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. ;-)

One of My Biggest Literary Pet Peeves Done Right

Those of you who know me in person, or know me a little better than just reading my blog from time to time, know that I’m pretty picky. This goes for books too. For example, I really love mystery/suspense/thrillers, but I really HATE (with the flames of a thousand campfires) when the main character/investigator is a civilian/layperson without even the tiniest bit of tangential experience. I’m talking about major crimes and conspiracies that are solved by bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers. And it’s not like the bike messengers and cab drivers and grocery store cashiers are taking evening or online classes in law or criminology. No, they go home and watch The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones like the rest of us.

So, to sum up, I hate those novels.

However…I just finished reading Sister by Rosamund Lupton. And it was amazing. It was definitely the second best book I’ve read this year and probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Period. And guess what? The main character, Beatrice, “investigates” her sister’s disappearance/murder and she isn’t a detective, a lawyer, or even one of those plucky reporters. In fact, she worked for a business design company, creating logos and ad copy. Why didn’t throw my Kindle across the room and take a long walk to calm my rage? Well, for one the Kindle was a gift from Hubby-pants a few years ago, but I mostly didn’t rage out because I LOVED the way the book was written. It was Beatrice’s love for and intimate knowledge of her sister that propelled her and kept her from accepting the police’s version of events. The characterization was done so well that I never questioned her lack of experience. I mean, she suspected everyone in the whole book! She looked crazy in the process! She never gave up though. And that’s what made it believable. Add in the fact that it’s formatted as though Beatrice is writing a letter to her lost sister, recapping the events that led to her finding the killer, and there’s so much to love about this story. I highly recommend you give it a read. I stumbled across it when my local library suggested it because I’d enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and they were spot on.

So, readers, do you have any literary pet peeves with exceptions? Any novels that, though they exhibit something you normally hate in a book, you ended up enjoying the novel anyway? I’d love to hear about them!

“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!

“Riddled With Scenes That Left Me Thinking…”

No, I’m not talking about something I’ve read. The title of this post was taken directly from fellow author/blogger Richard Leonard’s recent review of Blood in the Paint! Here’s the remainder of the excerpt:

This novel is riddled with scenes that left me thinking “How on earth will he/she get out of this situation?” East does a superb job of creating realism in a world where many OMG moments occur, leaving the reader wondering what could possibly come next. And what does come next is exciting, believable, and edge-of-your-seat thrills.

 

I want to thank Richard for his glowing review, the rest of which you can read HERE!

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!

Request an ARC of Blood in the Paint!

As I’m waiting for my final round of edits to come back to mama, before I send Blood in the Paint to my proofreader and formatter, I’m excited to announce that I am offering a limited number of eARCs to those who want to read it before the official release! (Gosh, that was a long sentence!)

Do you like thrillers and crime and psychologically messed up characters? Do you review everything you read? Like, everything? Like even the backs of cereal boxes? (As in, “I thought the ad copy on the back panel of the Cheerios could have been better worded and I didn’t like the font, either…) Then, I want to offer you an eARC in exchange for your honest review!

Please fill out the form below and you’ll hear from me soon! And if you want to know more about what you’re getting into, just visit the My Books page. The form is there as well, so you don’t have to click back and forth all over the place.

Thank you in advance for the outpouring of requests!

Jerks & Irks LX: What’s the Deal With Romance?

Warning: This is going to be an unpopular post.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a romance reader. I don’t watch romance movies either. If there were a romance food, I probably wouldn’t eat it. Nothing really against it, it just doesn’t appeal to me personally. That being said, I recently finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The book came highly recommended by my mother-in-law, who assured me it was more historical fiction than it was romance. Her recommendation, coupled with the fact that it’s been adapted for a television series on STARZ, led me to give it a try. I like historical fiction, even if there’s just a bit of romance thrown in. After reading the 900-page tome however, I can wholeheartedly disagree with that description.

I had two major gripes with this book. (Spolilers ahead).

