J. K. Rock, aka the combined pen name for sister-in-law authors Karen and Joanne Rock hold up a copy of their first book in their Camp Boyfriend series.
Two local writers will unveil their first book, “Camp Boyfriend,” a new young adult series, at a special camp-themed party at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, 23 Brinkerhoff St., on July 15.
The book is written by J. K. Rock, aka the combined pen name for sister-in-law authors Karen and Joanne Rock. J.K.’s book is the first of a three-part series released on July 2, and the book party will be held on July 15. The camping party will go from 5 to 7:30 p.m., ending with a book signing and reading by the two authors.
Joanne Rock is an award winning Harlequin author with more than 60 titles to her credit. This is the first book written by her sister-in-law, Karen Rock. Karen will debut her first Harlequin solo release in September 2013 with “Wish Me Tomorrow.”
Karen, an eighth grade teacher at Stafford Middle School in Plattsburgh, said she was both inspired by her sister-in-law’s writing and by her students.
“It doesn’t even seem real that a book I wrote will be published,” said Karen. “Especially as a teacher, I am constantly reading so I can suggest books for my students and it is great to think kids the same age as my students will be reading this.”
Camp Boyfriend follows the pair’s release of the book’s prequel, “Camp Kiss,” which was released online earlier this year.
“One of the great things about our writing is we write very fast and we’ll have novellas between the books,” said Karen. “Our prequel novella was a chance to introduce our characters and the scene to the readers before they committed to reading our series.”
The story follows young Lauren, who is introduced as a “nerdy” girl with braces at age 14 who knows every constellation in the sky. “Camp Kiss” walks the reader through Lauren’s awkward first kiss with Seth and introduces a character she really likes and wants to be her boyfriend. Karen said “Camp Boyfriend” will jump forward two years when Lauren is 16 and things have dramatically changed with Seth only being her boyfriend at camp.
“Lauren moved from Upstate New York to Texas. She was lonely and though she misses Seth, she dates a popular boy in Texas named Matt,” said Karen. “When it is time for Lauren to go back to camp, she is ready to dump Matt and ask Seth to be her boyfriend through the end of the summer.
The love triangle becomes more tangled when Lauren tries to dump Matt. He shocks her by showing his true feelings for her and decides to join her at camp.
“It’s a pretty strong love triangle,” said Karen.
As a teacher, Karen said she has always enjoyed finding the right book for her students to get them excited about reading. When a kid finds the right book, she said it opens up a whole new world for them. One of her greatest compliments as a writer came from her publisher.
“It’s ironic that my publisher has a little sister who hated reading,” said Karen. “But one day when my editor brought home an unedited manuscript of the book, her little sister stole the book and refused to give it back till she was done reading it.”
The young girl had locked herself in the bathroom and refused to return the book and sent her sister text messages while locked away about how much she liked the book.
“It really touched my teacher’s heart to have captivated her that way,” said Karen.
The book follows universal themes of acceptance and finding who you are despite your surroundings.
“Joanne and I talked for a long time about writing a book,” Karen said. “Our styles and voices are similar, and our aesthetics are similar. We were interested in writing a coming-of-age story and wanted a situation where our character had a lot of room to grow.
“Both of us having gone to summer camp knew it was the perfect bubble of a world without the help of a dedicated parent our characters have to make decisions for themselves. In our book, Lauren changes but not in a way she’s proud of. She becomes more popular but wants to still be the person who is admired for being smart and not being a cheerleader.”
The J.K. Rock duo created the book to reflect the struggles and joys of adolescence and to show young adults they don’t have to choose to be the person everyone wants them to be.
“When you’re young, you define yourself by who you hang out with, we wanted to show through our book there are different options,” said Karen. “I see a lot of kids that have been in my class trying so hard to fit in and as an adult you see a different perspective and hope to show them they can be whoever they want to be.”
The “Camp Boyfriend” party will be a fun camp-like experience filled in two hours. For treats, campers will make their own desserts at the s’mores bar. Plus, there will be a make-your-own trail mix station and bug juice.
Each camper will receive an autographed book, an “I Love Camp Boyfriend” T-shirt, crafts and will take part in a color wars game. Campers will also be entertained by a local folksinger who will lead sing-a-longs with the campers, ghost storytelling, and the authors will give a reading from their new book.
“We want it to feel like a real camp experience,” said Karen. “Anyone who doesn’t want to participate in the party but would like to come for the reading and signing are more than welcome to come.”
There will be extra books available for purchase the night of the event.
“We cordially invite the public to come to a reading and open book signing beginning at 7:30 p.m. After the event, our books will be available at online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and locally at Corner Stone Bookshop,” said Joanne Rock.
The prequel to the second book, “Camp Christmas,” will be released in December. Book two, “Camp Payback” is set to be released in April 2014. Prequel to the final book, “Camp Crush” will be released next summer and the final installment, “Camp Forget-Me-Not” will be released in August 2014.
The “Camp Boyfriend” party will be $20 per person. Visitors who would like to hear the book reading and attend the signing are invited to join the festivities at 7:30 p.m.
For more information visit the Camp Boyfriend website at http://campboyfriend.net.