Posted in Uncategorized

Valentine Day Ramblings

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s that day when you do something special for the ones you love.  As I write this post, I think back on all the Valentine’s Days in my past. I remember in High School we used to buy roses from the student council and give them to that special someone.  It was something we looked forward to on a cold, snowy day.

Now, I enjoy getting a card from my hubby and I enjoy giving him one. But the real joy I feel is when I go to my kids’ Valentine’s parties. They are so excited!  And I remember the feeling I got when I was a youngster and I would go to my school party. Beforehand, I carefully selected the perfect Valentine for each friend and signed my name on the back. I carried them to school with an air of anticipation, excited to give as well as receive.

As I think about all of this, memories of my childhood parade through my brain. I remember playing kick the can with the neighborhood kids until it was too dark to see. I grew up in a small town and there was no fear of abductions or strangers walking in the dark. Everyone knew everyone else.

I smile as I think about where my “kick the can” friends are now.  Some still live in the same small town and others have scattered to the four corners of the Earth. I wonder what they’re doing now. And I hope their lives are everything they hoped they would be.

As I dwell on these thoughts, I wish for those simpler times when we didn’t have to lock our doors at night. Now, I won’t let my kids run around the neighborhood in the dark without me or my hubby being there.

I loved growing up in a small town until my teens when I found the familiarity all too oppressive. Everyone knew everyone else’s business. I felt suffocated and had the itch to leave.  I did leave and moved to a bigger city and I’m glad I did. I’ve experienced more things and accomplished more things than I would have if I had stayed.

I look at my kids and I hope that I’m creating happy memories for them. I want them to look back on their lives with joy and contentment. I know they’ll have struggles like we all do, but I hope they’re few and far between. 🙂 I hope they have a lot of good “kick the can” memories like I do.

Who would’ve thought that Valentine’s Day would’ve sparked a trip down memory lane? Thanks for stopping by and if you’d like to share some of your own “kick the can” moments, feel free to do so! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in promotion

I’ve Won a Blogger Award!!

 

lovelyblogjpg

 

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! Well I’ve been tagged by Joselyn Vaughn to receive the “Lovely Blog Award”!  Whoo Hoo! For me! Thanks Joselyn for thinking of me.  If you get a minute and are looking for a great sweet romance stop by Joselyn’s blog and check out her books. You can find them here:  http://joselynvaughn.wordpress.com/

Now on to the seven random facts about myself.

1)    I love to hike through the woods all year round but especially in the fall. I love the sound of walking through the leaves that have fallen on the ground.

2)    I have one can of Mountain Dew first thing in the morning, to jump start my day. 🙂 I know…veeerrrry veeerrry bad. 🙂

3)    I love to go to the movies and I love movie theater popcorn!

4)    I love early morning when everyone else is still asleep and I can watch the sun come up. It’s very peaceful.

5)    I love listening to my kids talk when they don’t know I’m listening. They’re at a fun age and their conversations are so sweet and innocent.

6)    I miss my dad. He passed away twelve years ago and I feel sad that my kids never got to know him.

7)    I love the beach and someday I would love to live near the ocean.

And now I’m passing this award on to these awesome authors and bloggers! Check out their books for some great reads! You won’t be disappointed!

Sharon Ledwith   http://sharonledwith.com/

Tanya Eavenson   http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Graeme Ing      http://www.graemeing.com/

 

Thanks for stopping by and sharing my award with me!

Posted in Uncategorized

Let’s Thank our Troops

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! The post today is short and sweet but it does come from the heart. 🙂  The Christmas season is upon us and it’s my favorite holiday! Even though the holidays are stressful, I love giving gifts and sending cards. The spirit of giving during this time of year is wonderful and it does a person good.

I see this spirit everywhere in the community, the Toys for Tots program, the Salvation Army, and even the schools are getting involved in giving to those who are in need.

This is one thing that I really love about the United States. I wouldn’t want to live in any other country. I know we have our problems, but let’s face it…it’s the best country to live in…especially for women.

I base the above comment on a book that I read a few years ago. I read it in one day. It’s a fictional story, but I believe the description of life for women in that country is accurate. I also feel the political unrest portrayed in the book is true to life. The book I’m talking about is titled “The Kite Runner”. I highly recommend it. It’s an eye opening experience and it made me appreciate the country where I reside.

To check out this book click on the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Kite-Runner-ebook/dp/B000OCXGZA

So, now that the Christmas season is here and we’re thankful for all we have. Let’s remember the troops that keep our way of life safe for us. And even though we have problems, they are nothing compared to what the people in other countries suffer.

