Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Love A Man Who Loves An Ugly Car?

Jay fumbled with the last bolt before slamming the hood of the Cadillac.  The dull glow from his work light swung watery shadows across his features, the throb at his temple proof of the tension reflected back from the shiny windshield. Turning away from the cars surface, glittering like grains of sand along an afternoon beach, he caught sight of  a tall shadowed figure standing against the dim of the interior bulb. Jay’s long fingers tightened reflexively around the wrench still in his hand,  his pulse quickening as the shadow moved forward. A deep voice drifted across the open bay.
"Morning, Jay.”
Jay released his last breath, dropping his  shoulders to relax his stiff defenses. 
“Hey Jack What’s up?”
Jay dodged around the car and moved toward the tall lean form, relieved to find himself face to face with Alex’s father. He’d escaped to the garage to avoid his own internal arguments, but the pang in his chest urged him to  ask Jack about Alex,
Jackson McConnell strolled   into the garage pacing between the car and Jay’s scattered tools.
“It looks like your tool box exploded in here. “ One of Jack’s eyebrows arched. “Or you’ve been throwing wrenches?”
Jay tightened his mouth before closing his eyes. Maybe he shouldn’t ask her Dad about the trip? He’d just come to get some work done. His temper tantrum when he couldn’t find the 16 millimeter socket exploded like a caged animal inside him.  The release of tension felt good, but the tools were giving too much away.Jack’s watchful eyes made Jay clench his already taut jaw.   He sucked in a breath before collecting the various wrenches  , returning them to his toolbox in hopes of   avoiding the penetration of the other man’s icy blue stare.
“It’s 3:30 in the morning son, Do you always come to work this early?”
a low chuckle, and  His footsteps echoed through the space as Jack began handing tools over to Jay’s shaking palms.  When he finished, Jack leaned against the Cadillac, His long arms crossed over his wide chest. Jay ground his teeth scuffing the toe of his shoe against the concrete.
“Only if there’s work to do and its useless for me to try to sleep.”
His half hearted attempt at a grin back toward Jack, was the best way to avoid the comprehension of the unspoken truth that lay between them.   Jack laughed again and Jay heard the strain in the sound.
“What’s your excuse?”
“Sleep’s not my trouble,” Jack muttered, “It’s getting Trish to let me do it. ”
He rubbed the shadow of whiskers on his chin, the strain now in his eyes as well.
“my wife is a bundle of nerves. If she would stop worrying for more than ten seconds we’d both be asleep.  As it is, she’s on the computer writing. I went for a drive so I don’t have to watch her go crazy worrying about Alex.”
“insomnia  must be in the air tonight,” Jay mumbled.
Jay leaned against the front bumper of the Cadillac, as Jack joined him.
With a scowl into the desert night, Jay folded his arms across his chest to stare out  into the dark morning sky. “You’re not worried?”
“Am I worried about my only daughter running off to New York to marry a guy who I think is…less than suitable?” he asked with a raise of his eyebrows. “A little.”
Jay frowned, not looking at the older man. As Jack cleared his throat, Jay lowered his eyes to let them bore into the concrete under his feet while  he unclenched  his teeth against the word ‘marry’. The single syllable  reverberated in his head like an echoing gun shot. When she had gone, in his heart he had known that this was not just a weekend trip through Manhattan for her. The truth of Jackson’s off handed statement was not a surprise, but the force of its sound would not leave its haunting tone silent. Jay shook his head, forcing himself to concentrate on Jack’s words. “Am I worried about her figuring this mess out? NO.”
“What’s there to figure out?”
Jackson’s mouth tilted up on one side. “You know Alex, she won’t marry this guy without picking apart what the right thing is first? “nobody wants to do the right thing as much as she does.”

