Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I Write

Once in a great while, something miraculous happens. Between edits, revisions and rewrites, all those moments when I'm banging my head in frustration or stomping around the house waiting for inspiration to strike, an email arrives in my inbox. Without a doubt, this is the moment every writer waits for. That split second when a reader who was touched by our words feels compelled enough to reach out and let us know how much they enjoyed our work. It's better than a chocolate sundae or even a contract offer. Heck, it's better than holding a copy of my latest book in my hands. Because the characters I create are a part of who I am. While writing, I laugh during their joys and cry when their hearts are broken. To learn someone else experienced that same journey...well, words cannot express how this makes an author feel.

Yesterday I received this review for Jezebel's Wish in my inbox.

Dearest AJ,
    I thought you would be happy to know that you have spoiled me with your book as much as Matty spoiled Jezzy. :) As my mother has told you I have not read a book for fun since I was in Jr. High. After reading your book I now realize why. No one has been able to catch my attention long enough to complete a chapter, much less an entire book. I have recently finished your book and figured why not try another. Well all I can say is "I tried"! The next attempt was at "Title Deleted to Protect the Innocent". I'm sure it is a wonderfull book, but in no way was it as drawing and descriptive as "Jezebel's Wish". Your writing is amazing beyond words. The way you describe every emotion, every touch, every gesture, it's all so addicting. Anything that goes on with Jezzy, Matty, and Rev has so much detail as if the image was being painted in front of my eyes. So much expressed beauty, like the snow flakes flowing through the air sticking on everything in it's path. I look forward to your next book. The beauty not only comes from the story but the person behind the story with the power to touch the hearts of those around them.
Love Always   -Stephanie   age 22
P.S. I have been spreading word of your book like a wildfire. Also, this book should definitely be a movie :) 

If you can tell me how a person responds to this, please do so. Because I am at a total loss for words. Thank you, Stephanie, for your incredible encouragement and love. Your email has left this otherwise verbose author in a complete state of stunned shock.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Triskaidekaphobia and Other Phobias

Super awesome Jenna McClure is with us at Tattered Pages today, with a post about phobias! Little did Jenna know before writing this, she picked the perfect host. I'm scared of pretty much EVERYTHING, but number four on the list below sums up my biggest fear the best. What about you? Care to share your phobia with me and Jen??

Most people, if not everyone, are afraid of something. They may not admit it or they may not even realize it because they don’t come into contact with the object of their fear more than the one time it takes them to realize they’re afraid of it. But it’s there, hidden deep inside them in a dark, cool place they don’t like to visit very often. Fear is not usually a light topic of conversation people share over drinks on a first date, but it can result in some lively discussions, usually on which is scarier –snakes or spiders.

Or even what number inspires a morbid terror.

Take “triskaidekaphobia” for example. Merriam Webster defines this as “fear of the number 13”. That’s it. No other explanations, no other hidden meanings or no comments on why it’s such a sad, lonely number. Wikipedia, on the other hand, is a treasure trove of information on why this number inspires dread in some people and a healthy respect in others. 

There are ancient Babylonian superstitions, myths about the number of apostles that sat with Jesus at The Last Supper and an old Viking legend about Loki being the 13th god in the Norse Pantheon. Whatever one believes, and I’m not knocking any of them, the fear is legitimate. It all depends on what you believe. 

Let’s talk about elevators and hotels or office buildings. Even if building has more than 13 floors, you won’t see the number 13 on the elevator panel (unless it’s an older building). You go straight from 12 to 14. So technically, the 14th floor is the 13th floor, but no one calls it that. And heaven forbid anyone working at the hotel refers to it as the 13th floor because the poor guest would tremble in fear and not get a decent night’s rest!

I see triskaidekaphobia as a mere curiosity. I actually look forward to the times it falls on Fridays, the term for which is friggatriskaidekaphobia, with “Frigga” being the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named. And let’s not forget about Jason and his gruesome killing sprees that have fueled Hollywood for decades and spawned more movies than should actually have been filmed. Maybe Jason is more to blame for people fearing Friday the 13th than anything else…

But what about other phobias? According to, the 10 most common phobias are:
1.    Arachnophobia: fear of spiders
2.    Ophidiophobia: fear of snakes
3.    Acrophobia: fear of heights
4.    Agoraphobia: fear of situations in which escape is difficult
5.    Cynophobia: fear of dogs
6.    Astraphobia: fear of thunder and lightning
7.    Trypanophobia: fear of injections
8.    Social Phobias: fear of social situations (I had this growing up, only it was called “shyness”)
9.    Pteromerhanophobia: fear of flying
10.  Mysophobia: fear of germs or dirt (there was no such thing when I was growing up. Jeez, if you didn’t get dirty, it meant you weren’t playing right).

