Friday, December 16, 2011

Spirit of the Season

This time of year is always rather melancholy for me. I used to have the Christmas spirit, but over time it has faded significantly. One large reason for this is the fact that Christmas has become a retail holiday. There's so much pressure put on people to "buy that perfect gift" or "get it while they last" or "shop our early-bird specials" that it's no wonder people get anxious and depressed around the holidays. We are bombarded well before Thanksgiving even rolls around with special Black Friday Ads. Christmas trees appear in supermarkets almost before the Halloween displays are torn down. Holiday music is piped through loudspeakers to remind us that the season is fast-approaching.

In all this hustle and bustle, behind all the tinsel and glitter, there's a message here, and it's a negative one, in my opinion. We are being trained to buy the love of our family in the form of holiday gifts we'll willingly go broke over. I'm realizing that I've fallen prey to Black Friday sales and special holiday pricing. And I'm realizing how wrong that is.

There is also a focus on rushing around to get everything accomplished. Heck, stores are even open on Christmas Eve for those of us too busy or broke to buy presents beforehand. Rush here, race there, have a quick meal then head out the door onto the next event before you've even had a chance to let your stomach (not to mention your brain) settle. There aren't enough hours in the day to fulfill all of the "holiday obligations" we seem to have.

I spoke with someone recently whose long-term partner had recently died. Apparently, there was a huge fight brewing over who was getting the money, property, et cetera. I bet you anything she would have given the world, or at least all of her worldly possessions, just to get her partner back. The struggle over the material things was causing almost as much stress and grief as the man's death had. It really made me stop and think.

What I'm trying to say is that there is so much more to the holidays than presents and material goods. There's love and friendship, family and friends, laughter and cameraderie, hope for the new year and a fond farewell to what has passed. All of those things are priceless, worth so much more than a few baubles or trinkets or a hasty obligatory visit.

Instead of giving material gifts, focus on what really matters: Time. Take the time to call a relative or friend you haven't talked to in a while. And really listen to what they have to say. Donate your time to help those less fortunate than yourself. Give someone a hug if they need it, a shoulder to cry on. Give of yourself, not of your wallet.

And instead of just doing these things around the holidays, do them throughout the upcoming year. Give of yourself. The gift of time is a valuable one, and it doesn't cost a dime.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just stuff

Hi everyone!
It's been a while since I've posted, and I wish I could say that my time has been spent on productive writing and promoting, but alas, I cannot. Over the past month or so, I've decided to give myself a break.

I think I've been pushing too hard for a while now, and it's starting to take its toll on me. My two works-in-progress are sitting and collecting dust, and while I have ideas that are rolling around in my head, the execution is beyond me right at the moment. I don't want to force it, although maybe I should, just to get back into the swing of things, but I'm afraid if I do, it'll come off as lackluster writing. And really, why not take a break? I've written 5 books in a year and seven months, and it's time to relax a bit and nurture those titles a little. Let's build some anticipation between releases, shall we?

So, I'm taking some time for myself. I've started yoga, and with the exception of today, have felt wonderful. I've also taken to hopping on the eliptical for a mile or so every other day to supplement my yoga routines. I'm on the path to being healthy, and I couldn't be happier.

I've also made the decision to return to school in the spring to get my Bachelor's degree. Education is very important, and I want to be a good role model for my kids. I want to show them that with perseverence and hard work, anything is possible.

We just returned from vacation in the Outer Banks about a week and a half ago. It was fabulous! We had a lovely time and I feel very much rested and rejuvinated since our return. It was wonderful to park my butt on the beach and feel the sand beneath my feet. We didn't really do anything special, but we spent a lot of time playing and that's really all that matters. I barely even logged on to Facebook!

We are also in the midst of a renovation project at home. What started out as a new floor and a new coat of paint has turned into a monster overhaul, but it'll be worth it in the end. I just wish the end was in sight! Mudding and taping and sanding are not my friends, just so you know...

As far as Six Weeks goes, it has been temporarily pulled from sale and will be re-released by Night Publishing in the very near future. I'll let you know more once I know. Deal?

I'd like to thank my readers for their undying and unwavering support of me and my books. The latest, The Storm Within, is dedicated to you, and I hope you enjoy it. It's the first in a series, and once I've gotten back into the swing of things, I'll be finishing up the second in the series. Stay tuned for more on that!

So, I guess that's it. It's been very quiet here and I'm enjoying the peace. I've unplugged a bit and I must admit I'm enjoying stepping back from the hustle and bustle of the online world.

Hugs to all of you. You are a bright spot in my day, and I thank you all for being you.

Jess

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sessha Batto and Shinobi

I am privileged today to have a very special guest on my blog. Her name is Sessha Batto, and she's the author of the amazing book Shinobi.


Shinobi takes place in modern day Japan, where clans of ninjas are at war with each other. Yoshi, the main character, is a shadow wolf, and a very special ninja. He is also used as a sex slave/whipping boy to fund the drug/other habits of the malevoent Rin.Yoshi is an amazing character, used to years of abuse, a powerful and hard enough ninja to withstand countless torments, a tormented character himself who doesn't realize his own worth.I'm not going to give the plot away, but suffice it to say that Yoshi, even though he's been sorely used under Rin's rule, performs selfless acts and shows that loyalty, sacrifice and love can indeed save a group of people, and eventually, himself as well.Let's hear from Sessha now...

JLD: I know that you like swords, weapons, and all things Japanese. Was that how you got the idea for Shinobi?

SB: Well, most of my writing is set in Japan – it's a culture and set of traditions I never tire of writing about – but Shinobi started more as an exploration of how someone could or would learn to cope and to survive long term sexual abuse. The ninja culture provides a fantastic framework for that exploration – fiercely loyal to no one but their clans, they are a perfect conundrum – loyal and dedicated assassins and spies. It allowed me to explore not only the characters themselves, but how I define good and bad.

JLD: Yoshi is a wonderful character, filled with a selflessness that most people don't possess. Is he modeled after anyone you know?

SB: Yoshi has bits and pieces of several people I know, as well as some of myself. He's the man I'd fall head over heels for . . . if he was real and not gay, of course.

JLD: How did you come up with his character?

SB: I started with the premise that he was strong enough to not only survive the abuse he'd been through, but also smart and private enough to want to keep it hidden from everyone he interacts with. So he became a construct, a face he'd show to the world with bubbling emotions locked away deep inside. I also needed to make him intriguingly different enough to explain the attraction so many people have to him, pretty wasn't enough, he needed to be exotic. Finally, he needed to be oblivious to a certain degree, not understanding or, at least, refusing to see why other men are so attracted to him.

JLD: One of the themes of the book really seems to be undying loyalty and altruism, even in the face of abuse and torment. Do you think that those characteristics even exist today?

SB: I think the possibility exists within all of us – we can be loyal to people, religious beliefs, values, and there are always those who refuse to buckle despite torture, even to the death. You can survive anything if you take it minute by minute. If that is too much second by second or even breath by breath – narrow your focus and the future becomes inconsequential, there is only this moment and anyone can live through a moment.

JLD: What is your fascination with ninjas and the ninja culture? Where did that come from?

