Beyond EighteenMax Goldstein has been confronted by death, betrayal, and unwanted expectations. He must work to find the delicate balance of a love that has been tested and a family that has been broken. Returning to the warmth of Wilson’s arms, he finds the only place he can be truly healed. Unfortunately, teetering on the edge of losing everything he’s ever wanted, Max must make decisions that pull at his sense of responsibility and push at his desire to protect the life he’s found with Wilson. When Wilson Mooney is thrust into adulthood, she never expects her childhood demons to come knocking. Struggling to balance the delicate nature of her relationship with Max and the burning sting of betrayal; Wilson realizes she must dig deep within her soul to find forgiveness. Will she allow circumstances out of her control to shape her future? Or will she find the strength and maturity to go beyond eighteen and have the life she desires with the man she loves? Will Wilson and Max ever get to have their happily ever after?
Eighteen At LastChained by unfortunate timing and restricted by society’s expectations, every choice Wilson and Max make becomes pivotal to their future together. Eager to take their relationship to the next level, Wilson returns to Aspen with Max to celebrate her eighteenth birthday. When an uncontrollable situation leads to a split-second decision, both will be tested like never before. Butterflies will soar, hearts will clash, and Wilson’s relationship with Max will spin into a silken cocoon with choices that seem too impossible to overcome. Could it be…uncovering the deep ache that lays dormant in their hearts will become the real threat to their forbidden love? Or will the pressures of keeping their relationship a secret be too much to bear?
Almost EighteenAbandoned by her mother at the vulnerable age of eight; only to be shipped off to a boarding school in Northern California by her grandparents, Wilson Mooney, is one girl who knows what it’s like to have to grow up way too fast. Now, a month away from turning eighteen and orphaned by the death of her grandparents; she knows exactly what she wants. All it takes is a spontaneous ski trip with her narcissistic roommate to Colorado, to make it a reality. When he happens to show up at a party in Aspen, Wilson becomes tangled in the powerful emotions of first love, sexual inexperience, and society’s principles. She lives a whirlwind weekend filled with newly discovered boundaries, calloused aches for a family she never had, and all the pressures of keeping their weekend together a secret.
Interview with Author Gretchen de la O
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, best friend, auntie, and niece who happens to be living her dream of being an author. I am fiercely loyal, extremely spiritual, and someone who tries to avoid confrontation. I always strive to keep myself grounded in my faith, and centered in the belief that what you focus on will eventually show up in your life. I love life and with me…what you see is what you get.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Well, lately it seems like that’s all I am doing. But really, when I’m not writing I’m spending time with my family and friends. There’s nothing more humbling than being with people who know everything about you.
Do you have a day job as well?
Yes I do…I teach computers to elementary students…K-5th graders.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing in 1999. I would write short stories about my children. But it wasn’t until December of 2009 when I starting writing my first novel, Prototype that it became something serious. It was around mid 2010 when Wilson Mooney Almost Eighteen came to me. I wrote that in roughly 6 months, but it took close to a year to publish it.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
Truthfully, I think it chose me. I wrote a Sci-Fi Romance before I wrote Wilson’s story. I have so many other books in all different genres…I hear you shouldn’t cross publish…I guess I’ll either have to come up with a pen name for books outside of Romance or take my chances with people having a little taste of all the different stories in my head.
Do you listen to music while writing?
All the time! I have my ears plugged 99% of the time. I listen to a lot of different music, depending on what type of scene I am writing. Some of my favorites are Matt Nathanson, Adele, John Mayer, OkGo, OneRepublic and Black Keys.
Chips or chocolate?
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I like to call it preoccupied mind instead of writer’s block. Sometimes, our minds just don’t wanna shut off the everyday banter, and when that happens…it’s better to let it roll right through your head, just so long as it doesn’t hang out too long!
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write. An idea comes to me and from that point on…the characters take over my mind. Every so often I chime in; like when I don’t agree with something they are going to do or say…but most of the time the characters tell the story.