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of half of these. Good thing I never had to spell any of these in my 5th grade spelling bee or I’d have been kicked out long before I misspelled “happiness”. No laughing please. Who comes up with these words? Okay, don’t answer that. I know most of them have Greek or Latin origins, but they’re really not pleasant to pronounce. Or maybe that’s the point?

Anyway, I digress…

Does anyone have any phobias they’d like to share? Maybe if you tell the whole world about them, it will lessen some of the control it holds over you. Okay, probably not, but it sounded good, right? Besides, maybe knowing someone else’s fear(s) will give you something interesting to talk about over dinner and drinks some night…

And no, your phobia does not have to be related to writing/publishing/promoting!

Jenna's latest release, Animal Attraction is available NOW through The Wild Rose Press and Amazon, (<-- click the links to go to the buy page) and based on the excerpt, no one should miss this one!

Environmental consultant Emmalyn Ashmore  is outraged when she discovers the last minute replacement for the guest speaker at her annual conference is none other than Adam McLean, a cattle rancher, whose lifestyle represents everything she stands against.

Adam McLean has never met a more contrary woman. From the moment Emma opens her mouth, he knows she’s exactly the type of woman he doesn’t need in his life – ever.

But Fate has other plans, and as the sparks fly, Emma realizes there’s more at stake than just conserving the environment. She has to figure out how to conserve her heart, before she loses it forever.

Here's the excerpt~
It’s never good to make assumptions about people you don’t know,” Adam replied, throwing her words back at her.

She jerked her eyes to him, tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Right. Sorry.”

Idly, he wondered if she was always this nervous, or if it was just him. Selfishly he hoped he had the same effect on her as she did on him.

“I know you’re a cattle rancher and all,” she started, “but I couldn’t let you leave without talking to you about your speech.” 

He didn’t care for her opening words, but he liked her voice, so he concentrated on that. Besides, if he missed anything important, he’d ask her to repeat it. Over dinner, he mused as he continued to stare at her mouth. It was still moving, which meant she was still talking and he was still not listening, but she didn’t seem to notice.

Or so he thought.

Her lips stopped moving, snapped shut, then opened slightly. A brief, shrill whistle pierced the air. He jerked his eyes back to hers, and found her staring at him in angry disbelief.

If she didn’t look so mad, he might have laughed.

“Mr. McLean, were you listening to a word I said?”

Adam scratched his chin. “Sure. You said something about me being a cattle rancher, which I already knew, and then something about your impressions. But you kind of lost me after that.”

She placed her hands on her hips. “I was trying to talk to you about how misleading your speech was.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah? I must have missed that part.”

“I think you missed all my parts.”

“Trust me, I didn’t,” he drawled.

Here's where you can contact Jenna on the web:

Thanks for visiting with me today, Jenna! It was wonderful having you here!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Visit to Michelle's Happy Place!

Welcome to Michelle Rodriguez, who brings us a fantastic post about how she became a writer! Ahhh...I am so in touch with this post, I can't even TELL you how much her words resonate with me. Thank you, Michelle, for letting everyone know we're not the only writing insomniacs out there!! Take it away, darlin!
The holidays have taken their toll.  I am utterly exhausted from an overload of baking, shopping, wrapping, socializing, dealing with the kids.  Too much!  Every year the same hectic insanity leaves me recovering for days on end.  This year was worse yet as I was left baking six kinds of cookies with a 3 year old running about and making a task that should have taken a day take two instead!  Now add into that a social anxiety I can’t quite shake that comes to a peak on Christmas Eve spent with the in-laws and an autistic son who requires double the planning and preparation for any special occasion lest we have a major meltdown, and I’m sure anyone would call my fatigue justified.  I’m supposed to be tired and worn out.  Most people would try to sleep it off and hopefully spend days in languid recovery.  And what do I do amidst all the chaos?  I write a new story.

There’s a reason imagination is considered a gift.  As children, we played pretend more than any other game.  We were different people putting on fake makeup and silly costumes or singing like rock stars with light-up microphones and a radio.  We were Barbie or Jem, acting storylines through 12-inch dolls.  We were little pretend moms in our playhouses with plastic food, cooking dinner and making parents act like they were eating it.  We had an imaginary place to escape to as we played.  Then we grew up and learned reality is a lot more difficult to endure without a retreat.

Writing has always been my retreat from the real world.  It’s more than a hobby; it’s stress relief and necessary to my well-being.  Literally.  At high school age when most of my classmates were hanging out and having parties, I was home writing romantic stories of a world I wished existed.  I happily spent more of my youth in my fantasy world than the real one, and that carried on until I got married and had my first child.  I was under some misguided impression that being a wife and mother meant sacrificing everything that made me “me”, and my fantasy world became a memory.

