I’m Touched

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—my writing is not for everyone, just as I don’t like everything I read.  What a boring planet this would be if we all liked the same things.  That’s not a bad thing.  I even understand that some folks who like some of my books don’t like all of them, and I experienced a lot of dislike the last two weeks regarding Finger Bang.

That’s okay.  Life goes on.

One thing that I can’t just sit back and listen to, though, is reading comments from readers who seem to think they know everything.  A couple of reviewers commented that the character Kaylee was unrealistic because she had never masturbated.  Well, true to form, I got pissed and ranted on my Facebook page, because, growing up, I was very much like Kaylee.  I grew up in a strict religious household where masturbation and premarital sex were frowned upon.  So guess what?

I didn’t.

And I confessed that on my page, much to my husband’s horror.  ;)   But you know what?  The outpouring of comments from readers was beyond amazing.  It turns out that I was not the only woman who’d never touched herself.  I’m not judging either way, and I hope that’s evident from the first chapter (and more) in the book.  Kaylee’s friends are open, modern women who are more than content to explore their sexuality and even talk about it.

I think (although I have no evidence for it) that the women who find it hard to believe are those who weren’t raised in a religious household where you’ve grown up believing in the very real possibility of hell and that you’ll be going there if you sin.  The problem is that masturbation, while not considered sin outright, is frowned upon because of a perceived lack of control over one’s body “temple,” and it is an unspoken rule that one will not touch oneself.  Premarital sex is a big no-no, but not quite as bad if you’re engaged.  Don’t ask.  So, yes, this environment is conducive to sexual repression and frustration big time.  I often wonder if that’s why I write what I do today.  Maybe it’s the natural outcome of being in that environment.

But I felt the need to share the evidence.  See, those people dogging me are just spouting off at the mouth, assuming knowledge they don’t have.  An article entitled “How Common is Masturbation, Really?” in Psychology Today offers evidence to my argument, stating, “Masturbation is considerably less prevalent than many people believe.”  It also mentions that younger women are less likely to engage in the practice, as well as (surprise, surprise) women from religious backgrounds.

So…I’m not changing what I write any time soon.  I suspect that if you’re on my website reading this, you might be glad to read that.

Posted in Various Musings | Tagged | 15 Comments

A Matter of Perspective

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had readers complain (well, maybe not complain, but voice their opinions) about a specific point of view I’ve used in a book.  For the hell of it, let me tell you a few of those opinions, but then I’ll tell you why I’ve chosen the POVs I have for the books I’ve written.

One reader gave one of the Bullet books a one-star rating because the first book (Bullet) was first person from Valerie’s perspective.  In case you didn’t know, Rock Bottom and Feverish are third person dual perspective and Fully Automatic is third person from Brad’s perspective.  This reader was pissed because, she said, if I wrote the first book in first person, they should all be written in first person, because that was the only kind of book she could get into.  I think she even said that maybe that one-star rating would teach me to stick with first person.  Nope.  ‘Fraid it didn’t.  It just pissed me off that she didn’t give the book a fair chance and then lashed out at me to boot.

Most readers are far more kind.  One reader lamented that Be Careful What You Wish For was first person perspective from Jessica’s POV, and she really wanted to read Kage’s side.  She wanted to know what was going on in his head at this point or that point.  Another reader recently said she’d love (down the road) to know what Sean is thinking in the Nicki books.  I completely understand wanting to know what other characters are dealing with, which is the main reason I chose to write Fully Automatic.

Let’s talk about point of view.  Sometimes I choose a particular point of view because it’s easier for me to get into it as a writer (Then Kiss Me is the perfect example.  I don’t think I could have written that book any other way).  Most times, though, the POV serves the story.  Let me explain a few of my choices, in case you were curious.  It is not something I take lightly, as I feel POV serves the story.

  • Bullet I wrote as first-person perspective, because I wanted readers to feel close to Val.  I wanted them to really feel like they were part of the story, and oftentimes I think first-person perspective accomplishes that mission better than third-person (although close third-person, when done right, can do the same thing).  I don’t think I was one-hundred percent successful, though, because many readers hated Val, thought she made poor choices, didn’t understand why she stayed with Ethan, etc.  I also hoped that her age would explain a lot of that, but…you can’t please everyone, right?  I still stand by my choice, though.  I don’t think Bullet would have been as powerful if told from third person POV.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For.  This book too I wrote from that POV, because I was dealing with very delicate subject matter, one that readers would dismiss and be angry about right off the bat (cheating).  I knew going in that the only way to get readers to be on Jessica’s side was to help them understand first her desperation and second the deep connection she felt for Kage.  Then, once the story is well underway, Jessica feels deep doubts, and she fears that Kage might be cheating on her.  I wanted you as the reader to wonder it too and to have your suspicions.  If you could see inside Kage’s head with dual-person perspective, you would have known exactly what he was thinking and doing and then there would have been no suspense.  Makes sense, right?  I wanted to explore the notion of trust as well as show how history and a little doubt can absolutely poison a relationship.  I don’t think it would have worked as well if you’d known exactly what Kage was thinking and feeling and doing.  I could have, I suppose, written it from third-person POV, sticking solely with Jessica’s perspective, but again—first person just felt right.  I wanted you inside her head, and I think that was a good choice.  I know…not everyone will agree with me.  But know this—“hiding” information from readers can help build tension, doubt, mystery, and intrigue and, many times, that’s why I do it.
  • Fully Automatic I wrote because so many readers begged to know Brad’s story.  What was he thinking?  What was he feeling?  I didn’t want to just write a retelling, though, so I gave a lot of his back story and also focused more on what Brad was doing outside the Bullet story.  You still saw his POV on things that happened in Bullet, of course.  There was no way to avoid that and, really, what the hell kind of book would it have been if none of the story was present in Brad’s POV?  Needless to say, I still got a few complaints.  This time readers said it was merely a retelling of Bullet.  Yeah, I had to bite my tongue a few times.  I need to continue reminding myself that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and not everyone is going to like every book I write.

I will probably never write from various other perspectives simply because I find it confusing as a reader.  For example, I’ve read a couple of books told in first-person but from dual perspectives.  I’ve found that quite confusing.  You all know I have a hard enough time writing from the male perspective anyway.  I don’t dare throw first person into the mix, no matter how compelling it may feel.  I have—in my deep, dark past—written in omniscient third-person POV, but it seems too cold and distant for my type of writing.  Even when I write third-person, I like to hover close to my characters, if that makes any sense.  I want you in their heads and hearts.

And, speaking of, I have a book I need to finish writing.  Happy reading! :)

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Another Milestone

Holy crap!  My Facebook page just hit 8000 Likes.  I am blown away.  What blows me away more, though, is the amazing response I received from my author and blogger friends when I asked for donations to my celebration giveaway.  I am humbled and honored that they would be so generous.

