Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I'm Getting a Makeover!

Well, not me but my blog and my image. (I actually sort of already gave myself a makeover by chopping all my hair off.)

One of the things that I've learned is about branding. As an author, I had never thought much about branding, but it is hugely important. It is one of the reasons why Good Intentions got its own makeover when it did. Now, all my books will have a uniform look and my name will always look the same on each book.

A friend of mine came up with the brilliant idea to create me a logo. She is working on it and it will play a large roll in all of my stuff from this point on. I hope you all like it because it will be all over my media pages.

Part of branding includes a cohesion and consistency so that you will see the logo or brand and immediately think of my product--think the Nike swoosh.

I've also worked on coming up with a slogan to describe what it is I write about. I get kind of giddy thinking about how it is all coming together.

So, be patient. We're under construction here. I hope you all like the big reveal!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Art Imitating Life ... Unfortunately

You know how you mull an idea over in your head, but are unsure how to act? And then you get some great cosmic sign, and you know what the answer is.

That happened to me today in the form of Peaches Geldof. Daughter of singer Bob Geldof, she was found dead, at the too young age of 25. Her mother died of a drug overdose in 2000.

This news in no way affects my life, even in the slightest. Except for what I am voluntarily immersing myself in on a daily basis. That is, novel number three. Without giving too much away, the storyline involves the aftermath on a family, particularly the main character, when her twin sister succumbs to her mental illness and addictions and commits suicide.

The idea for the story was largely inspired by an acquaintance of mine who disappeared last February. Her body was found several months later. While I did not know Anna well, people that I care about loved her dearly, and have felt tremendous loss.

One day, while discussing my new main character, I drove by a bus stop and saw a girl that reminded me of Anna, and the story idea was born. This is the novel that I have been hard at work on since November.

Mental illness and drug abuse are issues that hit very close to home for me. They have shaped a very large part of the periphery of my life, which, in turns, affects my world. I also understand the stigma attached to both. The care system for those with mental illness is woefully, pitifully terrible in this country. In many instances, people with mental illness turn to drugs as a form of self-medicating, as there is very poor recognition and treatment of the disease process, particularly in the early stages. Often, people with mental illness are forced to wait months for appointments unless they are a danger to themselves or others. The drug use and abuse compounds and exacerbates the mental illness, which then can cause the individual to seek out more and more drugs. It is a vicious, terrible cycle that often does not end well. To really understand what is going on with mental health care in this country, read the novel Crazy by Pete Earley.

Earlier today, I was made aware that my 29 year-old cousin has been missing since October. She was last seen getting into a car outside her drug treatment facility. Her father is devastated and only wants answers about how his daughter could disappear off the face of the earth without a trace. Most people wonder what would drive a beautiful young girl to this. Sometimes the answers are clear. Sometimes they are due to an internal struggle that is not blatantly obvious. Some people would look at the flyer and only see that she was in treatment for drugs. They would only see the mug shot that is on the flier. I look, and I see the beautiful blue eyes of the toddler I used to know.



I am devastated for my cousin that he has not seen his daughter in months. To me, this limbo is the worst. Not knowing if she is alive. Not knowing what happened to her. It breaks my heart for him and for her sister.

I cannot believe that I have spent months working on a story that is playing out within my own family. I can't believe that I know two people in less than a year with a similar tale. I can't believe how common this truly is.

So, please, take a moment to go to the Facebook link. Amanda King is not just another name, another face, another lost cause. She is a daughter and a sister and a niece and a friend. She has been missing for six months. Please help bring her home.

Because, this is how she will always look to me...


Friday, April 4, 2014

What I'm reading...

So, I may have mentioned a time or two (or twenty) that I've gotten hooked up with a great group of writers that have really helped me find my way as I hopefully and eventually transition my career to full time writer. One of the coolest things about being a writer is that you have to read. I started writing because of my love of reading, and now it's part of the job. The group of writers that I have found are mostly female (there may be a man or two in the group, but I'm not sure and I don't want to be exclusionary). We write chick lit and women's fiction. I try to write chick lit, but it becomes more serious and turns into women's fiction. Sometimes, chick lit is looked down upon by the more literary types. Chick lit are the books that make you feel good, are about strong women, have a dash of spice and a pinch (or three) of humor. They are the romantic-comedies of the book world. And while reading heavier stuff is good once in a while, right now I need to read to escape and I want to feel good after I've read the book. To me, having that dumb happy smile after reading is where I want to be right now.

