The Museum of Fractured Lives…What a Great Title

I’m going to take a break from blessing you all with my complaints and various insights on life to allow my friend and fellow author, Sally Jenkins, to chat about her collection, The Museum of Fractured Lives, which is just about as awesome of a title as you could come up with. Sally Jenkins is a British writer (so I didn’t “correct” anything she wrote up)  specialising in shorter length fiction. She blogs about all things writing related at http://sallyjenkins.wordpress.com so give her a visit after you read this. And after you buy her book.

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Have you ever loved and lost?

Do you still have an object that reminds you of that special but ill-fated relationship?

It might be a piece of jewellery, a cuddly toy or even an unworn wedding dress.

Letting go of these significant, emotional souvenirs is difficult but sometimes it helps. Once these objects are gone, moving forward with life and starting afresh is much easier.

In Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships will accept these special objects for display.

As a writer (and even though I have never been to Zagreb, Croatia) I have been intrigued by the concept behind this museum. Its exhibits must form a wonderful treasure trove of emotional stories.

This intrigue has resulted in the fictional Museum of Fractured Lives, based in London and, so far, three stories behind the objects donated to this establishment.

Maxine’s Story – Several years ago, Maxine and Kaspar experienced the turbo-charged emotions of teenage romance. But the consequences of their relationship cast a long shadow into Maxine’s adulthood and now she is about to reveal something that she has never told a soul …

Karen’s Story – Karen appears to be a confident business woman in her late forties but her story is pure selfishness. It is the tale of a single woman’s quest to find a man to father her baby. She tempts a work colleague to commit adultery. But he has a secret and their affair has devastating consequences …

Pete’s Story – Pete fell in love with Sarah almost thirty years ago when he was twenty-one. He was singing in a band and living in a bedsit. Sarah was eighteen and had just left school. They planned their life together. Sarah would manage the band and it would become a worldwide success. But the couple’s future goes awry…

Now these three stories are available together in The Museum of Fractured Lives Omnibus along with a prologue which tells how this fictional museum came into being.

The good news is that The Museum of Fractured Lives Omnibus is only 99c until Saturday 4th October.

So why not take this opportunity to indulge yourself with an emotional read which will touch your heart?

Why not indeed. I have had the pleasure of reading Maxine’s Story quite some time ago and will be picking up the Omnibus for myself this week, as I hope you will as well.

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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. ;-)

Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine

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Last year, while I was participating in a local Autumn Authors Fair, I met the lovely Cinsearae Santiago. She is an amazing author and crafts-woman who was gracious enough to ask for my contact information so she could interview me for her award-winning Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine. Live since 2005, it features the poetry and fiction of and interviews with up and coming artists. It was a top-ten finisher in multiple categories of the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll in 2013, including Best Fiction Magazine and Best e-Zine Editor. And that’s just last year!

Cinsearae conducted a very thorough interview in which she asked me about my writing, my characters, and what I’d do if I saw a zombie coming toward me. Here’s an excerpt:

Do you sometimes incorporate actual events in your writing? As a matter of fact, yes. I know, I write psychological thrillers and I’m not a cop, so I must be a serial killer, right? Let me explain. In the opening scene to Blood in the Past, Jillian and her roommate are mugged on a deserted subway platform. I based most of that scene on my own mugging, except mine took place around the corner from my building, not in the subway. Another example is the random gym member in Blood in the Paint who wears impossibly short shorts and is always straddling the machines and squatting in such a way that his “barbells” are showing. Yup, that guy exists. And he goes to my gym. Don’t be jealous. In addition, one of Lyla Kyle’s victims is patterned after a guy who practically stalked me when I was a bartender. He irritated me so much I put him in my novel and killed him off. Yes, authors really do that. No, I can’t go into further details for legal reasons.

 

To read the complete interview, get lost in some awesome short stories, and so much more, click HERE for a digital copy or HERE for a print copy!

 

How I Got My Book Into an Actual Bookstore!

