Being a Method Writer

Many of you who have been following this blog know that I, much like a method actor, often inject personal experiences into my writing. The opening scene of Blood in the Past, where Jillian and Mel are mugged, was based on my own mugging (I was the muggee, not the mugger, of course). A colorful gym-rat nicknamed Sonny Short Shorts is based on a guy that frequented my own gym. And let’s not forget that one of Lyla’s targets was based on a regular at the restaurant where I tended bar. He became a bit of a stalker, so he had to go, even if only in the pages of my book.

So it should come as no surprise that I find myself here, freshly arrived in Georgia (we just moved here from New Jersey a couple of weeks ago), staying at a motel (until we find a house), observing all the little things that will surely make it into the next installment of my Blood for Blood Series, my pet project, The Word and the Way, or even a short story or two. For example, my hubby-pants and I are staying at an extended stay motel and, last we left Officer Brighthouse, he was also taking up residence in a motel. Since I’m a method writer, here are a few of the things I’ve noticed that might be used to describe his stay:

  1. Because of the economic downturn, there are quite a few long-term residents. A school bus even makes an official stop at one of the locations. Sadly, their situation is understandable. The same reasons why hubby-pants and I are staying here (weekly rent + utilities included = less money than an apartment), surely apply to those hit hardest by the economy and in need of a place to stay that doesn’t require a credit check. One tenant has even been here seven years. SEVEN YEARS.
  2. The toilet runs. Seriously, it runs like someone or something is f**king chasing it. It often sounds like the faucet has been left on. This little issue irks my hubby more than anything and I’ve decided it will bug Officer Brighthouse as well. I might even have him drunkenly wonder if he’s left a faucet running.
  3. The temperature dials on the air conditioner and the two-burner stove are worn away from years of cleaning. It’s difficult to regulate the temperature of the room, and equally difficult to make a grilled cheese. Officer Brighthouse doesn’t exactly know his way around a kitchen (motel or otherwise), but I foresee him waking up freezing one morning and sweating the next.
  4. The walls are extremely thin. I suppose I should feel lucky that I can’t hear the exact dialogue of our neighbors’ TV sets, or their own dialogue for that matter, but I can hear when they flush their toilets, their muffled movements and conversations, and…how springy their beds are…
  5. The kitchen sink is smaller than even the bathroom sink, and pots and pans often have to be cleaned in the shower. Again, Brighthouse probably isn’t going to be doing a lot of cooking, but I have to find a way to sneak this detail in there because it makes for a hilarious visual.

Okay, now that you all know just how rough we have it down here in Georgia (a bit of TMI in this post, huh?), don’t worry at all. It’s only temporary. And it’s giving me fodder for future writing, which is the shiniest silver lining on the cloud of life. And speaking of experiences mined for story plots, I have a short story in a nostalgic, pulp-fiction-feeling anthology entitled Amazing Adventures. It’s available now on Amazon in paperback (and will soon be available in e-book), and my particular story is told from the point of view of a sentient handgun tossed in a dumpster following an armed robbery, and later sold to a small child. I got the idea from a Facebook prompt about telling a story from the POV of a weapon, plus a fuzzy memory of seeing someone toss a gun into a dumpster when I was a child living in the Bronx. I also remember my grandmother hurrying me along and understandably shushing my questions. Of course, I didn’t  later go on to buy the gun off the street, but the thug who sells it in my story, Mettle on Metal, is also based on a real-life person, whom I met much later. I hope you pick up a copy of the collection and if you do, please let me know what you think!

Insecurities Abound!

I’ve been pretty down in the dumps, guys. A real sophomore slump. Let me explain. My prelude novella, Blood in the Past (released this time last year), did pretty well. No one really had a bad word to say about it. I was proud of myself…and then terror set in.

Last year, as I was editing and revising the full-length follow-up to Past, Blood in the Paint, I began to worry that it wouldn’t measure up, that my creative prowess had a quota and I had used up everything in my reserve to write Blood in the Past. As a result, I hit the Publish button on Blood in the Paint a few months ago with closed eyes. I dragged my feet with the paperback edition. I haven’t sent out many review copies, and I haven’t done much promotion. I’m subconsciously forcing myself, and my Blood for Blood series, to fade into oblivion. I’m making my own nightmare, of my sophomore release not measuring up, a reality. Or am I?

When the news of Blood in the Paint’s release broke, I had an immediate spike in sales. I might have been able to capitalize on those numbers had I done some promoting. After I ordered my first shipment of Blood in the Paint paperbacks, I almost sold out of them…and I still have two events to do this week. And the reviews? The reviews have been pretty awesome. There are only nine so far (actually, as I’m writing this, a TENTH popped up!), none of which were written by me or hubby-pants, but they are all FIVE-STAR. Every single one of them. My mother-in-law, who awarded Blood in the Past with a three-star review, is raving about Paint. As is my father-in-law, who keeps asking how the next book will unfold. My niece even forgot about her “ghetto reality shows” (her words, not mine), because she’d been so caught-up in reading it. You guys don’t know my niece, but that’s probably the best compliment I could have received, short of something from Gillian Flynn herself.

