I'm Just Saying…

January 25, 2016

Yes, I Want My Fictional Characters To Be Happy. You Got a Problem With That?

Greetings fellow Scribes and Bibliophiles!

Let’s get right to today’s topic, shall we?

As readers, we all have favorite characters we’re attached to:

Readers and characters.png

Whether it’s Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Eyre, Sherlock Homes, or Gandalf… there are quite a few fictional people we would line up to spend some quality time with. We admire them, we like them, we get them. And we’re pretty sure they would think we’re awesome too.

As we read their story, we are invested with a deep desire to see everything work out for them. We want them to be okay. We want them to be happy. No, really. They have to be happy.

But what about the writer? We create our characters, live with them, spend time with them, day in and day out. We become attached to them. We want them to be okay, too. And yet, we know they can’t be. So what happens when it gets to this…

Writer and character

See, this is a problem. You know why it’s a problem? Let me tell you why. Because as human beings we all want this –

Cinderella_-_So_This_Is_Love_-_1

Not this –

belle crying gif

We dream of living a happy, pleasant, problem free life of this –

cinderella and forest creatures

Not this –

cloverfield 2

Unfortunately, writers are screwed. We know that to write a really good story you have to have emotional, nail biting, gut wrenching, on the edge of your seat, down to the wire, zero seconds to spare… CONFLICT. If nothing is at stake for your character, you get this –

Karl Urban yawning

and then this –

chandler sleeping.gif

And that’s not good.

So, if you think about it, since all human beings want only to be happy and avoid suffering, then the goal of the writer is to make sure your character doesn’t get the first one, and can’t avoid the second one.

Bummer.

So, why am I telling you this?

Because I’m editing my second book of The Fixer series, The Killing Kind. And I started to notice that for all the problems I set up for my girl Katerina, they never really got in the way, they sort of went like this –

red sea.gif

And then I noticed her life was practically like this –

 

singing in the rain gif.gif

Not good. Not good at all.

But, I like Katerina. She’s a hard working, decent human being. She’s a good person caught up in bad situations. She should get what she wants. She should be happy.

Oh crap.

So I saw my problem. And I set to work fixing it. Katerina’s got a long, hard road ahead of her. But I’m hoping there’s going to be some happiness in the future for her. Seriously, seriously. We’ll see.

And now… for the shameless marketing portion of this blog:

The first book in the series, The Fixer: The Naked Man, is on sale now for 0.99 cents on Kindle , Nook , and Kobo

Catch up on what’s happened so far because this summer, Kat will be back….

Final Teaser _2 Killing Kind.jpg

Until next time….

J.

 

 

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January 5, 2016

Shameless Marketing – Part Deux – The Teaser

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all had a very merry and a happy and healthy New Year!

Since it’s a brand new year I thought I would dive right in for more shameless marketing. Why not? Today’s topic of shameless promotion is the teaser poster. I am an incurable movie addict and I love movie posters. They run a close second to the movie trailer, which to me is almost as important as the movie itself. Seriously.

I think a good movie poster generates curiosity

spectre

or makes you laugh out loud

ron burgundy

or gives you the chills

the-dark-knight

or makes you smile as if you’re reconnecting with an old friend

indiana jones

or any combination of the above

thor

All right, I admit it. I just wanted to add a picture of Chris Hemsworth. No judgement people, okay?

But anyway…

So I decided for my next installment of shameless marketing, why shouldn’t book 2 of The Fixer series, The Killing Kind, have its own teaser? Something that says, “This is book is fun.” No, strike that. “This book is damn fun. But it’s not all fun. It can be a little dark and more than a little dangerous. But this is something you should check out. Seriously seriously.”

And it you haven’t read Book 1 yet, The Fixer: The Naked Man, then you should definitely click the link and head over to Amazon and pick up a copy for only $2.99 on Kindle! (Did you see how I did that? I slipped that right in there. Shameless!)

Anyway… here it is… the big reveal… the very first teaser poster for Book 2 of The Fixer series, The Killing Kind…

The Fixer The Killing Kind Teaser 1

Ta-da!!! 🙂

I have to get back to working on edits now – and eating chocolate. It’s a package deal.  There will be more shameless marketing shortly but until then…

All the best,

J.

 

 

October 5, 2015

What I did on my Fall (Book Research) Vacation

I just came back from a vacation in Burlington, Vermont. I like Vermont. I’ve been there before. That’s one of the reasons I chose to use it for some scene settings for The Fixer series. I took day trips, finding places that will be useful for the books. For example, I visited a museum, and a farm. I saw sheep and goats and baby cows at the farm. I didn’t pet them, of course, because, you know, yuck. I think I’ve said all I need to. I took a boat ride, too.

Yes, my vacation/book research trip was a time to recharge the creative juices and come up with new ideas. I found it to be a pleasant, non-stressful, and relaxing experience.

Until my cell phone died.

No, I don’t mean the battery died and I needed to recharge the phone.

I mean, the cell phone died.

Think Monty Python and the Dead Parrot sketch. The cell phone was no more. It had ceased to be.