I’ve set this giveaway up a little differently from past ones.  This time I’ve divvied up the prizes into four packs, so there will be four winners of lots of stuff.  Here are all the prizes:

International Prize Pack #1

  • Signed Jade C. Jamison book of winner’s choice
  • Jade C. Jamison swag pack
  • Any five Jade C. Jamison ebooks of winner’s choice
  • Ebook: Giving In (The Shore Series #1) – M.R. Joseph
  • Smashwords copy of CD Gorri’s Wolf Moon and two copies for friends, courtesy of Trina’s Tantilising Tidbits
  • Any Daryl Banner ebook, winner’s choice
  • Ebook:  Her Ride – Rachael Orman
  • Ebook:  On My Knees – Meredith Wild
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of BJ’s Book Blog
  • $5 Amazon (or similar) gift card, courtesy of Lisa Salvary/PR Mktg Sales Blog
  • Ebooks:  Naughty Nookie Series: Fall Into Love and two ebooks for friends, Naughty Nookie Series:  Mona and Naughty Nookie Series:  A Bitch in Time – Serena Akeroyd
  • Ebooks:  Forbidden and Closure – Angela Ford, courtesy of Zee Books Blog
  • Ebook:  Faint Heart – Lizzie Ashworth
  • Ebook:  Forgive Us Our Trespasses – M.L. Steinbrunn
  • $10 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Elizabeth Hayes & Ashlee Taylor
  • Any ebook from Liz Crowe’s backlist, winner’s choice
  • $3.99 ebook of choice, courtesy of author Kathy Coopmans
  • Ebook: Apocalypse Anthology, courtesy of Cynthia Shepp
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Submit and Devour
  • Any 2 ebooks from J.M. Walker’s backlist, winner’s choice
  • Ebook:  Out of the Ashes – S.M. Lynn

International Prize Pack #2

  • Any four Jade C. Jamison ebooks of winner’s choice
  • Ebooks:  The Saving Angels Series (Marigny Street, Red Dirt Road, and Lotus Blossom Lane) – Annie Rose Welch
  • Any Lori L. Clark ebook, winner’s choice
  • Ebook:  Blood Wolf – Helen Hardt
  • Ebooks:  Intentional and Unintentional – MK Harkins
  • Ebook:  Frostbitten World – CS Patra
  • Ebooks:  Marking Her and Marking Him – Elena Reyes
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Panty Dropping Book Blog
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Escape to Bookland
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Rosie’s Book Heaven
  • Erotic Romance Swag Pack, courtesy of Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads
  • Ebook set of Rock Star Romance Trilogy (Sophie’s Turn, Sophie’s Run, and Sophie’s Encore) – Nicky Wells
  • Smashwords copy of CD Gorri’s Wolf Moon and one copy for a friend, courtesy of Trina’s Tantilising Tidbits
  • Ebooks:  Naughty Nookie Series: Marina and ebook for a friend, Naughty Nookie Series:  Mona & Marina – Serena Akeroyd
  • $3.99 ebook of choice, courtesy of author TwinsieTalk Book Blog
  • Ebook: Paranormal Anthology with a Twist, courtesy of Cynthia Shepp
  • Ebook: Wedding Dreams – Savannah Leigh/JA Hensley
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of D.J. Pierson
  • Any Daryl Banner ebook, winner’s choice

US Only Prize Pack #1

  • Signed Jade C. Jamison book of winner’s choice
  • Jade C. Jamison swag pack
  • Any three Jade C. Jamison ebooks of winner’s choice
  • $5 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Perusing Princesses
  • $2.99 Amazon ebook of choice, courtesy of Crazy Daisy Book Whore
  • Smashwords copy of CD Gorri’s Wolf Moon and two copies for friends, courtesy of Trina’s Tantilising Tidbits
  • Ebook, Kindle only:  Saving Amy – S.M. Harshell
  • Any ebook of winner’s choice, up to $10 value, courtesy of Booze, Bookz, and Bad Boyz
  • Blog and random author swag, courtesy of Livin Simple Promotions
  • Any Daryl Banner ebook of winner’s choice
  • Ebook:  Project Lexi – Lisa Survillas
  • Ebooks:  Naughty Nookie Series: Fall Into Love and two ebooks for friends, Naughty Nookie Series:  Mona and Naughty Nookie Series:  A Bitch in Time – Serena Akeroyd
  • $20 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Ramblings From Beneath the Sheets
  • Signed paperback:  Return To Newport – AL Parks
  • Miscellaneous swag from Austin Book Bash, courtesy of My Smut Hut
  • Ebooks:  Intentional and Unintentional – MK Harkins
  • Ebook: Stalkers: A Collection of Thriller Stories, courtesy of Cynthia Shepp
  • Any ebook, winner’s choice, up to $1.99 value, courtesy of Words Turn Me On

US Only Prize Pack #2

  • Any Jade C. Jamison ebook of winner’s choice
  • $1.99 Amazon ebook of choice, courtesy of Crazy Daisy Book Whore
  • Smashwords copy of CD Gorri’s Wolf Moon and one copy for a friend, courtesy of Trina’s Tantilising Tidbits
  • Ebook, Kindle only:  Saving Amy – S.M. Harshell
  • $20 Amazon gift card, courtesy of Kylie the Bookaholick
  • Any Daryl Banner ebook, winner’s choice
  • Any ebook, winner’s choice, up to $1.99 value, courtesy of Book Worms
  • Ebook:  Forgive Us Our Trespasses – M.L. Steinbrunn
  • Nerd Alert swag pack
  • Ebook:  Out of the Ashes – S.M. Lynn
  • Ebooks:  Intentional and Unintentional – MK Harkins
  • $5 Amazon gift card and Book Bash swag, courtesy of Jennifer’s Book Obsession
  • Ebook:  Frostbitten World – CS Patra
  • Ebooks:  Naughty Nookie Series: Marina and ebook for a friend, Naughty Nookie Series:  Mona & Marina – Serena Akeroyd
  • Signed postcard of The Power of Love – Ada Marie
  • Ebook: Stardust: A Futuristic Romance Collection, courtesy of Cynthia Shepp

The giveaway begins tomorrow night at midnight Eastern time.  Thank you, my friends, for taking this journey with me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Stop the Madness! No, Don’t!

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew.  I’ve done that this year—big time.  It’s all good, but I’m feeling a little stressed and wonder if I should spend more time marketing myself and less time writing.  The problem is I only want to write.  Yes, I also want to interact with readers, but I absolutely hate the marketing aspect of writing.

Ah, well.  For now, I’m not going to worry about that.  I’m going to write.  And here’s what’s on the horizon…

  • Substitute Boyfriend.  This story will be in the anthology Hot Summer Nights, coming out August 3.  I’m still waiting for beta notes from one more reader, and then after polishing it up, I have to ship it off to the powers that be.  I’m proud to be in this anthology with these other awesome writers:  Abbie St.  Claire, Avery Claire, Courtney Cross, Geri Foster, JW Phillips, Kelly Collins, Kimmie Easley, Lacey Davis, and Rachael Orman.  I’ve truly enjoyed working with these ladies, and I can’t wait for you to read this collection of HOT stories. 

Substitute Boyfriend is the story of Elizabeth Slade, a college English teacher who moonlights as an indie erotica author.  She struggles with writing sex scenes until she finds hot guy Ridley who helps her act them out as her pretend boyfriend.  When she catches him getting cozy with another woman, she turns to her best friend Roman who becomes a substitute for Ridley, and then she finds herself having to choose between the two.

  • Punctured, Bruised, and Barely Tattooed is a story that you’ll be able to read in the Inked anthology.  I and four great writer friends (JM Walker, Stacy Gail, K. Pinson, and Scarlett Metal) are all penning stories that center around all things tattooed.  I’m almost halfway through writing this story, and I’m the one who set the deadline of first drafts due July 10.  Let’s see if I can write 30,000 words in four days.  That would be a personal best.  Hell, at this rate, I’ll be very happy if I can get ‘er done in the next seven days.  That would still be close to target, close enough for everything else to fall neatly into place.

Punctured is Kory’s story.  She’s lusted after hot tattoo artist Stone for a while now, and—on a dare—she asks him out on a date.  He’s hiding a secret, but so is she.  Could her secret ruin their relationship before it starts?  Before I began writing this story, I thought it was going to be lighthearted and fun, but HOLY SHIT.  It’s dark.  It’s sweet, sure, but I didn’t know I was going to be wading in dark territory until I got there.

Here’s what’s coming up, and damn…I’d love to be able to do all of this before 2014 is over, but we shall see.  Please cross your fingers for me.