Is there any particular author or books that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I caught the bug to write seriously after reading Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series. I devoured that series and decided I wanted to write books that let readers escape the realities of their everyday life like Charlaine Harris did with me.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
The biggest challenge was learning how to navigate the whole process involved in publishing your book on your own. How to format, the learning curve of marketing, and getting over the fear of judgment.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I wouldn’t change a thing…I’ve become a stronger writer and business woman because of my journey. See, I believe we are in our right and perfect place, and if I changed anything, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I might not have met the amazing people I have, and I might not have created the relationships I have. Being a writer and publishing a book is such a personal journey…it’s what makes the ride so amazing.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I market my books through author and blog giveaways, sales, and word of mouth. Word of mouth is by far the best advertising around. The more people who fall in love with Max and Wilson, the more they are willing to share the series. I also use social media…a lot. I have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, a blog, and a website. I have to say, Marketing is probably the hardest part. You have to stay fresh, authentic, protective, and yet open. Using social media is a balancing act at its best and worst.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Not yet. That is the beauty of being self published, it is my choice if I put a book up or not. I have a book I wrote before the Wilson Mooney Series, I haven’t published yet called Prototype. I am working on editing that and a couple other books I am writing…it is a real freeing time right now, because now I can visit those characters that have been patiently waiting for me to finish the Wilson Mooney Series and tell their stories.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I know y’all want the scoop with Wilson and Max and if it is based on real life situations in my life. One of the biggest questions I get is…Is this a biography? Well sorry to disappoint you but no it isn’t. I think all writers pull from experience in one way or another, but if you want to know if I fell in love with my government teacher? Sorry, I wasn’t that girl.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
In Beyond Eighteen one of my most favorite parts of the book (besides the bathroom scene) is the scene in chapter 26 between Max and Mr. Langley. The moment Max has an epiphany about his father and their relationship…well, I just cried and cried. There was something special there that really just touched me so deeply.
How did you come up with the title?
It wasn’t me. My beta and best friend Beck and I were brainstorming for a name and when she said it….I was totally hooked! Beyond Eighteen, wasn’t about Wilson’s life years later…the book was called Beyond Eighteen because Wilson was stretched in her life beyond a typical eighteen year old girl’s life experience.
What project are you working on now?
I am going over my manuscript Prototype and visiting the second book Hindsight is 20/20. I am also working on Ophelia’s Promise a YA/NA novel that has captured my heart.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I would love to revisit Calvin, Joanie and Nick; maybe even Cindy someday. I have a lot of people telling me to write a novella about any one of these characters…however, I really do have a substantial amount of stories waiting for their turn. So maybe eventually, I will find my way back to the Wilson Mooney Series, but for this moment in my life, I am really looking forward to hanging out with some of my other characters.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Hmmmm, one of the toughest criticisms I’ve received was probably when I first gave my book out to a blogger and she didn’t fall in love with it and she thought Max sounded too young. It wasn’t necessarily her criticism that was so tough, but the newness of my experience with people and how subjective everything is. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for someone not liking my work. I cried, the ugly cry…but being in this kind of work, I’ve learned everything is subjective…everything, from the 5 star to the 1 star…nothing is cut and dry. The best compliments I ever receive are when readers tell me they’ve fallen in love with reading again after reading my books. I never get used to people who love to read my words. I’m still like the little girl who needs to know she’s done something right. And there is nothing greater than hearing you’ve affected someone’s life so deeply with a story that came from your heart.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes, thank you! Thanks for being the most amazing readers a writer can ask for. I love each and every one of you! I have met so many of you who have really help push Wilson and Max’s story out to your friends and the rest of the world. So thank you for that. Most of you know I struggle with calling you my fans, I don’t know it’s something within me that I struggle with…It is so important to me to stay authentic, and grounded in this industry, and you, my readers all help me do that. I can’t say enough about how awesome all of you are! Who knows maybe someday I’ll be able to call you a fan, but until then, thanks for being a devoted reader!
Blog Tour Interview Questions from Fans of the Wilson Mooney Series
You asked…and they answered…I caught up with Wilson Mooney, Max Goldstein and Max’s mom Nancy Goldstein in late September.
