WARNING: This Book May Make You Think

Harper Lee quote

 

I’m struggling with what type of book to publish next. My trilogy dabbled in paranormal, filled with themes about holding onto faith, taking chances, listening to your heart, and God’s unfailing love.

One story I dreamed up before landing a contract for my trilogy deals with racial tensions in America. Last summer, I actually sat down to plot it and write the query and synopsis. I didn’t have time to start writing it until a few months ago. Seemed like the perfect time to write such a story given all the stuff going on in our country now, right?

I wanted to show a heartfelt & moving story that demonstrated a person is more important than the color of their skin or any label society gives them & how easily we can be manipulated into joining the politics of polarization, to find ourselves crossing that line in the sand we said we’d never cross to get back at the ‘enemy’ on the other side, pronouncing judgements as if we have all the answers.

And I wanted to show how true love can cut across lines & dispense forgiveness & grace with humility.

But you know what? It’s a hard thing to do. I fear it’ll take me years before I get this story right.

So I started writing something else, and IT’S A PYSCHOLOGICAL THRILLER!

WHAT IS THIS WIZARDRY?!

My friends will tell you that just watching the previews for movies in that genre send me into a full downward spiral! But it’s over-the-top thrills and chills, & while it may not make you think too much, it’ll entertain you.

But when I turn on the news, I feel guilty. Entertaining people serves a necessary function & is a worthy pursuit, but it rarely solves human problems. But over the years, I can think back to many a book I’ve finished & said, “This book has changed me. I’m not the same person I was before reading this story.”

I’m not naïve enough to think I’m some sort of book god & have all the answers but . . .

One Book

When you read, do you look for a book that will make you think about the world we live in or escape it?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month!

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By jamieayres Posted in IWSG

Enjoying the Journey

Today my baby graduated from elementary school. HOLY CRAP! How’d that happen? Wasn’t she just starting kindergarten YESTERDAY?!

When I considered this post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, I thought of how my writer’s journey has flown by in its various stages too. From vomiting ideas onto paper in 2009, to attending my first writing conference in 2010, to getting involved in critique groups in 2011, to querying & entering a contest & winning a contract in 2012, to publishing my first book in 2013, my second in 2014 & waiting, waiting, waiting on sales . . . to finally selling over 25,000 books so far this year after the release of my third novel, 18 Thoughts.

I worked hard toward my goals, just like my daughter did during her formative school years, just as I’m sure you do now and always! So let’s take a moment to be grateful for the journey, to recognize how far we’ve come, no matter how far we still have to go. The start of June is the perfect time to do so with vacations, picnics, barbecues, and that feeling of happiness and nostalgia and carefree attitude that only summer seems to bring.

Which brings me to an announcement . . . You won’t see much of me during the next two months. Thanks to my buddy, Kyle Prue (who gave me the idea), my girls and I are having a “Summer Unplugged.” Quite simply, we’re going to enjoy each other’s company instead of our electronics. I pray God would help us see the blessings right in front of us during this time, because sometimes the busyness & shiny objects of life has a way of obstructing our vision.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month!

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#ReadOrWriteAnywhere Monster Giveaway!!!

 

Summer is about to begin! 

But just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we should stop reading and writing. I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing. This is open to all readers/writers of both middle grade and young adult books!

You can also take part in…

A MONSTER GIVEAWAY! 

32 Readers Will Win A Book!

32 Readers Will Win A Book!

I’ll be giving away ONE PAPERBACK EACH OF 18 THINGS, 18 TRUTHS, & 18 THOUGHTS!!!

That’s my ENTIRE TRILOGY!

And there’s more! Authors participating in this campaign aren’t just giving away books, but critiques, swag and/or Skype visits, too!!!

So are you ready?

Drum roll….

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Can you guess where I am?

Here are my 5 clues:

*It’s adjacent to the Caloosahatchee River

*There are lots of bamboo trees around (extra hint: used in light bulb filaments)

*One of the most visited historic home sites in America

*You’ll find the Botanic Research Corporation Laboratory on the property, which was constructed to help discover a rubber tree plant that could grow more quickly in the U.S. (extra hint: think tires)

*Open to the public since 1947, visitors can tour the gardens, the lab, the estate, as well as the museum, which features lots of inventions!

Once you’ve figured out where I’m reading, head over to the YA Chicks site and:

  1. Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.
  2. For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).