  • Secret Project #1—a short story for a collection for a book signing event.  This one has to be done soon.  You will see this at some point.  It will probably involve characters from Bullet, but I haven’t decided yet.
  • Secret Project #2—a Christmas anthology I’ve been invited to be a part of.  I have no f*cking idea what I’m writing for this yet, but it has to come after, because it’s due early October.
  • Seal All Exits—I’ve got to get this written before someone pulls an Annie Wilkes on me.  It’s Heather and Keifer’s story (Tangled Web #3), and it too is darker than I’d at first anticipated.  I’ve already bought a blog tour package for this baby, so I just need to get my ass in gear and finish writing it!
  • Boiling Point—This is going to be Feverish 1.5, a novella that will launch the Feverish series.  It will focus on Clay and Emily when Last Five Seconds goes on tour.
  • Slash and Burn—This is Nick’s story, Bullet #5, and the plot is entirely hammered out in my head.  I cannot wait to start writing this one.
  • Savage—This is a zombie story.  Yes, a zombie story, but also a story of nostalgia, of regrets, of longing and fear.  This one’s been brewing for a while and I’m still working out all the details, but I think it’s gonna be good.  Yes, there will also be sex, but not sex with zombies.  *Whew*
  • Another story for Pink Shades of Words, volume 2.  I have to get that done late this year too for publication in early 2015.

Yeah…that’s what I want to finish this year.  I’ve already got some things slated for early 2015—Nicki Sosebee #10, Lies, and that too is mostly plotted in my head.  Also another anthology and my story will revolve around a firefighter.  Man, is it getting hot in here?

Okay, so after writing this, I’m thinking I just wasted so much time writing about my plans when I could have been writing a story.  Just kidding.  If you see a little less of me on social networks, that’s why.  I’m feeling the pressure and I have a lot on my plate.  I’ve been known in the past to write about a book a month, so if I can manage that, I might be able to meet all these deadlines.  Please cross your fingers for me.  ;)

Posted in Various Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Free Read for You!

Some of you know I contributed a short story to the anthology Pink Shades of Words. I was proud to be part of that. I and sixteen other authors donated to this project to help raise funds for breast cancer research in the name of the Fifty Shades of Pink Avon Breast Cancer Team. It was on sale from February through May 2014, and now the rights to the story have reverted back to me. I might throw it in a collection someday but, for now, for those of you who missed picking up the anthology, here is the story that was my contribution to the cause.

Final Stage

Ruth Manning had always tried to live her life by following all the rules.  She had been, for the most part, a dutiful wife, mother, daughter, and employee.  Save for a few minor slip-ups along the way, she had succeeded, which is why her boss found her behavior so unorthodox that Friday afternoon in October.

Ruth tapped on the big wooden door just enough to get Mr. Potter’s attention.  She heard his baritone voice answer, “Come in,” and she turned the doorknob, entering one slow step at a time.

Mr. Potter was working on some papers at his desk.  His hand, still holding the pen, rested on the side of his head where his hair was starting to thin and his scalp had started peeking through.  Ruth cleared her throat, being as quiet as she could.  Mr. Potter raised his eyebrows, impatiently urging Ruth to speak.

“Mr. Potter, I’d like to take next week off.”

His eyebrows slowly furrowed.  “Ruth, you know company policy states that you must give me one week’s notice before requesting more than a day off.”

“I’m aware of that, sir.  But I really need to take some time…for myself.”

Mr. Potter looked down at his report.  In the twenty years he had known Ruth, she had never made outrageous requests for time off.  He took a deep breath and asked, “Is there something going on that you’d like to talk about?”  He suspected that maybe she was getting a divorce or visiting her daughter out of state who desperately needed her mother.

She pursed her lips.  She knew she should give him a reason, but she wasn’t ready to talk about it.  “I just need some time, sir.”

Mr. Potter knew Ruth had more than two weeks of vacation time saved up.  He sighed.  “All right.  Take the week.”

“Thank you,” she said, handing him the piece of paper recording her request for leave.

Mr. Potter signed the appropriate place on the form and handed it back to Ruth.  “Just be sure to give me more notice next time, and don’t tell anyone else about this.  If it gets out that you receive special favors, then everyone else will expect them.”

She nodded.  “Thank you, Mr. Potter.”  She knew there would be no next time.  She left work at the end of the day, still looking sharp in her professional suit, a slate gray jacket and skirt that she wore with a white blouse and sensible low-heeled shoes.  Today felt like a normal day, but it was not.  Ruth felt grateful that Mr. Potter hadn’t remembered she’d been gone yesterday afternoon for a doctor’s appointment or he might have asked more questions that she wasn’t ready to answer.

At home that weekend, she pretended everything was normal.  It wasn’t difficult because Jim was absorbed in football—both pro and college—constantly flipping channels from one game to the next, occasionally getting up to grab a sandwich, a soda, or go to the bathroom.  She spent most of her time in the sunroom, tending to her plants and trying not to remember.

“Ruth, you have Inflammatory Breast Cancer.”

 The words she tried to ignore echoed in her ears.  Other words like “metastasized” and “stage four” kept the rhythm going, and finally she went for a long walk, hoping to clear her head.  The walk around the neighborhood didn’t help, though, and when she walked in the front door, she simply stared at herself in the mirror near the front door in the entryway.  She looked healthy.  Her blue eyes were still clear and bright; her skin, though it had more lines every year, still looked vibrant and smooth with only a few spots that were easily hidden under her pale foundation; her hair, though gray and wiry, still appeared bright and shiny.  Her mouth drew down into a frown, her nose red from the cool air of the walk. 

She turned away from the mirror, unable to look at herself anymore.  She couldn’t believe the doctor knew what he was talking about.  Surely he had confused her results with someone else’s and his office would call next week, his nurse laughing sheepishly that they had made such a stupid mistake.

* * *

On Monday morning she got out of bed and got ready, even though she wasn’t going to work.  She hadn’t told Jim that she’d taken the week off.  She didn’t want to tell him what the doctor had said.  She wasn’t ready yet.

Their morning routine went just like any other morning.  She arose before he did and took her shower.  By the time he got up, she was already in the kitchen.  They exchanged good morninggreetings and he poured a cup of coffee, then sat at the table, glancing through the newspaper.  She sat next to him, jotting down her regular “to do” list, but her “to dos” today were just for show.  She didn’t really intend to buy milk on the way home or return the shoes she’d bought two weeks ago that didn’t fit properly.  “Hmm,” he muttered.  “Looks like City Council finally authorized the downtown road repair.  You might have to take a different route to work starting next month.”

“Oh,” she nodded, knowing he would need no more response than that.  She finished her coffee and rinsed the cup, placing it in the dishwasher as Jim folded his paper and left it beside his cup on the table.

He rose and kissed her on the cheek.  “See you tonight,” he said and walked out the door.

She took his cup and plate from the table, rinsed and put them in the dishwasher, and sighed.  She turned off the light, grabbed her purse, and walked out the door, locking it as she left.  She watched Jim’s black sedan drive down the street as she got into her blue one and backed out of the driveway.

She started driving her regular route to work, realizing that it would be pretty stupid to eat up a week of vacation; she’d been saving up her time, hoping to talk Jim into taking a Caribbean cruise next summer.  She’d always wanted to be on a big ship in the ocean—she loved the smell of the salty air, the warm breeze, the sun shining brightly without a shadow to cast down on her.  She imagined a week spent doing nothing—traveling to various ports, maybe catching a show, swimming in the afternoon, gambling a little, eating well.  Now, though, she might never have the chance.

It was stupid—she had the maximum amount of sick leave she could accrue—one hundred and fifty days and not an hour more.  But taking sick leave would mean she was sick, and she refused to believe she was.

Instead of turning off the highway and heading toward the drab brick county building as she would have any other workday, she kept driving north, finally taking a turnoff five exits down the road.

“Call me on Monday so we can schedule your chemotherapy and set a potential date for your surgery.”

Surgery?  She’d never had surgery before—not for gall bladder problems (like her mother had), not for appendix problems (like her daughter Mary Anne), not for hernia problems (like Jim); not for a hysterectomy (like her sister); she’d never even had a c-section when her children were born.  But this surgery was just the beginning.

