Thursday, September 19, 2013

*whew* It's been a while

Blogging should not be a career aspiration for me :)

I'm no good at keep up or checking in or updating.  I haven't been on here since July.  As I reopened this dusty site of mine, I learned two things: 1. I have two followers! Thank you, you two! and 2. I've had 821 page views, which seems really high for the amount of times I've posted so I have to say another thank you to all 821 views!  That's awesome.

Good news on the writing front.  I've completed my next novel, "Hush", and it's already going through the editing cycle twice.  One more wash and it should be squeaky clean, ready for the digital bookshelves.  Now all I've got to do is figure out some cover art...hmm...

"Hush" is another fiction thriller about a younger, successful woman who falls for an older, even more successful man (think "50 Shades" minus the stalker undertone and the nightmarish fetishes). The two seem great together, their lives are running smoothly until the woman finds out a garish secret about her new beau, one that changes everything.

The story flip flops from the day they met, seven year prior, to the day she finds out his secret, in the present, and both ends of the story move in sequence from there.  I like this new way of presenting the story because it keeps the action moving and it really keeps the reader guessing, as clues to the man's secret are scattered throughout the book, but his indiscretions are not revealed until later.  The reader also gets to see both the amazing side of the man that could make you swoon, as well as the darker, more sinister side of him.  It's all really quite exciting.

"Hush" is only book one of a two part series.  "Set Fire" is the sequel that is currently still being written.  Luckily, I was able to squeeze out a little tease-nugget, as I like to call it, and add a blurb from "Set Fire" to the end of "Hush", just to keep my readers salivating for more!

Also, BookRix, the site I publish my stories through, has offered to enter me and "Evol" into a pretty prestigious contest.  It's got a pretty hefty entry fee, but the rewards are great and I can't wait to see how my baby does.  The contest deadline for entry isn't until October 1st and winners aren't announced until the end of December so I still have a lot of waiting to do, but just being chosen to represent BookRix is enough of a win for me.

Other than that, school is keeping me very busy and my 4-year-old son is keeping me even busier. I am now a stay-at-home mom and full time student which leaves me little time to let the voices in my head guide my fingers over the keyboard.

And that's the way it was.
Thanks again for following me or reading these silly blogs.  I'm so appreciative!

- Jess

Monday, July 1, 2013

My Indie Monday

My book, "Evol" is being spotlighted on the blog "Me, My Shelf, and I" on their feature called "My Indie Monday" or MIM.

"Evol" is my first real novel and was released for purchase in January.  I've gotten so much support from my friends and family, my BookRix neighbors, and fellow indie authors and bloggers.  I was elated and it's safe to say I still am today as my baby gets another dose of stardom.

Since publishing "Evol" and completing the blog tour, I've released another short story onto the eBook circuit, "Perfect Accident".  The best part of this thrilling short is, it's FREE!!! It's available now on Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes.

A "Buy This Book" link is available at the link below a will direct you to the desired eBook store:

Lastly, I'm just putting the finishing touches on my next two-part series.  The first book, "Hush" is due to be published in the near future while part two, "Set Fire", will come to follow.  This is another thriller set around a dark and sinister secret that the heroine discovers about the man she loves.

I sincerely appreciate all of my 'fans', if that's the right word for it.  Thank you for stopping and I hope you enjoy!

- Jess

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen - A Review

Now, I know I'm on this blog as an indie author, but my deep-seeded love of cinematic adventures always seems to butt it's big ol'head in the way of things and distracts me!  With all the trailers I watch, movie news I read, and on-set photos I gape at, movies and all that wonder that comes with are always on the forefront of my mind.

Given that movies are kind of my forte, my husband, AJ, is usually gentleman enough to allow me to chose the movie for our viewing when we have the opportunity to have a date night.  However, this past weekend, I was trumped due to the fact that the box office was harboring a movie right up AJ's alley, 'Olympus Has Fallen' (aka OHF).