For writer prize packs:

  1. Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it.
  2. For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you’re already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:

  1. Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).
  2. Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don’t have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments–we won’t open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.”
  3. You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site.

We will keep the giveaway open from 9 am on May 22nd– 12 pm on May 31st so entrants have plenty of time to hunt for clues.

And I also have an exclusive giveaway here on my blog today! 4 complimentary copies of my 18 Thoughts audiobook! You need to be registered at Audible/Amazon to redeem your prize – if you aren’t, you’ll be prompted to register prior to redemption – but you do not need a paid membership plan.

How do you claim your prize?! Just make sure you like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, then leave a comment below . . . first 4 people to do so get the prize :-) (If you’re already a follower, please share this blog post and tag me). Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!

 #ReadOrWriteAnywhere

Wholehearted Thanks

For those who have spent a good amount of time writing, editing, researching, polishing, marketing, querying, emailing, networking, sweating, crying, hoping, praying . . . one thing is abundantly clear: Being a writer is not a job for the weary.

Despite the massive amounts of coffee and chocolate I consume on a daily basis to combat tiredness juggling being an author & an English teacher (not to mention a mom and wife), I have moments of absolute cartwheeling, unicorn-over-the-rainbow joy, and one of the them came this past weekend.

It’s not nice to boast, and please don’t think I’m trying to do that. I’m here to say THANK YOU to those who’ve supported me since I first started writing in 2009

Thank-You

. . . and to give encouragement to those who think they’ll never sell any books. I’ve been you.

Soooo imagine my surprise when I discovered I sold a total of 25,679 books sold in ONE MONTH! WHAAAT?!

I know many authors wouldn’t ever think of that number as being a big deal, especially when one considers it’s the result of sales from 18 Things, 18 Truths, and 18 Thoughts combined, not just one novel. But honestly? It’s more sales in one month than all two years of sales combined for me, and it’s a lot better than selling eight copies a month (my all-time low).

So throw your virtual hands up in the air and have a dance party with me, knowing we CAN succeed if we never give up, never lose hope (and maybe consume an unhealthy amount of caffeine). And with my whole heart, I thank you for your support. <3 <3 <3

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This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us the first Wednesday of every month and post your own thoughts!

What I’ve Been Up To

Wow . . . it’s funny how I can give myself a break to not blog for a week & then my lazy butt can immediately turn that into four!! So sorry I’ve been MIA, but I know many of you are doing the A-Z challenge and probably haven’t even noticed I was gone.

So what have I been up to? Well, I went on a road trip with the fam for spring break. First stop, Universal’s Mardi Gras! Since we are annual pass holders, we decided to stop in Orlando for a butter beer, the parade, the Cajun food, and the Phillip Phillips concert. We watched him when he won on American Idol, and one thing you wouldn’t be able to tell from that show, is he really likes to jam with a band! I think I would’ve preferred to watch him in a small, hip bar somewhere instead, but it was still a good show.

You don't want to know what hubs did to get all these beads

You don’t want to know what hubs did to get all these beads

Next stop, Charleston, South Carolina. It was our first time there, and we weren’t disappointed! Unlike a lot of other big cities we’ve visited, we felt safe walking around, and it was gorgeous! We could’ve spent all day at the museum we went to if we had the time, and our admission also included touring a historic house across the street, which was very cool. My favorite part was visiting Sullivan’s Island because it meant we got to eat lunch at Poe’s Tavern before visiting Fort Moultrie (the entire family got in for $5–what a steal!). Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering why this famous American poet had a pub named after him there. Well, after a brief stint at the University of Virginia, Poe enlisted in the army under the pseudonym Edgar Allan Perry and was stationed at Fort Moultrie for thirteen months beginning November 18,1827.  His time on the island inspired “The Gold Bug,” a story about a mystical beetle that led to buried treasure. Anyway, very COOL décor, quick service, and delicious burgers!

Poe

I ate the Tell-Tale Heart!