“Ruth, what you have is rare.  It’s treatable, but we’re looking at surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  You’re still young enough and healthy enough to withstand with rigors of…” 

Chemotherapy and radiation would mean it was real.  She wasn’t ready for it to be real.

She’d never gone to the mall during the week, so she wasn’t sure what time the doors opened.  She sat in her car waiting, leaving the engine running with the heater on.  The warmth on her toes helped her relax some, but she gripped the wheel, her face turning down in a grimace.  “How can I be dying when it feels like I haven’t even lived?”  She shook her head and rested it on the steering wheel.

* * *

She and Jim lay quietly in bed.  His larger hand was holding her smaller, seemingly fragile one, and her soft brown hair spread out over his firm chest, her head resting in the crook of his arm.  His voice was soft and gentle.

“Where should we live when we get married?” he asked.

She interlaced her fingers through his and batted her eyelashes, trying to stay awake.  “I thought we would live here, didn’t you?”

“I don’t know.  There aren’t many job opportunities here.  Not much chance of being a stable breadwinner for our family.”

She sighed, stirring under the warm covers but reluctant to sit up.  “Where do you want to live?”

He cleared his throat, and she heard a seriousness in his voice that she hadn’t heard before.  “I was thinking of enlisting in the army.”

Her eyes widened and she sat up, holding the sheet to her chest.  “The army?  Do you want to get yourself killed?”

“People are talking draft, Ruth.  Would you rather I enlist freely or be drafted and sent to Vietnam?”

She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, not wanting to look at him.  She loved him so much; she didn’t want to think that he could fly overseas and die.  She felt his warm hands on her shoulders, and she looked over and met his brown eyes.  “I don’t want you to get killed.”

His full lips turned slightly up, almost into a smile.  “I’m not going to have a choice.  And I’ve done my research.  The army will help me care for you and our family.”

She knew she couldn’t argue.  She loved Jim and would marry him, follow him anywhere he took her.

She bent over and picked up her dress off the floor.  Her parents would be expecting her soon.  She hurriedly dressed and let him kiss her sweetly before wrapping up tightly in her wool coat.  “Let me drive you home.”

“Jim, you’d better not.  Then they’d know.”

“They’re going to find out soon enough.”  He grinned, his brown eyes flashing.  “Or would you rather elope?”

She playfully slapped his arm.  “I guess I’d better talk to them.”  She slipped her feet in her shoes.  “You can drop me off a block away from home, okay?”

But she hadn’t noticed until they got outside that the snow had started coming down heavily; her breath flew out of her mouth like smoke, and she realized the temperature had dropped at least ten degrees since she’d come over.  The snow quickly accumulated on her shoulders as she waited for Jim to unlock the car door.  She stepped in, shuddering the whole mile to her house.  Jim had turned the heater on, but it was blowing cold air on her feet.

Jim didn’t stop a block away but pulled right in front of her two-story white house.  All the lights were on.  She knew that meant that everyone else was home from various activities and ready to sit down to dinner.  Jim leaned over toward her in the seat.  “You sure you don’t want me to come in?  No better time than the present to ask your parents…”

Ruth sighed.  He was right.  She’d put it off long enough.  She was a senior in high school and would turn eighteen right before graduating; she would soon be an adult.  Her parents knew she and Jim went out to the movies every weekend.  They just didn’t know she spent a couple of hours with him every afternoon.  “How about on Saturday?  They’ll be expecting you then.”

He nodded and smiled.  “Okay.”

She kissed him one last time before rushing up the sidewalk, sliding, almost skating, so that she wouldn’t slip and fall.  She heard his car slowly pull back onto the street as she walked in the front door.  She hurried to the dining room where her parents, sister, and three brothers sat already eating.  Her mother stood.  “Ruth, I’m glad you’re here.  Why don’t you help me with dessert?”

Ruth, flushed and barely warming up, met downcast eyes from the family except from her father, whose eyes seemed cold but communicated nothing.  Her mother clipped to the kitchen, and Ruth hustled around the table to catch up.  Her mother got some strawberries and whipped topping out of the refrigerator; Ruth grabbed dessert plates out of the cabinet.  She said nothing.

Her mother placed shortcakes on each plate before finally saying, “Ruth, have you been over at Jimmy Manning’s house every day after school this whole year?”

Ruth’s pupils widened.  “Um, yes.”

Her mother cleared her throat, grabbing several spoons from the silverware drawer.  “And what exactly have you been doing for two or three hours every afternoon after school?”

Ruth drew in a deep breath.  She paused, then finally said, “Talking.”

Her mother began spooning the dripping strawberries carefully onto each cake.  “Talking.  About what?”

Ruth felt the muscles in her shoulders tense.  “Marriage.”

Her mother gently laid the spoon back in the strawberry mixture.  She looked at Ruth and inhaled deeply.  “Ruth, you haven’t finished school yet.  What makes you think you’re ready for marriage?”

“I love him, mom.”

Her mother picked up the spoon again.  “How can you be so sure?”

“I just know.”

Her mother finished putting the strawberries on the cakes and reached for the whipped topping.  Ruth saw her jaw clench.  She didn’t look at Ruth as she dropped a large dollop of topping over each cake oozing with strawberries.  She said, “I certainly hope the two of you have not fornicated.  You know what the Good Book says about that.”  Ruth remained silent.  “A sin is a sin, Ruth.”  Her mother set the spoon down and began placing the lids back on the strawberries and topping.  “I suppose if you have, then you’d better marry that boy.  Better than burning in a lake of fire.”

Ruth could barely sleep that night, but she knew she’d made the right decision about marrying Jim.  She would wear white, and no one would know any better….

* * *

The foot traffic in the mall was light and quiet.  Only a few shoppers roamed around, and Ruth walked quietly, listening to the soft clicks of women in heels and jazzy music lilting in the echoing cavern of the mall.  She smelled the faint sweet odor of caramel popcorn and thought of finding the shop peddling it, but she didn’t look very hard.  She wandered in and out of clothing stores, halfheartedly pushing blouses aside but buying nothing.  Finally, she sat on a large carved wooden bench in the middle of the walkway, surrounded by rubber plants.  She looked up at the bright skylight above her as her thoughts drifted back, a tear slowly falling down her cheek.

She remembered raising babies as an army wife while she and Jim slowly drifted apart.  Jim had told her he loved her, but he didn’t seem to like her very much.  He spent a lot of time away, and when Jimmy Jr. and Mary Anne went to high school, Ruth found herself wondering what to do.  She’d never gone to college, never pursued a career.  She felt fairly useless.  Her children no longer needed her help with homework or rides to school; they rarely sought her advice anymore.  Her house could only get so clean.  She felt trapped by her home.  Should she go to school?  Should she find a job?  Should she leave and begin life over?  She shook her head; even though her family had little use for her, she felt obliged to stay.  Her parents would not approve, and how could she live with herself if her children felt abandoned?  She needed something, though, and spent several weeks at the library and Job Service, putting together the first resume of her life.

Eventually, she obtained an entry-level position with the county clerk.  The job was simple enough; other workers filled out forms, and she typed them into the computer.  She’d never seen a computer before, and she loved watching the blinking yellow box respond to her fingers hitting the keys, filling the black screen with the words she typed.  The blanks on the forms corresponded to the blanks in the computer, so the job was easy for her.  She also answered the phones and helped customers on occasion, but her main duty was typing.

She loved the job at first.  She felt fulfilled by having a place to go during the day and earning extra money that she could spend on whatever she felt like.  But most evenings at home she still felt alone—the kids were participating in school activities, and if Jim was home, he was parked in front of the television.  She redecorated the house with her money, but even that didn’t take much time or energy.  She went to church every Sunday but felt like she was just putting in time.  She soon found herself in another unfulfilling rut.