Let me take this back a step.  A few months before the first trailers of OHF surfaced, I had seen production photos for a movie called 'White House Down', starring Jamie Foxx as the president and Channing Tatum as the nearly shirtless secret service agent who is left to defend the White House and POTUS after an invasion by some unknown group of terrorists.  So imagine my surprise when I see the studly Scottish action hero, Gerard Butler, center stage when the first OHF trailer is released.  Something sounded vaguely familiar about that story line.

I have to shake my head at trailers anymore.  You learn SO much about the movie by the trailer, especially the theatrical ones.  I had a great feeling for OHF just by the trailer.  To me, it just looked like a big action blockbuster, lacking the substance I crave from the cinematic adventures I set out on.  Needless to say, I wasn't overly excited to see this movie, but knew eventually I would.  I like to give every movie a shot (and sometimes I end up going against my better judgement when I see movies like 'Driver' and 'Fear Island').

AJ, on the other hand, had gotten raving reviews from one of his co-workers, Michael, who is also a movie buff like me (even though he is a Nicholas Cage fan; I cannot stand Nicholas Cage).  Michael told AJ how much he enjoyed OHF so the spark had been lit and AJ declared his desire for a viewing.

So there we were, wasting our date night movie on OHF, when I would have much rather gone to see 'Evil Dead' (gore and horror, you can't go wrong with that).  AJ could tell I wasn't very excited to see the movie, but I assured him I'd give my honest opinion of the movie once we've seen it, whether I liked it or not, because let's face it, I've been pleasantly surprised by a movie I hadn't had much hope for before.  I had to go into it optimistically.

The movie starts and, thanks to the trailer, I knew exactly what was going to happen in the opening scene.  I think sometimes AJ thinks I'm some sort of wizard when I lean over in movies and predict the next couple of minutes of footage...I'm not a wizard, AJ.  I just read between the lines and do my research.  The only thing saving this movie for me at this point is Mr. Butler.  Hey, a girl can dream.

Anywho, the story shifts after an 18 month jump in time and we're in Washington DC.  My first complaint with the film.  I've never been to Washington DC and I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the geographical layout of the metropolis, but I've seen enough on TV and on the internet to know the general idea of how things look in our nation's capitol.  I was completely taken out of the film when they showed the 'white house', the title character of the movie.  It was not at all accurate from what I'd seen before.  Sure, the terrorists didn't enter from the iconic front gate of the white house, which would be the most recognizable view of the structure, but it was still so fake it was distracting.

On the subject of fake, let's move on to the excessive usage of CGI.  I could write an entire blog on the uses and misuses of CGI in movies, but that would be a never ending project.  For time sake, let's just stick to OHF.  Aerial views of Washington DC in the movie were also distractingly fake and unrealistic.  It looked like something out of the game Sim City.  I had a hard time focusing on the large bomber flying very low over the city and the destruction it was causing thanks to the horrible graphics.

Now, on to the better aspects of the movie.  Mr. Butler was definitely the highlight of the film.  This 'ghost' of an antecedent moved about the white house with ease, eliminating all terrorists in his path like a true patriot.  He was cocky, sarcastic, and stone-faced, enough to get the adrenaline flowing.  On top of that, he had the skills required to face the job at hand.  I was thoroughly impressed with his skills of hand-to-hand combat and disarming enemies, which my father later informed me was a SEALS training technique called SCARS or Special Combat Aggressive Reactionary Systems.  That was the kind of action stuff I like to see in movies.

The best part, in my opinion, was the showdown between our hero and the villain.  A lot of the time in action movies, you find the villain to be an aging man who surrounded himself with thugs to compensate for his lack of self-defense and combative skills, but then ends up nearly destroying the good guy with his miraculous badass-ness.  Though the villain did look a tad bit wimpy, he seemed spry enough to hold his own and the OHF showdown between him and Butler was pretty epic and worth waiting for.

All in all, the story line flowed nicely enough, the explosions and fights were entertaining, and the trip wasn't a complete waste of my time.  I could have waited to see it when it came out on DVD, but who am I to turn down a trip to the theater?!