SB: When swords ruled Japan, samurai were the noble warriors . . . and ninja were the bad boys. The shinobi didn't play by the rules, hiding in ambush, using subterfuge, masters of spying and assassination. But I don't see good and bad, right and wrong as being quite so cut and dried. Bad they may have been by the samurai standards, but they were fiercely loyal to their clans. Mercenaries, but not totally without honor. A wonderful contradiction, which makes for rich storytelling possibilities. Besides, everyone knows bad boys are the hottest.

JLD: Makoto is a wonderfully rugged character with strong protective instincts even while performing duties that are the antithesis of protection. Is he based on anyone you know? Why did you craft him that way, so internally conflicted?

SB: I don't see Makoto as conflicted – like Yoshi he's intensely loyal. He's protecting his clan the best way he can, by eliminating any and all threats in hopes of sparing others the treatment he dishes out. That strong protective instinct is why Yoshi can open up to him in a way he couldn't with anyone else. They both have a large dose of self-hatred, Yoshi for Willingness to look past that on both their parts is what pulls them ever closer.

JLD: Let's talk about you. When did you start writing? How long did it take you to finish Shinobi? It is your first published work? What else do you have out and forthcoming?SB: I started writing when I was four – I still have my first book 'Obediah the Panda Goes to the City'. I didn't start to share my writing until 2008 when I first heard about NaNoWriMo. Since then I haven't looked back!The first draft of Shinobi came out in one huge burst of half a million words over the course of three months. It took another year of rewriting and shaping to turn that into the first to and a half books of the series.My first published book was 'Strength of Will' which came out in the fall of 2009. The rights have since reverted to me and it's undergoing a thorough rewrite for re-release later this year. Other than that I have a few pieces in anthologies – Wintersong in Dancing in the Dark, Amadan na Briona in eightcuts Once Upon a Time in a Gallery exhibit and The Poetry Game in the soon to be released New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan.As far as what's coming up, the second volume of Shinobi – Struggle for Balance will be out in November and a prequel novella Geisha will hopefully also be out by the end of the year. The next major piece I'm working on is Onna Bugeisha, a twisted love triangle set in 13th century Japan.

JLD: What do you want your readers to take away from Shinobi? To me, it's a beautiful tale of self-sacrifice and finding peace amid horror. It's about acceptance and love, despite past deeds and agonies. Is that pretty accurate?SB: It's about trust, who and how we trust and why. The message is that love is a risk worth taking.

JLD: Thanks so much for being here today, Sessha. It's been a pleasure, and I hope others take the time to read your book. It's phenomenal and so worth reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Karl Kronlage, St. Peter Killed God



I'm truly lucky to have the wonderful Karl Kronlage on my blog today. You might know him as the winner of Slushpile Reader's first publishing contract. Congratulations, Karl! And not only is he a talented author, he's a heck of a nice guy, and I'm excited to give you guys a glimpse into his world...

JLD: Welcome, Karl!

KK: Thanks for having me!

JLD: So Karl, What inspired you to write your book?

KK: The first short story I wrote in 1989 won an award. It was about a little kid who cried all the time. A couple of people told me how they really liked it but I thought I could do better. So I started writing about a pathetic child who got picked on by his brother and sister, his friends, and teacher and cried all the time only this time I felt it was much better than that story I wrote in college. Then I started thinking, hmmm, how what would this kid be like as an adult? I started molding Father Peter after I had written all this background and eventually I used the scenes I was writing as part of the sermons he preached. But it really all began by trying to write a novel about a child. That and poems about what it was like working in a psychiatric hospital. I sort of fused the two stories together and added a third element.

JLD: How long did it take you to write it?

KK: Well as you can imagine, having two stories and trying to create a third and making them all related was sort of like having a gig saw puzzle. Some elements didn’t fit and had to be thrown out. Others created. Poetry turned into prose. That was 2000-2001 and I went part-time to complete it and I liked the way things turned out only no one else did. I tried to query agents and got no bites. So I hired a writing coach who published a novel and taught creative writing for masters of fiction degrees in California. He sent a twenty page email outlining everything that was wrong with it and suggested reading about 25 books. Some were about writing. Some were fiction related to my book in some way. I guess I’m a little slow and not naturally a very good writer. I had to learn it the hard way. I’m envious of those who do it so effortlessly. Any way, it finally clicked and I went part-time again in 2007-2008 doing several drafts. Shortly
thereafter, I put it on Authonomy and made the editors desk in less than a year. Then I put it on Slush Pile Reader. I year later they agreed to publish it and we did a little editing.

Sorry for rambling. But it’s a hard question. It took ten years to finish it, but I didn’t spend ten years writing it. I’d take years off before going back to it. I guess I’m a little slower than other writers and hopefully next time I decide to write a novel it won’t take as long.

JLD: What message are you trying to convey?

KK: I believe that different readers will get something different out of it. First and for most, I want people to be entertained. If it’s not entertaining, who cares what the message is – it’s bad writing and no one would want to read it. Second, I try to undermine arguments and let the reading feel comfortable choosing to believe what they want. I mean I really try to present a need for religion, a problem with religion, and no easy fix to make religion modern. Some readers might find Father Peter simply insane. Others have told me they’d walk out of church with Father Peter. I’m not even that bold. If I attend a mass and the priest walked out of church, I’d feel embarrassed for the priest but I don’t think I’d walk out of church in protest with him. Poor Father Peter was too deluded to realize that.

JLD: What is your intended audience?

KK: Readers. Anyone and everyone. I’d like people who are religious to read it as well as those who aren’t. I love talking to atheists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike about their beliefs. I hope they would find the book interesting as well.

JLD: Who are you?

KK: I’m Karl Joseph Kronlage but I go by KJ Kron. No idea why. I thought that if I went by my name, friends I knew growing up might see my name and say, “Hey, Karl’s book is out.” On the other hand, most people who have read the book on Authonomy and Slush Pile Reader simply know me as KJ Kron. I was on those websites for a couple of years and more than 1,000 people read a bit of it.

JLD: Where did you grow up?

KK: In a suburb of Washington DC on the Virginia side. Catholic family. My parents had four children. Wow, I just can’t imagine having four children. I have one and we’d like one more, but four? I don’t know how people do it. I’m such a wimp; I know I can’t do what my parents did.

JLD: What do you do now?

KK: I just finished my 15th year as an English teacher. Two of those years I went part-time twice to write Saint Peter Killed God. I used to think that having the summers off would give me enough free time to write novels, but it didn’t pan out. I have tried a couple of things that have worked. My advice to writers: work overnight. There are plenty of jobs that need overnight workers. Half-way houses. Psych hospitals. Jails. Most of those places have downtimes where you can actually bring in a laptop and write. I know; I did it for four years. It’s a great idea.

JLD: Any projects forthcoming?

KK: I wish I could retire. There are so many things I’d like to do. I’m trying to learn Spanish. I’ve been spending my summers in Spain for six years now and can only handle simple conversations. I need to study about an hour day. I’d like to get back into shape. I like to read. Oh, writing. Yes, yes, I’d love to write novels but there’s only 24 hours in a day. Is there some pill I could take that would make sleeping unnecessary? With a full-time job and a fifteen month old, I just don’t seem to be organized enough to write, other than keeping up with blogs.

