Masterful Storytellers

Even though I haven’t been writing recently–this move is proving to be both stressful and time-consuming–that doesn’t mean I won’t have anything new out for you to read!

First up is an anthology being compiled and edited by the esteemed author/screenwriter Joel Mark Harris. Myself and twelve other authors have come together to write a dozen gritty mystery and adventure tales, all with a heavy, pulp fiction feel. Look for the Amazing Adventures Anthology next Tuesday, August 19th!

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Isn’t that a beautiful hand-drawn cover? (And as a contributor, I’m considered a “masterful storyteller! Hot damn!) We have the very talented Elyse Bruce (she’s also one of the authors) to thank for that. And if you like the cover, you’re gonna love the customized, hand-drawn illustrations she created to accompany each story! Can you guess which one is mine?

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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!

Jerks & Irks LXII: The Pros and Cons of a Writing Retreat

Well, folks, I’m back from the weekend writing retreat in Rehoboth Beach, DE. I am happy to say I was pretty productive. I regret to say I don’t know if I’ll do another one. What? I know. Crazy talk. But let’s break the experience down a bit, shall we?

PROS:

  • I was very productive. I wrote over 10,000 words between Friday night, when we checked in, and Saturday evening. It came out to be about fourteen ‘bare bones’ chapters. I wrote so much I had to stop early. While the other ladies were still typing away, I buried my face in my Kindle. Check out was early on Sunday morning and I left even earlier than that, without so much as cracking open my laptop. I had nothing else left in me.
  • It’s easy to write when everyone else around you is writing. I currently write full-time and aim for at least a thousand words a day when I write. But some days I don’t feel like it and some days Hubby-pants comes home early. Other days, there are shows clogging up the DVR that require my attention. But when there are five other people, arduously working, the television is off, etc., there’s really nothing to do but write or risk feeling like an ass. Even though I had nothing left to do by 9pm on Saturday, I still felt a little like an ass when I curled up on the couch with my Kindle.
  • The surroundings are inspirational. Not only was the cottage about twenty feet from the water, not only was there a beautiful view from the main window, not only was there a lovely gas fireplace, but the cottage itself was nice and clean. Why does that matter? It just created a sense of “not a care in the world.” When I’m home, even though I could strictly dedicate two full days to writing and vow not to turn on the TV or surf the internet, the environment isn’t always very appealing. The stains in the carpet. The cats in the hallway throwing up hairballs. The dishes in the sink. The cars driving by. My dumbass neighbor, Tool Time, clamoring away at some home project. These things aren’t inspirational, no matter how nicely my desk is set up.

CONS:

  • There was NO WiFi. My phone barely had enough reception to send texts to my husband. I’m sure there are other locales with WiFi available, but this past weekend, not having WiFi was a drag. Not because I missed scrolling through Facebook (okay, maybe I missed that a little bit), but because writing psychological/crime fiction takes a lot of research. When I arrived at the cottage, I had less than a thousand words written of the next book, Blood in the Paper. I had a general storyline, but I hadn’t done any research yet. I do research as I go, as questions arise. Without WiFi, I was forced to keep writing without knowing if my characters’ surroundings, circumstances, and decisions were even plausible. I ended up stopping on Saturday evening because I refused to go any further without knowing if I was on the right track, if my story was realistic. Before I picked up my Kindle, I read through what I had written so far and jotted down any questions that popped into my head. When all was said and done, I had SEVEN notebook pages of questions that needed answering! Now, do you see why I stopped? The worst case scenario is I have to scrap all the work I did over the weekend and start over and that really grinds my gears, guys.
  • I don’t write like everyone else. I already knew that I don’t fancy writing to music. Instead, I prefer writing with TV reruns on in the background as white noise. At the retreat, however, everyone was fine writing in silence. This drove me nuts. The sound of six people click-clacking away at their keyboards for hours on end was like an auditory form of torture that I think they should experiment with at Guantanamo. On Saturday afternoon, one of the women mentioned she was going for a walk on the beach and I couldn’t put my shoes on fast enough to join her, to hear gentle waves instead of incessant typing for just a few minutes. When we returned from the walk, I found the sound of typing even more jarring and had to sit outside for a little while so I didn’t overturn furniture in a rage of irritation. Why didn’t I just force myself to listen to music, you ask? Because I don’t have any songs stored on my phone or laptop; I love streaming too much. And without WiFi or proper cell phone reception, I couldn’t stream a damn thing.
  • I really did feel like an ass when I couldn’t write anymore. As inspirational as the surroundings and the company proved to be, I don’t like being judged for not writing. At home, there are no judgments. If I want to stop to watch an hour of TV, I can. If I want to catch some of the Final Four games, or watch the Yankees for a bit, I can. There, like I said above, you feel like an ass if you stop writing. I actually had to explain myself to someone when I picked up my Kindle in lieu of my laptop. Mind you, the person wasn’t accusatory when they asked if I was “done for the night” or whatever, but a small part of me resented being asked.
  • People have different sleep schedules. After the whole No WiFi thing, this probably bothered me the most. I slept in the living room, on an air mattress beside the fireplace. It was very cozy and I enjoyed not having to share a room with anyone else (I’m a very light sleeper, even with ear plugs). However, I did not enjoy having to wake up at 7am on both Saturday and Sunday. Not that I’m the type of person to sleep until noon, but I normally wake up at 8 or 9am. I think that’s respectable. Then, even though I was tired later in the day, I had to watch everyone else be able to retreat to their rooms to nap whereas I didn’t have any such option, being set up in the living room. At night, I felt like I was kicking people out when I began setting up my bed to go to sleep. I felt like they wanted to keep writing. Again, I felt judged for wanting to call it a day a little before midnight. Now, I understand that these complaints are probably the sole result of having been the one who slept in the living room, but had I shared a room with someone else, you would have seen that listed here under ‘cons’ instead. I would have been the one waking up whoever was in the living room, or the person sharing the room with me would have woken me up. I would have been the one who wanted everyone to be quiet while I was taking a nap. I would have been the one who felt put out when the living room sleeper set up their air mattress. So you see, there’s no winning when it comes to sleep schedules.

All in all, I’ll summarize the experience like this: My first weekend writing retreat was quite possibly very productive (only time and research will tell), but the arrangements themselves were a bit uncomfortable. Will I do it again? Not sure. Maybe when I start the last book in the Blood for Blood Series, I’ll venture out again to get a 10,000 word head start. But I will only go if there’s WiFi and I have my own room. ;-)

 

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…

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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!