Around that time, Pete Johnson started working in the office.  Pete was about eight years her junior.  Ruth had taken on further job duties and received a promotion, and Mr. Potter hired Pete to take over her old job.  Ruth was in charge of training Pete.  He had light brown hair and green eyes, with a smile that lit up his entire face.  He had a sarcastic sense of humor and managed to make Ruth laugh easily.

Because Ruth and Pete still managed the data-entry part of the job, they spent more time with each other than with any other employees in the office.  They began going to lunch every day, enjoying each other’s company.  One Tuesday afternoon, Pete said, “Hey, Ruthie, there’s a new French restaurant a few blocks away I’ve been wanting to check out.  How’s that sound for lunch?”

They’d usually gone to fast-food places or delis, somewhere they knew they’d be fed in an hour or less, but lunch at a real restaurant sounded pleasant.  “Why not?”

Ruth had never had French food, so she wasn’t sure what to order.  Pete recommended the Coq au Vin, and they sat sipping iced tea while waiting for their order.  “So, Ruth, tell me more about you.  I mean…I’ve heard all about the kids and your husband, but tell me about you.”

She blushed.  “Like what?”

“What are your dreams?  What do you really want to do with your life?”  Ruth felt as though Pete had been looking in her head.  She didn’t know what she wanted to do; she only knew she didn’t feel fully satisfied.  Unlike her husband, Pete seemed to care about Ruth on the inside, what she wanted for herself, rather than what he wanted from her.

“I don’t really know.  I almost feel like I’m starting fresh.”  She took a sip of her tea.  Before a frown formed on her brow, she asked, “What about you?”

He grinned.  “I told you I was saving up for law school, and I’m definitely going to do it.  I think in about a year, I should have enough.”

“Why don’t you take out student loans?”

“Are you kidding?  I just finished paying off the ones from my Bachelor’s degree.  I don’t want to do that again.”

“But wouldn’t you make enough money as a lawyer to pay them off quickly?”

He smiled again, his dimples carving large arcs in his cheeks.  “I guess so.  But then I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you.”

She blushed again.  If she didn’t know better, Pete was hitting on her.  But she must be imagining it; she was too old for him.  And she was married.  He was young and good-looking and could find any woman he wanted.  She sipped more tea and finally allowed her eyes to meet his again.  They were open and honest.  She was imagining it.  Still, her right finger gently pulled back a lock of her brown hair as she wondered if her new moisturizer was really hiding the fine lines she’d started noticing around her eyes.  She smiled and Pete smiled back.  His eyes drifted to her lips and back to her eyes.  She wasn’t imagining it.  She forced herself to swallow.  “I guess you’re right.”

His smile faded.  “What are you doing after work?”

She felt her smile disappear as goosebumps formed all over her body.  “I was planning to go shopping.”  She inhaled deeply.  “Why?”

“Because I think I’d like to spend more time with you.”

That afternoon at work, she felt young and desirable.  Pete never said what he had in mind, but her imagination ran wild.  She felt guilty, having done nothing, but she decided she would do whatever he suggested.  Thoughts of eternal fire slowly dissolved in her mind as she thought instead of the fire that burned within her, wishing it to be quenched by Pete’s lips.  Jim had had plenty of affairs during their marriage—this much she knew.  So one little indiscretion she could justify in her mind.

Pete came by her desk about an hour before it was time to leave work.  He asked, “Do you trust me?”

“Yes.” 

After work, he drove her to a hotel just a few blocks from work and made her feel like she was twenty again.  She could feel what he must have seen.

They continued seeing each other this way for about three months.  After the first week, they started going to Pete’s apartment.  He had a roommate who was never there in the afternoon, and they had the place to themselves.  One afternoon as she lay in his arms, she thought seriously about leaving Jim.  Jimmy Jr. was a senior in high school, Mary Anne had left for college, and she and Jim hardly ever spoke anymore.  She knew she’d be able to carve out a happy niche with Pete.  He made her feel happy and alive.  She rested her head on her arm, ready to tell him what she was thinking.

Before she could speak, though, he lifted his hand and pushed her hair to the side.  “I want to tell you something,” he said.  She took a deep breath, not liking the sound of his voice.  “I was accepted into law school.  I’ll be leaving next month.”

Her heart felt as though he had taken it into his hand and crushed it.  “Oh.”  But maybe… “Where is it?”

“It’s in New York.”

Ruth looked down at his sparsely hairy chest.  “Would you want some company?”

Pete smiled.  “My nose will be buried in books.”  He saw something in her eyes, and his smiled faded.  “Ruthie, you can’t leave your family.  You and I both know that.”

She didn’t know that, but she knew she was being rejected.  “I guess I can’t.”  She slowly slid out of bed and quietly got dressed.

“We’ve had fun, haven’t we?”

She nodded, not wanting him to know that tears were streaming down her face.  She took a deep breath and whispered, “Yes.”  But now she was wondering why she had done it in the first place.  The thought of going back to Jim’s cold bed made her shudder.

* * *

Later, she sat on a picnic bench, eating a chocolate ice cream cone and watching the crisp brown leaves drift past her feet, hearing an occasional one scrape across the sidewalk as though it was reluctant to leave the park.  The sun still shone high over the treetops; it was cool outside but pleasant enough that her sweater kept her warm.  She barely tasted or even felt the creamy glide of the ice cream as it slid down her throat.  After a while, she grew irritated with the breeze.  The leaves started blowing into her lap, her hair.  She threw the bottom part of the soggy cone into the trash and felt warm tears streaming down her face.

“Ruth, I don’t want you to give up hope.  This cancer does have a high mortality rate, but you have a chance.  You’ll have to undergo chemotherapy first.  We have to kill the cancer before we go in surgically…”

She reached into her purse and found the picture of her grandson, a fine young man who would be going to high school himself in about a year.  Time had simply refused to stop, and she looked at the picture of him when he was three years old, the one she’d had in her wallet for more than a decade.  The colors had faded slightly, but nothing could remove the feeling she got every time she looked at Charlie’s picture.  He had a bit of the devil in his eyes just like his daddy, Jim Jr.  But Charlie touched a spot in Ruth’s heart that her children never did.  Her own children, though she’d loved them and through no fault of their own, made her feel anxious and inadequate.  Charlie made Ruth feel loved simply because of who she was, made her feel appreciated.  She saw in his eyes the unconditional love of a child she’d expected but been unable to find as a young mother.  She felt relaxed and happy with Charlie.  Charlie, though young, seemed to understand her more than anyone else on the planet.

* * *

“Grandma, how come your cookies taste so good?”

Ruth looked down at little Charlie.  She sat in the chair and stroked his cheek.  “Didn’t you know it’s because I made them with all the love in the world?”

Charlie grinned.  “But mom makes cookies with love, too.”

She smiled back.  “Yes, but grandma’s love is always extra special.”  She couldn’t explain it to him but knew she didn’t need to when he wrapped his small stick-like arms around her waist.  She hugged him tightly, breathing in the smell of his hair.  She kissed him on the forehead.  “Do you want another?”

He nodded.  “And then let’s go watch cartoons.”

She stood up, reaching for another cookie.  “It’s a deal.”

* * *

She walked to the car and reached for a tissue, rubbing it under her eyes.  She realized that Charlie wasn’t the only person who had ever loved her completely in her life.  Ruth had simply been at a point in her life, when Charlie had come along, where she could accept that sort of love, could recognize that it was love.  She’d felt, as a mother, that her children’s love was based on a fulfillment of needs like food and shelter.  She hadn’t realized that children are so dependent upon their mother that they tell her they love her when she’s giving them a baloney sandwich or tucking them in bed at night.  It’s not that they loved her because of those acts, but because those acts had defined her as that person not only in the children’s minds, but in her own as well.  Looking back, Ruth realized that Charlie was merely her realization of letting go, of finally accepting herself, good and bad. 