JLD: Where can you get a copy of Saint Peter Killed God?





KK: You can get it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble as well as Smashwords. I don’t know how other people are doing, but getting reviews and selling books is hard. Slush Pile Reader is offering gift certificates at Amazon.com that are worth $1,00. Stop by and enter the sweepstakes. We’re still hoping it catches on. Night seems to be growing with experience and I hope everyone there continues to gain recognition.

JLD: You have been a very interesting, exciting guest to have here today. Thanks so much for joining me! And best of luck with your sales!

KK: Thanks, Jess!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meanderings

I thought I'd go into some background information on Six Weeks, and what inspired me to do it. A lot of people have been wondering...

Six Weeks is really a very powerful story about a young woman who has nothing but difficult choices to make in life. Immy has to take care of her alcoholic, arthritic mother who has all but given up on herself and her children. A fifth of whiskey a day dulls her pain, but causes agony for Immy and her little sister Sadie.

When Immy discovers she's pregnant, the callous nurse-practitioner tells her that she's six weeks along, and that she only has six weeks to make a decision on what to do with the fetus.

What would you do in that circumstance? I have feelings and beliefs about abortion, adoption, and raising children, and I don't really want to foist them on anyone. But the question is there. A lot of people have very black-and-white beliefs regarding the subject of abortion, and I wondered what would happen if those beliefs were challenged.

It's sometimes difficult for someone who feels strongly about one thing or another to step back and reevaluate. But that's my goal for Six Weeks. I'd like to challenge readers to explore their own feelings on the subject and consider what they might do under such desperate circumstances. I think it's important to consider a subject from all sides before making a decision, and Six Weeks is a good tool for people to use to help them consider.

What would you do? Let's say you were in Immy's shoes. Do you abort the child and go on with your life to try to make it better? Do you keep the child and raise it, either in the same house with a worthless alcoholic and a little girl who needs too much? Do you birth the child only to give it away? Those are tough choices for anyone, much less a young woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

When I set out to write Six Weeks, I never really intended for the religious themes that are woven througthe the book to be there. But it seemed logical during my research. A lot of the "Pregnant? We can help!" places are run by churches or other religious institutions, and they offer alternatives to abortion. And really, isn't the whole pro-life/pro-choice debate theological? One of the main objections to abortion is the fact that God doesn't approve.

Really, the bottom line is that every person who may find themselves on the fence on the topic of abortion needs to consider plights from every angle. It's very hard to be logical about such an issues. Babies and pregnancy invoke strong feelings. Religion invokes strong feelings. I think, though, that it's important to consider that there is more than 1 side to every story, and unfortunately, there's not a one-size fits all solution for every young pregnant woman. I think it's important to recognize that there may not be a "right" solution; rather, there could be just one that seems less wrong than the others.

I ask that if you do run across someone in Immy's shoes, listen to her story first and judge later. Maybe the young woman won't do what you would do in the same situation, but maybe she's doing the best she can with her limited options.

And ask yourself: what would I do in her shoes?

Jess

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Six Weeks

Without further ado, Six Weeks is on Smashwords! Amazon to follow in a few days. Stay tuned!

I thought I'd share the first chapter of my latest. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you keep reading!

CHAPTER ONE
The nurse-practitioner’s voice seems to echo off the stark white walls of the exam room. I hear her, but as though through a tunnel.
“Yes, you’re about six weeks along now,” she says, removing her surgical gloves with a crisp snap and tossing them into the bright red hazardous-waste bin. She pushes away from the bottom of the table and stands, looking at me with sharp eyes and an impersonal expression.
I am naked from the waist down, an inadequate paper sheet draped over my lap. I shift and the paper crackles. I sit up because I know I should, even though my body is only responding woodenly. I cannot think. I cannot speak. I am numb.

Six weeks.

I would give anything to be able to remember how I felt before my diagnosis, before I
received the news that threatened to destroy the fragile equilibrium that has been my existence, but I cannot.
Her voice echoes around the room again as it bounces around in my head, unable to land anywhere to be absorbed. This feels surreal, straight out of a bad dream.
“Do you have any idea what your plans are?” she repeats, dispassion coloring her tone alackluster gray. She has done this more times than she cares to count, and I can hear it in her voice. To her, I am merely one more in a sea of faceless bodies, faceless carriers of more faceless bodies, a link in an unbroken chain of unwed, youthful, pregnant women, breeders of other failed children. I am legion, yet right now, I feel alone.
I simply stare at her, unsure of what she would have me say. How am I supposed to know what my plans are? How can I know?
I had suspected that something was wrong with me only last week. So, I called, made
myself an appointment, and here I was, partially nude, exposed in many ways, expected toanswer a question for which I had no answer.
I shake my head and she frowns a little. She has seen this reaction before from young
women too stupid or careless to protect themselves. She has seen this insipid stare and glassy-eyed shock. She tries another tactic, a sharp slap of reality that leaves my body stinging.
“Well, at this point, you have about six weeks to decide. A fetus can only be aborted within the first twelve weeks of a pregnancy. After that, it is neither advisable nor legal.”
I nod stiffly. She hands me some pamphlets about diet, my changing body, and the
development of the fetus. She presses some prenatal vitamins into my damp, clammy hand and advises me to get dressed and see the receptionist up front to schedule another appointment.
My feet move of their own accord; I have been dismissed. She disappears from the room
before I even pull on my jeans and reach the door.
Six weeks. It can be a long time. It can feel like an eternity, perhaps when one is pining for a distant loved one, stranded on a desert island or locked up in prison. It can be a long time to wait for a much-anticipated vacation or for the end of a school year. But how can anyone expect me to decide the fate of a little being so small that I can’t see it,can’t even feel it, in such a short time?
How can I even begin to wrap my head around that? How do I cope with being pregnant at nineteen, much less decide what I want to do about it? My eyes burn, my head begins to throb. My heart starts pounding in my chest, staccato bursts of movement that make me worry for a moment that I’ll have a heart attack.
I glance at the pamphlets in my hand as I trudge to the reception counter. The marigold yellow one has information on “alternatives” to abortion.
This clinic is a state-sanctioned facility that is authorized to perform abortions. The pink pamphlet says so. It spells out the procedure, the cost (free to low-income women like me), the potential risks and side-effects in cold, clinical language that does more to scare than to soothe.
I reach the receptionist and she glances up from her computer screen. The busy clacking of her fingers on the keyboard stops. She gives me a disapproving stare and says, “Do you need to be seen again?”
“Yes, I need to schedule another appointment.”
“What kind of appointment?”
“Excuse me?” I am perplexed. Does she not know I’m pregnant?
“A pre-natal appointment or an abortion?” Oh.
“I—I don’t know. Can’t I call you after I’ve had some time to think?”
“You don’t have much time, you know,” she says, unmoved by my plea. I’m but a link in
the chain, after all.
“I know. I’ll—I’ll call you later, ok? I need to catch the train.” She shrugs and goes back to
her typing. I am dismissed again.
As quickly as I can, I step out of the office into the bright sunshine of a fragrant May day. The flowers have just come into bloom. The delicious scent of lilac wafts in on the slight breeze. I inhale deeply, as a force of habit, just to sniff the sumptuous fragrance, and to steady myself. This moment is etched into my mind. I will always recall the smell in the air, the feel of the sunshine, warm on my bare arms, the sound of the passing traffic, a siren far off in the distance.
Like those who remember clearly where they were the day the Twin Towers fell, my traumatized subconscious is committing each miniscule detail to memory.
My world has changed. A few little words, carelessly spoken, have altered the course of my existence. They have irreparably changed the fabric of my life.
The walk to the subway does little to calm me. Although I am outwardly placid, my insides are jumping like hot embers in a fireplace. I place one foot in front of the next, trying to match my footsteps with my heartbeat, trying to slow both.
I wonder about the being inside me. There is some controversy about when a fetus becomes a child, when a glob of cells that have no distinct shape and form become human. What is inside me right now? Is it comfortable? Happy? Does it know what turmoil it has caused, simply by being discovered? By merely being?
I near the entrance to the subway, but apparently I am not walking fast enough for the dynamic go-getters on their commutes. One such businessman, a not-quite-thirty-something in a charcoal suit and shiny, tasseled loafers brushes past me rudely, jostling me a bit as he forces his way by. I shrink back, unwilling to subject myself, or the thing growing inside me, to such rude treatment. I allow the intrepid businesspeople to go first and head down into the dark tunnel only when they all have passed.
The turnstile lightly bumps my stomach as I push through it. I wonder if it can feel the pressure, if it is shaken by the force of the metal against my abdomen. Then I push the thought out of my head. I can’t think about it now, but it is all I can think about. I am at war with myself, and I don’t know what to do.
Six weeks.
The subway is crowded today with suits in various shapes and sizes, housewives and maids laden with shopping bags, women with infants strapped to their chests or their backs or with grubby hands clasped tightly to their own.
I watch the women, amazed at how commonplace it is for them to travel with their burdens.
One such woman intrigues me. She looks to be only a few years older than I, but already she is work-worn and weary. No matter how tired she appears, however, she has a gentle smile for her
little offspring, a boy of no more than five who looks up at her with such worship in his eyes it is almost sacrilegious. He smiles at his mother from his perch on the hard plastic bench and says in a little voice, “Are we almost home? I wanna play with my new ball.”
“Yes, honey, almost home. Another few minutes.”
“Ok. Can I have cookies when we get home?”
“No, you’ll spoil your dinner. We can have cookies later.”
He nods to himself, content with her answer, and passes the time until their stop by
thumping his little sneaker-clad feet against the bottom of the bench. An elderly woman looks up from her newspaper with a frown, but smiles when she sees what is causing the vibration on her seat. She must have children, or even grandchildren of her own, the way she’s looking at the little boy.
It’s hard for me to equate the little boy in front of me to the growth inside me. It’s strange to think that something that starts out so small will eventually want cookies and wear sneakers and walk and talk, that it will rely on me for its daily sustenance. Will I provide it? Can I?
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to handle it, how to handle myself. I cannot digest the news. I cannot react. I cannot change the past, but I can change the future, if I so choose. What should I choose?
The subway lurches to a stop and I blink against the searing sun as I exit and head toward home. Only one thing is for certain in the midst of all this uncertainty: I have six weeks to make a decision.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Just stuff...