Now that The Wilson Mooney Series has wrapped up and finally come to an end, people are curious about what’s going on in the lives of some of their favorite characters.
Wilson, Max and Nancy were gracious enough to sit down and answer your questions. They opened up with some real honest responses, let their guards down to some pretty vulnerable moments, and spoke candid about some really tough events in their lives.
Wilson, will you ever ski again?
Ahhh, no, I don’t think so. Wrecking on a bunny slope is one thing, but then to be dragged down the hill behind a snowmobile? Let’s just say, it wasn’t my sport.
Max. Did you hesitate to give your job up for Wilson?
Not for one second. I’m not saying that I didn’t love my job. I loved being a teacher. I valued the dedication and time that I put into it. But when I thought I was going to lose Wilson, nothing else mattered to me. I can always find another job…I won’t find another Wilson.
Wilson, did you contemplate telling Max not to leave his job for you?
Well, at first I was totally shocked! As stupid as this may sound, I never thought about him ever being anything but a teacher. He’s very passionate about teaching, so when he told me he resigned, I worried that he would resent me for having to make that decision. I won’t lie, it scared the hell out of me.
Max. What was it about Wilson, in detail that allowed you to display your feelings for her? I mean, you obviously had them, and we are aware of when you made them known. But you were risking SO much. What was it about Wilson that made you sure enough of her and your feelings for her to make your feelings known, to her, and you family and ultimately, everyone?
I think it was Wilson’s spirit; her determination to turn her life into something more than a victim of her circumstances. When I would watch her move she’d own her space, if that makes sense? She seemed so sure of herself. Even if it was bullshit, she never let on…not to me. So, I needed to know her; I wanted to have that part of her that made me feel alive again, complete. Was it a risk? Sure, but to me…the idea of never taking a chance with her, outweighed the risk of losing everything I had. I think I’ve paid enough in my life, for not making my desires known. I wasn’t gonna make that mistake again.
Max: BOXERS? BRIEFS? COMMANDO?
Wilson: Was there an instant attraction to Wayne?
Well, come on, who wouldn’t wanna look at him. He’s gorgeous. No, really, I like Wayne, he is super sweet, and I hope he finds a nice girl. I was feeling it for Max, when I met Wayne. Isn’t that just the way it works sometimes? I wasn’t looking then suddenly, pow…all these guys are interested. The last thing I heard about Wayne was that he moved to Tahoe in California.
Wilson.. When you meet Max’s family you felt an instant bond. Why do you think you felt so connected?
Hmmm, good question. I think I bonded with Nancy immediately because she was the mother I never had. She was the stability and strength I longed for but never got from my birth mom, Candi. I think the bond that developed between Frank and I stemmed from the desire to have a father figure in my life. If I could picture anyone I wanted for my father it would be him. Even with Max telling me how much pressure he got from his dad…he still had a dad. When I’m with Max’s family, I feel like I finally found home.
Max.. What made you finally give Wilson your phone number?
I grew a pair; no, just kidding. I can’t tell you how many times I rehearsed in my head, how I was going to make a move. I was scare shitless. No really, I kept looking for moments where I could slip her my number. Even though she’d flirt with me, I was concerned she didn’t feel the same way, and I didn’t wanna come off creepy or anything. So that day Calvin had called me and was telling him about how her grandfather just passed away, and how she was all alone now. He was so tired of me talking about her, he said, just give her a note with your number, tell her if she needs to talk, call you. Changing my name on the note to Matt Gladstone…well, that was my idea.
Wilson.. Do you think the bond between Max’s mom and yourself will be the same?
I sure hope so. I love Nancy, and even when I was hurt by her words, she wasn’t saying anything but the truth at that time. Nancy really is an amazing woman and we grow closer every day. I adore her.
Wilson: What’s it like to kiss Max?