I cheated. Plain and simple.

Okay, maybe I just cheated a little bit. It’s not like I had a friend distract the shopkeeper (Do people still say ‘shopkeeper’?) while I shoved a stack of Blood in the Past paperbacks on a shelf between Gillian Flynn and Dean Koontz.

You see, I belong to a couple of local writing organizations and one of them recently gave me a job. Of sorts. You’re now reading the blog of the South Jersey Writers Group new Account Manager! Please hold your applause. As such, I’m in charge of stocking the local bookstores and cafes with the group’s anthologies and any other books published under their press company, Hypothetical Press. Last Saturday, the president of the group, Amy Hollinger, invited me to join her to have coffee and meet a couple of the vendors, in the hopes it would make the transition easier (meeting the vendors, not drinking coffee).

The first contact I met was the owner of The Book Asylum in Blackwood, NJ. Amy gave her spiel and the owner readily purchased five copies of the current anthology, Tall Tales & Short Stories, as well as five copies of a member’s book, What to Expect When You’re Dead.

I must admit, I was a little nervous to even bring up the fact that I had a few copies of Blood in the Past in my purse. After all, I’m not published under Hypothetical Press, I’m published under my own company, Blood Read Press. Plus, the shopkeeper (Yes, I’m sticking with this antiquated term for now.) had already shelled out quite a bit of money to pay for the other titles. But it turned out that the woman was very nice and we ended up staying to chat and we even tried to get a little writing done, which really only led to more chatting. Then a regular customer joined us and we were all having a merry ole time when the newcomer asked me what I was writing. I immediately pulled out a copy of Blood in the Past for her the flip through and, wouldn’t you know it, the shopkeeper (Stop judging me, it’s my new favorite term.) immediately asked if I wanted her to stock my book as well!

Over the moon, I handed her the other two copies in my purse and quickly decided the affiliate price would be $5/copy so she could sell them for $7 and make a little profit. Yay!

I know. It’s only two books. That’s all I had on me at the time, besides the one the customer was looking at that I’d hoped she’d buy, but didn’t. But it gets better. While discussing that I was working on the next installment in the series, she offered to host a new release signing in her store! Yippie! (Keep checking the Events page for details!)

I plan to drop off more copies in a month or so when I stop in to iron out the details of the signing, but it looks like it might be as simple as finding a friendly shopkeeper and talking up your work! I’m sure it also helped that I’d showered and dressed somewhat nicely, too.

If you plan on doing this with your own work, might I suggest the following:

  • Create a spreadsheet listing all the businesses you intend to visit. Include the name of the point of contact (AKA shopkeepers), phone number, address, email, and a running tally of how many books you last stocked them with, as well as whether or not they paid you in advance or on consignment.
  • If someone pays you for your books up front, write them up a receipt on the spot (I believe you can find receipt pads at any office supplies store) or email them one later THAT SAME DAY. Don’t dilly-dally because you don’t want them to forget about the transaction, delete the email because they have no idea what it pertains to, and then have no record of your arrangement.
  • Keep a folder where you store your copies of the receipts. You might need them to prove your arrangement to another worker in the store and you might even need them at tax time.
  • I didn’t have these at the time (It was snowing and there was only so much I could tuck safely into my purse), but I recommend creating a flyer about yourself and your work and having it on hand so the store can create more of a display and shoppers know they are supporting a local author. You might even want to invest in some upright plastic sign holders in case your books are going to be displayed on a shelf.
  • Be friendly! If you’re gonna walk in there like the grumpy starving artist we all know we can be sometimes, you’re probably not going to get anywhere. Just saying.

Now, before you guys head over to The Book Asylum in Blackwood, NJ and fight over those two copies of Blood in the Past, does anyone have any questions?

Welcome Back, RH Ramsey!

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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!