But this has its drawbacks as well. My to-be-read (TBR) pile is growing perilously large. There will never be enough time to read all that I want to. But, for any of you out there who are looking for some reading suggestions, I'm going to help you out. I going to give you some book suggestions for what to read (after you've finished GOOD INTENTIONS and HOLD HER DOWN, of course). I'm providing the Amazon links if you click on the author's name, so you can go right to their pages. Most of the women in my group are either published with small publishers or are independent authors, like myself. We're  working our way from the ground on up, so your support really means so much. And as I've said before, if you like what you read, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes & Noble (you can leave the same review on all three sites). And tell your girlfriends. Trust me, they will thank you.

Start with this book:

CONNECTIVITY by Aven Ellis

  • I read this book in one sitting. It is the perfect romantic-comedy with witty banter and the perfect amount of tension.


WAITING FOR PRINCE HARRY by Aven Ellis

  • This is my current read. I've been waiting for this book to come out ever since I read Aven's first book, CONNECTIVITY. But I warn you, you will not want to put this one down. I made the mistake of picking it up at about 1 am this morning when I woke up for a bit. Yeah, gonna need extra coffee this morning.


THIRTY-TWO GOING ON SPINSTER by Becky Monson

  • This is a delightful book that you want to get read because I hear rumors that a sequel is in the works.


TO LOVE TWICE by Heather McCoubrey

  • Bust out the tissues but know that your faith in mankind will be restored.
BLAME IT ON THE FAME by Tracie Banister
  • Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes after the Oscar nominations are announced? Wonder no more.

Tracie is also the author of IN NEED OF THERAPY, which is still on my TBR list. It sounds like a great read and I can't wait to get to it.

DOWN ON LOVE by Jayne Denker
  • As I blogged here, Jayne's second Marsden book, PICTURE THIS is now available for pre-order and will be released in July. While it can be read as a stand-alone, you really do want to read the first book in the series before. And then, if you have time, read her other works, UNSCRIPTED and BY DESIGN.


DANGLED CARAT by Hilary Grossman
  • This brings commitment-phobe to a whole new level.


I've also really enjoyed the works by some authors from across the pond (isn't the internet great in shrinking the world?). Especially if you like English books (like Bridget Jones or the Shopaholic books), try these two out:


Also waiting patiently to be read are:
Is that enough to boggle your mind already? I'm sure there are more that I can add to the list. But it should be enough to get you all through the weekend.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Super Sneak Preview of PICTURE THIS (and Cover Reveal!!!!)

Since last June when I published my first novel, I've learned so much about the publishing industry. One of the best things I've learned about is the concept of beta readers.

Beta readers are readers who offer critique and feedback about a novel before it is published. Sometimes, it happens as a final review. Most of the time, it occurs somewhere between drafts one and five. Thanks to the awesome writing community I've found, I got the chance to be a beta reader last December. It was so cool. Not only did I have the chance to read a really good book, but I also got to discuss with the author different viewpoints and logistics of the story. Plus, this author was then able to beta read for me for Hold Her Down, and provided excellent feedback to me. It is such a cool arrangement--to get honest and open feedback before publishing. 

Anyway, I am pleased to announce that the novel I had the pleasure of beta reading for will soon be available. Here's the info:

PICTURE THIS (A Marsden Novel #2)



 
This is my fourth book, the second in my small-town rom com series set in the fictional town of Marsden, NY--the first was Down on Love

Publishing JULY 17, 2104; now available for preorder.