Shit.

There was a lot of this:

 

giphy

But, (and I want points for this), not this:

 

peter-finch-als-howard-beale

And definitely not this:

 

Okay, there was some of that but it was on the INSIDE.

Let me admit it now: I am not a technologically savvy person. At all. I use a computer because no one makes word processors anymore. I grew up with twelve channels on television, phone booths, and vinyl records. Vinyl. Does anyone remember vinyl????

Having said that…

While I don’t use 90% of what a cell phone can do, I am attached to my cell phone. I may not Instagram or Snapchat, but I do text, tweet, and Facebook post. I check my email, I take pictures AND text those pictures. I’m connected. My phone is never far from me, always within reach.

So, I’m in my hotel room when my phone wants to do a software update. My phone does what it wants without consulting me. I don’t like that.

So it updates.

And then everything goes to shit. How do I know something is wrong?

Because it keeps restarting itself over and over again.

And then there was some of this:

lily

NOT on the inside.

I tried to be reasonable about this. I wasn’t in a far off land, in the untamed wilds. I’m in Vermont. The state is classified as civilization. They have malls. I can verify this. I’ve been in one. Loss of my cell phone will not leave me wandering aimlessly, clothing shredded, hair disheveled, begging by the side of the road for some Good Samaritan to take pity on me. A few hours earlier, I had just eaten a breakfast of hot cakes (with real Vermont syrup), two eggs scrambled dry, and a fresh fruit plate.

Clearly, this industrialized nation, first-world problem does not qualify as a call to go to DEFCON 1.

But I don’t have my phone.

Listen to me: I’m not connected. Do you understand? The lines of communication have been severed. I’m cut off, do you hear me?

Cut. Off.

Just last week, I was driving into work, listening to the DJ’s conduct an experiment: they didn’t touch or even look at their phone for an hour.

Child’s play, people. Child’s play.

Now I’m sitting in the hotel room, bereft of my phone, flipping channels on the TV. I watch Dr. Oz instructing a woman to wrap up her phone and bury it in a container of rice (don’t ask me why, I turned it on in the middle of the segment). Then he gives the woman a cup of tea to ease her emotional anxiety because she doesn’t have her phone.

Cup of tea my ass. I started drinking. A lot.

But it wasn’t just the dying of the phone that made me pop a cork. Nope. It was what came after.

I need to contact my cell phone provider. No problem. I’m prepared. I have my laptop.

And that’s when the universe starts screwing with me.

  1. The wi-fi network is moving like it’s 1999.
  2. I get to the vendor website.
  3. The website refuses to load.
  4. I tap keys.
  5. Nothing happens.
  6. I hit keys with a vigorous, yet controlled force.
  7. Still nothing.
  8. Scripts are refusing to load.
  9. Websites are not responding.
  10. WTF?????
  11. I get a pop-up message.
  12. “Your browser is out of date.”

Of course it is.

Now, it was more like this:

meltdown-gif-lol

Still on the inside.

Why? Because I’m a babypants who wants the f&%@!g laptop to work so I can get my f$%@g phone fixed.

I decide to cool off and email a few people so they know why I’ve dropped off the grid.

  1. I open my email program.
  2. I tap to create an email message.
  3. I enter the recipient’s name.
  4. I can’t type the message because I can’t see the message box to write a message and the side bar to navigate to the message box is not there. It has gone bye-bye.
  5. I can’t email.

And then we moved on to this:

arnold_o_GIFSoupcom

Still on the inside.

I finally find a phone number for my cell phone service provider. I call. The representative is very nice. She speaks half to me and half to herself about what she’s trying to do to help me. I hear things like “Let me just see something else here,” and “Let me just check one more thing…”

I calmly thank her for her assistance and wait for her to finally come back on the line and explain to me there’s nothing she can do and the phone is crapped out and done.

Which she does.

She doesn’t use the phrase “crapped out.” That was me.

I give her the zip code where I’m staying.

There is no store in the area.

Of course not.

The rep explains that since I’ve been a good customer for twenty years (yes, you read that right) and my warranty only expired last month, they will send me a replacement phone, to my hotel, fedex delivery.

I thank her.

“What about my pictures?” I ask.

“Do you have a Google account to backup….”

tangled blah blah blah

I don’t understand a word she says. I translate what she says to mean this: You’re shit out of luck and you’ve just lost everything on your phone.

Why didn’t she just say that to begin with? That I understand.

I use the hotel phone and call my friend Rebecca to tell her, “No I’m not ignoring you or your texts,” and explain my predicament.

Rebecca asks, “Did you back up all your stuff on your phone?”

I explain that the rep tried to explain the backup process to me but she probably could have put her time to better use. Doing anything else.

Rebecca asks, “Do you have a Google account?”

“I think so.”

“Then what you do is….”

elaine%20yada%20yada

“I hear you speaking,” I say, “I know there are words coming out of your mouth but they’re not making any sense to me.”

She laughs.

I deserve it.

We hang up.