Undone and Uncensored

This post has been long overdue. I have been busy with revisions of Blood in the Paint, readying it for my beta reader team, and my good friend and fellow author (and member of said beta reader team, teehee), RH Ramsey, has been busy doing her own thing. But I wanted to invite Ms. Ramsey here to discuss her latest release, Undone, and also to share my review. And now I’ll turn it over to her…

First, I have to thank you, Jordanna East. Thanks for the extra nudges and for calling me out on my recent procrastination…with this guest post. Thank you for this opportunity and thank you for your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Muah!

Enough of that :-)

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About Undone.

Undone is a collection of short stories, essays, monologues and excerpts from novels, both released and soon-to-be released.  I think of this book as a way for me to introduce myself. It is a way to sort of shake my hand, look into my eyes, get to know me as a storyteller. I am not one to force myself, my opinions or my thoughts on another individual, and a two hundred page novel is a lot for some people to commit to – especially from a new author.

I thought to myself: Expecting you to download an entire novel, before you have an idea of what you are getting into, is sort of like a road trip – with a blind date. Not everyone wants to waste an entire week, on the awkward silence, finding out they have nothing in common, or complete lack of chemistry.  For this reason, I wondered if there was a way to offer a piece of me, without forcing readers to commit to something that may not be for them.

I think it is only fair that I offer something that represents me, and gives a glimpse into the worlds that I create – see things through my characters’ eyes. Read the short stories – take this short, intense ride. Then, see if you want to go around the world, and read the novels.

Why “Undone?”

There is an eerie glow in coming undone. It is a raw, honest, vulnerable state, and no one is exempt. No matter what falling apart looks like to you – a tear, words you cannot take back, instant gratification through substance or some type of emotional release – we are all connected in that we all come undone. We have seen someone else fall to pieces, whether directly or indirectly.

I write to establish a connection between those who are oblivious, those who are numb, those who are searching desperately for a reason to come away from that lonely ledge.

The stories

Undone is not written with happy endings or lighthearted walks through fields of daisies in mind. It is a collection of stories about topics ranging from grief, to young love doomed from the start, to a son and mother desperate to exist in an unfair world, and much more. The excerpts and monologues are from my novels, Where were you, Just Beneath the Surface and Just Beneath the Surface 2.

As I wrote these stories, it was as if I had watched something horrific unfold, and the only thing I could see, feel and process, was the emotion. Anytime I write, it seems that I see inside of a soul undone, and this is what I try to recreate. I do not see the paintings on the walls or what happened outside the window, but I see instead the way the hearts beat, the colors of a broken spirit.

Again, I thank you for allowing me a place to give some insight into me as a writer and what I wanted to convey with Undone!!

You’re so welcome, Ms. Ramsey! Wow, that was one of the most powerful guest posts I’ve ever seen! RH Ramsey has a way with words, everywhere, I tell ya! If you aren’t convinced, peep my review of Undone:

I received an advanced reader copy of this book months ago and I was vastly impressed by the author’s gift for dialogue. The exchanges are powerful and really pull the reader into the emotions at hand. As in her previous work, I still wish she would add in a little scenery once a while. Scenery adds a realism that dialogue lacks and I think it’s probably the one thing her writing is missing, which is hard to say, since her writing is so powerful.
I enjoyed Kendall’s monologue, although it got a little rushed at the very end where she’s saying where she sees them in ten years. Slowed down, the poignancy of what she’s trying to say would really hit the reader. It was also intriguing to read Spencer’s monologue, to see the abuse from the perspective of the abuser.
My Mother’s Shadow, from Olive’s point of view, was amazing, probably my favorite. I enjoyed Reggie’s half of the story as well. The excerpt of Where Were You, and the short stories Oxytocin and Two Green Chairs, were all exemplary pieces. The collection is a really excellent representation of Ms. Ramsey’s writing and her gift for delving into broken human psyches and portraying their words and actions so masterfully.

The links for RH Ramsey’s current releases, Just Beneath the Surface and Undone, are embedded above, and Just Beneath the Surface 2 will be available soon. If you’d like to learn more about Ms. Ramsey, you can visit her at her blog. :-)