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Upcoming Books, News, and Pizza

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Small-Town Girl

A little over a week ago I was given the final cover art for my next Love InspirSmall-Town Girl Fronted release! Isn’t is gorgeous? I love that Lake Michigan got a place of honor on the cover. Small-Town Girl releases in August (although Amazon says it’ll send it your way in by mid-July!).

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

Goose Harbor, Michigan, is the perfect place for Kendall Mayes to start over and open her date-planning business. When she encounters handsome loner Brice Daniels, who is struggling to keep the shipping business he runs going, she sees an opportunity. A weekly sunset cruise catering to couples and tourists will keep their dealings strictly business. Kendall has had enough of failed romances, and Brice is too burned by love to give it another chance. But despite their reservations, they soon let down their walls. Yet when Kendall’s silent business partner is revealed to be Brice’s longtime enemy, staying together might be next to impossible.

The Ranger’s Texas Proposal

Last year I got a call from my editor asking if I had any interest in writing a book in a series of six books with five other authors. I said yes immediately before I realized that five of the six authors writing for this series all had “best-seller” attached to their name. Guess who was the odd man out? Yup. Talk about intimidating! But the other authors were a dream to work with and I learned so much from them.

These books will release in back-to-back months for six months and mine is the second book (coming out in November). The difference in writing The Ranger’s Texas Proposal (as opposed to my Goose Harbor books) is that my publishing house came up with the general plot and character sketches and then I wrote and fleshed it out. I *loved* the process and I adore the story that came out of all of this. Texas Ranger Heath Grayson really worked his way into my heart and his struggles hit me hard (not ashamed to admit there was a lot of at-my-desk-crying happening while writing this one). I’ve been told by my publishing house that the story got three editors crying at their desks over the book/characters – so that’s fun! I’ve never done that before.

I don’t have a cover yet, but I will share it the second I do. However, the preorder is up on Amazon and here’s the blurb:

When Texas Ranger Heath Grayson agrees to investigate thefts at the boys ranch, he’s also hoping to solve a decades-old murder case: his father’s. Getting involved with pretty, pregnant widow and boys ranch volunteer Josie Markham is not on Heath’s agenda. But the more time he spends with Josie, the harder it is to ignore their growing attraction. The somber ranger is convinced a wife and child are not in his future. But with a little help from the boys at the ranch, he may just realize a family is what he needs most of all.

More Goose Harbor

The fifth book in the Goose Harbor series has a name and release date: Apple Orchard Bride is Jenna and Toby’s story (we’ve meet Jenna in many of the other books) and it’ll hit stores January 2017.

I’m currently writing the sixth book in the series RIGHT NOW! And there are solid plans for more Goose Harbor books after that.

More News

I’ve been getting a lot of emails and PMs asking when to expect the final TimeShifters book. I’m always so appreciative when people reach out to me – especially about Gabby and Michael. Those two and the TimeShifters series are all very close to my heart and I think about them often. I would love to continue their story, but at present I’m contracted to write several other books for my publisher and can’t devote enough time to my independent projects. Book three (Reaching Tomorrow) is completely plotted – I just need to find a gap of time to write it in. Like my Amazon Author Page or follow this blog or subscribe to my newsletter for updates on when Reaching Tomorrow will become available.

Last but not least I’m sitting on some very exciting news about a few projects that I’m working on with a team of other authors that amounts to at least two more releases before the end of 2016. I can’t share the details yet … but stay tuned!

I’m sorry there was no pizza in this post. I just felt like the title needed a little something else and pizza did it.

State of the Union

I’ve been receiving a lot of email and messages from beloved readers lately and many have similar questions so I thought it would be good to answer some here so everyone can be in the loop.

old typewritter

Question 1: When does the next TimeShifters novel come out?

Great question. Saving Yesterday (TimeShifters Book 1) released February 2014. In the indie world most authors release books in a series very quickly (many will release 3-4 books in a matter of 60-90 days).

So why isn’t Capturing Today, the second book in the series, out yet? Simply, it’s not ready. But there’s a not so simple answer too. Last year I had a very ambitious writing schedule that I was trying to keep while juggling my full time day job and my family. That writing schedule included books I needed to write for my publisher as well. Right now, my publisher’s books come first because I’ve signed contracts and a contract is a promise. I will always make good on my promises.

But know what? I made a promise to the readers of Saving Yesterday too. When I published that book, it was a promise that you’d have the complete series in your hands someday soon. And I mean to keep that promise.

Beyond contract deadlines, my day job, and time with family, a lot of really, really difficult things happened in my life last year. Suffice to say, between a handful of things that occurred, last year was the hardest year I’ve experienced in my entire life.