 Jay shivered in the cold morning air. He could feel every raw nerve in his body tighten with Jack’s smooth, buttery tone. The reassurance should have made him feel better, but he flinched at the sound,  his face cracking into a scowl. 
“The problem is Alex is always so worried about doing the right thing for everybody else. She forgets to think about what’s right for her.”
Jack smiled,  the too knowing tilt to his head only making Jay fear Alex's  father could see the storm raging behind his Eyes.
“I’ve never seen you this…concerned before.” Jack teased.
“I’ve got a little more  invested this time.
“how’s that?”
“Besides the fact that she’s my best friend?” Jay said with an uncomfortable chuckle. “She’s not having the best of luck with the weather, or the airlines, and we both know she can’t count on…”
Jay’s voice broke off as his mouth twitched and a fire burned black in his eyes for a moment.
     “her boyfriend”.
He bit down on his bottom lip as he watched Jackson fight to hold back a laugh.     “None of her other boyfriends kept you up at night.”
Jay clenched his teeth to keep himself from correcting her father, all of Alex’s boyfriends bothered him.  Her tractor beam for wounded birds had always driven him crazy, but after the last time she’d gotten sucked in by one of them it hadn’t cost him $500.
“I want Alex to be happy,” jay said, “but she wants this guy pretty bad and her taste in men doesn’t give me much confidence.”
“She gets that from her mom.” Jack said with a gleam in his azure  eyes.
Jay shot a doubtful glance at him. The grin on Jack’s face was a welcome relief to this too serious conversation and Jay was eager for the reprieve.
     “What does that say about you?”
 Jackson stood from the bumper and pulled his car keys from his pocket. Walking toward the open door of the bay, he grinned again.
“That I am the man who saw the forest through the trees. You might want to try it.”
Jack didn’t wait for a response as he crossed the empty lot outside Galvez Autobody. jay rubbed his hand over his own unshaven jaw. Pale morning light hadn't yet begun to break across the horizon. The seduction of the night called him to his bed now. The day would be lost if he slept though. He couldn’t afford to pass up the income.
He shook the dreariness of the last few hours from his head, just dragging himself toward the door of the garage. Jackson turned from beside his car.      “You interested in breakfast?? Its better than being here, alone, in the dark.”
Jay looked away as Jackson scanned the empty parking lot around them.He  knew what Jack was looking for and his exhausted mind flailed for an explanation. Instead,  he  pulled his light off its hook, shutting it off to plunge the door down as he locked up, 
“sure, but, I’ll have to follow you in the tow truck or we’ll have to go in your car.”
Jay turned back to face Jack, knowing there was no avoiding his eyes, as  he looked around the lot again wrinkling his brow.
“Where’s your car?” he asked in deliberate syllables.
“She’s…not available right now.”
Jay felt the brief flush of his face burned scarlet beneath his  skin.  .
Jack met the response with a lift of his eyebrows, turning  his back. “Donuts or omelets?”

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

You Have The Voice Of A Rusty Rake

The Romance Writers of America held their 2003 conference in New York City. Although this was before I started writing, some of my first classes were recordings from this conference. One of my favorites was Suzanne Brockmann, a best seller who spoke on the topic of The Holy Grail Of Voice.
As an ameteur writer I didn't even know what "voice" was. I thought it was dialogue until I listened to Suzanne.
I have since learned the difference between the distinct voice of each character, and the author's voice. In a recent YA post apocolyptic book I read. It was not the author's voice that captured me. I probably couldn't pick her voice out if I read more of her work in a different context. However, her lead male character was  a Bayou Cajun from Louisianna. His voice was so distinct, so true to his character and so unforgettable that I wish I could read a story all from his point of view.
Dialogue and Dialect aside, I have discovered how important it is for the author's voice to be equally as distinct and unique, but also relatable to  a variety of readers.
Let me offer some examples: "Divergent, by Veronica Roth. Roth's voice is very distinct. Her descriptions are like the blade of a knife. Sharp. Exact. Straight to the heart. Her simply elegant descriptors are unlike any other YA author I've ever read.
Irma Bombeck-Anything by Irma is like being told a story at the dinner table of Lucille Ball . Both of these references may be out dated for a number of authors, but you can't fight the classics.
Speaking of Classics...Read something by Louis La'mour and then Zane Gray. They both write fantastic western's with common storylines and characters but there is no mistaking La'mour for Gray.
Just as J.K. Rollins sounds nothing like J. R. Tolkien, though both write fantasy and are British. Your voice will be distinctly your own. Don't try to write like Hemingway or Dickens. Don't try to listen to someone else's dialogue, purple prose, or narrative to mimic it. Although learning from other authors is vital, trying to be the "Next" so-and-so means you're not the next "YOU."
There was a teasing little controversy between Nicholas Sparks and Jody Picolt over there books. Both write sweet, beautiful, tragic stories full of romance, human emotion, and trial. Both will tear your heart out.
Once again...What would the world have missed out on if picolt had wasted her talents trying to "Be" Sparks?
Do what only you can do. Write what is in your heart and mind, like you write. Your readers will know and recognize you as long as you are true to your voice.
And if you have THE VOICE OF A RUSTY RAKE? Well, no one will ever forget you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Author Review: J. S. Jaeger