So what’s the problem? Why haven’t I really written anything since April, when I went on a writing retreat, where there was nothing to do BUT write? I still feel unworthy, I still feel talentless, I still feel like everyone’s compliments are a fluke. Then I read a recent review of Blood in the Paint written by Ileandra Young. You can read the full review here, but the part I want to point out is when she mentioned a Facebook status where she posted, “Soooooooooo that feeling of inadequacy you feel while reading a fellow indie author’s novel then returning to your own WIP.” Guys, I actually remembered that status, I even Liked it because I knew the feeling. Turns out, she was talking about Blood in the Paint. Words cannot thank her enough for sharing that with her followers and blog readers and, most importantly, me. Between that and the pep talk hubby-pants gave me recently (more on that in another post, I think), I might be ready to write again. At the very least, I might be ready to begin my medico-legal research to make sure my next book, Blood in the Paper, is on the right track.

In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this week, which happens to be the one-year anniversary of Blood in the Past’s publication. To celebrate (and get back into promoting for the love of everything sacred and holy), Blood in the Past will be FREE on Wednesday, June 18th, and Blood in the Paint will be dropped to $1.99 today through Friday, June 20th. If you haven’t read them yet, now is the time to do so. Because, I’ve been down in the dumps and sales will make me feel better. ;-)

Jerks & Irks LXIV: Where’s My Easy Button?!?

easy

The other day I went to the office supply store, Staples. I’ve been to this specific location several times and I hate to say that my experiences haven’t always been pleasurable. I don’t know why I keep going there, but the other day was just as disappointing.

I had three author events last week and all I needed was to print an “Enter to Win” sign I’d made to raffle off a signed paperback copy of Blood in the Paint (since I don’t have the paperback version yet) and a few pages of raffle tickets. Should have been easy-peasy. But it wasn’t.

I entered the store and headed straight for the do-it-yourself printers. I scanned my membership card, inserted my business debit card, and selected the first file from my USB flash drive. The damn machine took almost 7 minutes to tell me that the loading of the preview image had taken too long. Well, no $hit! It had been SEVEN MINUTES! I could have used an Easy Button just then…

So I moseyed on over to the print desk. The man who usually works in this area is 103 years old and I’m surprised he doesn’t think computers are the devil and will steal his ancient soul. (In case you’re wondering, yes, he’s the reason why I originally went to the do-it-yourself area.) Let’s call him Whitey. Not because he’s Caucasian, but because his hair is as white and blinding as snow in the sun. His presence alone justifies an Easy Button, but let’s move on…

Whitey was busy with another customer. Said customer was trying to print a list of several names, in large font, on one sheet of paper. The font said customer wanted was like size 72 or something, and, as one would expect, the last name wouldn’t fit. It would print out on a separate piece of paper. But said customer didn’t want to pay for two sheets of paper. Heaven forbid he should pay the extra TEN CENTS to accommodate his size 72 freaking font. I was forced to stand beside him, thrumming my fingers on the counter, wondering where my Easy Button was…

While I waited, I noticed two employees to the right of the print desk, behind a “tech” desk, just shooting the $hit. I know it’s not their area, but I’m willing to bet anyone behind a “tech” desk knows how to pull up a file from a flash drive and print it out. It would have been nice if one of those fellas would have asked if I needed help. There was also a store manager chatting with her associates up front. She could have helped me out. But she didn’t. Maybe if I’d had an Easy Button…

FINALLY, Whitey told the customer how the universe works, told him that the last name would have to print on a second sheet of paper if the font were enlarged so much. The customer walked off in a huff to complete the rest of his shopping and Whitey was able to get to my project. For a second, one glorious second, I thought I was no longer in need of an Easy Button. I was wrong…

Whitey printed out my files. But he accidentally printed them out on better quality paper. At this point, I had been in Staples for almost thirty minutes. I think I actually felt a few new gray hairs sprout from my scalp. As such, I offered to pay whatever the better quality paper cost. It wasn’t card stock for heaven’s sake; how much could it be? (And for the love of everything sacred and holy, where was my EASY BUTTON???) But Whitey refused, seeming flustered by the mishap. He insisted on reprinting my files on the regular paper I had requested, which took so much longer because he was too old to remember the names of the files (because “Enter to Win” and “Enter to Win 2″ were not the helpful file names I had meant them to be), and I had to shout the file names several times before he heard/understood me. Guys, I would have given anything for an Easy Button…

So, have any of you lovely readers experienced any shopping nightmares recently?

“Well-Versed in the Psychological Aspects of a Serial Killer…”

Once again, today’s title was pulled directly from a review of Blood in the Paint! This time, I have the lovely RH Ramsey to thank. Not only did she post a sensational review of my latest novel, but she also conducted a fun interview!

Here’s the full excerpt from her review:

It is apparent that the author is not only well-versed in the psychological aspects of a serial killer, but she has taken the time to study the lingo and profession of those in the field of law enforcement. This adds so many layers, makes the scenes so believable, gives the book the realistic element that can at times become lost in blood, gore, and sex — this novel delves deeper.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Do you have an recurring themes in your novels/characters? I really just try  to make readers understand the motives behind my characters’ actions. People’s lives and personalities and decisions are based on such a wide array of factors that it’s impossible for me to write a story without explaining the ‘why’ behind everything. When you explain the ‘why,’ more often than not, readers will identify more with the characters. Perhaps, not throughout the entire novel or series, but definitely at certain parts.