Until next time,

Monday, March 11, 2013

Safe Haven - A Review

If I've said it once, I'll say it again...

I'm not the romance type.  I am, however, an action/horror junkie.

When I saw the preview for the movie 'Safe Haven', I have to admit, I was attracted to the story line (an abused woman, played by the uber sexy Julianne Hough, flees her explosive marriage and hides out in a sleepy east coast beach town, but is still haunted by the life she left behind and the inevitable discovery by the man who's chasing her) and I decided I'd give Nicholas Sparks a chance.

Mind you, the only Nicholas Sparks movie I've see is 'Dear John' and I was suckered into that one for the military-brat undertone that turned out to be more of a what I would call a punchline than a key plot point.  I've never seen 'The Notebook', 'The Lucky One', 'Nights in Rodanthe', or 'The Last Song'.  Those aren't my kinds of movies.  They're not my thing even though I have a deep-seeded love for cinematic adventures.

For those of you who've read Evol, you'll know why I was drawn to the 'hide-and-seek' story line of 'Safe Haven'.  Although I hated myself a little for doing it, I paid admission to see the latest Nicholas Sparks installment just last night.

On a side note, something I frequently get flack for going to the movies stag, which is what I did last night.  I have a number of points to add to my side of the argument.  First of all, my husband is one of the hardest people to go to the movie with because he's really picky and doesn't share my affinity for the hobby; he'll only see certain movies where as I'll see practically anything.  Secondly, he's usually the one watching my son for me while I go.  The movie theater in my town only shows one movie a week and plays one time a day.  Sunday nights are ideal for me to sneak a flick into my agenda, especially since 'The Walking Dead' has an encore in case I miss the first airing of the new episode.  Thirdly, movies are a horrible 'date' activity.  You can't talk to the person you're with.  Fourth point, I'm not ashamed.  To all you stag movie-goers out there, stand up and be proud of your solitude.  Sometimes, going to the movies is the only 'me' time I get so I relish in it.

Ok, back to 'Safe Haven'.  Being the movie aficionado that I am, not much can get by me and this happens to be one of the reasons my husbands doesn't enjoy going to movies with me.  I figure it out.  I'll lean over and whisper sweet-nothings to him and give away too much of the movie and it annoys him.  I can't help it.  It's in my nature.  If I come to the realization that the victim is actually the killer or that the flashback of the teddy bear signals to me that the little boy is the next target, I have to share it.  I can't keep those kinds of epiphanies to myself.  I figured out a great deal of 'Safe Haven' from the get go, though Mr. Sparks tries valiantly to veil the truth from the audience (to be honest, the trailer itself gives away a lot if you pay attention so I walked into the theater already knowing one of the movie's secrets).  

Though the movie starts out with Hough's escape and an obsessed detective's near capture of her, setting a rapid pulse to the story, it quickly lulls when Hough meets the reluctant hero of the movie, Alex, played by the steamy Josh Duhamel.  Hough uses a charter bus as her escape route and when it stops just outside Duhamel's rinky-dink shore side market, she falls in love with the scenic and quiet town, and decides to make shelter there; all very 'Sleeping with the Enemy'.

So the movie goes on with Hough finding a job at a seafood restaurant, her and Duhamel tip-toeing around their growing attraction like virtuous teenagers, and the detective's struggle to locate the missing Hough.  The excitement of the detective's fieldwork and his seeming disregard for police procedure was enough to keep me in to the movie, but the nauseating flirtations by the two gorgeous main characters drug me down.

I will admit to anyone who asks, there were two parts of the movie that choked me up a bit, though no tears were actually shed.  I don't want to spoil the movie, so not to give anything away all I will say is it was the cards that got me and the meaning behind them.  Very sad and heart-wrenching.