Hello!
I hope you enjoyed the author interviews featured here over the last two weeks. I'm busy rounding up more, and I'll get them posted as soon as I can. The support for these authors has been overwhelming, and I thank you all for your encouragement and praise. I thought I'd give you some updates on my books and other stuff since we have a lull in the interviews, so here goes.

Decisions is slowly picking up steam, and it currently has 2 reviews on Amazon. If anyone out there has read it, I'd love to hear from you! Let me know what you think. And thanks to those who have picked it up. Hopefully you can't put it down!



I received a flurry of communication from Diane, my wonderful publisher at Pfoxmoor/Pfoxchase Publishing regarding Six Weeks. We have selected some breathtaking images for the cover, and I cannot wait to see a mock-up. Very excited for you guys to see it too! I also went through and did another edit on Six Weeks, as we are anticipating a release for this month. If that is the case, get your tissues ready...

Hooking Up continues to do amazingly well on the Kindle Charts. I'm pleased to say that I hit my lowest amazon rank ever this past week. 150! So, all I can say is THANK YOU! Thank you all for your support and recommendations. And if it's not too much to ask, keep them coming? And due to the overwhelming response to Hooking Up, I'm pleased to announce that I'm right in the middle of a sequel! I don't want to give any details away, but there are some more changes and struggles coming for Catie, as well as an entrance, and exit, and some unexpected support.

Supermarket is also trucking right along, and I couldn't be happier. I have a soft spot for that novel because it was my first.

The Storm Within, my sexy fireman novel, is undergoing a facelift. I haven't received an answer yet from my submission July 1, so I'm busying myself polishing up the manuscript and getting it ready, should the contract come through.

I've been asked in the past how I come up with ideas for my books and how I do my research. Well, I do a lot of online research, but sometimes I have to do some field work. This picture explains...



Needless to say, I love being a writer!

I currently have another blog set up on a great site called speak without interruption. I've decided to use that blog for some random musings that may not have much to do with my books, but just life and writing in general. I'd love for you to pop over there and check it out. There are posts from amazing writers from all over the world and the range of topics is mind-boggling! The posts here will still be all about me and my author buddies. Sound good?

Hubby and I went to a Phillies game for hubby's birthday last weekend. We had a great time, although the heat was so unbearable I think we may have had a minor touch of heatstroke by the time the game was over. Whew! It was a hot one, but very, very worth it to make him happy.

I guess that's all for now. I'm mid-manuscript x 2 right now and editing another. My goal is to have at least one more book done by the end of this year. Not sure if it's doable, but it's a goal.

Have a wonderful day, and make sure to spend time with your loved ones!




Hugs,
Jess

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pooh Bridge, The amazing Nigel Lampard



I'm so pleased to introduce to you all the incredible Nigel Lampard, whose brand-new book, Pooh Bridge, is receiving rave reviews on Amazon.com. Reviewers have called it thoroughly enjoyable, beautifully paced, and gripping.

So, without further ado, let's meet the man behind 11 5-star Amazon reviews and the wonderful mystery Pooh Bridge.


J: Hello, Nigel. Welcome to my blog! Thanks for joining me today.

N: My pleasure.

J: Who are you and what is your background?

N: As a relatively unqualified product English Grammar School system, I joined the British Army at the age of 16. Four years later I was commissioned from RMA Sandhurst into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. I had a reasonably successful career and retired in 1999 having attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. I was appointed an OBE in 1996. During my service I served in the UK, Europe, the Middle and Far East and obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Organisational Psychology from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
Trained as an ammunition and explosives expert, I spent most of my commissioned service in command of ammunition related units. By virtue of the types of appointment I held, I had significant contact with the press, appeared on German television and was called upon to speak in public. On leaving the Army l had every intention of forming a management training company with three colleagues but although the company was a success, I soon realised that I wasn't going to have the time to follow a second career and also write. To this end I left the training company and worked in Warwickshire as a civil servant with the Army, advising and guiding servicemen and women in connection with their transition from the Army to civilian life. After eight years in this appointment I chose to retire at the same time as my wife, Jane, and we moved to Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

J: What inspired you to write your first novel?

