gentle rolling of the Hawaiian waves with stories about murder.

So, while I may have taken a few potshots at vegans in TtLWH (and hey, I didn’t—characters did), it’s still a way of life I love.


Milk-based ice cream all the way.

Buy Link (available January 20th):

Loose Id

One commenter will receive a choice of any backlist title—including co-written titles. The winner will be drawn at 11:59 p.m. on January 23rd. Thanks for participating!


J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. lives in Chicago but still sees West Virginia behind Illinois’s back.


  1. Love the excerpt with the ultimate vegans. And I really enjoyed your true/false game. Thanks for the chance to win.

    Waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. Thanks for stopping by, waxapplelover!

  2. Great information on vegans. It's nice to get a bit of a better understanding of them. Enjoyed the excerpt and looking forward to reading Take the Long Way Home.
    Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

  3. I love these types of book. I have a vegetarian daughter and she eats with the family every night. Her dad cooks for her every evening and makes sure to include high protein vegies every meal. He adds to her plate specialties that he cooks just for her. It's a special love to see him care about her nutrition and never whine or moan about the extra cooking. Mostly it's not extra work just careful consideration with pans and pots and food choices.

    1. That's awesome! My dad's been vegetarian my whole life, so it was nice to have someone to help when I first went vegetarian. I'm glad your daughter has a dad who's so considerate. :)

  4. :D Fantastic, loved all of it.


  5. Thanks for the fun and informative post (and the contest)! I already use the facilities way too frequently, so I don't think I could do the vegan thing. ;-)

    1. Haha! Then yes, definitely steer clear of veganhood. That was the most surprising part to me, I think. I was always just like "Really? Again??!"

  6. ha, interesting, my mum's pretty much a vegan, more because of food allergy's then anything, but it's still...

    the excerpt was awesome to, can't wait for the book to come out :)

    1. ha, and apparently that day is today *hangs head* really should look at a calendar at some point through the week. woohoo tho ;)

    2. I also had a calendar fail--spent most of the 19th thinking it was the 18th. :)

      I have a good friend who's a "food allergy" vegan--we used to cook together a lot!

  7. Can't wait to read this. I love your books!

    I don't think I could ever do vegan but have total respect for those who do

  8. Seriously, ice cream just isn't the same without all that dairy fat. :)


    1. Agree! The coconut stuff is pretty good, but I need to feel my arteries hardening when I eat my ice cream. :)

  9. Thanks for the fun post! I love the true and false game. I don't think I could go vegan. I love my meats ans seafood too much, but anyone who can do it...they're amazing.

    1. It was pretty easy for me, since I never much cared for meat, fish, cheese, or eggs. But...dammit, ice cream!! :)

  10. I went to nursing school with a woman who is Vegan. She is super healthy and a marathon runner. I believe she is 55-56 at present and still runs. My daughter wanted to be a vegetarian when she was a teenager. She lasted longer than I thought, 1 year. Ultimately she missed her fathers pork loin to much and gave it up. Thanks for the fun interview

    1. That's awesome! I don't think I could ever be a marathon runner. And I will admit, though I haven't eaten meat since I was sixteen, I do still think bacon smells good.

  11. Great post! Very interesting facts about nothing I could do! Although I am trying to eat a lot healthier, just love the meat!


    1. Thanks, Julie! I apparently used to love steak when I was little, according to my mom...

  12. Just picked this up yesterday and I won't lie, the vegan potshots made me curious. It's always a potshot at the ones who are different... As a vegan for 18yrs ( who is married to a man who is not with a 17yr old son who isn't either but my 11 & 7 yr olds sons are vegetarian), I agree there are some smug ones and then there is me. I think to each their own in the way you want to live your life and um... this vegan happens to love yoga. Hot sweaty yoga that will kick your ass!

    And Blogger hates me and will only let me comment under this account but my email is...


    1. Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth! I have only met one smug vegan in person (though rumor has it there are others). I hope I was never smug, but I absolutely loved being vegan and loved talking about it with people! And yes, it is always a potshot at the ones who are different, isn't it? I have experienced enough vegan potshots in my life that it was fun to be able to address those in this book.

      Hot sweaty kick-your-ass yoga sounds awesome! All of my yoga friends are so strong--I'm simultaneously jealous and terrified of them :) But I do think it's funny how many people assumed I was into yoga because I was vegan.

  13. What a great blog post....being a vegan sounds like it takes a lot of dedication and will power....or would that be wont power...I wont eat meat....hahahahaha I could never do it 'cause I luv my bacon and cheeseburgers to much...*grin* and homemade mac and cheese...with all that wonderful cheese and milk....*sigh* Nope, I couldn't do it! :)

    Thanks for the contest and the fun...

    hugs from your fan,

    1. Woot! Vegan won't-power! Cheese is my least favorite food in the world, which I think is what convinced me it wouldn't be too hard to transition from vegetarian to vegan. :) Thanks for stopping by, Jo. Hugs.