What disappointed me the most in the movie was the anti-climactic ending, which culminated with a physical struggle between Hough and her past.  Again, it's hard to say too much without giving anything away.  The action junkie in me wanted to see so much more with that ending.  Sure the mushy love stuff was cute, but it got old quick.

Like I'm trying to teach my son, try everything once.  I can at least say I'm still giving chick-flicks a chance.  None have yet to win me over.  If you like Nicholas Sparks movies or books, I'm sure you'd enjoy this movie.  If you're like me and would rather see wicked impressive chase scenes and explosions with random fire-fights and hand-to-hand combat, maybe a few blood sprays here and there, stay away from this one.

- Jess

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Evol Blog Tour


It's been a long couple of weeks for me.  I've been super busy at school and work and on top of that, my husband's basketball team made it to the state tournament (first time for the school since 1996) so we've been in preparation mode and traveling.

So my latest novel Evol has been on the Reading Addiction blog tour for 11 days now!  I've received some raving reviews that are very humbling and very much appreciated.  When people I know talk about my book, it's overwhelming to know it's being received well.  It's even more satisfying to hear the same thing from complete strangers.  BookRix has already given out $50 in gift cards with more chances to win, including, what I'm calling, the grand prize ($100 Amazon gift card, a collection of eBooks, and some sweet merch including an Evol t-shirt; enter to win at this link

This tour has me on such a high.  This is exactly why I published the book to begin with; to get these kinds of reactions out of my readers.  And to have the opportunity, to be chosen for this tour is even more exhilarating.

All of this talk of Evol has brought the characters to mind again, like reuniting with old friends and thoughts of a sequel have surfaced.  I haven't quiet connected the dots for a plausible plot line, but it's brewing and there could be something there...

If you'd like to keep up with my tour, read the reviews, guest posts, and interviews, the link below will take you to the tour schedule.

Again, thank you to everyone who's following this blog, the blog tour, and my work.  It's more than one little indie author could ask for!

More to come,
- Jess

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Room 219

On BookRix, there are frequently contests.  I've participated in nearly each one since joining the community.  Before Christmas, the Vigilant One Champion contest was announced.  Anyone can enter, the story must be complete and no less than 5000 words, and each member can only have one entry.  The title of champion comes with a $500 cash prize!  Enticing!

Since December, I've struggled to get inspired for this contest.  The only judge is BookRix member vigilantone and he's funding the winnings personally.  He's the only person I have to impress and something about that made me excited.  The more I think about it, though, it's not really a good thing.

The point of me sharing this with you is because of the story I finally entered into the contest and posted to my profile on BookRix.  The story is called Room 219 and I consider it a controversial book.

More explanation is needed.  I started writing this story in October of last year, but had to step away from the idea after the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting.  Can you see where this is going?  I had developed an idea while sitting in my biology class about a week into the semester.  I had been hearing a distant noise in the hallway as my professor was lecturing.  It appeared to me that I was the only student in the class bothered by the sound, one I was having trouble identifying.  The storyteller in me ran with this.  I started imagining all the possible sources of the noise until I landed on one and thus, the foundation of my story was born.

It wasn't two days later I was doing research for the short.  I was watching YouTube documentaries, interviews, and archived news broadcasts, and consulted wikipedia/google to find out the kinds of details I didn't find in the videos.  After I heard out about the Aurora shooting, I found it to be a freaky coincidence and felt it would be 'too soon' to publish Room 219 so I stopped my research and the writing process.

Then Sandy Hook happened.

*inhale deeply*

The events at Columbine and Virginia Tech were tragic and senseless.  I struggled, through my research, to comprehend the state of mind of those shooters, the turmoil and hardship they had to've lived through to push them that far.  It's something I will never understand, no matter how many facts I see.  It's a place mentally I can never take myself.  That much I've accepted.  What happened at Sandy Hook...I can't even being to wrap my mind around it.

My hands are shaking as I type.

I have never before been so emotionally disturbed by an event.  You can say the fact that I'm a mother now has affected my reaction to the shooting.  Whatever the case, I was deeply moved the day of the shooting and I still am.