Then I had my son, and I got sick.  And everything changed.  The human body can only take so much without retaliating; for me, the complications I had after my son was born culminated in insomnia.  It never sounds bad to say the word, but when you’re living it, it’s a whole different story.  I barely slept.  Every single night was a struggle.  I did everything the doctors told me to no avail.  Not even prescribed sleeping pills made me sleep.  I was in a constant state of alertness and spent hours in the middle of the night crying just because I couldn’t rest.  One would presume that after so long awake, you’d just be so exhausted that you’d have to fall asleep.  Not so.  I went whole nights with little more than 45 minutes of sleep and then spent all day taking care of a newborn.  It was the worst time in my life.

After giving up on everything, I decided one day to pick up a pencil.  “Opera Macabre” was the product of my rampant insomnia and ironically the cure.  I had started the story years before and had set it aside when reality cut me off from my magical world of imagination.  I can’t say why I thought returning to writing would help me.  I claim God and destiny.  But I read through the 60 or so pages I had written, and I just knew I had to finish it.  I committed myself to writing something every morning before my son woke up.  Since I wasn’t sleeping anyway, it wasn’t a sacrifice to get out of bed at 4:30 and work.  And the more I recommitted myself to my creativity and fell into the story, the more I began to sleep!

My imaginary world is my happy place.  When life reaches out and tries to claw at me, I now know that is the place for escape.  I go there, fall into my current story or make a new one, and I shut out life.  If I didn’t have my writing, life would overwhelm me, and considering the hardships I deal with everyday, it is a blessing to wake up at 4:30 and forget the real world exists for a little while.

People always tell me that they have no idea how I keep motivated and balance a singing career, a writing career, two kids and a husband.  My little secret is that I can slip away every morning and I don’t have to be the wife, mother, singer, author.  I can stop worrying about everyone else and my responsibilities.  And nothing can touch me when I’m there.  It’s playing pretend all over again.  It takes the weight of life from my shoulders, so that by the time I have to face my day and run downstairs to deal with the kids, I’m rejuvenated and “me” again.  Sometimes the best places that exist are the ones we create, and though they aren’t real, as we move in and out of their corridors, life seems sweeter and touched with imagination all the time.  Even in the midst of chaos, imagination is an eternal blessing.

So now as I recover from far too many holidays and return to the regular stresses of day to day life, I do it with a new story in my head and anticipation for where my world of imagination will take me next.

Look for Michelle's latest release, Opera Macabre, available NOW in paperback from Amazon, as an Amazon e-book, or through The Wild Rose Press!

Count Aiden de Lazarus has grown apathetic to the world around him and the monotony of immortal life. Determined to regain his zest for vampiric pursuits, he chooses a mortal girl and bites her with the intent to drain her. Instead, her intoxicating taste and enchanting beauty stirs feelings he has long buried. Scared by such mortal feelings, he gives her to another vampire as payment for a debt.

After eight long years, Bianca is still living a cursed life—singing on stage in Alexi's profitable opera and enduring the bites of the undead as part of his undercover auction when the stage lights dim. Doomed to become Alexi’s vampire bride, her future is bleak.

Aiden is horrified to find Bianca still alive and Alexi’s prized possession. Her image has continued to haunt him. Now he must find a way to free her from the life he unwittingly condemned her to and prove that he, unlike the vampires she has known, can be a man worth loving.

“Bianca,” he whispered provocatively near her ear, and felt her entire frame quiver in his grasp. With a wolf-like grin curling his lips, he bent nearer to that tempting pulse of her throat, but instead of biting her as he so ached to do, he grazed his lips against it, a feather light kiss, eliciting a soft, strangled gasp from her. Unable to help himself, he grew bolder in his endeavors and let the very tip of his tongue trail the same path.
Unwelcome and yet uncontrollable heat filtered through her body as it arched against him, desperate to get closer to that devil’s mouth. The voice in her head that should have been screaming at her to stop was only muttering fragments of musings, lost as well to the sensation, as she found herself unable to do anything but surrender.
Aiden burrowed his mouth against her throat, covering the sensitive flesh with seductive kisses. His tongue darted between his lips, teasing, tasting as she writhed fervently against him.
“Bianca,” he breathed again between kisses, “what is it that you want?”
“You!” she heard herself gasp out as though someone else had spoken.
“Oh? And what do you want me to do to you?” He gently nipped at her pulse, hinting at his desire, his hunger tearing at him to be satiated.
“Bite me… Oh, please devour me, Aiden!”
Here's where you can find Michelle on the web:
Thanks for joining me today, Michelle!
It's been a treat hosting you at Tattered Pages!!