  1. Claire Beauchamp is unrealistic. For those who don’t know, Claire touches some kind of mystical stone in Scotland and it whips her through time. She lands in the 1700′s, 200 years prior to her own life. My issue is that she is supposedly happily married in her timeline, but when she ends up with some Scottish clansmen in the earlier time period, she attempts to get back to her husband exactly TWICE in a period of six months or more. Not only that, but when she’s forced to marry one of the clansmen (for political reasons, as well as to save her own ass), she goes along with it with very little resistance. Given the life-saving factor involved, I can forgive her union to Jamie Fraser. Unfortunately, she offers even less resistance when it comes to consummating the marriage. Multiple times. (I mentioned the book is 900 pages, well I’d say between 100-200 of them are dedicated to her having sex with her “new” husband.) Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a prude. I just don’t understand why she acquiesced to her situation so easily, and so readily, when she had a loving husband waiting for her at home. There was no indication that he was abusive or philandering. What gives?
  2. Jamie Fraser is NOT a catch. A lot of readers refer to Jamie Fraser as their “book boyfriend.” Why? I would have slit his throat. First, he beats Claire “within an inch of her life” (direct quote) for disobeying an order and justifies it with some old world, clansmen bullshit. (At least the order was to stay put and she disobeyed by trying to get back to her own time period). He whipped her savagely across the ass like a child. Second, there’s a scene where she tells him she’s not particularly ‘in the mood’ and he proceeds as though he’s going to just take what he wants. They argue and fight. He eventually ‘asks for permission” but explains that “he can’t be gentle about it.” In my opinion, he all but rapes her (the description of the bruises left on her thighs are sickening). But she enjoys it? And afterwards she thinks to herself, “Gentle he would be, denied he would not.” implying he would be gentle if she gave in to his desires, but he would take her by force if need be. Later on in the novel, after Jamie has been rescued from capture, where he was sexually assaulted and feeling particularly emasculated, he says to her, “I want to take you in my bed and use you like a whore.” I get that he wanted to assert his heterosexual-ness, but really? Honestly, this is what passes for romance? Jamie Fraser is women’s idea of the ideal man? Give me a break.

I know this is a very popular series. I’m not hating on it because of that. The book itself was very well-written and extremely well-researched. But I don’t understand the themes enumerated above. Admittedly, I don’t read a lot of romance, but I have come to understand from readers forums that these are common threads.

I have another example if you haven’t clicked out of my post already. Last year I watched The White Queen, adapted from Philippa Gregory’s series. In the first episode, Elizabeth comes across the newly crowned King Richard in the forest. She explains that her husband was killed in the war and she’s about to lose her land. About four seconds later she falls for the young king, even though she’s supposed to be grieving the very recent loss of her husband and father to her children. They meet a day or two later to discuss her land situation and he all but rapes her in the forest. She has to press a dagger TO HER OWN THROAT to get away. The next time they see each other, they get married. Honestly, what in the actual frick?

Please, tell me what is WITH romance? I’m begging someone to explain it to me. (Nicely and politely though. I tried not to bash the genre or those who read it. I just want to start a dialogue.) I’ll see you in the comments section.

 

I’m a Reader’s Favorite!

Okay, I’m exaggerating. Blood in the Past is a reader’s favorite, not me. At least, according to ReadersFavorite.com. I submitted my little psychological thriller for review last summer, shortly after its release. I never opted to pay for the expedited review, choosing instead to just wait patiently and forget all about it. My review is finally here, folks! And it’s a FIVE STAR REVIEW! Eek! Here’s what they had to say about my novella:

BITPP-5star-LoRes

Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers’ Favorite

Actions have consequences that can sometimes go beyond what we think. Blood in the Past demonstrates exactly how tragic those consequences can become in this thriller by Jordanna East. When a handsome Philadelphia cop, Calvin Kyle, takes notice of Jillian, she can’t help falling for him even though he is married. Though he promises that he is about to leave his wife, Jillian continues to hang in limbo, while still hoping for the home and family that she has never had. When Lyla Kyle found her dead mother, the victim of what had officially been ruled as a suicide, she is certain that her womanizing father is somehow to blame and she decides that she must find a way to avenge her mother’s death. When Jason Brighthouse Sr. rushes into a burning building to save a police colleague trapped in the flames of his home, he does not return alive and the devastation is immediately felt by his son. Along with his devastation came a decision that his life was no longer worth living and using his father’s pistol, he ends his life. As one tragedy turns to another, it is hard not to miss the chain of events that lead from one action to a series of consequences.