It’s where everyone knows your business—and remembers everything you’d rather forget. But somehow the little Catskills town of Marsden draws the most unlikely people back home, turns their lives every which way, and helps them finally figure out what—and who—they want most…

As a celebrity photographer’s assistant, Celia Marshall is used to seeing all kinds of weird antics. But subbing as the model in irrepressible movie star Niall Crenshaw’s latest endorsement ad—while wearing his silk boxers, no less—is definitely not in her job description. Neither is falling for him, especially since he’s dating his latest co-star. To complicate things further, Celia is returning to Marsden to keep an eye on her eccentric grandmother—and Niall is driving her there, then staying to judge a talent contest…

Soon Celia is pulled in a dozen different directions, trying to get her grandmother to act her age, placating her frantic former boss who’s organizing the contest—and attempting to stay away from funny, sexy Niall. Celia’s always been level headed, but suddenly she’s wishing she could get reckless right along with him. Has the time come for sensible Celia to cut loose?...

Links:




Sounds good, right? Guess what, it totally is.

But you want to know more, right? You want to know about the mastermind behind Marsden, right? Ok, done. Here's a little about this fabulous author and my new friend:

Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies and raising a young son who's way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels Down on Love and Picture This. When she's not hard at work on another novel, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook (Jayne Denker Author) and Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor). Visit her blog at http://jaynedenker.com or at Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/Jayne_Denker)



I can't wait to read this novel again, and for you all to have the chance to read it as well. I highly recommend, in the meantime, reading the first book in the series, Down on Love. You can find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

March Sadness

The year, 1989.

The fashions, ugly.
Seriously?

The hair, atrocious.
You can't tell from this picture, but the hair, in addition to the stellar bangs is in a banana clip with a big black lace bow at the top. Luckily, I took off my ugly purple glasses for the picture. That would have been just too much.

It was St.Patrick's Day. I was at a party at Billie Jo Vincent's house. She was an eighth grader, while I was in seventh. I was pretty bummed that none of the eighth grade boys paid any notice to me. The party was over, and I was waiting for my ride. My mom was usually late, so it wasn't that surprising that I was one of the last ones picked up. What was surprising was that it was my oldest brother who came to pick me up. He had torn his ACL, and wasn't supposed to be driving his car, since it was a standard.

Obviously, knowing that he was breaking a rule, I had to question him as soon as I got in the car. I was not prepared for the answer. My mom wasn't there to pick me up because she was at the hospital with Pipere (my grandfather). Pipere had COPD, and had trouble breathing. They took him to the ER, where he was later discharged.

The next day, we had to take my grandmother out to run some errands (neither of my grandparents drove, so my mom had to bring them most places, although they did take the city bus or walk quite a bit). Me, being 13, had no choice but to go with her. We got to my grandparent's place, and there was my Pipere, sitting in his chair, with a glass of milk in his hand, watching basketball. I was "stuck" making small talk with him. I was very uncomfortable doing so, because I knew he had been sick and it scared me. What do you say to a sick person? I had never known someone who had been in the hospital before. So, we talked about basketball. Pipere was watching the Duke/West Virginia game and rooting for Duke. He was a big Duke fan. I decided in that moment to be a Duke fan as well.

That was the last time I saw my grandfather.

He returned to the hospital late the next night and died two days later. And ever since then, I have rooted for Duke in the tournament (side note: my husband hates Duke and cannot understand why I root for them).

Pipere's birthday was the same day as George Washington's, and therefore usually coincided with a holiday. His last birthday, just one month before he died, my aunt in New Jersey felt compelled to come up here and spend Pipere's birthday with him. Thank God she did.

Again, the stellar photography ability...this one has most of my brothers and cousins, but little of me.

I make it into this one, at the expense of EVERYONE else. Sigh.


Because I was so young when he died, I have the fewest memories of Pipere out of all of my grandparents. He never saw me graduate from eighth grade, let alone high school or college. He didn't get to see me married or meet my children. But, over the past few years, as I've become closer and closer with my uncle, his son, I can hear his voice again. Of course, I also heard my grandfather as I listened to my uncle breathe and cough, smoking claiming another life of a loved one.

Just over a month ago, February 17th to be exact, my uncle went to join his father. Most of the last day that I spent with my uncle was spent talking about my grandfather, and looking at old pictures. I know that when Uncle Ed got to heaven, the first person he wanted to see was his father. They have a lot of talking to do. There are a lot of fences to be mended.

But yesterday, (if it is allowed in Heaven), I think there was a lot of swearing going on. Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my grandfather's passing. Earlier in the week marked a month since my uncle's passing. Just a bad week, all around. And then, somehow, the #3 seeded Duke LOST. I'm pretty sure Pipere is rolling over.