And maybe she needed to forgive Jim, too.  He had spent the last several decades trying to be a good husband, to earn a solid living, to give her what she needed.  He’d just forgotten that she needed him most.  And maybe she needed to tell him rather than feel alone.  He would be home from work soon.  She would tell him now—first, that she loved him, that she needed him; second, that she needed him especially now.

She turned the key in the ignition and slowly eased the car into the dimly lit street back toward the freeway.  She was going to call the family together for a large dinner this weekend.  She had a lot to share with them.  But first she wanted to hug her husband and mend what she could—then she’d do the same with her children.

She pulled in the driveway and parked next to Jim’s car.  She felt her heart swell as she stepped out and walked toward the front door.  The doctor had said she might die, but for the first time in a long time, Ruth Manning believed that she might really live.

Posted in Book Excerpts, Various Musings | Tagged | 4 Comments

Secrets

When you get down to it, I write about secrets…things people are afraid of saying, because they think it makes them vulnerable. Things people are afraid of admitting, because they think it shows their weaknesses. Really, that’s what my writing focuses on. Think about it. If my characters could admit that they loved each other as soon as they knew it, a lot of the conflict and angst could be avoided.

Granted, it doesn’t always work that way. In my upcoming book Finger Bang, there is no question that Kaylee and Blaze like each other, once they’ve made it past the initial awkward phase. There are other obstacles they have to face, and in this case, Kaylee’s keeping more secrets from her family than from Blaze.

I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this one from me, but I’m trying to figure out the secret to creating my next breakthrough novel. I’ve started calling Bullet my “magic book,” because it really has been. Not only did it surpass my expectations when I first released it, but I put it on sale this week and it has sold more this month than any of my other books this month (even my newer ones). It continues to blow me away. So I ask that damn book to tell me its secrets. I’d thought (erroneously maybe) that if I was “discovered” from one book, it would mean readers would want more. Some do. I have some faithful readers, and I am so grateful for them (you, yes, you, because I know you’re reading this!), but I won’t be able to write exclusively if I can’t break through the next level. I’ve been trying–believe me, I’ve been trying.

So I’m asking you, my readers. You have a different perspective from me. I’ve asked bloggers and other readers, and I often get the answer that the market is “oversaturated” right now, so no one’s selling anything. I wish I could believe that’s true, but I see plenty of other authors selling lots of copies just fine. I can’t figure out what they’re doing, and I haven’t asked them, because I don’t know that they’re willing to give up their secrets. Maybe too they’re like I am–they think they’ve figured it out, but maybe they haven’t either.

That’s why I’m asking you. When you see a top indie writer and then you see me, can you tell the difference? Can you pinpoint what it is that I’m not doing? If you know, feel free to tell me. I am all ears…unless you want to keep it a secret. :)

Posted in Various Musings | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

My Two Cents’ Worth

Did you know that, still—decades after the women’s rights movement—females continue to make less than their male counterparts?  Look it up if you don’t believe me.  Yes, the playing field is more level nowadays, but that fact was totally clear to me back when I was a young college graduate, working for a well-known company (yes, you know them), and I was in a lower management position.  After holding that position for a year, a man was hired in a comparable position, and—I can’t remember now how I found out—he started out making a lot more than I did.  You better believe I was angry.  And, after a ridiculous amount of negotiation, my boss and my boss’ boss decided to increase my pay.

Like they needed to find money in the budget.

It was a shitty job anyway.

Since quitting that job, I’ve often worked two or more jobs at a time.  Yeah, I have three degrees that only helped me when I taught college.  Go figure.  But I also happen to be a bleeding heart who works in professions that help people but don’t pay much.  That’s okay, because it’s left my integrity intact.

Enough about me, though.  Believe it or not, this post is about you.  I’m just taking the long way to get there.

I was raised to value hard work and to believe I would have to work my ass off to make it in this world.  That’s the only way I’ve survived.  Aside from what a cynic it’s made me, it’s also made me value and appreciate what I have, and I have been a notorious penny pincher most of my life.  Yeah, nowadays I’ll indulge in the occasional latte and I spend way too much on music, but—aside from that—I’m pretty frugal.

Okay, here’s where YOU come in.

As much as I love books (and I DO—you should see my house full of them), I have to be careful with my money.  Before the era of ebooks, I would buy paperbacks or used books most of the time.  I would sometimes borrow from the library or friends, and I inherited a lot of books from my mom (I have most of John Grisham’s collection in hardback for that reason).  When I bought books on my own, though, I had a budget, and buying books at the used book store (or even used books at the new book store) allowed me to get lots more than I would have if I’d purchased them new.  I did buy new ones a lot of times, but it was usually the paperback version (because they were less expensive).  It’s simple math.  If you can buy one book for twenty dollars or four for the same price AND you have to watch your money, why wouldn’t you get four?  Avid readers understand what I’m talking about.

 Ebooks were such a boon for those voracious readers.  No longer were we paying for paper and ink.  We were instead paying for the story.  Sure, we had to buy a device (unless we just downloaded a free app), but once that initial cost was gone, our books were significantly cheaper…for the most part.  There are still some ebooks that cost $7.99 to $10.99, and I’d rather buy the paperback if I’m going to pay that much.  That’s me.  I realize I don’t speak for everyone.

But something I do—something I’ve always tried to do—is put myself in my readers’ shoes.  I don’t need to get rich writing.  I just want to be read.  Oh, I’d love to be able to just write (and maybe someday I will), but for now I’ll be content with what I have.  Because I’m an indie writer, I don’t have to pay a publishing company for all the things they do for traditionally published authors, so my book prices aren’t bloated.  And the craziest thing is this—if I were to sell as many books as I did of Bullet or even Rock Bottom, I’d be able to write full time…yes, selling books for no more than $2.99.  EVER.

I believe I’ll get back to that point someday, but that wasn’t what this blog post was about.  It was about the cost of my books.  As I said, many of my writing decisions are focused on what readers want.  As you probably know, Bullet was meant to be a standalone book, but readers begged for more—thus, the Bullet series.  Readers asked for more Feverish, so I’ll be turning that into a series as well.  You’ve never asked me to price my books lower, but I do price them lower with you in mind.  I don’t want you to suffer just because you wanted to buy my book.

This next week, my Street Team is going to focus on highlighting all my 99 cent books for that reason.  A lot of books go on sale for 99 cents (I’ve even had a couple of mine go on sale for that price in the past), but I have thirteen books that are now, have always been, and will always be 99 cents.  I’ll include a list of them at the bottom of this post if you’re curious.

So…enjoy, my friends.  Those books are not 99 cents because I have no faith in them or because I don’t think they’re valuable, some stupid ass argument I’ve heard from people in the past.  Sure, some of them are shorter (but not all of them area).  The main reason?  They’re 99 cents for YOU.

And, no, that doesn’t mean I’m cheap, either, so don’t be spreading that rumor. ;)   It means I love my readers.

Jade’s ALWAYS 99 cent books:  Tangled Web, Stating His Case, Fabric of Night, Worst Mother, Old House, Quickies: Sexy Short Stories and Other Stuff, MADversary, and Nicki Sosebee #1-6:  Got the Life, Dead, No Place to Hide, Right Now, One More Time, and Lost.

Jade’s ALWAYS $1.99 books:  Everything But, Then Kiss Me, and Nicki Sosebee #7-9:  Innocent Bystander, Blind, and Fake.

Find them here on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I also have a few at Smashwords but not many. If you can’t find me there and are desperate to, just drop me a line. :D

Oh, and in case you thought I was full of shit, you can read this Forbes article on the pay gap between men and women.

