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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Here's To You, Zeb Pike

Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for Here's To You, Zeb Pike by Johanna Parkhurst, a YA Contemporary GLBT book available now from Harmony Ink Press. The tour will run January 20 - 31, 2014

Johanna will be awarding one ebook to a randomly drawn commenter and one print book (US only - international winners will receive an eBook substitution) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

What's the book about?

Fact: When Zebulon Pike attempted to climb what is now known as Pikes Peak, he got stuck in waist-deep snow and had to turn back.

That’s the last thing Dusty Porter learns in his Colorado history class before appendicitis ruins his life. It isn’t long before social services figures out that Dusty’s parents are more myth than reality, and he and his siblings are shipped off to live in Vermont with an uncle and aunt they’ve never met.

Dusty’s new life is a struggle. His brother and sister don’t seem to need him anymore, and he can’t stand his aunt and uncle. At school, one hockey player develops a personal vendetta against him, while Emmitt, another hockey player, is making it hard for Dusty to keep pretending he’s straight. Problem is, he’s pretty sure Emmitt’s not gay. Then, just when Dusty thinks things can’t get any worse, his mother reappears, looking for a second chance to be a part of his life.

Somehow Zebulon Pike still got the mountain named after him, so Dusty’s determined to persevere—but at what point in life do you keep climbing, and when do you give up and turn back?

And an excerpt...

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only high school freshman on the planet who actually likes school.

Well, I guess I don’t really like school itself. I don’t really enjoy writing papers or listening to lectures or dealing with quadratic formulas or any of that stuff. It would probably be more accurate to say that I like resting.

School is one of the few places where I get a chance to relax, sit back, and not think too hard. My buddy Race hates when I talk like that—he says it’s egotistical of me to brag that I can ignore about 80 percent of what our teachers say and still get the grades I do—but I’m not trying to brag. That’s just how school is for me.

Take the class I'm currently chilling out in: history with Ms. Carlson. This is a class that probably makes other freshmen want to slit their throats. I mean, I know all students think their teachers drone on and on, but Ms. Carlson brings it to the level of an art form. She must have been absent from teacher school on the day “class discussion” was introduced as a method of instruction.

Me? I love this class. Most of the time I completely zone out for forty minutes and just recap whatever I missed with a little textbook-skimming during study hall.

Today I’ve managed to lean back in my chair as far as it will go, and I’ve got my feet propped up on my backpack. I’m half-listening to Ms. Carlson; she’s going on about the Pike Expedition. After all, this is Colorado Springs, home of Pikes Peak, the semifamous and epically huge mountain that is currently looming right outside our classroom window.

“Zebulon Pike and his team did attempt to ascend the peak, but they were forced to turn back, essentially due to weather conditions and a lack of appropriate gear. There were no REIs in the area then, you see.”

The class titters, which is more of an effort to keep Ms. Carlson smiling than a nod to how great the joke is. Ms. Carlson is one of those teachers who enjoys thinking she’s hilarious. We’re a bunch of students who enjoy inflated grades.

“Wait, Ms. Carlson, I don’t get it. Do you mean he didn’t get to the top?”

Some words from Johanna

Wait…Other Adults Read This Stuff Too?!?
Fun fact: I’ve pretty much always been obsessed with YA lit.

Interesting fact: I’ve spent a lot of years ashamed of that first fact.

So how long have I been harboring this secret love of YA novels? Hard to say. Probably about ten minutes after I stopped being classified as a “young adult” myself.  I distinctly remember a fellow English major saying this about a copy of Holes by Louis Sachar that I was carrying around campus: “Why are you reading that trash? Shouldn’t you be reading someone more important?”

Then I started teaching middle school, and I became even more and more immersed in the world of young adult literature. I fell even more in love with this—in my opinion—completely underrated genre. My husband can tell you that our house looks like the Teen Reads section of the local library; and that’s not counting the bazillion young adult books that I’ve left behind in classrooms for students to enjoy.

But here’s the thing: despite the fact that I’ve spent the last decade of my adult life reading AND writing young adult literature, I’ve kept my preference for this genre pretty close to my chest. Oh, my friends knew about it, and my teacher friends have been reading right along with me…but everyone else? Pretty sure they thought an English major like me was curled up in the corner with John Updike every night. (All respect and love to Updike, of course.) And because I wasn’t into the Goodreads or the book blog scene until recently, I sort of thought that I was the only crazy one. You know, that weirdo adult who only wanted to read books written for teenagers.

Fast forward to 2013. My first book gets published, and it’s (of course) a young adult book. And about ten minutes later, this is what I figured out: THERE ARE A LOT OF ADULTS OUT THERE IN THE WORLD WHO LOVE YA BOOKS JUST AS MUCH AS I DO.  

I’m still trying to catch my breath after this stunning realization. I mean, there are book blogs out there just for adults to tell other adults what YA books they should read! Not to mention that almost all the great YA book blogs seem to be run by adults, who are absolutely open about their love for the genre. And the coup de grace: nearly all of my first GoodReads reviews for this book were from adults.

Well. If I’d known all that was going on, I would have stepped into the scary internets book world a whole lot sooner.

For me, it’s been incredibly liberating to realize how many adults are out there enjoying my book about a fourteen-year-old. Not just because they like the book (which is AWESOME, by the way), but also because it feels so good to know there are about a bazillion other adults out there like me who would rather be reading Gordan Korman than Jane Austin. (Again, all respect to Austin.)

I’m coming out of hiding folks. Yup, it’s time.

No more shame. 

Author bio and links:

Johanna Parkhurst grew up on a small dairy farm in northern Vermont before relocating to the rocky mountains of Colorado. She spends her days helping teenagers learn to read and write and her evenings writing things she hopes they’ll like to read. She strives to share stories of young adults who are as determined, passionate, and complex as the ones she shares classrooms with.

Johanna holds degrees from Albertus Magnus College and Teachers College, Columbia University. She loves traveling, hiking, skiing, watching football, and spending time with her incredibly supportive husband. You can contact her at or find her on Twitter at

Buy Links:


  1. YA is really intriguing these days, and I love that there are m/m books in the genre!