There was a point in the day, a few short hours after I'd learned of the shooting, when I was flipping through photos on CNN.  I saw a photo I will never forget.  A woman, standing next to her car in a grassy ditch.  She was on her cell phone and had just heard word that her someone she loved had died in the shooting.  The look on her face was indescribable and haunting.  So much despair; like the last tiny thread of hope she was dangling onto was severed.

That was it for me.

I close the internet, I stayed away from the news, I kept my eyes off the papers.  I still find it hard today to see the faces of the victims.  I've read books on serial killers and mass murders.  I've written about rape and torture.  I love horror and gore movies.  I can stomach that kind of stuff.  I'm that kind of person.  Sandy Hook is on a different level and I just can't stomach it and I refuse to try.

So since Sandy Hook, the idea for Room 219 no longer seemed in the least bit appealing to me, yet, the Vigilant Contest still taunted me.  When I exhausted a number of different story ideas, I revisited what I'd initially written for Room 219 and I finished the story.  What drove me to write it, I'm not exactly sure.

After reading over what I had written, and I think I've read it five or six times since completing it two days ago, I fought with myself, whether or not I could use it; bring myself to publish it on BookRix.  There had to be people out there just like me who couldn't stand the thought of another shooting, especially since there have two in my recollection since Sandy Hook. 

The only explanation I have for the creation and completion of the story is this: Room 219 is a story of redemption.  There's a hero.  The shooters (there are 3 in my story) are all stopped by one of the students who retaliates against them, and they're all stopped without deadly force.  Columbine, the shooters commit suicide.  Virginia Tech, the shooter commits suicide.  Sandy Hook, the shooter commits suicide.  Room 219, the shooters meet the long arm of the law before they meet a self-induced bullet.

Though the story I've written is completely fiction, I still feel the slightest bit of closure knowing that the made-up shooters in my story are getting what they deserve and couldn't take the coward's way out.  Though there was still death, there was closure.

For those of you who can muster it, above is the link to Room 219.  This story is not meant to offend or make a mockery.  It's started out as a playful idea and grew into a sort of healing device.

Until next time,
- Jess

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blah Blah Blog

My book blog tour is kicking off in a few short weeks and I've already got over a dozen 'stops' scheduled.  I went through and checked out the blogs and bloggers who'd be reviewing Evol and posting interviews or guest blogs (written by yours truly) and it made me question a few things.

Am I blogging the right way?  Is there a rule book with proper blogging etiquette somewhere that you'd recommend I flip through?  I feel like the blog I've started here is more of a diary, while the blogs Evol will be making an appearance on are specific; they have a structure and it's almost like they have their own set of rules.  Do I need to tighten the reins on my I need rules of my own?

The next thing I realized is my book, my baby is going to be read by so many people and not everyone is going to like it.  My friends and family have been giving me great praise for the book and in some ways, I feel like they have to say that.  It's kind of like when my mom says I'm so pretty.  I feel like she has to say it; if anything, she's from friends and family can be unreliable.  I don't know if I'm ready for a bad review...

I was just reading a blog post about accepting bad reviews in a positive way.  I think I will eventually come around to the criticisms of a bad review, if I get one, but it's that initial sting, the one that will knock me down a couple of notches, that's what I'm afraid of.  Evol isn't for everyone.  I always warn people it's not meant for anyone under 16 years of age and for good reason.  I touch on hot-button topics like rape, abortion, and religion.  When I say 'touch' on those topics, I mean lightly graze the surface; there's barely any contact.  The book isn't centered around those topics, but it's enough that it could offend someone or leave a bad taste in someone else's mouth.

So for the next couple of weeks, I'll be preparing myself for the worst.  If you'd like to follow my blog tour, you can find the dates and links at this page:

And through this page, you'll find links to Evol on Amazon and Kobo.  Hopefully the book will be available on Barnes and Noble and the iTunes bookstore next week.

Parting is such sweet sorrow,

- Jess