This hard hitting, yet honest look at how something as innocuous as wandering eyes can lead to so much tragedy makes Jordanna East’s thriller a novel to remember. With the turning of each page, the plot thickens into a pool of blood that just continues to spread from one seemingly innocent little affair. Truthful, hard-hitting and tragic, Blood in the Past is an excellent start to the Blood for Blood Series which is certain to leave cold chills running down your spine.

 

Welcome Back, RH Ramsey!

Just beneath ll 2 (2)

RH Ramsey might as well have her own room around here. Or at least a drawer in the dresser and a toothbrush in the bathroom. She’s graced the blog before and, today, she’s at it again. Everyone, please welcome back Ms. Ramsey as she chats about her newest release, Just Beneath the Surface II: Landon’s Story.

I enjoy blurring the lines between antagonist and protagonist. For, sometimes in life, there’s no one chasing us, making things difficult for us, sucking the life out, or trying to kill us; sometimes, it’s all in our heads.

I mean, have you noticed that we chase, drain, and complicate things for ourselves, causing us to perish by the day? Yes? Well, I agree. And for these reasons, in Just Beneath the Surface II: Landon’s Story (which is not a continuation of Just Beneath the Surface I) the main characters are their own demons.

Landon Adams has come from a place of darkness, pure evil, and Hell. He feels that he has escaped this darkness, and that everyone around him should focus less on the way he’s escaped, and more on the fact that they are stuck in in past. Seven Dickinson is hotheaded beauty. She allows other people, her past issues with poverty, her anger, and her insecurities, to drive her.

In Landon’s opinion, Seven is live entertainment for her friends, family, and anyone who stops to watch her in action, all in the name of being right. Still, Landon sees so much more in her. He finds her warm, loving, selfless, and self-sufficient; she doesn’t need him, at least, she doesn’t realize she doesn’t. And, aside from fighting, swearing, and behaving like someone who should spend a few nights in jail, Landon feels all she needs is a bit of direction to bring out the beauty he sees in her.

Soon, the magnetism that blossoms between them is undeniable. Before long, the magnetism becomes obsession. As time goes on, obsession brings out the monsters Landon believed he had successfully tucked away neatly under his bed, in a pretty little box with a bow.

In Just Beneath the Surface II: Landon’s Story, I remember being very inspired by writing something that, for me, was a bit outside the box. I say this because, when I first started writing and completing books in 2004 or 2005, I felt I had to have a madman chasing a good guy in order for the story to be, well, a conventional story. This changed with Landon’s Story, as I wanted to write something that spoke to the internal struggles, the good guy vs. bad guy conversations, and, most of all, facing trauma in a way that helps us, not sets us several years backward where the pain rears its ugly head. Internalizing, numbing ourselves, pretending, stuffing things under our beds in pretty little boxes with bows, never pays off.

A psychological thriller/suspense (maybe, I think), this story brings you into the mind of a seemingly normal man, into the psyche of a guy who wants the same thing most of us seek: unconditional love. Into the moments of romance, possession, hurt, help, and love, all wrapped up in one. Then, slowly, as the story unfolds, down deep into the valley of sickness, control, and obsession you go.

The superpower of control he once possessed turns to kryptonite. Wires are frayed and shocking that carefully constructed mind – the mind of Landon Adams of Just Beneath the Surface II.

Thanks, East, for the opportunity to share.

You’re very welcome, Ms. Ramsey! Thank you for taking the time to ‘stop by’ and lead us through your motivations and inspirations.