I knew this question was coming. Wouldn’t you like to know! LOL…No, seriously, kissing Max is like being swathed in my favorite blanket. He’s the perfect warmth, with just enough chill. He’s a hint of Aspen, with a splash of California. When Max presses his lips to mine, and his scent swarms around my head, all the sparks going off in every inch of my body collect low in my stomach…Truthfully, Kissing Max feels like I’m home. Yeah, he’s my home.
Wilson and Max. Since skiing and ice skating never seem to work out well.. Have you thought of vacationing somewhere sunny? Wilson:
Ah, yeah, I want to go to Hawaii, Max keeps saying it’s overrated. He wants to take me to the Bahamas, we’ll see.
Max. Who is Matt Gladstone or how did you come up with that name?
I knew this question was going to come up. It was my attempt at being sly, and if Wilson would have got it sooner…She would have known it was me, my initials, as someone else’s name. Matt Gladstone, didn’t exist.
Ms. Goldstein.. How do you feel about Max dating Wilson?
Oh, gollie, a question for me. Heavens, I’ve been so wrapped up in listening to Maxi and Wilson, I didn’t realize someone would want to ask me anything…so, how do I feel about Maxie and Wilson dating? I couldn’t be happier. Wilson makes my son happy, I couldn’t ask for a better fit for my son and I absolutely adore her. Sure.
Were you hurt to find out that Max and Wilson lied to you?
I’ve put my foot in my mouth before with some of the things I’ve said, but it wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I wasn’t hurt by the way they went about their relationship. Under the circumstances, I understand why they did it. I wasn’t happy, but I understand.
How are you doing since you husband’s death?
Thanks for asking. Some days are harder than others. I have good and bad moments. Some days I miss him so much I can’t get out of bed, and there are days where it’s the exact thing that gets me up in the morning. It can be lonely, thinking about little things only he and I shared, and not having anyone to talk about them with. I’ve had to adjust to life without him and that is so hard. But I am determined to be here for my family.
MAX: What attracted you to Wilson…her being your student and all?
I remember the very first time she walked into my class…my world stopped. She walked up, slid into the seat directly in front of me. I remember tripping over my words and wondering if she could see my heart slam in my chest. It was instant for me. It was like…my life came walking into the room and announced…I’m here! I know that sounds corny, even unbelievable. But it’s true. She has this confidence about her, a strength that I was instantly drawn to. She wasn’t like any other girl I’d met before;she seemed so much older than her calendar age. Even women I met closer to my age didn’t hold a match to Wilson. I don’t know…could it have been that we both had a broken past that needed to healed? Maybe…but when she showed up in Aspen…I knew it was meant to be.
Max: What’s the last song you listened to on your ipod?
Run Right Back, by The Black Keys.
Wilson: If you really loved Max how could you have kissed Nick WTH were you thinking?
Well, obviously I wasn’t thinking and I love Max more than anything in this world. All I can say was that I was pretty messed up, scared, and got caught up in the whole lot of bad…fast. It’s not an excuse, I made a terrible mistake.
How are you going to build that trust back?
Well, one moment at a time. Max is my first real boyfriend, first real love…hell, he’s my first real everything. So I hope with time, conversations, and understanding, hopefully, he will grow to trust me again.
Max.. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I actually love to cook, and because Wilson hates it…it works out perfectly!
So if it works out perfectly, what is your favorite thing you like to cook for Wilson?
Breakfast in bed!
Max.. Do you think your father would have been more understanding about your relationship with Wilson? Or would you mom have handled it better if your father hadn’t just died?
My dad would have been pissed at me for upsetting my mother and hurting my career. But, with that, he already had a soft spot for Wilson. I guess I’ll never really know. And I truly believe that my mom would have handled the whole situation better if my dad hadn’t died.
Max, can you forgive Calvin for his betrayal about your relationship? with Wilson?
Yes, I have. Cal doesn’t handle pressure very well. He tends to fly off the handle…a lot. But we talked and well, he’s my brother.
Gretchen, what inspired you to write Wilson Mooney?
I was in a real emotionally heavy section of Hindsight is 20/20 when Wilson came busting into my head…and from that day forth, I had to write her story. It was such a light moment…I had to find out what was going to happen to her and I am sure glad I did.