N: In the early 1980s I had a posting to Berlin. The city, its history, its people and its isolation in the middle of the then, Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), intrigued me to such an extent that if it is possible to fall in love with a concrete jungle, I did. On returning to the UK after more than 2 years in Berlin the enduring need to continue the affair with this city by whatever means was overpowering and the only way open to me was to write about it. I embarked on my first novel, Who Needs Enemies (Paul Cameron, a British Army Major in Berlin in 1981 is blackmailed into helping with the escape of an East German citizen from East to West) with enthusiasm but with very little writing experience. I spent many years writing, editing, rewriting, discarding and rewriting again until eventually, some six years after starting, I was reasonably happy with my first novel.

J: What happened when you had finished your first novel?

N: I had caught the bug! I took Who Needs Enemies and rewrote it but this time from the blackmailer’s perspective. With Friends Like You was an interesting exercise and gave me a lot of food for thought for the future. Both of these parallel novels left some unanswered questions so I then wrote a sequel, The Truth About Berlin, which was even more of an adventure because out of necessity to the story I moved out of the safe military environment. In the last ten years I have written a further 10 novels, trying my hand at various genres. I dabbled with the publishing world, as did some of my loyal readers, but as with so many others, to no avail. I wasn’t too disappointed because the bug had turned into an epidemic and I continued to get great enjoyment out of writing.

J: What message are you trying to convey?

N: Am I trying to convey a message? I suppose the general theme throughout my novels is no matter what is going on around us, personal relationships are what life is really all about. However, I would like to change the question slightly and ask: what message do my books give me? I will use my 8th novel, Subliminal, to answer this question. I was walking through Ashby St Ledger, a delightful small village in Warwickshire, with my family when my elder son, Simon, asked me why I had never based one of my novels in the village because as we lived locally at the time, we visited it quite often and he thought it was an ideal setting. One intriguing fact about Ashby St Ledger was that it was where the gun powder plot of 1605 was hatched and planned. As the year was now 2004 I took my son’s idea forward. The year 2005 would be the 400th anniversary of the original plot: what an ideal time to launch such a novel in which I could blow up a few unsavoury politicians – of course the similarity of any of the characters to real politicians would have been purely coincidental! The main character in the book was called Peter Salter (a play on saltpetre being a constituent part of gunpowder) and all went well until Page 44. On Page 44 the characters in the book decided they weren’t going to play ball, and the plot moved away from gunpowder to the subconscious. How do I explain that? I have learnt that I may have a pretty detailed plan but inevitably the characters I create decide their own destiny and invariably it is not what I originally intended.

J: What is your intended audience?

N: My novels have been read by all ages from late teens to ninety years of age and the feedback I get from them is surprisingly similar. Because my novels are about the realities of life I think my readers can relate to the story as well as the characters. I try and retain the authenticities of life in my novels, and keep well away from fantasy – with one exception! I decided to have a go at science fiction so I wrote The Illegal Immigrant – my sons have suggested it wasn’t my best!

J: Where are currently with publishing any of your novels?

N: In September 2010, I was advised by Richard Grayling from Struggling Authors to submit the first chapter of any of my novels to Tim Roux, Night Publishing, for consideration. I chose my 4th novel, Pooh Bridge, because I was particularly pleased with it and also it was the first of my novels in which I completely moved away from any military content. Suffice to say Tim liked it and it appeared on Amazon in April 2011. Tim has said that he will run with all of my novels and the second – I haven’t decided whether it will be Obsession or Copper’s Ridge yet but it won’t be The Illegal Immigrant! – will go to him later this year.

J: Any there any projects forthcoming?

N: Over the years I always meant to get round to editing my novels properly but never really had the motivation, I just got on with writing new novels not expecting to have to delve into editing on a serious basis. But my circumstances have now changed. Over the next year I plan to finish 2 novels I started a couple of years ago, edit a sufficient number of the ones already written so that there is always one or two in the starting-blocks waiting to go. Then if time permits I may start another!


J: Where can we buy Pooh Bridge?

N: At the moment Pooh Bridge is available from Amazon and also from the local book shop, The Book Inn, in Leigh on Sea.

http://www.amazon.com/Pooh-Bridge-ebook/dp/B004U6LXHO/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

J: What a fascinating interview this has been. Thank you so much for being here with me today, and best of luck with Pooh Bridge, and all of your other books!

N: Thank you for having me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Fantastic Robert Craven!



I am priviledged to have a guest on my blog today. His name is Robert Craven, and he's the author of the conspiracy-driven Get Lenin, an amazing book set in WWII.


J: Rob, so nice of you to be here! So, what inspired you to write your book?

R: Two things really, the first one was my 40th birthday; one of those landmarks and I really wanted to get a novel published - an item I suppose was on my bucket list. I had written one a few years earlier about my years as a gigging musician in Ireland and on tour, but felt it was limited in its narrow appeal. I pitched it for about a year, then gave up - but didn’t forget the lesson when pitching Get Lenin which is NEVER EVER GIVE UP.
The second thing was living in Ireland I felt there was an endless production line of chick lit being pumped out and thought of an angle- less Mills & Boon, more Mills & BOOM! I had a very rough draft of an young editor who in the process of preparing a dying man’s memoirs uncovers a secret from WW2 and the conspiracy leads her to discover this once bastion of society had been a Nazi on the run. By uncovering this, she puts herself in peril. I then decided to set the story during the period itself rather than back-tracking through the plot - the conspiracy being Lenin’s tomb lay in a wreck of a submarine 100 miles off the East Coast of Ireland.

J: how long did it take you to write it?

R: It took three years to write the first draft; then I was lucky to be introduced to an editor and expert on WW2, Mr Hugh McCracken, to remove any historical innaccuracies. That took about a year and then I posted it up on Authonomy and found some really good comments & suggestions. Then I found Marta Przybysz, who gave me some great information on Poland to help build Eva’s back story - so from first draft to publication, about 5 years.

J: what message are you trying to convey?

R: The message is simple - propaganda is still an effective tool and the story of snatching Lenin’s tomb and using it as a piece of propaganda is as relevant today as it was then: Information can easily be twisted to suit a wider personal or political agenda; just look at how Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has been exposed and what it was involved in. I suppose the other message is that in war, there’s no good or bad guys only that in a conflict as big and as brutal as WW2 - especially The Eastern Front in 1941, all the lines get blurred.


J: what is your intended audience?

R: I’m hoping for was wide an audience as possible. I think everyone loves a good conspiracy and wants a bit of escapism though the premise and the genre of Get Lenin might certainly point towards a ‘cult’ following. The Second World War is a period of time that still has a morbid hold on the imagination even though it had been over for about 21 years before I was born; and I felt when writing it that there was another way to approach the action-adventure book; drawn from films of that period like ‘Casablanca”. I loved Elsa’s charcter and Victor Lazlo, but wanted a female MC with a bit more ‘bite’- from there my MC Eva evolved. I hope she’s a sympathetic enough character for everyone to root for, I love her.

J: So, tell us more about yourself.

