IT'S LIVE!!! Elementary Romantic Calculus is officially in the world! Today is the day you can finally start your binge read!
Get it here: https://books2read.com/ERC
This is it. The last Chemistry Lessons book. The end of an era. I’m having a lot of feelings about it. Some sadness and nostalgia to be saying goodbye, but also a lot of excitement for what’s coming next.
When I wrote Remedial Rocket Science, I wasn’t planning for a series. I was just trying to write one really good story. I just wanted to see if I could do it—actually write a whole book good enough to publish.
There are a lot of things I probably should have done differently at the beginning of this series. But I’m glad I didn’t, because I love each and every one of the Chemistry Lessons books with all my heart. I took some risks and made some choices that went against common advice. Like my titles (not romancey enough!) and my covers (only man chest sells!), to name just two. Turns out, those risky choices were two of the best decisions I made. Because they helped my books stand out in a crowded marketplace, and they appealed to exactly the readers who were most likely to enjoy these stories. Also, I happened to get in on the leading edge of the illustrated cover boom, which was probably 50% intuition and 50% sheer blind luck.
I made some other questionable decisions, like making book two about the unlikable loser the heroine goes on a blind date with in book one. But as you’ve probably noticed by now, I like redemption arcs and characters who aren’t easy to like. My favorite kinds of people to write about are the ones who grow beyond their mistakes or are better and more complex than what they present to the world. The one thing I’ve always done consistently is write the kind of stories I’d want to read. I think that guiding principle has helped me write stories that connect with readers, but it’s also helped make all this hard work enjoyable on a personal level.
The only thing I really regret is that I’ve never planned very far ahead in the Chemistry Lessons series. Only when I finished writing one book did I start thinking about the next one. Who is my heroine going to be? What STEM field should she work in? How can I connect her to the characters in the previous books? I was so consumed by the task right in front of me that I couldn’t think about what was coming after that. I wish I’d introduced the knitting group in book one, and I wish I’d introduced six books’ worth of characters through that Antidote group instead of just four. Did you know I originally thought to stop after Applied Electromagnetism? But then I realized I wasn’t ready to let it go yet.
Now, though…now I am ready.
I’ve grown as a writer enough that I can look farther ahead. And that’s what I’ve been doing. Looking ahead to the next series, which I’ve approached in a completely different way. I knew I wanted Elementary Romantic Calculus to set up a spin-off series, and I knew I wanted that spin-off series to be about a family living in a small town in Texas. I knew I wanted those books to feel more interconnected and the characters’ stories to be deeply intertwined across the series. So I sketched out that whole series—the town, the ice cream company that put it on the map, the six siblings who’d be getting their own books, and the tangled family they came from. Only then did I sit down and plot Elementary Romantic Calculus and come up with the characters of Mia and Josh.
I have to say, I wish I’d been writing like this all along. It’s been SO FUN to create this fictional town and dive deep into the complex interrelationships that drive the characters. I guess that’s why I don’t feel more heartbroken about the end of the Chemistry Lessons series. Because Elementary Romantic Calculus isn’t an end.
It’s a beginning.
I can’t be sad, because I’m too excited about where I’ve ended up. Crowder, Texas, is a place I LOVE visiting in my head, and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Thank you for reading my books, loving my books, recommending my books, and supporting me in so many different ways along this journey. I hope this book is everything you want it to be. I hope Elementary Romantic Calculus becomes one of your favorite books. I hope you fall in love with Mia and Josh just like I did while I was writing them. And I hope you fall so in love with Crowder and everyone who lives there that you’re as excited as I am for what comes next.
Elementary Romantic Calculus will be here in only 5 days! But I've got a special treat for you. An early peek at the first chapter! Read on to meet Mia and Josh and the wayward goats that first bring them together...
Mia Ballentine was lost. Metaphorically and literally.
She must have missed a turn somewhere. Surely she was not meant to be on this dusty farm road on the outskirts of some backwoods town in the middle of Texas.
And yet, here she was. Trying to find her way to an obscure regional university she’d never heard of before she’d applied for a visiting lecturer position in their mathematics department.
This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. She’d earned her PhD from one of the top math programs in the country, for god’s sake. Gotten her bachelor’s at Princeton, where she’d won the Andrew H. Brown Prize before graduating with high honors. She’d laid out a twenty-year career plan for herself, and the next step was supposed to be a three-year postdoc at a top-tier university.
Unfortunately, the economy had its own ideas. The country was coming off the biggest recession of the twenty-first century and higher education had taken a major hit. Budgets had been stretched to the breaking point as endowments shrank, grants evaporated, and enrollment dropped with the national unemployment rate. Postdocs were being cut, and hiring freezes were now the norm at most universities. Even low-paid adjunct contracts had become hard to get. It was the worst possible time to go on the job market with a brand-new PhD.
Most everyone in Mia’s cohort was struggling—particularly those, like her, who’d done pure instead of applied mathematics. Some had put off defending their dissertations, some had taken temp jobs to make ends meet, and some had been forced to move back in with their parents when their fellowships ran out.
Mia had been scouring mathjobs.org and The Chronicle of Higher Education and everywhere else she could think of, applying for anything and everything she could find in academia. Up to now, she hadn’t had a single serious expression of interest.
When Bowman University had invited her to come to Texas for an interview, she’d jumped at the opportunity.
At least it was a step up from an adjunct position, most of which were limited to part-time and only paid a few thousand dollars per semester. The Bowman job was full-time and paid enough that Mia wouldn’t have to take a second job just to cover rent. It was only a one-year contract, but she couldn’t imagine being stuck here in Podunksville for more than a year, anyway. Twelve months seemed like the absolute limit of what she’d be able to stand in a place like this.
Mia peered out the dusty windshield of her rental car and shuddered at the cow pastures around her. Country living had never held any appeal for her. She was a city girl through and through. A New Yorker by birth who’d found Los Angeles enough of a culture shock when she’d moved there for grad school.
Could she really survive in small-town Texas? Seventy miles from the nearest airport and who even knew how far away from a decent restaurant or grocery store. You probably couldn’t even get food delivered here, except whatever passed for pizza in these parts.
They might not even have reliable internet. Or FedEx deliveries. She’d read the stories in The Atlantic and the New Yorker about all the ways rural America was being left behind by tech advancements, consumer monopolies, and crumbling infrastructure.
And now she might be living it firsthand.
She’d definitely missed a turn. This couldn’t possibly be the road to the university, could it? There was nothing out here but pastureland, farmhouses, trees and--
Are those goats?