 

Last top was Asheville, North Carolina (where 18 Truths was partially set). My sister was getting married in Black Mountain at Lake Tomahawk . . . check out the awesome view! (This lake is used for the scene where Olga meets Sam & negotiates the terms of their agreement)

Lake Tomahawk

Even though we’ve been to Asheville twice, we never had time to visit the Biltmore Estates so we made sure to leave a spot open for it on this trip. If you don’t know, Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in America, still owned and operated by George Vanderbilt’s descendents. It has 250 rooms, and you can tour 47 of them. Two of the rooms were my favorite: the library, which houses over 10,000 of the 23,000 books in the Biltmore House collection and contains an impressive eighteenth-century canvas on the ceiling; and the banquet hall. With a table that seats 64 and a ceiling that arches 70 feet into the air, the hall houses five sixteenth-century tapestries, flags to represent the original 13 colonies, three fireplaces, and a huge pipe organ in the balcony.

We're thinking of buying this place for our summer home

We’re thinking of buying this place for our summer home

So that was my trip! Since then, I’ve done loads of writing on my WIP. What have you been up to?

By the way, if any of you are interested in ready my latest YA novel, 18 Thoughts, then please consider signing up for the review tour The Fantastic Flying Book Club is putting on from June 15th – June 21st . . . that gives you two months to read the book!

Flying Book Club Banner

These ladies, Patricia Lopez & Anasheh Satoorian, bloggers at The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club and at A Reading Nurse, own the book club, and they are certainly fantastic to work with. And Lord knows I could use some more reviews for 18 Thoughts. It came out on January 28th, but it only  has 23 reviews . . . 4.9 out of 5 stars though, and it hasn’t stopped trending in the top 100 in Amazon’s coming of age category! So if you like that sort of story with a paranormal twist, then please consider signing up here for the review tour :-)

Next week, I’ll post about my first visit to a virtual school.

We’re All Mad Here

There’s one movie release I’ll be counting down the days to all year . . . it’s just 9 months away (274 days). Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint: I make multiple references to it in 18 Things, 18 Truths, & 18 Thoughts!!!

Force Awakens

It even comes out on my favorite day . . . the 18th!! And some people think there’s no such thing as fate! Blegh.

Today I learned that for those who don’t know a thing about basketball, there’s now a fun little play on March Madness for the geek in all of us! This Is Madness: The Star Wars Character Tournament! You can check out the details here. I’m too late to make my own bracket, but you can bet I’ll be ready to win some awesome prizes next year! Plus, if you’re late to the game like me, you can still vote daily for your Light & Dark Side matchups! Seriously, how did I not know about this before? Apparently the good people of Wookieepedia have done this for the past two years!

One more movie I’m mad about is Insurgent, which features my three favorite words in the English language: Theo James Shirtless!!! And this one comes out this weekend!!

 

Of course, the preview looks like they’ve completely swayed from the book, but as we know, the BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER! So I’m putting my stick down because that horse is dead. I’ve already bought my ticket to see it tomorrow at 8pm (the AMC here always shows it a day early, which is very nice of them). Besties, Popcorn with sprinkle cheese, and Theo James Shirtless?! What more could a girl ask for?

Do you feel me? Are you counting down the days till the Force awakens? Will you see Insurgent? Does the sight of Theo James make you swoooon?

Teshelle Combs Is Here! (And my book playlist)

 

Today I’m switching blogs with another YA Author, Teshelle Combs. You can check out my post about the songs I chose for my 18 Thoughts playlist here.

Before Teshelle takes over, some introductions are in order:

Teshelle

Teshelle Combs is the YA author of the Core series and The System. She’s one of those crazies who majored in English in college and works as a full-time writer. She grew up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and currently lives with her composer and voice actor hubby, Nate Combs, and their new baby boy, Jaxter, in Cape Coral, FL. Their house is generally filled with epic film themes, video game scores, and the sound of chattering keyboards.

Hi to all Jamie’s wonderful followers and fans! First of all, congratulations to Jamie on finishing her awesome series with her final book, 18 Thoughts! I feel very privileged to know such a cool, warm, and colorful person. If you haven’t read her work, you should!

 

Today, I’m going to talk to you about my Core Series! It’s about dragon shifters, it’s YA, and it’s filled with thrilling and emotional character development.

core-new-ebook-cover-page-001

But just as important as who my character are…is what my characters are wearing! Let’s have some fun! I want all of you to pick your favorite outfit. Who would you want to look like if you were going out for a night of partying at the best dragon hangout spot, the Cave?

 

Onna – It’s all about bold colors and sophisticated fashion for this red dragon. She’s in a skintight red dress with killer heels. Literally. Right inside her heels are six-inch dragonblades. No one, not even a siren, dares pick a fight with Onna.