R: I’m married & we have a son and I work for a packaging company in Dublin. I live in a lovely little seaside town called Rush. I had a fairly peripathetic childhood; born in England, emigrated when I was 10 to Sydney Australia, that didn’t work out after 2 years and the family moved here to Ireland where I’ve lived ever since.

J: Any projects forthcoming?

R: I’m in the process of completeing the sequel; working title “Zinnman”. It picks up 6 months after Get Lenin and America has just entered the war against Germany, Italy and Japan and the lines blur even further as the global conflict progresses.
I’ve also pitched the musician novel to Tim Roux at Night Publishing, but this would be a labour of love as looking back it’s a bit meandering and woefully out-of-date in some respects.

J: Where can we get your book?

R: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=get+lenin&x=16&y=18 (paperback & kindle)

and on smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/64438 (e-book)

Get Lenin is also on facebook here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/GET-Lenin/201022183270225?ref=ts

J: Fantastic! Thank you so much for appearing on my blog today. It was wonderful to find out a little more about you and hear about your exciting book! Hopefully everyone checks it out!

R: Thank you for the interview, Jess.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Updates and things

So, life's been busy these past few weeks. I finished the Storm Within around the first of July and it's been sent out on submission since around the 5th. I'm patiently waiting (yeah, right) to find out whether or not it's been picked up yet. The suspense is killing me, but I remain hopeful that it will find a home. I'm quite pleased with it.

Decisions is coming to print! Not sure when, but wait till you see my beautiful cover! The amazing Reese Dante really went above and beyond, I think.

I recently underwent a septoplasty (again) as the first one failed. I'm doing much better now than I was a week ago, but I still have some healing to do. If this doesn't work, we have to consider an open rhinoplasty, and I'm not sure I really want to do that. Oh, well. It's really just my luck.

Hooking Up and Supermarket are still doing pretty well, although sales are slowing a little. Know anyone who wants a great read for a great price? If so, do I have a deal for them!

I'm going to restructure my blog a little in August. I've been fortunate enough to have been interviewed on a bunch of my friends' blogs and they've given me some wonderful PR. It's time to return the favor. So, here's what I'm going to do. Author buddies, do you want your book/projects featured on my blog? Send me a message on facebook with your email address and I'll send you a message with what I need from you. Keep in mind that Blogger has been acting squirrely, and I might not be able to do everything, but I'll try.

Anyway, it's hotter than heck here this week, and I'm ready for some cooler air. The temperature indicator in my car was at 120 degrees Fehrenheit at 5:00 this afternoon. Enough is enough, Mother Nature!

Hugs for now,
Jess

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Giveaway time!

So, here's the contest I threw together...I'm so not good at this stuff!

All you need to do to enter is follow my blog. On August 1, I'll randomly pick a person who will receive an e-copy of Decisions, my latest book! And of course, if you'd like to comment on my blog, you might even get another entry...

It couldn't be more simple. I think. I'm really not good at structuring giveaways, but I don't think I can screw this one up. We'll see, I guess.

Good luck, and of course, if you can't wait until August 1 to get your very own copy of Decisions, pop on over to Amazon to check it out!

Oh, and guess what? It'll be out as a paperback soon...

Hugs,
Jess

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Decisions!




I'm pleased to announce that Decisions is now available for sale on Amazon! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you let me know what you think. Happy reading!



PS-I'll be dreaming up a contest soon to give away a free copy, but I'm not entirely sure how to structure it yet. Any ideas?

Jess

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Updates-Great stuff!

Hello,
I'm very excited to announce some wonderful happenings!

First, Six Weeks, my brand-new novella, is under contract! I'm pleased to announce that Pfoxmoor/Pfoxchase Publishing has picked it up and will release it around August, 2011. I'm over the moon and very excited to find out what our beta readers think of it.

Next, Decisions has a launch date! It will be available for purchase on July 16, 2011. I popped over to www.spsilverpublishing.com to check things out, and my author page has grown. My absolutely breathtaking book cover is on there, as is a synopsis, a price, and a release date. I couldn't be happier.

Next, Hooking Up is taking off, and it's bringing Supermarket with it! I'm absolutely thrilled, and very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on either book. Thank you!

Next, It's official: I'm finally a college graduate! The events surrounding my graduation were a little scary, but it got done. Let's just say that if I never see another tornado blow past my car (while I'm in it) and have to drive 2 hours to get home because every possible path from where I was five miles down the road is blocked by trees, police, and downed powerlines, it'll be too soon. Hmmm....sounds like a book in the making!

Next, I had an absolutely fabulous time with the amazing firemen at the Elmira Fire Department two weeks ago. What an awesome group of guys they are! Very gracious, humble, and helpful. Big thanks to the chief for allowing me to do some field research. As a result of their assistance, I have been able to push forward quite a ways with The Storm Within, and now I think I'll be able to finish that manuscript.

Everything is going better than I could have possibly dreamed, and I'm stunned. I hope that we can keep the momentum going, because this is too fun to stop!

I linked my blog to my amazon author page in hopes that I might attract more readers/subscribers. So, if you've wandered over here from Amazon, welcome, and please feel free to follow the blog. I'd love to hear from you, so comments are always welcomed!

Anyway, I hope you all have a fantastic day...chat soon!

Jess

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Craziness that is My Life

So, it's been a while since I've posted, because there's been so much going on! I am not even sure where to start...

I finally finished my semester at college, and I'll graduate tomorrow! I can't believe it's finally over. I've spent the last three and a half years working toward this moment that I'm a little sad that it's over. I've learned so much, not only about the world around me, but also about myself.

My advisor at school nominated me for the Continuing Education Part-Time Student Award, and I got to go to the award banquet on Saturday. It was nice! They gave me a plaque and a nice meal, and talked about me to the whole room. It was strange, but nice.

Two weekends ago, I wrote a novella. Yes, in a weekend. I did 32,000 words in about 4days. It's called Six Weeks, and it's written in the first-peron, present tense, dedtailing six weeks in the life of Imogene Jones, a nineteen-year-old girl who finds out she's pregnant. She has six weeks to choose what to do about it. I felt this piece, from the bottom of my soul. It was easy to get it on paper. I'm pretty happy about it, and I've actually already sent it out on submission and received a request for a full. Fingers crossed, please!

Hooking Up has also been released and it's doing amazingly well! I cannot believe the response that my little book has been getting. I'm on cloud 9! If I'm being honest, though, I'm a little scared at the same time. The more people who read it, the more potential for negative feedback, and although I'm tough and I can handle it, it's still scary to put yourself out there. Sometimes I think reviewers forget that there are warm-blooded people behind the books they read. Be gentle!

On the medical front, everything is going mainly ok. My septoplasty didn't work, so that has to be done over again. I have an appointment scheduled. My big issue is that I have two options on how to fix the problem, and one is worse than the other, but it has a better success rate, so we're leaning on going that way. I'm just worried that I won't be ready for the gig my band has at Riverfest in August. Decisions, Decisionsan.

Oh, and speaking of Decisions, it will be released by Silver Publishing on July 16! I got an email from Reese, the cover designer, and he sent me some lovely model choices to pick from. I think we've depicted my characters perfectly, and I can't wait to see the finished cover!