I was happy when the clock struck midnight and we got to usher in 2015. 2014 and all the bad that came with it is in my rearview mirror now. Sure, I’m still affected by the things from that year, but I have a new fresh year full of hope and potential holding out its hand—telling me now’s the time to live.

Capturing Today will release this year. More than likely it’ll be within the first six months of this year (and if some things fall into place like I’m trying to have them—much sooner than that even).

Question 2: I see your write indie books now, does that mean you won’t write for Love Inspired anymore?

I do write indie books now and am having a ball releasing them, but don’t worry, I’m still writing for Love Inspired. They are a great publishing house that puts my books onto the shelves of every big box store in the country. My editor is wonderful, kind-hearted, patience, and I learn so much from her as we go through the process of polishing each book. And I love the characters and stories I get to share.

There are many, many more books planned in the Goose Harbor series and so many characters to share about. The second book in the series, The Fireman’s Secret (Goose Harbor), releases next month!!! And the third book, The Single Dad Next Door (Love Inspired LP\Goose Harbor), releases in July. Goose Harbor isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I’m writing the next story now. 🙂

Question 3: What’s next for you?

Like I mentioned earlier, there are two more Goose Harbor books releasing this year and at least one more TimeShifter book (if all goes well, the third will release before the end of the year as well). I am also working on a fairytale novella collection, a novella for each of the royal siblings in a fantastical world. If you’re interested in taking a peek at the inspiration board for the series you can see them over on my Pinterest. And last but certainly not least, I’m working on a super-secret collaboration with a bunch of Young Adult authors. Stay tuned.

If you want to keep up to date with my releases the best way to do that is to sign up for my newsletter. I only send them out when there is big news or a release, so you don’t need to worry about spam. My newsletter subscribers see my covers before anyone else and get first crack at review copies of my books and sometimes have giveaways that are only open to them.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting (on this blog) some book reviews, I’m working on some posts about the writing process (because I get asked about publishing a lot in emails as well), and keeping you up to date. Make sure to keep checking in for giveaways as well, some friends and I are planning some good ones this year. And…recipes. I always post recipes because we love eating around here.

What’s New?

Happy New Year!

I may be a little late with that wish, but these last ten days have really flown. Along with the greeting I want to update you all and let you know of some exciting changes to the website. As you might have noticed, it looks a little different around here. Like it? I hope so.

1Have you ever wondered what the setting looked like in one of my books or wished you could see the character in the flesh? Now you can! If you click on over to my Books page you’ll find links to Pinterest Boards for every single book. Also, my Goose Harbor series now has its own tab and that has links to a virtual visit to Goose Harbor, the characters, and recipes from the books.

2I now have a Giveaway page. What does that mean? Many of my author friends run giveaways and contests – so many that I figured why not combine all the ones I come across onto one page for all of you? The giveaway section of my website does not update in the blog so you will have to periodically stop by the physical page to see what I’ve found. Many of the giveaways only run for a week or less so make sure to check in often so you don’t miss something amazing (like a Kindle Fire giveaway!). If you click over there now you’ll see I’ve already started adding to the page. Happy winning!

3At the end of last year I stepped down from my position contributing the The Write Conversation. It was a difficult choice to make because I loved writing for that blog but realized I needed to focus on you, dear friends. So here I am. I will be spending more time writing books and updating this website this year, far more than last year. And that’s a promise.

What’s next? Next week I’ll be posting my own state of the union…er…writing career post and look for a list of my most anticipated reads for 2015.

Celebrating a New Book!

Celebrating a New Book!

Today I’m handing out party hats and slicing the cake (oh, it’s totally okay to eat cake at before noon!) to celebrate my latest book which released this week! My newsletter subscribers are already having a lot of fun. I announced the release on my newsletter on Tuesday morning and gave them an opportunity to enter to win signed copies of both the new book Searching for Home and The Widower’s Second ChanceIf you don’t want to miss out on upcoming fun, make sure to stop by my website and sign up to receive future updates first. You’ll find the “Join Jessica’s Mailing List” box on the front page.

I also wanted to let you guys know that you may start to see some construction dust on my blog very soon. In the coming months my author website and my blog will both be revamped (design wise) and joined on one complete site. Won’t that be nice? I sure hope so.

But let’s get to the good stuff…a new book!

Searching for Home – Spies of Chicago, Book One

for websiteShe thought a dead relative ruined her life, but discovering his story will save it instead.