 

Ava – Ava could not care less about what people think of her. She wears a white tank top that just happens to show off her chiseled arms, and a tattered pair of skinny jeans with her faithful pair of black and white chucks. Ava is always ready to throw down, human…or not. Don’t cross her.

 

Myra – Dark and edgy. Myra is quiet red dragon, but she’s fierce. She wears leather skinnies and a matching top and heeled combat boots that could put someone’s eye out. Her platinum blonde hair is pulled into a high bun and her makeup is smoky to the max.

 

Juliette – A sweet and sophisticated red dragon. Juliette wears hand-carved beaded jewelry and a summery white dress that’s cut to show off some of her soft back. She wears dragon-forged brown leather boots. Her hair is in a simple side braid. She seems innocent, but she’ll do anything for the people she loves.

 

Ima – Luxury and elegance is all Ima cares about. Her long shimmering dress is slit high enough to reveal perfect thighs. The back swoops low and the fabric of the dress is infused with diamond and ruby dust. She powdered her silver hair and pale skin with the same dust. Her heels are made of real crystal and her jewelry is twisted from marbled rose thorns. Think Elsa, if Elsa was cold-hearted grey dragon.

 

So, tell me who you’d rather be! And please take a look at my Core Series! Book 4, LACE, comes out in just a few weeks!

 

Heeelp Me, Please . . . Somebody, Anybody??

Imagine upon meeting someone for the first time, you divulge your entire life story (actually, just the top 5 most horrifying/embarrassing/frustrating moments) in about ten sentences, then ask them to be your best friend.

That's highly illogical.  (Still missing Nimoy)

That’s highly illogical.
(Still missing Nimoy)

Yeah, I tend to suffer from verbal diarrhea so I’ve actually done this a few times, but so far it’s only resulted in another restraining order filed ;-)

But that’s basically what a query letter to an agent and/or editor is. Because these gods people receive hundreds of daily submissions, there’s no way they can read everyone’s manuscript, so you send this thing called a query letter. Something I totally blow at writing. And I haven’t had to in almost three years, when my YA trilogy got picked up by a publisher. But now I’m in the thick of writing a new YA novel, so although it’s terrifying, I’ve written another query letter, and I need your help.

I know it’s not as tight as it should be, but I also don’t know how to fix it. But hey, this isn’t Pottery Barn. Here at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, we’re not all: You broke it, you buy it!!

I’ll leave out all the intro and credential stuff and just give you the meat and potatoes. The working title is Random Lee Chosen and it’s a satirical multicultural coming of age love story. Here goes nothing:

Seventeen-year-old Danielle Harris had a plan. Top of her class at Ballet Tech, she was on her way to being the first African-American female to earn the title of principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Forced to live with Dad in Hick Town, USA in the middle of her senior year? Never once had Danielle jotted this down on the kick butt to-do list for her life. When she last visited Dad five years ago, an old white dude assaulted her. Danielle pointed out the Florida cracker, but Dad didn’t have the balls to do anything about it. And that’s just not something a girl can forgive and forget.

Now her entire world dissolves into a tornado of upheaval, and she’s left with nothing but her As Seen on TV obsession and Mom’s credit card to console her (you know you’ve hit rock bottom when the Home Shopping operator recognizes your voice). That’s when Random Lee (weird name, long story) steps in. Random dresses to please himself in funky hats, fluorescent tennis ball shoes, and alien themed pajama pants. Oh yeah, and he may be hot, but he’s also a hippie trying to save the planet. Dating a white dude who’s also a tree hugger? Definitely not part of the plan.

Danielle manages to survive various disasters, like dancing for a less than subpar ballet studio, enforced Daddy/Daughter dates, her first job as a waitress at the local tiki bar (where there are actual monkeys), and falling for Random, the biggest weirdo she’s ever met (coming from New York, that’s really saying something). Just as she’s coming up with new goals for herself, she gets into a blowout fight with Dad on her eighteenth birthday and takes off in the convertible Mom bought as an ‘I’m sorry I ruined your life’ consolation prize. Not having a license kind of becomes a problem when she gets into an accident with the same racist she encountered when she was twelve, who also happens to be Random’s father. Danielle doesn’t know their relation yet, and her actions that night are full of irreversible consequences. As she’s brought face-to-face with her deepest anxieties, she must learn to accept herself and even find a little compassion (for once in her life) to accept others if she’s to have any future at all.

