Hi guys, we have debut author Cy Blanca popping in today with her debut novella A Teacher and A Poet, we have a brilliant guest post from Cy and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! ❤ ~Pixie~
A Teacher and A Poet
Shawnee County, Kansas, might not be the most accepting place for a gay couple, but boyfriends Antony James and Curtis Ramírez have made it their home. Both of them work at Pauline Central Primary School, and while Antony is content teaching, Curt would rather pursue his passion: poetry. He plans to resign, but he doesn’t get the chance.
Working together has its risks, and when a student witnesses Antony and Curt sneaking a kiss in the workroom, they’re reprimanded. The school board’s punishment is mild, but some members of the community aren’t willing to let the indiscretion go. That small mistake could cost Antony and Curt their home—or it could remind them that home is in the heart, and as long as they stay strong in their love, they’ll always have a place to belong.
States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.
Hello, everyone! My name’s Cy Blanca, and I’m here to share a little bit about myself and my very first novella ever, A Teacher and a Poet.
If you can’t already tell, I get pretty excited pretty quickly. As this is my first time around a blog tour, I have to be honest, I’m not quite sure how to gas myself up… HaHa. But in all seriousness, what’s important to me is that you fine readers get a good impression of who I am and what this story means to me.
Firstly, I’ve always loved writing. It’s always been the most complete, most honest way that I can express myself. I’ve been writing professionally and freelance for about ten years now, mostly music and movie reviews for various websites. I’ve also written some literature reviews and social commentary, particularly pertaining to issues concerning the black and LGBTQAI+ communities. I love the work, love being able to unpack an album, film, or book and really get at the core of how these pieces of art affect me. It’s important what we do as writers, as artists. We give the world around us scope and depth, giving concrete form and language to our experiences, how the things we go through every day shape us into who we are from day to day.
When I graduated with my BA in English, obviously the first (and in some people’s minds only) options most thought available to me were writer and teacher. My entire family has ties with education—my father is a teacher and principal; my mother taught high school for a few years; my godfather was a superintendent and is now an educational consultant. But much like my character Curtis Ramírez I’ve never had a desire to teach… ever. However, I never actually thought I’d write a book, let alone have a story of mine published. I was schooled in poetry. It’s what I love. Was, in fact, the first thing I ever consciously wrote. I just love words. I love what they do, how they work around each other, the sounds they can make… everything! But writing a book…? Naw, not for me. Or so I thought.
One day I just had these thoughts, these words floating around my head. I wrote my first novel (for myself, because no one’s ever seen it), then I just kept getting ideas, kept seeing and hearing words. A Teacher and a Poet came from one of our authors’ workshops with Dreamspinner. They revealed their “States of Love” series. At the time, the only states they had left were, I think, Nebraska and Kansas. That was it, the only impetus I needed. I raised my hand and said, “It’s mine!” And five minutes later I had the first scene in my head.
The story is close to me for a few reasons. Obviously, I’m excited because this is my first vella, first story, ever published. More importantly, it’s about my birthplace and my first ever school. Pauline Central primary school is very much real and was very much integral to my love of words. I always remember my primary school with fond memories, but of course I would, considering I was in kindergarten and first grade.
However, I think what I’m proudest about is that my main characters are black. Curt’s Afro-Latino, and Antony’s a black man raised by his mother. They both had not-so-great childhoods, but they found each other and found love that’s completely unshakeable and unconditional. I’ve always felt when it comes to our community there just needs to be… more: more literature; more concrete representations of strong and intelligent black men and women; more representations of black love, particularly for gay and lesbian couples. I became so very attached to these two men, especially since both of them really represent different aspects of who I am. Curt’s love of words and how completely he loves those around him. But he’s also about his business, takes responsibility for himself, and is largely non-confrontational. Antony, however, is bold, brazen—certainly more so than I am. However, we both share a penchant for being highly opinionated and not backing down from a fight if someone instigates one—especially when it comes to the people they love. They’re both fiercely protective of their loved ones. Truly, I felt so connected to these characters that once this journey is over, whenever that is, I think I’ll look back on them as my favorites.
Honestly, even as I continue to explore different avenues, more diverse creative outlets, I’ll never not write. It’s too ingrained in my DNA, too much a part of who I am. Really, my life revolves around music, writing, and my family. And food! I forgot to mention food!
Again, I want to thank MM Good Book Reviews and its readers for giving the chance to introduce myself and my two lovely men: Curtis Ramírez and Antony James. I hope you all enjoy this story!
SOMETIMES TEACHING primary school really just… sucked. Even the eloquence of a writer failed Curt when he was in this kind of mood. He loved the kids, yes. Loved how eager they were to learn new words, to read new things. But damn, on days when it rained like this, turning Shawnee County’s landscape into a gray smear against a dreary sky, his third graders became antsy and unfocused, and they were all just a cankerous pain in Curt’s round ass. The boys kept pestering the girls, the girls kept whining, but here they were, stuck inside with another thirty minutes left in the day.
“Sarah, if I have to tell you again to stop hitting, you’re going to the principal’s office.”
“But Mr. Ramírez, Mike started it!”