So take a moment and send a Thank you Note or a Christmas card to the troops who are stationed in Afghanistan. Here’s a link that will explain how to do that. 🙂

http://action.uso.org/action/thank-you-letter?sc=OM_Google-P_Afghanistan-C_AF-Hero-Military=www.ehow.com_thank&page=GG&donate=WW11VLP268&gclid=CNXijsrNg7QCFckWMgodiAEApw

The link above allows you to send our troops a Thank you e-mail. They also ask for a donation…but if you can’t spare a few dollars…don’t worry about it. The thank you message should be enough. 🙂

If you’d like to send a physical card or letter, you can drop it off at your local Red Cross location and they will send it for you.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and if you could take a few minutes and send a thank you e-mail it would be greatly appreciated. The troops overseas won’t be able to see their families this Christmas…because they’re busy keeping our way of life safe for us. So send them a quick note! They’ll appreciate it!

Posted in promotion

It’s a Thanksgiving Blog Hop!

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! Some of my colleagues and I have put together a Thanksgiving Blog Hop just for you! There will be prizes so check out everyone’s site! 🙂

All of us are listing five things that we are grateful for this year. Check it out and share your thoughts! Let me know what you’re grateful for! I’d love to hear from you!

 

Five Things that I’m Thankful For

 1. My wonderful husband and my two boys. 🙂 They are my inspiration and keep me headed in the right direction.

2. My awesome publisher ASTRAEA PRESS for accepting my manuscripts. And the awesome editors that edit my books! Your guidance has been instrumental in my stories.

3. The wonderful AUTHORS that I’ve met in the publishing industry. Their help and encouragement has been a real blessing.

4. My Critique Group THE GRAND RAPIDS WRITERS EXCHANGE. They’ve been instrumental in helping me get my manuscripts in shape.

5. Last but certainly not least my FANS and READERS! Without you my stories would be sitting on the e-book shelves gathering dust!

So to celebrate my gratitude I’m going to give away a signed paperback of “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”! Whoo Hoo! 🙂 It would make a great Christmas Present for the Tween/Teen in your life! 🙂

How do you enter this giveaway? That is a very good question. You can enter by posting a comment about what you are thankful for and that will count as one entry. You can also enter by tweeting and sharing about the giveaway and then posting the tweet or share in the comment section at the end of this post. Each tweet and share equals two entries. So, if you tweet 4 times…you’re entered 8 times.

That’s it! That’s all you have to do! 🙂

The winner will be announced on November 23rd! I will post the winner on my blog, facebook, and twitter. I will also send the winner an e-mail. 🙂

Here’s the cover and blurb for “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”.

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

The next stop on this blog hop is E.A. West’s blog! Check it out! The link is below.

http://thewestcorner.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/thanksgiving-blog-hop/

Thanks again for stopping by and I hope you have an awesome Thanksgiving! 🙂

Posted in promotion

Considerations an author has to make when writing for the Young Adult Market

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you today. Usually, my posts consist of issues that effect our young teens of today. However, due to the fact that I have a presentation  to prepare, and can’t invest a lot of time in to research, I’ve decided to touch on the special considerations that an author must think about when writing for the Young Adult market.

How is writing for the young adult market different than writing for the adult market? That is a very good question. First of all, when I write for this market my lead character should act as a role model for my readers. So, I have to make sure that she doesn’t condone bad behavior. I know what you’re thinking…how would I get someone to read my stories if they were high-brow moralistic dribble? That my friend is the question, how do I get someone interested in my story to read it, teach them a lesson and entertain them at the same time? A tough job for sure! Especially in today’s world, teens are looking for edgy books that reflect the issues that they’re facing today.

The way that I do this is by putting my characters in situations where they must make decisions. Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, I show the consequences of those decisions.  By doing this, I’m hoping the reader learns the life lessons that are being illustrated right along with the characters.

I also hope that I’m showing young readers that they can survive a bad decision. I want them to know mistakes are actually valuable lessons that can be overcome. Everyone makes them, but not everyone learns from them.

So, how do I do the above and make the story one that my readers will want to read? I turn it into a suspenseful thriller that will have them on the edge of their seats. My stories have twists and turns that keep the young reader guessing. Below is a direct quote from one reader.

“The Super Spies are like Nancy Drew of the twenty first century but MORE FABULOUS! A must read for all ages.”  A review from Paige.

As you can tell she really enjoyed the story, I think any tween/teen would. Right now I’ve got two available. The covers and blurbs are below. Check them out and let me know what you think!  I’d love to hear your comments.

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?

Thanks for stopping by today! I appreciate your interest and next week I’ll be back discussing the issues our teenagers face today!