When the story of Whitney’s long-dead anarchist ancestor, Lewis Ingram, makes front-page news, she must find a way to exonerate her relative, or risk losing everything–her mayoral-candidate boyfriend and her job at a local magazine. Aided by Nate, a volunteer at the Chicago Historical Foundation, she digs in, determined to find a positive spin on the situation. But what awaits her isn’t spin at all. It’s truth–and it will change her life.

In the world of 1886, Ellen Ingram and James Kent didn’t intend to get caught in the middle of an anarchist spy ring. Ellen was content to leave all such intrigue to her brother, Lewis Ingram. But as the political climate in Chicago changes, Ellen and James have no choice. In the midst of the famous Haymarket Riot, both realize that they must live the life God created them for, not the one dictated by society.

Two generations encounter the same truth–and neither will ever be the same.

Celebrating the release of Saving Yesterday

Is everyone wearing their party hats and dancing shoes? We have some celebrating to do!

One – Does everyone know I launched a website at the beginning of the year? If not, please go check it out and let me know what you think.

Two – My Young Adult book Saving Yesterday, Book One in the TimeShifters series released TODAY.

SavingYesterday_CVR_MED

*tosses confetti in the air*

Back Cover Copy:

Her blood holds secrets she never knew existed.

Despite the fact that she acts as a parent to her alcoholic father, Gabby Creed feels pretty normal. But her life is turned upside-down on her seventeenth birthday when a bracelet appears on her wrist and sucks her back through time.

Turns out she’s not even a little bit normal. She’s a Shifter—a protector of humans and of history itself. And she’s not alone. The other Shifters believe Gabby is special, even more special than the mysterious Michael Pace. Oh, and the Shades—seriously creepy creatures who feed off of human despair—are determined to capture her.

It’s all a lot to absorb. So Gabby’s grateful to have Michael as her Trainer—or she would be if she could get her rebellious heart under control. Then again, if the rumors about her blood are true, saving yesterday will be the least of her worries.

Click to Purchase the Kindle edition

Click to Purchase the Print edition

Why I Write Young Adult Fiction

“Since it is so likely that (children/teens) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” –C.S. Lewis

Beware: Spoilers for Allegiant, The Fault in Our Stars, and possibly Lord of the Flies and the Harry Potter series (but if you haven’t read or at least know the ending to those last two…please come out from under that rock pronto).

Like many others, I was excited to get my hands on Allegiant, the final book in the wildly popular Divergent series. I loved book one, tentatively liked book two, and looked forward to the last installment.

allegiant

All to my utter and complete disappointment.

Allegiant and subsequently its author, Veronica Roth (who, for the rest of this will be known as VRoth) failed readers on so many levels, but more than anything it/she failed a generation of teen readers who are looking for a new brand of hope.

See, when an author writes a book they can’t just willy-nilly send it out into the world. They must keep in mind that their words have the power to shape and affect people. An author, especially someone with a huge readership, has a responsibility to their readers. They must offer hope within the pages of their book or it’s a pointless waste of time for the author and more so, the reader.

Author William Faulkner said in his acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize, “The writer’s duty is to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.”

Does there have to be an “and they lived happily ever after” ending? Absolutely not. Suzanne Collins’s (author of The Hunger Games series) editor put it best when she said that young adult books don’t need a happy ending, but in the end, there must be “a window left open”—a way where we can see that the characters we’ve grown to love can move on from tragedy.

There must be hope.

Teens today are growing up in a far different world than the one I grew up in (and I’m not that old). I’m of the Harry Potter generation. The books of my youth were stories of teens that could rise up and save the world. My generation was the one told that if we go to college and work hard then we’ll get good jobs and we can accomplish anything. I’m the generation just in front of today’s teens—and the teens of today have watched as the bottom dropped out of my generation’s lives. Where going to college hasn’t landed many of my friends a job, instead it has left them drowning in debt. Where many parents are divorced and a significant amount of people I know have watched their family home seized by forecloser.

Teens today have grown up watching this all unravel. For all of the aware part of their lives, our country has been at war. Think about that. They don’t know of an America not at war. Polls show that their vision of success is very different than my teen generation (which is only ten years ago). Today’s teen sees success not as owning a home, graduating college, having a family, or starting a business, instead the number one measure of success in recent polls showed them wanting to be debt free “at some point in life.” That’s it.

Contemporary teens aren’t looking for books about teens saving the world. They only ask for the small hope of saving their small corner of it. So popular books for this generation are ones that in the end show that in the midst of a messed up world, you can find your own peace/hope, even if it’s just between you and one other person.