I'm working on The Storm Within again, and waiting for the help of some wonderful friends to read through my WIP to see what they think. That one has been hard for me, and I'm just plain stuck. I'll get there, but I definitely need some motiviation.

I think that's it for now. Everything is going along swimmingly, and I cannot believe how amazing this year has been so far. Thank you to all of my readers, and to my friends and family who have been so supportive. You guys are amazing!

Jess

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hook yourself up!


It's coming soon! I'm guessing that by mid-week, you'll be able to purchase a brand-spanking new copy of Hooking Up. To celebrate, I'm going to give away a signed copy once I get my hands on some. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, feast your eyes on my beautiful cover!

Hooray!


Hooking Up is on the way! We just finished edits and we're working on all the fun parts now: the cover, the back cover text, layouts, etc. I'm so excited!
Here's the cover we designed. Tim did a rather amazing job, if I do say so myself. Can't wait to see the back cover as well, but as Tim is moving mountains to do this for me so quickly, I'm going to be patient and leave him alone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Updates

Well, I'm back, and my surgery was a relative success. In that, I mean that I no longer have tonsils, and my nose was operated on as well. However, my nose is giving me a bit of trouble, and the surgeon is not entirely sure that the operation worked. Still, it's done and over with, and I'm doing my best to heal in a timely fashion.

Things have been zooming forward with Decisions. Lisa, my amazing editor at Silver, finished initial edits and surprised me with some more a few weeks after I thought we had finished. It was a grueling few days, but I'm glad we did what we did, because I think the story is stronger for it. Now I'm waiting on the good ol' USA to approve my copyright. Waiting, waiting, waiting...

My fabulous Night Publishing editor/publisher/cover designer, Tim, has been hard at work on my cover, and (presumably) edits for Hooking Up. He advised that I'm still slated for an April release. I'm keeping my fingers crossed because I haven't seen an edited MS yet, and I'm running out of April. He's a very busy man, so I'm trying (I swear) not to bother him too much. I'm notoriously impatient, however, and having a really hard time leaving him in peace.

I'll graduate from college (provided I pass my accounting class) in about a month. I cannot believe it! I've been a part-time college student for three and a half years now. I'ts been a long haul. Now that the end is in sight, I'm bouncing off the walls in anticipation and keeping my fingers crossed that I get through my last few tests.

I've decided to leave the radio station due to time constraints. I'm extremely worn-out and burned out with everything going on, and I think it's time to take a break. Can you imagine how heavenly it will be to only worry about work and home, and not work, home, school, and radio station? Looking back, I'm honestly not sure how I've managed to do everything. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

As far as my work-in-progress goes, The Storm Within is over 50,000 words now, but I'm really not sure about a lot of it. Yes, this is a first draft, and I have a long way to go, but I have a feeling that I need to reevaluate where the story has gone and work on refining some of my characters and the motives behind their actions. I wish that the muse would come and stay instead of come and go. I'll get on a huge writing jag, bang out three thousand words, and then lose it for a month. It's no wonder, with everything else going on, but still, I hate losing the "feel" of my story. It's a long process to reclaim it.

I think that's all for now. I'm glad it's Spring here in Pennsylvania. I'm feeling reborn myself; eager and hopeful and excited for what's to come. Thanks to all of my readers out there. I'd love for you to recommend my blog to your friends!

Hugs,
Jess

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Updates

So, it's been a while since I've posted, but I've been busy! Life seems to be careening ahead, full speed, while I stand in the dust yelling, "Wait!"

Things are moving with Hooking Up and Decisions. I got a nice email out of the blue from Lisa, my editor for Decisions, advising that she was halfway through and expected to contact me within a few days. We apparently have to have the edits done before April, but she said that she anticipated being done a long time before then. I think I'm relieved. Does that mean that they haven't found much to change? Oh, I hope so!

I talked to my publisher at Night Publishing today and asked him about Hooking Up (the book...get your minds out of the gutter!). He said late March, early April. So, it appears that I'll be editing two books at the same time. Yikes! I think I can, I think I can...

I'm also hot and heavy in the middle of my fourth book, The Storm Within. It's a novel about a war widow who gets stranded with a sexy fireman during a blizzard. There's more to it than that, of course, but that's the main gist. I'm having way too much fun researching firemen. I plan on calling on a few of our local fire departments soon to do some field research. Ladies, quit drooling!

With all of this going on, I still have my full-time job, school (I'll be done in May, thank goodness!) my band, and my family. I'm tired.

I'm also going in for surgery on April 5. I'm scheduled to have a tonsillectomy and my deviated septum repaired. I'm pretty darned nervous about it, but I think that I'll feel much better afterwards. The funny part of that scenario is that when the nurse came into the exam room to schedule the surgery, she handed me this pamphlet. Why is that funny? Well, the pamphlet was designed for seven-year-olds. I got a comic-book style description of how my tonsils were making me sick and how the doctor would meet me at the hospital (a place filled with people who help me to feel better) and zoom around my body in a spaceship. I'm very glad I read that comic book, because if I hadn't, I might have been worried.

In any event, I think that's all that's going on now. Check out my facebook page for the latest in updates and other random nonsense. Hugs for now! Talk soon...

Jess

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A new contract!

It appears that I'm three for three! I just signed a contract for Decisions and I'm already receiving emails from the editor-in-chief to explain the process and get the ball rolling. I'm beyond happy!

I feel blessed. Truly I do. I have no idea how this happened. A little over a year ago, I got inspired and started writing. Now, I'm an author. Please, somebody, pinch me!

I think the point I'm trying to make is this: Believe in yourself. I'm living proof that dreams can come true. It hasn't been easy, but it happened. Don't give up on your dreams. Work at it. Be the best you can possibly be and enjoy the ride. Most importantly, have fun with it, and take some time to be thankful for what you've accomplished.

So now, my new dilemma becomes what to write next. I have a few little works-in-progress, but I seem to have stalled on all of them. Maybe I'll start something new. Ok, anyone have any ideas? Here we go again!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Decisions, Chapter 1 edited