Posted in Teen

J.F. Jenkins talks about Teen Relationships in Literature

I’ve got J.F. Jenkins here today and she’s going to talk about Teen Relationships in Young Adult Literature. Take it away J.F.!

I’m going to get a little personal today. I hope you don’t mind. You don’t, right? Because today I’m going to talk about the relationships of young people in my writing.

It all started last week. I was eating dinner with my family and we were reminiscing about our respective high school adventures. Somehow, the topic of a particular ex-boyfriend came up. I guess you could say this relationship had been a very defining one in terms of my self-esteem because he had been rather verbally aggressive towards me, as well as controlling. Through it I learned just how strong I am, and what I’m willing to put up with in how other people treat me.

All that aside, when we were talking about said past experiences, my Mom looked at me and gasped.

“You put that one guy in your book!”

I just looked right back at her and laughed. “Because what happened between us is too hilarious and stupid to pass up.”

It was a story that needed to be told. And when it comes to teenage relationships, a lot of different angles need to be presented. Too many teen novels depict one extreme or the other. It’s either: let’s get married and live happily ever after dancing under a rainbow and have a million babies right after we graduate! Or he/she (usually he since they’re a book about girls for girls) is a complete and total jerk who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

To me, neither of those extremes is total reality. Not like I’m going to say they don’t happen, because they do happen, but painting only these extremes is starting to create a lot of frustrating standards in the dating world. Being a teenager is hard enough as it is, why add that pressure of finding your soul mate in high school too?

It took me six boyfriends to find my soul mate. Two of which were short middle school “let’s hold hands in the hallway and sit together at lunch” kind of things. The third lasted for eight months, but we didn’t do much beyond go to a movie and hang out. When the guy cheated on me and bragged about it, I kicked him to the curb fast which earned me the praise of my sister and her friends. That was an interesting story (it’ll probably make it to a book eventually too because it was just hilarious). Then there was the aforementioned abusive ex-boyfriend who did a lot of rather amusing things in retrospect. HE made it into a book, and I laugh at that new Taylor Swift song (we are never ever ever getting back together) because it pretty much tells the story of that relationship. Then there was my obligatory rebound boyfriend. Got over that fast. And then there was my husband.

No, I suppose I’m not one to talk since I did get married young, but as I told my parents back in the day: when you date enough losers, you figure out pretty quick what’s worth keeping around. But here’s the thing, when you look back at said losers you realize they’re not as horrible as you once thought. Yes, even the abusive one. No, I’m not condoning his behavior in the slightest. It was scary and more or less crazy. However, there was a reason I thought I loved him at the time. To this day, I have never met a guy who’s ever been so interested in hearing what I have to say. We would talk for hours on end. All he ever wanted to do was talk.

Through this I realized that when writing my relationships in my books, I need to keep in mind that every relationship has its good points. If there weren’t any, there wouldn’t be any reason for being together right? I also learned that every relationship has its flaws. Even with my husband, there are tons of them. In fact, there might be more flaws in this one than there were in my relationship with the abusive ex. Gasp! But they’re different kinds of flaws. The way we fight is different, for example, and so is the way we love. My husband might not listen to me talk about all my stupid obsessions, and he might not be overly sweet, and he has his moments where I want to punch him in the nose. At the same time, he completes me in a whole new way.

And these are things that are lacking in teenage media these days. Because it’s only one way or the other. You either have your perfect shiny relationship, or you have a relationship that’s horrid. The drama and angst that keeps the perfect couple from having happily ever after is always something from an outside source. Where is the perfect couple who works through their flaws together? That grows together? The relationship where the flaws never necessarily go away or are cured, but you learn to work around said flaws? Because you can’t make a person change. That’s something they have to want to do, and if they don’t change you have to decide what’s worth putting up with and what isn’t.

Where are these relationships in fiction? I don’t see them much in adult fiction either. I suppose because nobody wants to read a story about a couple who isn’t perfect or who can’t overcome their flaws. At the same time, it does impact our society. We are slowly being taught to give up as soon as things don’t go our way: in everything!

Someday I hope this changes. By putting more reality into my books, maybe someone will learn something from it and be touched. Which is why I have to give Miss Swift some credit. As much as I harp on her for writing about her life so bluntly, I do appreciate the reality of it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us J.F.  Below are a couple of J.F. Jenkins Books. You can check them out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Astraea Press.

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vala-j-f-jenkins/1111910922?ean=2940013301627

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Vala-Agendas-ebook/dp/B005WNXJRG

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vala-j-f-jenkins/1111910920?ean=2940014451925

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Vala-Heritage-ebook/dp/B0083E4UNI