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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lost and Found

We got the official notification from the school district yesterday. They believe that a student purposefully deleted the writing works of almost all of the children in my son's school. They are not retrievable. The school district is taking security measures to ensure that this sort of thing cannot happen again.

That being said, Jake is quite disheartened about the whole thing. To him, it has made the whole week difficult. His classroom teacher has given him (and his two classmates) time during school this week to work on the writing assignment, and the deadline has been extended, which takes all of the pressure this week.

Over here at Biel Central, we are taking this whole experience and trying to make some teachable moments. Despite his disappointment and frustration, we are staying positive. We are making serious kick-ass lemonade over here. This is a great opportunity for my kids to learn that life is not fair. That sometimes, bad or unfortunate things happen, even when you've tried hard.

Sometimes, things happen and you have to start from square one.

Sometimes good things happen, like getting picked for Young Writers.

Sometimes, people do bad things and you are the recipient (I almost wrote victim, but I don't ever want my kids to think of themselves as victims).

Always, you have to keep trying.

Always, you have to learn to roll with the punches.

I would like to say that there is always justice, but I unfortunately, don't think that is a statement I can make absolutely.

We're using this chance to help Jake see the glass as half-full.

His words may have been lost, but valuable life lessons were found.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lost Words

This past summer, my computer died. I had used it first thing in the morning before packing it up. The kids were at camp, and I had planned on working on my second novel (Hold Her Down) at a local coffee shop while I waited for them. But when I got to that coffee shop, the damn thing just beeped at me and would not turn on. While I had stored Good Intentions on a flash drive, I had the brilliant idea just to keep Hold Her Down on my laptop's hard drive. 65,000 words in and my damn computer wouldn't turn on. I tried not to panic. I had it somewhat backed up, but not completely. Lucky for me, I dodged a bullet when it turned out to be a blown mother board, leaving the hard drive intact and retrievable.

Today, we lost another piece of work. The emotions I'm feeling about this make my summer panic pale in comparison. My son, who is in 4th grade, was chosen to participate in his school district's Young Writers' Workshop. It is an honor for the 4th-6th graders to be chosen for this, and only about 10% of students get chosen. It is extracurricular work and children are chosen based upon the high quality of their writing skills.

As a writer myself, I have a huge amount of pride in my child for displaying excellent writing skills. But as a parent, well that is difficult to even express. My son has struggled with his communication skills since he was a baby. Along the way, he had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger's) and Attention Deficit Disorder. When he was very young, the majority of his speech was scripted from things he had heard. He used it in a very functional way to communicate his wants and needs. It showed us how incredibly intelligent he was (and is). But it was difficult for him to put his own words together. This difficulty with pragmatic speech has persisted, although it is not nearly as severe as it used to be. He used to use words in a not incorrect manner, but it just wasn't correct, either (like when he described Easter being about Jesus migrating to Heaven or a pot as being something that holds the liquid to make it warmer). For a very long time, I've had to act as his translator when he spoke, as it was just hard for people to understand him.

As he's gotten older, his ability to write has helped him form thoughts. When he first started writing for school, it came out just as disjointed as his speech. His wonderful educators and his father and I have worked very hard at teaching him internal organizational strategies to make his writing make sense. As his writing has improved, so has his overall communication.

So, being picked as an excellent writer means even more to us in light of what he has overcome.

His Young Writers' piece is due next Monday. He has been working on his play (this years topic) diligently, in addition to all of his school work. The school district has the kids using Google Docs to work on their documents. He just logs in and opens up his play and works on it. Apparently, all of the children district wide use the same Google Doc password and all have access to everyone's work.

Today, it was discovered that someone "trashed" several of the kids' works in progress. All of the "trashed" (that is the term the district is using) works are by kids in my son's school. They are totally missing from the website, although it is unclear if they were deleted or pulled down because they were defaced. My son's included. Since the kids were writing in Google Docs directly, most have no back up.

Some terrible, terrible person hacked into this system and destroyed my child's--our children's--hard work. I don't know why. Why would someone do this to these kids who have worked so hard?

I am trying not to panic. I'm hoping that we will get word that some of the work was backed up in the system somewhere along the way. I am trying not to let my son see my anger. But, believe you me, I am angry. I am angry that this was not set up in a better way. But more, I am angry that some person would sabotage 9, 10, and 11 year-olds work and creative process.  What kind of person would do this? I hope all the "Big Brother is watching" stuff is true and they can nail this slimebag.

I am just so angry that someone took my son's words. Words that we thought might never come. Words that let everyone else see what a bright, intelligent child he is. Words that might forever be lost.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Judge a Book By Its ... Well, You Know

We all know the saying.

We've all said the saying.

We've all done the saying.

I do it all the time. And, as an author, I know how important it is that a cover reaches out and grabs the attention of the potential reader. I needs to look professional. It needs to be eye-catching. It needs to say something about the book.

When I started thinking about the cover for Hold Her Down, I knew exactly what I wanted. I had a crystal clear vision of what it should be.

You see, in Hold Her Down, there is a book within the book. As supporting character if you will. And this book within the book is entitled Hold Her Down. The cover is described. It is an important detail to the plot. That is how my cover image came to be. My main character, Elizabeth, picks up the book and sees the cover.



But my cover image may be a bit on the misleading side. One may take a quick glance at it and figure that Hold Her Down is a smut book. That it is a bodice-ripping Harlequin-romance type book. It is not. Don't judge this book by its cover.

The book certainly has adult themes, no doubt about it. Some are harsh and gritty. Some are slightly explicit. The main character's world is rocked when a scandalous (and rather explicit) novel hits her small town and she is suspected of being the main character. The book is all story, with very little "action," if you know what I mean. Let's put it this way, there is virtually no romance to speak of in this entire book.

So, if you thought that, based on the cover, this book might not be for you, consider again. If you are a wife, mother or woman in general, this book is for you. If you've ever been lost and struggled with who you are, this book is for you. If you're looking for a good read, this book is for you.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

It's Live!!!

Novel # 2 is officially published!


Here's the summary:

Elizabeth Zurlo is lost. She's a wife, a mother, a teacher, a PTA volunteer—but somewhere along the way, she's lost herself. Depression and despair can lead to desperate measures and when she is pulled back from the brink of suicide, Elizabeth slowly tries to rebuild her marriage and reclaim her life. Just as she has finally started to put herself back together, a scandalous novel rocks her small town ... and costs Elizabeth her social standing, friendships and ultimately, her marriage. However, the man who seemingly destroyed Elizabeth's life, helps her realize who she is and what she needs to do to become the woman she's not only capable of being, but the woman she used to be.

Digital editions are currently available through AmazonNook and Smashwords. 

I'm putting the final touches on the print version, making sure the cover prints as intended. Sometimes CreateSpace is funny about that, so I just want to make sure. That will be available in about a week or so. I'll be sure to let you all know when the print versions are available.

I'm also working on putting together a book signing event. Tentatively it is scheduled for April 24 at the Waterford Public Library (for those of you locals). While I no longer live in Waterford, I want to do my first official author event there as it was the library I grew up using. It was the library where I did my summer reading programs and fell in love with books. I will certainly have more details to follow.

Again, I thank each and every one of you for your support. If you like my books, please write a review (and you can post the review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads, regardless of where you have purchased it. Please tell your friends, families, co-workers, hairdressers and everyone you meet if you like what I have to say. 

Happy reading!