 

If you’ve enjoyed these snippets, please head on over to RH Ramsey’s blog to read the full interview, the full review, and even an excerpt from Blood in the Paint! And don’t forget to pick up your copy! It makes for a great weekend read!

Jerks & Irks LXIII: A Bittersweet Return

The weekend before last, I went to Rehoboth Beach for a weekend writing retreat, as many of you may know. This past weekend, Hubby-pants and I went down near Atlanta, GA for our friends’ wedding. We returned late last night and, just as it was when I returned home from the retreat, home can be bittersweet.

Of course, coming home from the retreat was much less bitter and way more sweet because that was a Hubby-pants-less excursion and I missed him terribly. But today, after being in beautiful Georgia from Thursday to Sunday, I feel like I’m coming down with a case of the Mondays.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate our home, but hotels and lodges are so neat and clean (I think I mentioned that in my post about the retreat) and crisp-smelling. The beds are more comfortable, the pillows more decadent, and, for us, the temperature is easier to control. We arrived home late last night and we hadn’t had time to do the dishes before we left and we had also forgotten to take out the trash. I can’t describe the lovely aroma that permeated throughout our home after four stuffy days, during which Spring had finally decided to show itself and there was exceptionally warm weather. I think our bed is pretty comfortable, but the pillows leave something to be desired, for sure. (I’m in love with the down pillows the Hilton and the Hampton Inns use, but they’re like $80. Each.) And did I mention the house was stuffy and the weather had been warm? Our ancient thermostat dial read 80 degrees (F)! We don’t have central air, so we had to open the windows, turn on the ceiling fans, and suffer in silence until the place aired out and cooled down.

All in all, I’m missing digital thermostats and turn down service and squishily-fluffy down pillows, but I guess I’m a little glad to be home. If for no other reason than I get to start really promoting Blood in the Paint’s release, expediting the paperback release, and working on the next novel in the series, Blood in the Paper.

How was everyone else’s weekend?

BLOOD IN THE PAINT May Be LIVE…But There’s Still No Rest for the Weary!

As many of you know, Blood in the Paint was released this past Monday. I regret to say I didn’t announce it with much fanfare, though. I was tired! I was tired of the revisions, the edits, the read-throughs, and the delays. But the e-book is finally available, with the paperback soon to follow, and I wish I could say I was looking forward to some down time.

Despite the following picture, I’m not…

cottages

Today I’m heading out to a cabin near Rehoboth Beach, DE to partake in a writing retreat with several ladies from the South Jersey Writers Group. If you remember the last chapter title I mentioned in the Table of Contents Teasers post, you’ll recall that the next book in the Blood for Blood Series will be entitled Blood in the Paper. (You’ll have to read Blood in the Paint to really ‘get’ the title, sorry!) So, that’s what I’ll be working on this weekend! I already drew out some mind maps for each of the main characters, a returning character from Blood in the Past, and a NEW character. I’ve listed the events of the storyline in order using Scrivener’s corkboard tool. AND–this is the most exciting part–I’ve already written the opening scene! Squeee!

I’ve never been on a writing retreat before, but I’m confident I’ll be able to put out a sizable word count. Have any of you been on a retreat like this before? Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear them!

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint is available on Amazon for the Kindle and Kindle app. Download a copy today; it makes a great weekend read!

The First Review of BLOOD IN THE PAINT is IN!!!

It has barely been a week since I sent out the ARCs of Blood in the Paint, but I’ve already received my first review. I am very thankful to Peter “Peppa” Germany for his support, his enthusiasm, and his friendship (which, by the way, he goes out of his way to mention didn’t have any bearing on his review!).

Here are some of the highpoints:

I’ve been waiting for this novel since I read it’s prequel, Blood In The Past (http://petergermany.com/2013/07/24/book-review-blood-in-the-past-by-jordanna-east/)

Now you don’t have to read the prequel novella before reading Blood In The Paint but I would recommend it. As I read Blood In The Paint I did have some moments when I said ‘Oh Sh*T!’ because I recognised something from the prequel.

Blood In The Paint is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I knocked this novel out in five days or so, I would have read it quicker but I’m a slow reader and I needed sleep. As I read through the pages I was getting more and more sucked into it, each page demanded that I turn it and when I got to the end of a chapter I couldn’t scroll the screen down quick enough to continue with the story.

The characters have a strong depth to them which is clear from the start of the novel but as you progress through it that depth is revelled and fleshed out even more. Jordanna East is not afraid to push her characters and she was able to pull me into it to the point where, despite my manliness (LMAO!), I got chocked up near the end of the novel. It takes a lot to get that sort of reaction out of me when I’m reading a book so that did impress me.

 

Although I am sorry that I made him cry, I’m utterly touched at how he continues to find my work “impressive.” To read more of Peter “Peppa” Germany’s review, click HERE.

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint will be released on March 31st!