“I don’t care. Both of you sit down and please finish your reading. There isn’t much time left in the day.” Can you just all sit down and shut the hell up till your unfortunate parents come to pick your bad asses up? At least he could let the vulgarities of his mind entertain him, even if his kids were being unbelievable brats.
Yeah, being a primary school teacher really did suck. He needed Antony. There was no way his students were being this bothersome so close to the end of the day. But of course, his classroom was all the way on the other side of the school. Third grade and first grade never intermingled except during recess. And as the rain had been drizzly and disgusting all day, he hadn’t gotten to see his boyfriend of three years at all. He sighed. It wasn’t like he could start cussing out his kids. It wasn’t their fault Mother Nature was a bitter old bitch who was long overdue for a good stuffing. Hell, it wasn’t his fault his sex life was so good. Why was she taking it out on him?
Fifteen minutes of whining and exclamations of “Ouch!” and “Stop it!” and, his favorite, “I’m telling the teacher!” and Curt was ready to throw a little blue plastic chair through one of the windows in the reading corner.
“Okay! Everybody, heads down and mouths shut. This is quiet time. Anybody who makes a sound gets sent straight to Principal Keller’s office until their parents come to pick them up and no free reading time tomorrow. Do I make myself clear?”
The children gaped at him, more than a few of them sniffling at the rage in their teacher’s voice. But at that point, Curt’s give-a-damn had long since gotten up and given him, the kids, and all of Pauline Central the finger as it did a Cadillac stroll down Wanamaker Road to Devlin’s. Despite their pained looks, they did as they were told, and Curt was finally gifted with a few minutes of silence, blessed silence.
Fourteen minutes and fifteen seconds later, Curt saw the first parent roll up. Shortly after, a parade of cars pulled into the small parking lot in front of the school. Finally.
“Okay, kids. You can get up now. Get your things ready. Do it quietly.”
The students, some of them obviously waking up from a deep sleep (all that whining and hair pulling was exhausting work), slowly made their way to their cubbies to collect their lunch boxes and book bags. At exactly 3:00 p.m., just as they were about to put on their coats, the last bell of the day officially released them from school and Curt from his tormentors. He opened the door and let the children loose, never mind about lining up. He wanted them gone. Once the last body had left the classroom, Curt closed the door, walked to his desk, and slumped in the chair in front of the whiteboard. He let out a heavy breath, closing his eyes and letting his head roll back.
“Tough day, babe?”
The smoke and spice of Antony’s voice forced a smile to slowly curl Curt’s mouth for the first time all day. Eyes still closed, he responded, “You have absolutely no idea, nene.”
Antony chuckled. “I think I may have one or two. It’s called first grade, remember?”
Curt sighed, then straightened up and opened his eyes. Damn, Antony looked good. “Come here a second, huh?”
Antony shook his head and walked over to the desk where Curt sat. “Yeah?”
“Come here,” he urged, reaching for Antony, fingers flexing as if grasping for the feel of hard muscle and smooth skin.
Antony walked around the desk and stood next to Curt’s chair, waiting for him to turn. “Yes, Mr. Ramírez?”
Curt turned, then grabbed Antony’s hips in one movement. He pulled Antony closer, then buried his head in his abdomen. He took a deep breath and let a small groan escape on the exhale.
“Shit, I sure did miss you today, Ant.”
“We saw each other at lunch, Ram. Don’t be overdramatic.”
Curt looked up at him. “I only saw you for fifteen minutes. That doesn’t count.”
Antony rolled his eyes. “Typical writer. Always overexaggerating. Always overemotional. Jeez, we’ve had rain days before. Why so needy today?”
Curt let another groan dance past his lips and buried his head in Antony’s stomach again, shaking it from side to side. He could feel the rough starch of Antony’s shirt as it slid against his undershirt, hear the slip of fabric on fabric. The sound was comforting; it melted away the screeching of child voices, the squeak of marker on the whiteboard. He took solace in the rasp of cloth, continued to rub his ahead against Antony’s middle to keep the soft shush-shush whispering promises of his man’s body in his ear.
“Hey, now. You wrinkle this, you’ve gotta iron it. Stop moping and let’s get to this meeting so we can hurry up out of here. I’m hungry, and you obviously need some attention.”
After three years, Curt knew Antony too well. He knew how eager he was to get the day over with. But Antony was a generous lover. He didn’t move, just let Curt take his time to collect himself. In the end, though, Antony was right. Curt left a kiss to his stomach, a small nip to the skin through his lover’s clothes, then rolled away.
“Fine, fine. Let’s get this over with and get home. I feel I need to rememorize parts of your body, and this school doesn’t offer anatomy class.”
Cy Blanca has enjoyed words since she was in elementary school. They hold magic powers for her, and she loves playing with them to see just what they can do. She got her degree in English poetry, but she’s been doing mostly editorial work for online magazines YAM Magazine, Rock ’N Seoul, and SeoulBeats (yeah… she loves Korean music and gets to interview folks and write about it). She’s exceptionally blessed to actually be able to do exactly what she went to school for, and fiction is a new avenue she’s trying to explore. Hopefully she can make some magic happen with the words she’s been in love with since she was in elementary school.
She’d love to hear from people who want to know a bit more about her, or just want to become homies.