Posted in Various Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Your Face

So…I’m discovering—like some wise guy said at some point—that the older I get, the more I realize I don’t know sh*t.  Or I’ve forgotten more than I ever knew…or something like that.  ;)

In all seriousness, this journey of indie publishing has helped me realize that the more I think I know something, the less I really know.  For instance, I know (or thought I did) that Facebook played a huge part in the way I promoted my book Bullet, the book that made me an Amazon bestselling author.  I’m still fairly certain of that fact, simply based upon the way things were at the time and the feedback I received then.  You all probably know that Facebook made no bones about changing their “algorithms,” not once, but twice since then, and now posts are “served” rather than viewed.  So I’ll give the Facebook gods credit for one thing—at least they are now being more transparent about the process that gets one noticed on their site.  They choose to “serve” or not to serve based on their secret algorithms.

What this has taught me (I think) is that I can no longer rely on Facebook alone.  That is why I am branching out to other social media, some that I’ve played with a little and some that I’ve never used.  I don’t want to put all my marketing eggs in the Facebook basket anymore, ‘cause it ain’t workin’.  That said, I’m also reaching out to people who have offered to help in the past and I’ve extended my Street Team.  I don’t want to become obnoxious, but clearly I haven’t been getting noticed like I had been in the past.  My old mantra “If I write it, they will read it” isn’t working, because they no longer know I’ve written it!

Some of you (especially those of you who have signed up for the RSS feed for my website and are now reading this in your email) want to see a lot of me.  If that’s the case, then HI!!!  Thanks for sticking around and supporting me.  I appreciate everything you do for me.  The rest of the reading world, those who read in my genre but don’t follow me closely, miss a lot, and I have readers lament to me on occasion that they had no idea such-and-such a book I wrote was out.  So, those of you who are my faithful readers, sorry if it seems like I’m in your face a lot.  That’s not my intent.  A fellow writer recently told me that it takes a “customer” being shown something an average of (I think!) three times before a message starts to sink in.  The way Facebook is (along with an oversaturated market) compels me to think I need to take that approach–getting the word out there A LOT…so I’ve asked my Street Team friends and blogger friends and I’m pressing every media button I can to get the Finger Bang word out there.  Other things I’ve done in the recent past haven’t worked, so I have to keep trying until I find something that does.

Yes, that also means that I am now regularly blogging (once a week) instead of when the mood strikes.  I always tried to post at least once a month and now I’m stepping it up to once a week.  I hope you’ll also notice regular appearances on my Facebook profile (in addition to my page), Twitter, Booktropolous, Google+, Instagram, and I’m going to be getting into Tumblr soon.  Oh, and I now have a monthly newsletter.  And those of you who follow me at any of these outlets, I want to thank you—thanks not only for hanging around but also for interacting with me and spreading the word.  Thank you for talking about my books, not only online but in person.  Thank you for EVERYTHING.  I appreciate you so much!!! 

Cross your fingers (finger?) for Finger Bang.  It’s now just a month away, and I hope you love it! That will tell me if what I’ve been doing is working…or if I need to try yet another approach.

Posted in Various Musings | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My Naughtiest Title Yet…and a HUGE F**KING GIVEAWAY!!!

Friends, I’ve never made any secrets about my book plans, and so I know that the book Finger Bang probably came as a surprise to many of you.  It was one of those ideas that came at me hard and fast (ha!) and wouldn’t let go.  I conceived of the idea while finishing up Be Careful What You Wish For, and I knew I would have to write that book next.

Some of you might not know this, but I grew up in a Christian household.  I’m sure you’ve seen that theme in some of my heroines.  I attended a Christian school until I went to high school, and my ideas of morality and sexuality were hardcore and conservative.  Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that I planned to save my virginity for marriage, and I graduated high school with it intact.

Let’s just say a lot has happened between then and now.  I’m sure you can only imagine.

That said, Kaylee Baker, the heroine of Finger Bang, grew up in a similar household.  Three years in college have relaxed her views on sexuality, but she is still uptight and a little frigid.  She doesn’t worry too much about it, because she’s not going to school to find a boyfriend or even to get laid.  She’s focused on her education.

That doesn’t mean she doesn’t like to look at the menu.

Enter Blaze, a guy she’s had her eyes on for years.  She doesn’t think he’s attainable, not in the least, but she enjoys thinking about him anyway.

She has no idea he’s been watching her too.  So…when the opportunity presents itself, he makes her an offer that she can’t refuse.  Only she does…until she can’t any longer.  Blaze gives her an evening she can’t forget and finds a way into her heart.  But can these two from completely different backgrounds with little in common find a way to be together or was it just a one-time O?

In case you missed it on Thursday (what rock have you been hiding under?), here’s the cover:

And the official blurb:

Orgasmic Meditation?  Therapeutic?!  Kaylee Baker is horrified when her girlfriends suggest a trip to artsy Boulder, Colorado, to check out the latest craze.  What her friends don’t know about Kaylee is that she is a little repressed, bordering on frigid, and the idea of a complete stranger bringing her to orgasm—therapeutic or not—is horrifying.

Blaze Donahue has admired Kaylee from afar for quite some time, and part of the reason he’s kept his distance is because he’s had no indication that she might even be interested.  But when he’s given the opportunity to offer her his own version of OM with no strings attached, he makes an offer she has a hard time refusing.

When there are undeniable sparks between the two, Kaylee runs, afraid of the overwhelming feelings she has for this gorgeous, sensitive guy.  Blaze feels compelled to convince her otherwise but wonders if he’ll be able to crack through the ice surrounding this sweet girl.  Can they find true love or will it just be a one-time O?

Add it to your Goodreads TBR:  Finger Bang

Release date: 6/27/14

A little excerpt to whet your appetite:

“Sweet brother!”  Rachel wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek before picking up her drink again.  “Settle something here for me, will you?”  Blaze raised his eyebrows.  “If you had a chance to have an orgasmic meditation, would you do it?”

He smiled and said, “Meditation?  Who can think when they’re getting their rocks off?”

Maddy started laughing.  “Would you pay a therapist to give you a hand job?”

“Pay someone good money when I can do it myself?  No fuckin’ way.”

Rachel glowered at her brother.  “It’s not just that.  It’s more than that.  It’s an experience.”  Kaylee thought Rachel was changing her tune a little to justify it to her sibling.  She’d been all about the O up to that point.  “And you’re ruining the moment, dear brother.  I’m trying to talk my sweet roommates into making a road trip to Boulder to experience it for ourselves.”

Blaze started laughing—hard.  By the time he caught his breath, Rachel was full-on pissed.  Blaze ignored her and said, “Would that make it a gang bang?”  He started laughing again, and even Maddy and Shannon joined in.  Rachel slammed down her drink and Kaylee sank in her seat.  This was not funny, especially when Mr. Dream Guy was joking about something so intimate and embarrassing.

And Kaylee would never tell the secret, that she’d never masturbated.

It was a long story.  She almost had…once, just a couple of years earlier, but she could hear the youth group leader from her church in her head, telling her masturbation was the tool of the devil.  She’d believed it back then.  Now, she wasn’t so sure, but she just hadn’t gone that far with herself.

So to talk about fingers around a woman’s clit—her own or a stranger’s—made her uneasy as all get out.  Worse, though, was hot Blaze just feet away making light of it.  If he so much as looked her in the eye again, she thought she’d die.

“Look, dickweed, why don’t you go hang with your guy friends?  You know, the group of a-holes who happen to think you have a sense of humor.”

“Aw, c’mon, Rachel, I’m just messing around.”  He pushed his hair to the side, the hair that threatened to cover one of his eyes in the sexy way it sometimes did.  “You’re serious about this?”

“Hell, yes.  Don’t you think doing something like this could be better than going to the mall or getting our nails done together?”

He shrugged.  “Maybe.”  He glanced around the table again and Kaylee felt relief that their eyes didn’t lock.  Well, she’d made sure they didn’t because she’d brought her glass to her mouth and made sure she was sipping when his eyes got around to her.  “But what if your friends aren’t interested?”

Rachel frowned.  “We hadn’t quite gotten around to discussing that.”