Ok, so here's my latest version of this chapter. If you compare it to what I have on my blog from a few months ago, you can see it's changed a lot! I hope this new version is better, and I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter 1
Emma pulled up in front of her stately childhood home and suppressed a sigh. Her parents had promised a small get-together, but obviously had been unable to restrain themselves.
She didn’t want a party. She was tired, having worked at her father’s office across town all day, and all she wanted was a quiet meal and an early bedtime. But, Schooner being Schooner, he had pulled out all the stops, and it was only for show. After all, it wasn’t every day that the daughter of an illustrious Pennsylvania Senator had her twenty-first birthday, and appearances must be kept.
Emma smoothed her skirt, adjusted her jacket, and knocked on the heavy wrought iron doorknocker. A white-gloved servant ushered her inside, and she hid her reflexive groan in a yawn when she heard the murmur of classy voices in the adjoining ballroom and parlor. She hated the opulence of this house as much as she hated the demands her father’s career placed on her lifestyle. She sniffed the air and sighed again. Of course there would be no pizza and soda for Senator Tremaine’s offspring. It had to be caviar, pâté, and filet mignon. It couldn’t be a small party; it had to be an event. After all, his constituents expected it. And Schooner loved it all.
No sooner had she handed her purse and coat to a passing maid was she was immediately summoned to Schooner’s study. She maneuvered through the crowded house until she reached her father’s sanctuary.
Schooner was ensconced in the study with two men she didn’t recognize. The lighting was dim in the wood-paneled room and the air was fragrant with tobacco smoke that hung about in hazy layers. All three men held brandy snifters and cigars and appeared to be in the middle of a serious conversation. Schooner glanced up and smiled at his daughter.
“Emma, darling, come here. This is Mr. Robert Taylor, of PennTex Drilling. And this is Gray, his son.”
“Yes, of course. I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Taylor, Gray,” Emma said dutifully. She was used to meeting people. Her father held many meetings and social gatherings at the house all the time. She had hoped that tonight would be different, but she knew better.
She smiled at the men and surreptitiously studied the younger Taylor. She had never met Gray before, but since he and his father had moved to Pennsylvania, she’d heard stories about his business acumen and killer looks. Gray was twenty-four, fresh out of Harvard Business School. He was being groomed to take over his father’s natural gas company.
He instantly appealed to her with his blond carelessly-styled hair and stormy eyes. The cut of his suit fit his form impeccably, and there was an air of artless sophistication about him that gave her youthful heart stutters.
“Gray, why don’t you take Emma outside for some fresh air,” Schooner suggested with a scheming twinkle in his eye. Emma noticed it and was immediately suspicious. What was her father up to? Normally he paid one of his goons to guard her closely around strangers, not encouraged her to go run off with one.
Gray rose from his chair, took her arm, and escorted her out of the room.
“Would you care to dance, Emma?” Gray asked.
“Yes, thank you,” Emma returned, smiling up at him.
They walked to the already crowded dance floor. Slow orchestra music from the band tucked into the music alcove in the front of the room filled the air.
Gray gathered her up and held her close. Emma snuggled in shyly, enjoying the feel of him pressed up against her. He was an excellent dancer, and she relaxed in his arms. She smiled up at him beguilingly and he smiled down at her. Was she imagining the mocking behind his gaze?
“Happy birthday, Emma.”
“Thank you.”
“So, is there anything special you want for your birthday?”
“Yes, to be able to go to bed early and get out of these shoes. It looks like I didn’t get my wish.”
“Hmm. You don’t like parties?”
“No, they’re really more of my father’s thing. I hate crowds. He seems to thrive in them. He doesn’t understand why I don’t like them.”
“So, why don’t you like them?”
“I’ve been thrust in the spotlight for as long as I can remember. Dad always dragged me and my mom out like we were display pieces whenever it was convenient for his campaign. I hate being examined, I guess, like a fish in an aquarium. I just want to lead a normal life, that’s all.”
“Alright, then. Let’s go out on the balcony. Your father wanted me to talk to you, anyway, and I’d rather do it away from your guests.”
He took her hand and led her to the second-story balcony of Schooner’ stately home, taking in the cool evening air, when Gray spoke to her about the real reason behind the party.
“Our parents wanted us to meet, Emma.”
“Yes, well, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Indeed. Do you know why they wanted us to meet?”
“Is your father a supporter of my father? He’s always courting the businessmen he thinks can help him get reelected,” Emma said bitterly.
“Well, partly, but there are other reasons.” He smiled down at her again with that same mocking expression as before on his face.
“Other reasons? Like what?” Emma was confused.
“Your father is a senator, right? And he owns quite a bit of land and a real estate business besides?”
“Well, yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“We moved here from Texas a few months back. My father’s company has been buying up land all over Pennsylvania. There’s a wealth of natural gas under the ground. If he can’t buy the land, he’s offering leases to all of the landowners, paying them to gain access to their land for drilling. It’s big business, you know. Our company started with oil in Texas, and we’re hoping to branch out to natural gas. This area is a treasure trove of gas just waiting to be tapped. Pennsylvania is right smack in the middle of the Marcellus Shale Formation.”
“So I’ve heard. Does my father want to get in on the rush?” Emma frowned.
“My father has faced some opposition with the state. He’s not from around here, and the locals don’t like the idea of a flatlander coming here and scooping up all the land. Then there’s the tree huggers who like to confuse facts and accuse natural gas drillers of polluting water supplies and causing explosions.”
“So? I still don’t see your point.”
“The point is that my father has convinced your father that we mean business. And one way of blocking the opposition from the State is to put down some permanent roots.”
“Is my father selling you some property, then?”
“You could say that.” Gray smiled at Emma. “Our parents have arranged for us to marry.”

Giveaway time!

I love giveaways! I sent two signed copies of Supermarket to Twiddy to raffle off. Good luck to all participants! In fact, I was so stoked about their giveaway that I decided to host my own!

I am very excited about Hooking Up coming out in March, and I thought I'd give the promotion a little jump start by holding a drawing for a free signed copy when it's released!

Here's how to enter the drawing:

1) go to amazon.com and purchase a copy of How to Meet a Guy at the Supermarket. You can buy the paperback or the e-copy of the book.

2) message me here, on facebook, night reading, or my regular email to let me know you purchased it.

3) I'll put your name in the drawing once I receive the message. The drawing will be held in March upon the release of Hooking Up.

I hope you all participate. Depending on the size of the response, I may even have more than one winner. Good luck, and happy reading!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

a little shameless plugging!

My family and I recently contacted the fine folks at Twiddy and Company Realtors to book our vacation rental for our upcoming trip. Those guys are amazing! They were more than happy to work with us, and in my opinion, they are the best vacation rental company in the Outer Banks! Everyone I've talked to there has been very gracious and kind and informative. That's one of the reasons why we only rent from them when we go down south on our OBX vacations.

Here's the link to their site. Check out these homes!

http://www.twiddy.com/

They also have a facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/TwiddyOuterBanks

They are agreeing to help me do a little promotion of my book and I'm sending them a few signed copies to give away in some prize packs. I'm very grateful and excited!

Once I get details on the promotion, I'll pass along the word.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Updates

Hello, all...

It's been a while since I've updated you all on what's been going on. With the holidays and the rest of real life, I haven't had much time (or energy) to blog.

Holidays were very nice this year, and I enjoyed snow-tubing with my family on New Year's Eve. It was fun!

On January 3, 2011, I accepted an offer from Night Publishing to publish Hooking Up in March! Very excited, and the time is just flying by. Can't wait to see how the finished product turns out.

I recently finished edits on Decisions (for now). I think I might be done, but there is always room for improvement. I'm letting it sit for a few days, then I'll read it again and see what I can do. Looking for feedback on that one, so if you are on Authonomy, please pop in and check it out. Thanks!

I did submit it to a publisher, and their turnaround time is usually pretty quick, so we'll see what happens. Fingers crossed!

School just started back up for me yesterday, so now my time will become even more precious. But, this is my last semester of college before I earn my Associate's Degree, so I'm excited. I've been waiting for this and working toward this since August 2007. It's about time!

I have an upcoming speaking engagement in March, another in June, and I'll be interviewed on a local TV station tomorrow morning. I'll try to figure out how to record footage and upload it here...

Lots going on, but all positive.

Gotta run...keep writing, reading, and dreaming!