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!

BLOOD IN THE PAINT: The Opening Scene!

I’m really trying to get my head out of my depressed, insecure, creative-person ass. I’m trying to get excited about Blood in the Paint‘s upcoming release. I am. I am excited. If I keep saying it, it will become true, right?

All that matters, though, is that you lovely readers are excited. Lucky for me, it seems like you are. I’ve been getting some great responses to the ARCs that were sent out, the exclusive excerpts my mailing list subscribers received, and my most recent blog post where I listed the meanings behind some of the chapter titles. So, in the spirit of keeping the warm and fuzzies rolling, here’s the opening scene:

BLOOD IS RED, but she always wore purple. Each time Lyla Kyle donned her eggplant-colored clothes it was because the memory persisted: the memory of herself, kneeling on the floor of her parents’ bedroom, cradling her mother’s limp body. The blood had seeped into her blue shirt, staining the fabric a ruddy purple. Her mother’s life had bled out and gone, from an act of despair almost exactly a decade ago.

The image kept Lyla strong. It enabled her to channel her rage. Anything to make you proud, Mom.

Over the years, Lyla had learned to prepare for death in the same way one would prepare for a date. She would apply her makeup and affix every hair in place, knowing her looks had to be every bit as lethal as her intentions.

The upcoming evening’s festivities would play on a loop in Lyla’s mind, making sure she remembered everything: lipstick, mini lint-roller, syringes, vials of a deadly chemical, breath mints . . . She loved being in control, savoring every moment.

Lyla had come to enjoy the hours leading up to her ultimate empowerment. The anticipation thrilled her almost as much as the act itself—and it was almost time to act. Almost time to plunge one of the syringes into her date’s neck.

Tingling at the thought, she shuddered, then she shooed her excitement away and reined her thoughts back in, returning them instead to the snug, overcrowded Philadelphia nightclub. Her next victim, the man sitting across from her at the high-standing cocktail table, nervously blabbed away, darting his hazel eyes in multiple directions seemingly all it once. He was shouting and yet she could barely hear him.

“I said, nice place you picked. What do you think of the music?”

Lyla just nodded along politely. She always chose popular nightclubs to meet up with her prey, where the patrons were too numerous to count and she and her “date” would never be more than just a couple of faces in a crowd of bodies, writhing in unison to the beat of the bass. It also didn’t hurt that the steamy atmosphere, teeming with sexual energy, helped move the night along quickly. The club would always be too crowded, the music would always be too loud, and after a few cocktails, she would always suggest something more intimate. Not because she wanted to converse with them more easily, not because she was interested in her victims’ lives, no. Only their demise, and the execution of her grand plan.

Execution. The term was somewhat appropriate, but not entirely accurate. After all, executions were meant to be painless and humane, and Lyla knew her dark little hobby was anything but. Then again, she thought, as she continued nodding along with whatever her date was saying, my weapon of choice is technically one of the chemicals used in lethal injections . . .

Lyla had justified her craft for years. She did so then, as the man across from her rambled on about the unseasonably cool August weather, and she suppressed a sneer. Men proved to be good-for-nothing charlatans. They were primitive. They were relentless and lived for nothing more than the next conquest, whether it be climbing the social and corporate ladders or bedding the next beautiful woman to strut across their path. Lyla supposed to her date she was the latter—which made her tactic all the easier.

Killing invigorated her. She had found her calling, however dark it was. And dark it was on this cool Friday evening in August as she chatted with a poor, unsuspecting man named Alex.

As he spoke incessantly, the vein in his neck bobbled, and Lyla Kyle was ready to feel invigorated again.

 

Blood in the Paint Cover

Blood in the Paint. New Official Release Date: March 31, 2014

Table of Contents Teasers!

I’m one of those writers that really puts a lot of thought into titles and double meanings…even if I’m the only one who knows about them. I know what you’re thinking. Blood in the Past? Blood in the Paint? Those seem like pretty literal titles. They are and they aren’t. Blood in the Past not only refers to the blood that was shed in each of the characters’ pasts, but it also refers to their blood/familial relations. In addition, each character makes their own “blood pact” of sorts between their selves and their lost love one. Like I said, I’m sure no one picked up on those meanings, but it meant a lot to me to include them. In fact, Blood in the Past was originally a working title that I decided to keep because these additional meanings could be attributed to it.

Similarly, Blood in the Paint not only refers to Lyla’s method of adding a syringe-full of her victims’ blood to the red paint she uses, but it also refers to a portrait she mentions having done of her father. Again, a blood relation connection.

Now that you know how kooky I am with titles, you won’t be surprised to learn I’m the same way with chapter titles. After I write the entire manuscript and go through it a few times, I read it again and highlight certain phrases that I might like to use as the chapter titles, making sure that each phrase has a meaning all its own–in relation to the chapter–when it’s out of context. Here are some examples, consider them teasers:

  • Chapter 2: Lie There and Die. Lyla feels that’s all her victim can do, but really she kills that way because that’s all her mom had been able to do.
  • Chapter 4: Blood for Blood. Lyla justifies her trophies, and the meaning of the series title is explained.
  • Chapter 8: Chasing After the Ghost. Brighthouse feels like he’s chasing the ghost of his father’s approval, but in reality he’s chasing the ghost of a very silent killer.
  • Chapter 12: Drifting and Bobbing. The phrase refers to a bundle of balloons, but also to Lyla’s control, and how she’s struggling to maintain it.
  • Chapter 16: The Anchor in His Stomach. Brighthouse feels a weight in his stomach over the unsolved murders, and wishes for his father’s instincts. But the anchor is a symbol of stability and strength and Brighthouse just needs to believe in himself.
  • Chapter 18: An Impromptu Centerpiece. In the text, it refers to the flowers CJ has given Lyla, but CJ is himself an ‘impromptu centerpiece,’ caught between Lyla and Brighthouse.
  • Chapter 21: Cleaner of Body But Not of Mind. Jillian washes her hands, but Lyla is focused on scrubbing something else in a different room.
  • Chapter 31: Collateral Damage. Lyla loathes collateral damage, but the reader knows her mother was collateral damage–as is every one of Lyla’s victims thereafter, having not directly wronged Lyla and only playing a role in her twisted sense of justice.
  • Chapter 35: A Sliver of Light. In the darkness, armed with only a slender flashlight, some light is finally shed on the truth of Lyla’s past.
  • Chapter 36: A Dangling Key. Brighthouse and his partner see not only a key on Lyla’s anklet, but a possible key to solving their case.
  • Chapter 44: Past All of It. Lyla is looking past tangible things, but also looking past her present and toward her future.
  • Chapter 47: Unknown. Refers to an incessant caller to Brighthouse’s cell phone, but an identity possibly unknown to the reader is about to be revealed.
  • Chapter 52: Traces of Blood. Doesn’t just refer to blood the life-substance, but blood relations are discovered.
  • Chapter 55: A Tree with Many Branches. Brighthouse’s captain uses this phrase as a metaphor for their case, but it’s actually a metaphor for the series’ entire storyline and how each of the characters are connected.
  • Chapter 58: Sever Ties. Much more than ties are severed; that’s all I can say!
  • Chapter 59: Her Final Moments. Lyla is thinking of her mother’s final moments, but she should be worried more about her own.
  • Chapter 60: Blood in the Paper. Refers to a bloody newspaper, but–SURPRISE–it’s also the title of the next book in the series!

I’m Gonna Miss Winter…

Dear fans,

I have failed you. First I said I would publish Blood in the Paint toward the end of 2013. Then I said I would publish sometime in the Winter of 2013/14, but probably in February. Then I said it would be March, specifically March 19th. But today is March 19th, and Blood in the Paint still isn’t ready. I’m sorry, but seeing as how the first official day of spring is March 21st, I’m gonna miss that winter deadline.

I could offer a lot of excuses (editing took longer than I would have liked, my proofreader didn’t work out, my computer started to die and Hubby-pants had to buy a new one), but it really comes down to my own stubbornness. I need to allow more time for my beta team, my editor, my proofreader, and my formatter to do their jobs thoroughly. I need to allow more time for life to happen, just in case. I need to allow more time for my obsessive, inevitable tweaking. Sigh.

For those looking for an apology, this is it. For those looking for an update, Blood in the Paint was just shipped off to the formatter. I hope to have it uploaded to Amazon before the end of the month (I almost said ‘before the end of the week’ but I remembered to allow time for life to happen).

In the meantime, I’m sending out the ARCs and the excerpts. Check your inboxes.

And thank you for sticking with me while I work hard to make Blood in the Paint the cleanest manuscript it could be.

-Jordanna East

What Would be YOUR Last Meal on Death Row?

Earlier this week, I came across an article on Buzzfeed listing the last meals of twelve infamous, and not so infamous, death row inmates. With pictures! The macabre side of me that writes psychological thrillers found it utterly fascinating. I also thought it interesting that so many of the prisoners chose fried chicken, but I digress.

John Wayne Gacy, “The Killer Clown”, had managed three KFC restaurants in his lifetime (you know, when he wasn’t being a homicidal perve) and he asked for a bucket of KFC original recipe chicken AND a dozen fried shrimp to go with his strawberries and shoestring French fries (I guess he didn’t care for KFC’s potato wedges…). Timothy McVeigh, the homegrown terrorist responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, just wanted a big-ass bowl of ice cream. My kind of guy, except for the blowing-up-a-building-full-of-innocent-people part. Victor Figuer, on the other hand, chose a single olive, with the pit still intact. Why? He’d hoped it would grow into an olive tree from within his body and use him as a symbol of peace. Alrighty then, Vic. Unfortunately, he’s more famous for kidnapping and murder and being the last federal inmate executed in the United States than he is for his extension of olive branches or Zen-like desire for world peace.

Reading about the different inmates and their last desires made me wonder what my own last meal would be, if I was as ruthless as the characters in my writing. I think I would ask for a rib eye steak cooked medium-rare. (I know, the chef’s recommendation for that cut is medium, but it would be my last meal. Gimme a break, guys.) To go with my steak, I would go ‘all Timothy McVeigh’ to satisfy my sweet tooth one last time. I’m thinking a whole spread, comparable to the dessert bar at my wedding. I’d want layer cake and eclairs, truffles and tiramisu, soft iced sugar cookies and Cadbury crème eggs, and…seriously I could keep going, but I won’t.

What about my characters? Lyla, Jillian, and Brighthouse from my Blood for Blood Series? When I was done drooling over the thought of my own diabetes-inducing last meal, I started to wonder what their last meals would be. In Blood in the Past it’s mentioned that Lyla took kickboxing and Tae-bo with her mother. I imagined them going out for some light, refreshing sushi afterward and I immediately knew that’s what Lyla would ask for, since everything she does circles back to the loss of her mother. (I’m sure she’d also want a six-pack of ice-cold beer to go with it, but that’s probably not allowed.) Jillian would either refuse a meal entirely or opt to order the favorite meal of her lost love, Calvin Kyle: a Philly cheese steak from Ishkabibbles on South Street. (I imagine she’d also ask for an adult beverage, probably wine.) Brighthouse…hmm. I honestly can’t imagine Brighthouse being in a situation where he has to choose a last meal, but I think he’d be one of the fried chicken people. :-)

What about you? What about your characters? Share your thoughts below in the comments section!