Maddy slammed her glass to the table.  “I’m game.  Sounds like fun.”

Rachel smiled and nodded.  She probably made that smug hmph noise she often did when she affirmed she was right about something, but Kaylee didn’t hear if she had.  Rachel’s expression was right, but it was too noisy in the bar to tell.  “Shannon?”

Shannon giggled.  “Shit, I’ll try anything once.”

Oh, hell.  Kaylee could feel everyone’s eyes turn to her and she couldn’t get up and leave.  Maddy was blocking the way.  She couldn’t pretend to not have heard.  She had to answer.  Oh, God, she wanted to die.  She could have blown the women off, but with Blaze there, she was horrified.  Rachel said, “Kaylee?”

Kaylee gulped, trying to figure out what to say.  She just started talking.  “I don’t think so, Rachel.”

“What do you mean you don’t think so?  It’ll be so much fun.”

Maddy said, “C’mon, Kaylee.  The Four Musketeers, right?”

She shook her head.  Blaze said, “Ladies, I don’t think this gang bang thing is for everyone.  Can you blame the poor girl?”

Oh.  Girl?  He thought of her as a girl?  Well, there went those fantasies out the window.  Still, she took a deep breath and gathered up as much dignity as she could and said, “Definitely not for me.”  She found her tongue.  “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to get naked in front of a stranger, and I definitely don’t want to have one touching me…especially that way.”

Rachel leaned over the table and tipped her glass at Kaylee as though it were a pointer.  “I’ll loosen you up before you graduate if it’s the last thing I do.”  She sat back up and what little sobriety she had seemed to possess just seconds ago had disappeared.  “In the meantime, Maddy, Shannon?  Come with me to the bar to fetch more drinks and we can iron out the details without making our prudish friend blush.”

Well, too late.  As the three women slid out of the booth, Kaylee felt just that—a mad red flush racing up her face, stinging her cheeks.  She hoped it wasn’t evident in the bar or maybe she could blame it on drinking, but Rachel had, with her few words, made Kaylee not only feel prude but embarrassed.  And in front of all people…

Once the women were up, though, Blaze showed no inkling of having registered his sister’s last words.  Kaylee began to feel awkward then.  What the hell would she say to this super hot guy and after a conversation like that?  She had decided to ask him how classes were going when he said, “I can’t blame you really.  I don’t think I could do that either.”  He grinned.  “Even though I find the idea intriguing.”  Kaylee felt her cheeks redden again, but she smiled before looking down at her glass once more.  “Not gonna pay for it, though.  Fuck that.”

Kaylee picked up her glass and sipped what little water was left in it, simply to have something to do.  Her alcohol glass was drained as well, both down to ice cubes.  She didn’t know what to say so she nodded her head and smiled.  She’d always found Blaze’s looks and charm intimidating, so she was feeling more than a little tongue-tied.  She didn’t want him to think she was a snooty bitch, though, so she said, “I agree.”

He rested his chin on his arms on the chair and said, “What’s the part that has you freaking out more?  The fact that it would be a stranger or that you’d be paying for it?”

His question helped her relax a little.  It felt like he was taking a practical approach and wanted to discuss the matter as two adults.  They weren’t actually talking about orgasms or…fingers and clits, for God’s sake.  So she took a deep breath and gave the matter a little thought.  It didn’t take long for her to say, “I think it’s that it’s a stranger.”  She didn’t know why she felt compelled to continue—especially with Blaze—but she did.  “Seriously.  It’s hard enough to relax and then you have someone you’ve never met before trying to make you feel good.  I can’t imagine.”  She smiled and rolled her eyes, hoping she appeared relaxed now, because she was far from it.

Blaze didn’t intend to help the matter at all.  “What if it was you and me?”

Had she heard him right?  And why the hell was her heart thudding in her chest?  She had a hard time sucking in a breath, but when she was able to, she asked, “What do you mean?”  Her voice was so low, she was surprised he could hear it.

“If I was the therapist.”  He sat up and used the index and middle fingers of both his hands to air quote his last word.  “You know…my sister, Maddy, and Shannon go to Boulder to have some stranger finger bang them, but what if someone you knew took care of you here?”

Her jaw didn’t drop to the table but she had lost all words.  She just wished she could figure out if Blaze was yanking her chain or making her the offer of a lifetime.

Oh, yeah, I mentioned a giveaway, didn’t I?

SUPER AWESOME Finger Bang GIVEAWAY:

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When Inspiration Strikes

I know there are bound to be some of you thinking…wondering…hoping.  “Why hasn’t Jade finished the Nicki Sosebee series yet?”  “When the hell is she going to write the next Tangled Web book already?”  “What about the next Bullet book?  You promised!”

Friends, I wish I had a good and easy answer for you.  Well, I do have an answer, but it’s not necessarily what you want to hear.  I have lots of stories in my head, all vying to get out.  Some stories aren’t “ripe” yet—some of them need more time to germinate.  Once at that stage, though, I start writing the one that’s grabbed me.  Sometimes the germinating process takes years (for example, I conceived Old House over fifteen years before I actually wrote it).  Other times, it might take minutes or hours. 

That’s the case with Finger Bang.  Last month, one of the women (Kristen) on my Street Team messaged me an article about Orgasmic Meditation.  She’d found it funny but she shared it with me because the business interviewed for the article is located in Boulder, Colorado, a city Kristen knows I go to from time to time.  We had a great laugh about it that morning, and then I went about my business.  I took a shower, a place where lots of my book ideas hit me.  (It’s either there, in bed when I’m trying to sleep, or when I’m on the road by myself.)  That silly idea that we’d had a chuckle over germinated into a book idea in a matter of minutes.  In fact, I was so inspired that I wrote the blurb for it that day and announced it on my page later on as my next project.

Why does it happen that way for some ideas and not for others?  I don’t know.  The idea for Seal All Exits has been in my head for close to two years and I’ve even started writing it, but it’s still not quite where I’d like it to be.  That said, I will be writing that book this year if it kills me.  There are others, though, that are begging for my attention, but I’ve tried to write more than one book at a time before, and I just can’t do it.  I can’t even write a story at the same time I’m writing a book.  Whatever I’m writing demands my full attention, and I can’t divide it between two (or more) projects.

That said, I’ve made the decision to approach my writing more like a business.  I have solid deadlines now.  I used to write until a book was done and then get it polished before moving on to the next one, but I tended to let my inspiration pull me along.  That often works, but Rock Bottom took three months to write.  Why?  Because it was hard to write and my inspiration was lower.  Ethan had a lot of demons and I took my time traversing through them.  I’m not doing that anymore.  Now I’m going to push through the tougher spots.  I have goals and deadlines now, and why?  Because I’m tired of working for the man. ;)   It’s not going to happen if I don’t make this my business.

So what’s on tap?  Lots.  If you’re curious, here’s a quick outline of what I have planned (according to stage of germination): 

  • Finger Bang—release date 6/27/14
  • Inked—an anthology revolving around all things tattoos—five full-length books written by me and four author friends (Jo-Anna Walker, Stacy Gail, Scarlett Metal, and K. Pinson)—release date 8/25/14
  • Seal All Exits—Tangled Web 3.  I plan to release it this year, but I’m not sure where it falls in my writing timeline
  • Feverish 1.5—yes, I’ll officially launch this spinoff series this year
  • I also plan to release the next Bullet book (either Zane or Nick—not sure which) and a zombie novel (yes, really—but you’ll still know it’s me)

Anyway, I’m sorry I have no rhyme or reason as to why I write the way I do.  I forced myself to write Fake (Nicki #9) this year, because it was long overdue, but it was difficult, because it wasn’t fully ripe.  I may have to do that with one or two other stories this year as well, but just know this—I am fully committed to finishing out all the series I’ve started, and I’ll write them as soon as I can.  Sorry my brain doesn’t always cooperate, but I hope in some instances that the wait is worth it.

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