How’d I do? *puts on big girl panties*

This has been a post for IWSG, the brainchild of Head Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh (and he let me crash his blog on Monday. Let me take you Back to the Future here . . . thanks again, buddy!) We post the first Wednesday of every month, so please join us by posting your own thoughts on your blog :-)

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In Memoriam, 18 TRUTHS just 99 cents today, & Other Updates

Whew! What a week! But before I tell you what I’ve been up to, I want to pay tribute to a very special lady who influenced me in a wonderful way. Many know that my main character in my trilogy, Olga Worontzoff, was named after my grandmother. She passed yesterday, but we rejoice. At 97, she had already buried a son & was ready to go & she went peacefully. As I do author school visits, I’ll be thinking of her as I discuss the fictional Olga, nowhere near as cool as the real one. R.I.P. GG.

My sisters & I with GG and G'pa . . . being silly (always)

My sisters & I with GG and G’pa . . . being silly (always)

I’m so glad she lived a long life, long enough to see herself immortalized in my trilogy, which thrilled her to no end. One of those books is 18 TRUTHS, the second book in my trilogy, which is just 99 CENTS on the Kindle in her honor. 18 Truths was dedicated to her & you’ll find this inscription at the front:

“For GG, the real Olga Worontzoff. You are one of a kind. I’m sorry I never learned to count in Russian, but I hope this makes up for it in some small way. xoxo”

99 cents is the lowest price I can make it. Today & tomorrow only –you can pick it up here  :-)  If you could spare a tweet or Facebook shout out, I’d appreciate it:

Retweet Link or cut & paste: 2/26 & 2/27 only, 18 TRUTHS!! “An achingly beautiful story of life, loss and hope.”

Facebook: Meet the fictional Olga Worontzoff to honor the real one. 18 Truths just 99 cents today & tomorrow only: http://www.amazon.com/18-Truths-So-Called-Afterlife-Book-ebook/dp/B00I34D1GU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424927626&sr=8-1&keywords=18+truths

Thanks, friends. And now onto some happy news . . .

Friday night was a visit to a book club! It was bittersweet because they’ve hosted me every February for 18 Things, 18 Truths, and now 18 Thoughts. I told them I’d continue to crash their February meeting even if I didn’t have a book out :-)

Sue Book Club

Saturday I was a presenter and vendor at the Lee County Reading Council Conference, where people not only showed up to my class, but I sold out of books . . . like all of them! Check out my fancy new banner below that my publisher sent me (does that make me legit now?!).

my banner

 

Then yesterday was the young adult author conference at my middle school. From left to right is Amy Christine Parker (Gated, Astray), Teshelle Combs (Core series, The System), Eliza Tilton (Broken Forest, Wicked Path), Me (in the SW dress & tights, duh!), Krista Rausin (Mystic), Vivi Barnes (Olivia Twisted, Paper & Plastic), Jeff Strand (I Have A Bad Feeling About This), Trish Doller (Where the Stars Still Shine), Lynne Matson (NIL), & Christina Farley (Gilded & Silvern).

GMSYAC

 

Today & tomorrow I’m at the Riverdale Literacy Festival, which includes a Barnes and Noble panel and signing with fourteen other YA Authors on Thursday night in Fort Myers. Thanks sooo much to Morgan and Fallon from Seeing Double In Neverland for putting this together!! Stop by if you’re local!

B&N Event revised

 

*What have you been up to this week???

 

 

 

 

 

18 Things FREE + Yours Truly on The Morning Blend!!!

I’m posting a day early this week to let you know that the first book in my trilogy, 18 THINGS, is completely FREE on Kindle until midnight.

As if that weren’t enough excitement, I was featured on a local talk show called The Morning Blend today. Check out the clip below.

 

Also, my blog tour is in full swing. In case you’re interested, you can check out my true life story on instalove over at the Paisley Reader (posted just in time for Valentine’s Day . . . hope everyone had a lovely weekend).

And on Monday, the awesome Gwen Gardner had me share a paranormal scene from my latest novel, 18 Thoughts.

Tomorrow, I’ll be featured on Writerly Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Crystal Collier . . . see if you can guess my lie to win the ebooks of my trilogy!

Finally, if you’re free from 4-5pm on Saturday, join me and several other Curiosity Quills YA Authors for the online #ReadOn Event:

ReadOn Review 2