Or maybe, he's just making up for lost time with his son, and doesn't care.

This is my uncle, but add a glass of milk, and it is exactly how my grandfather was the last time I saw him.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I'm Going on Tour!

I know what you're thinking...a fabulous multi-city tour, crossing the country. Meet and greets, celebrities, the jet set lifestyle.

Um, not quite. Most of it will probably be done in my jammies.

I'm doing a blog tour with Chick Lit Plus, which is a fabulous company that helps promote chick lit and women's fiction authors. In May, I will be doing a 12-blog tour in which other bloggers will review Hold Her Down and feature guest posts and interviews with moi. There may even be some giveaways...

It's going to be pretty exciting, and a good way to spread the word about Hold Her Down. I'm very excited about my second novel, and this blog tour is a way to spread the word to new audiences.

So, if you have a blog, and are interested in participating, you can sign up here. As a blogger, you will have the choice of reading and reviewing Hold Her Down, letting my write a guest post, or having a joint pow wow. Samantha over at Chick Lit Plus will take good care of you, either way.

Thanks in advance, and see you all from multiple blog sites soon!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Need Some Support

I spent over two hours last night staring at another woman's breasts. And I feel so much better about myself for it.

Let's backtrack a bit. From the time I was a small child, I needed to pass every test (heck, I needed to ace them). I don't do well with failure. Throughout my early and mid-twenties, I was somewhat smug about this. Then came the day that I failed the test. And I knew, from that moment on, I would never be able to pass it again.

What test you might ask?

The dreaded Pencil Test.

Now, ask any woman what the Pencil Test is, and they will tell you. If they say they don't know, it is because they are lying. It is the test to check to see if your breasts are sagging. If you place a pencil underneath, let go, and it falls to the floor, then you're golden, with no sag. If the pencil stays...alas, gravity has won.

I first failed the pencil test shortly after the birth of my first child. While I did not nurse him, chestal changes still occurred. It was probably my age more than anything. I did nurse my second child, and the girls were just never the same.

There is some discomfort associated with this sag, which continues to lose its war with gravity. It's not too bad, but my time of bra-less freedom, even in my own home, is minimal as a result. I am not so well endowed that it is truly problematic. However, it just makes me feel old and, well, saggy. I am forever on the hunt for the bra that will return the girls to their former place in this world. I lament about getting cosmetic surgery to fix the problem, but then realize that a good bra will probably suffice. When searching for dresses, I have to have ones that I can wear a bra with.

Again, this is a first world problem and I probably spend way too much time thinking about it. Most people who know me probably don't even realize I have this complex. I probably just need to be way less superficial and get over it.

But I want to deny my age. I want to fight the clock and gravity and still look young and youthful. It is a battle that I fight with myself.

But then, last night, a wonderful thing happened. The hubs and I went to see the movie, American Hustle (sidenote: very enjoyable, highly recommend it). And for the 2 hour, 18 minute running time, I could not stop staring at Amy Adam's boobs. Partly, it is because they are hanging out for the ENTIRE movie. The movie is set in 1978 (which was a time in my life before I had breasts, let alone saggy ones). Her entire wardrobe consists of open front dresses cut down almost to her navel. And there is not a bra in sight. And there is no way in hell she is passing that pencil test.


And she looks gorgeous! She's sexy and confident. Both Christian Bale (although he looks terrible) and Bradley Cooper are hot for her. Heck, in that sequined dress (it was also backless), there was also a trace of back fat. It was the best thing I have ever seen on screen. Jennifer Lawrence is often outspoken about Hollywood's negative effect of women because of the impossibly high standards. But Amy Adams, at age 39, is out there shoving it in their faces. She's letting her body and her confidence do the talking. She makes the best dressed lists all the time, and the critics were disappointed that her Oscar dress was not cut down to there.

I'm not saying that I'm going to let it all hang out any time soon, but it is certainly nice to see a real, mature woman who is not ashamed of what time and motherhood has done to her body. Instead of focusing on those photoshopped and surgically enhanced images that I could never hope to achieve, I need to focus on being real and confident in who I am.

Gravity has bested me, I admit. But I will be the overall victor.