Fiction has always been meant to combat the reality of life. VRoth failed us here. She didn’t show us what could be possible. Instead she smacked us in the face with what is. And we don’t need that. Because we’ve all dealt with more than enough loss and hardship and heartbreak. We don’t need books that repeat what we live every single day, we need books that show us that in the midst of a heartbreak world, we can find our own little pod of happiness/joy. That just because the world we live in is going to pot, doesn’t mean we have to lose hope.

Whatever her purpose, VRoth showed teens with Allegiant one horrible thing: their life, their struggles, their fight for right…none of it matters in the end. Which leaves teens asking: what’s the point? If nothing I’m working for matters…why try? I know that’s not the message she meant to send, but when an author is careless with their responsibility to readers, this is the kind of thing that can happen.

I’ll admit I spent a good amount of time reading Amazon reviews for Allegiant in order to see if I was the only one left disillusioned. I wasn’t. Sadly, I’m in the majority with the one star reviews.

Most of the five star reviews I read were people who applauded VRoth on her bravery in “giving a realistic ending.” To this I say: there is a whole genre dedicated to realism. If you want stories that make you feel like someone has stabbed your heart on the last page with no chance for recovery, then feel free to read that genre. But for the ninety-five percent of people that read for enjoyment and escapism, sorry, we want some glimmer of a happy ending. If the Divergent series was meant to belong in the realism genre then it was marketed terribly because right now, all we have are broken promises to readers.

Also, even within realism, hope is usually the end game.fault

Take the book The Fault in Our Stars which falls in the realism genre, the teens in the story who fall in love both have terminal cancer. In the end of the book (I said there were spoilers…) Augustus dies. Why weren’t readers rioting over that? Because a promise wasn’t broken—when they picked up the book they knew they were going to read a story about dying teens so a teen dying at the end of the book was something they were braced for, if not expecting.

Even still, The Fault in Our Stars ends with hope. Hazel realizes that although Augustus has died, her love for him doesn’t have to. Death doesn’t have to change the definition of relationships. My grandfather, who is deceased, is still my grandfather because I’m living and can claim him as such. The last line of the book is in present tense whereas the rest of the book was in past tense. Meaning life goes on. This is a hopeful message.

VRoth killed her main character which is just hard to do well, especially in young adult fiction. Unless the author brings the character back after death (like Harry Potter), a theme/point is better demonstrated through killing a beloved secondary character like Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars or Piggy in Lord of the Flies (how’s that for old school). Otherwise, just save it for realism or adult fiction. Period.

All of this spurs me on to write the young adult stories that keep running around in my head—the ones full of turmoil and struggles and hurt, but all of which are covered in and end with “an open window” one that blatantly leads my readers to hope.

Jess

Echo

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*TAP* *TAP* *TAP*

Is anyone still here? Yes, that’s a jab at myself for being woefully absent from this blog in 2013.

But there’s another aspect of an echo that can be a good thing. When an echo occurs, your voice is carried somewhere that you can’t reach. It’s repeated again and again when the speaker only said something once. You all have been that sort of an echo for me, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

You see, less than two years ago I was a girl with a big dream of publishing a novel. I started this blog and you all believed in me and cheered me on. This little blog now has 90 subscribers! I’ve heard stories from so many of you telling me that you’ve passed my book on, or told others to buy it. You guys are amazing. Seriously. Thank you, again and again. I’ll never be able to say that enough.

I have some great news to share with you—some of which explains my recent lack of updating:

  1. I think you all know, but my first child was born in January. Know what? Babies are a lot of work. She’s amazing. Growing and learning every single day. And now she’s crawling, trying to pull herself up on things, and getting into everything in the house.
  2. I signed a three book contract with Love Inspired over the summer! It was a huge boost to me as an author because it confirms that I can do this—write and hopefully make a career out of doing what I love. The best part of it all was that this contract was offered without the books being written (that’s called a blind contract) which is exciting and scary at the same time. They believe in me, now I have to deliver good books into their hands by my deadlines.
  3. I’m gearing up to launch an indie writing career as well! That means that I have some books I’m really passionate about that I’m going to be able to get into your hands much quicker than I first thought I would be able to. I’m beyond excited about this step in my writing journey. I’ll be releasing a Christmas novella before the end of the year and in the beginning of next year I’ll be launching both my TimeShifters series (young adult fiction) and my Spies of Chicago series (a story that follows both a historical and contemporary romance that weave together). Launching any indie book is a lot of work, launching three—with two of them being series—is insane. But I’ve never been normal, so I’ve diving in head first. I’m going to do a post soon about being both a traditional and indie author, so I’ll explain more then.

All this, and I also promise to be here more often. No, I probably won’t ever go back to five days a week like the starting days of the blog. But I have plans to update you more faithfully. I’m looking forward to spending some time together again.

Jess