My dreams of becoming a writer have always been based on my love of books. I was captured by the thrill and romance of Louis L'mour as a young girl before I learned to love the classics in High School, and the mysteries of M. H. Clark and Koontz in college. The theme that has always been prevalent for me though is the concept of overcoming ridiculous odds to win the girl, the prize, or the dream.
Scrolls of Zndaria was just such a book for me. It is written for a cross over audience, kids from ages 9 to 18 but it touches all readers with its story. The fantastic images portrayed by the characters are vivid even in this blind lady's mind. I learned to care so much for the characters that their tragedies became personal. When the death of one character occurred, I kept reading just to find out if it was a mistake. If the magic of the wizards could bring the character back to life.
There are a few authors who have pulled off successful cross over novels in the Middle Grade and Young Adult genres, and I think Jaeger is a great example of having story lines and characters that can do that.
Scroll 1: The Golden Wizard,  mixes elements of Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, and a new twist on fantasy together to make an exciting tale of chasing dreams.

Nathanial “Nate” McGray wants to be the first peasant in Zndaria to become a wizard. Because of his dream, he is ridiculed and bullied. In order to succeed, he must overcome socioeconomic boundaries and prove everyone, including his family, wrong. On his journey, Nate encounters vicious Dread Vikings, deadly bounty hunters, and a deranged beast. He also finds the inner strength and confidence to accomplish the impossible.
J. S. Jaeger is actually a husband wife team of writers.

Jerry and Stephanie Jaeger  have 4 children. Jerry overcame bullying to earn his black belt in Kempo Karate,  served as a special agent for the FBI and currently works as a prosecutor. Stephanie ran her own accounting practice for several years before turning her focus to writing Scrolls of Zndaria with Jerry.
Scroll 2 is scheduled for release in the summer of 2015 and Jerry is working on  a group of novellettes called "The mini-scrolls" which take us on extra adventures with Nate's brother, Ted, along with some of the other characters. 

The ebook and paperback
can be purchased on the following websites:


Their website is: They
are also doing a giveaway on Goodreads. There is a link to enter on the website.


Amazon author page: URL
Go check out The Scrolls of Zndaria at a local library or on one of the links above and read a great story.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Can You Crossover?

My day has gotten away again. Between waking up at the crack of dawn to do 'MOM' stuff, keeping up on correspondence and social media, and spending time with my favorite Aunt. I have once again failed to cross over between my real life and my writing life. Hence the reason my blog is so late today..
The concept of crossing over has always interested me. How does an author like James Patterson cross over from his horror/thrillers to Young Adult? How did J.K. Rollins keep a Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult audience captivated for so long, but now struggles in the Adult Arena. How did Stephanie Meyer take an old idea like vampires and catch the attention of millions of all ages? What is the secret of "Crossing Over"?
Cross overs have occurred in the art, music and literature arena's for decades as people begin to embrace their own diversity as well as that of others.
When the music of the fifties sounds as cool as the eighties, or the music of the modern day actually includes some of the same songs, it becomes apparent that our children are much more open to diversity than my parents or grandparents were.
The same holds true for art and/or literature. Ansel Adams' photography, Michael Angelo's sculptures, Greek mythology and Shakespeare are all found in modern work.
The secret to the successful crossover is, for me, the ability to tell a compelling story as old as time, which has the thoughts, words and emotions that sound genuine to the human spirit.
Finding happiness, true love, a purpose beyond this world, and the desire to chase a dream.
a 13 yr. old feels similar longings to be accepted that the 33 yr. old mother of three does. To be wanted,loved, and  seen as beautiful, smart, and special in the world. To overcome fears, to forgive mistakes, and to feel like the center of someone's universe. For Meyer, Rollins, Patterson, and many more touching on the inner emotions of the writer is paramount to having access to the heart and soul of the reader.
When I hold back my pain as I develop a character, I hold back the core part of what links us as humans together. Our deep desires make us vulnerable but it's that vulnerability that makes a reader fall in love with a character or story. No matter what the reader's age.
Unfortunately, it is much harder said, than done. I'm still learning how to make a scene live and breathe while exposing the character's innermost thoughts and fears. I read these other authors in effort to understand better what I need to do, but in the end it takes practice.
Practice writing, plotting, character building, and yes...reading.
Give yourself permission to read, it is an author's bread and butter. Find great novels, short stories, poetry, and memoirs that bring out your emotion and then feast on every syllable.
In next week's blog I'm reviewing an author who has taken a story of a boy's dream, mixed it with betrayal, danger, death, and heartache to bring the story alive.This author has also been able to cross her Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult audiences, holding their interest.  Look for the review next Wednesday and watch during the month of March as we discuss voice, characters, and plots that work for authors who strive to reach an ageless audience. Until then, keep writing, smiling and reading.