And, without further delay, here’s my review of Just Beneath the Surface II: Landon’s Story:

I received an ARC of JBTS2 and though the polarizing characters, that I didn’t personally identify with, aren’t likable, they stuck with me for days. The novel starts off slow, as the relationship drama builds and sets up, but you can see that–you guessed it–there’s something ‘just beneath the surface’ once again. Landon is one of the creepiest characters I’ve ever read on a page, but I wanted to feel sorry for him. And that’s a sign of talented writing. Well done, RH Ramsey. You’ve done it again.
Just Beneath the Surface II: Landon’s Story is available in e-book and paperback on Amazon. Get your copy soon and check out RH Ramsey’s other releases, too!

My Fave Reads of 2013

I know I said I didn’t have time for these lists, but that was last year. It’s January and I wanna talk about what I read in 2013, dammit! So let’s go! Here’s the top 15 reads of the year (series are grouped together as one), listed in the order in which they were read:

  1. Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I loved Tris Prior’s struggle and spirit and Four soon became one of my favorite male protagonists. This series was last year’s Hunger Games for many, including me. Can’t wait for the movie.
  2. Bone River by Megan Chance – Such an intriguing, beautifully written story. And so well-researched! The twist was a bit predictable to me, but I really enjoyed this one. Bonus: it was a bit outside the box in terms of the genres I usually read.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This one goes without saying. It started off slow, but once the real story began to take shape, I couldn’t put it down. Others may have disagreed with the ending, but I thought it was perfect. I hope the movie adaptation does it justice.
  4. World War Z by Max Brooks – This is THE most thought-provoking zombie apocalypse novel you’ll ever read. Formatting the book as a government report, written and presented after the war, was unique and added a touch of realism that can’t be found in other stories in this genre. The movie…not so much…but thanks for coming, Brad Pitt.
  5. Under the Dome by Stephen King – This turned out to be one of my favorite reads by Stephen King, even if it was a tome and took me almost a month to finish. All I can say is I live in a small town and now I’m terrified of everyone. Thanks, Steve. The TV series is also enjoyable, thought it has taken many liberties, often straying quite far from the original story.
  6. This Plague of Days (Seasons 1 & 2) by Robert Chazz Chute – Another high-brow zombie tale, but this one takes a look at the survivors in very different way. How can it not when one of the survivors is a teenager on the autism spectrum? I definitely recommend this serialized tale.
  7. The Davinci Code by Dan Brown – I know I’m late to the party on this one, but it was absolutely brilliant and it made my list. Don’t judge me. (Just recently saw the movie. Not bad.)
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Yup, late to the party again. But I had to read this before the movie released and it was probably the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read. And, for once, the movie adaptation was almost equally as amazing.
  9. Wool, Shift, & Dust (The Silo Saga) by Hugh Howey - This series is phenomenal and Hugh Howey has made leaps and bounds in my mind, quickly earning the title of My Favorite Author. Can’t wait to kidnap him and keep him in our attic to pick his brain read more from him.
  10. Headhunters by Jo NesboThe Harry Hole Series had been recommended to me long ago, but the library didn’t have the first installment. Fortunately, I found this standalone novel by Nesbo and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a thrilling ride!
  11. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – This novel was highly publicized prior to its release and I worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. It did. Excellent world building, characterization, and attention to detail. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.
  12. Defending Jacob by William Landay – How far will parents go to defend their child? This novel shows you how far. This was an excellent legal thriller with an accurate representation of the human psyche.
  13. Horns by Joe Hill – This novel was weird and awesome at the same time. That’s really all I can say. Movie adaptation on the way, too, starring Harry Potter all grown up.
  14. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey - I’m so glad I read this novel. It is what the title implies: a work of brilliance. I particularly loved the way Sakey paralleled his plot with current events and politics, but in a subtle, clever way. And there’s a sequel on the way! Yippee!
  15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The most poignant WWII story since The Diary of Anne Frank. Told from the POV of Death (a detail I’m not sure if the movie was able to grasp, but I’ll soon find out), this is definitely a must read.

There you have it, folks. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what my list looks like at the end of 2014! Have you read any of these? Are there any other books you’d like to recommend?