I decide to load the latest Internet Explorer version and attempt to send an email.

The universe decides to stand down from screwing with me and I get that done.

There is nothing to do but wait for the phone.

Day One: I feel lost and lonely, unsettled and anxious. I don’t even know what time it is. Who owns a watch? Who needs a watch? I have a phone. Sorry. I had a phone.

Day Two: My comfort level is slowly rising. I’m off the grid. I have no idea what’s going on with Facebook or Twitter. I’m okay with that.

Day Three: I am entering a phone free nirvana of centered calm. I am re-connecting to the human race and it’s a beautiful thing.

And now I was feeling like this:

happy dance

I feel the power. I feel the FREEDOM! I, like so many others, am too connected to electronics. We spend our lives looking down at our phones instead of looking up, looking our friends and loved ones in the eye, making contact and truly engaging in real dialogue and conversation.

This could be a turning point for me, a moment of true change and transformation, a moment of –

The hotel room phone rings.

It’s the front desk calling.

“Miss Rosenblatt, we have a package here for you…”

My phone. MY PHONE!!!!

 

What was I saying?

 

 

 

July 1, 2015

A Strong Female Protagonist Walks Into A Bar…

I love writing dialogue. It’s probably because my first love was screenwriting. I’m still a cinephile. In my younger years, we didn’t have the money for a VHS player so I would take a tape recorder and a microphone and record movies when they played on television so I could listen to them. Again and again, I would listen to the dialogue, the rhythm, the patterns of speech, how it flowed.  One of my favorite writers is Robert B. Parker and as every Parker fan knows, the man had a gift for a character’s gab.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love narrative. I enjoy that moment when I come up with a sentence that flows, that works.  Usually it happens when I’m relaxed and not worrying over it too much.

So what does this have to do with the title of this blog post??? Because the next line after “[somebody] walks into a bar” is… “and says…” The opening sentence can be modified anyway you like but the ending never changes. Somebody has to say something.

“This guy bumps into a girl at a ski resort…” Here is one of my favorite examples of dialogue from one of my all time, top 5 favorite films ever, Charade:

Another big favorite is “This guy shares a ride from Chicago to New York with a girl…” When Harry Met Sally

In 20 days, my first book in 6 years (Oh my God where did the time go???… but I digress) will drop on Amazon Kindle.  Below is a sneak peek of Chapter 2 of the first book in The Fixer series, The Naked Man. I think Katerina Mills is a strong female protagonist even as she tries (and fails) at dealing with her ex-boyfriend. Sometimes the strongest person is a weak person who never gives up and never stops trying; somehow they make it through, in spite of the hardships and mistakes.

So here’s a taste of what I came up with for dialogue and I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you will visit the Amazon page for The Fixer: The Naked Man and pre-order to give it a try.

CHAPTER 2

 

Someone is in here. Kat froze in the dark entranceway of her apartment. A rush of adrenalin shot through her. Her mind raced. Get out. Leave. Call the cops. She saw something on the floor. Ignoring her instincts, she stepped in further, knelt down, and picked it up; a tie. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark and she stood up, placing a hand on a chair; a jacket was draped over the corners. The tension leeched out of her body. She didn’t know too many burglars who broke into nondescript, low-rent apartments to strip. The bathroom door opened and a slash of light cut through the darkness.

Philip emerged,  naked except for a towel around his waist. Seeing Kat standing with his tie draped over her fingers, he smirked.

“Hi, beautiful,” he said, “going to show that on QVC?”

“I hope your apartment is out of hot water,” she said, ignoring his remark.

His eyebrows quirked. “No, why?”

“How did you find me, Philip?”

He closed the gap between them. “I’m just back from Boston,” he said, caressing her cheek with a feather light touch of his fingers. “And I do have the skills to locate people.”

The heat radiating from him made her breath catch in her throat. He was wearing his usual “come hither” smile. Kat knew what that smile meant: a lot of enjoyable moaning and groaning in the night followed by regret and self-loathing in the morning.

“You should’ve called,” she said, walking past him into the bedroom.

The bed had already been turned down. A bottle of wine and two glasses were sitting on the corner of her low dresser.

“We won’t be needing those,” she said.

“No love for a friend?” he asked, dropping onto the bed.

“No love for an ex-boss.”

“But we’re still friends, right?”

“You have lots of friends. You won’t miss one.”

“But you’re my best friend.” He gave her a slow smile. “Aren’t you going to get undressed?”

Kat’s lips tightened. She hadn’t seen Philip in months. It didn’t matter. The college frat boy good looks never changed, the shock of dark hair, the body, lean and fit.

“You don’t mind if I do then, do you?” he asked and the towel was off.

He lay on the bed, exposed without shame and she allowed herself to examine him openly. The ripple of muscle across his stomach, his broad shoulders, were an open invitation for exploration with hands, lips, and tongue.

“I would ask how goes the temp gal Friday gigs,” he said, “but I can see by your new digs, not well.”

“I’m fine.”

“Yes, you are. I bet they all tell you how much they love you.”

“I’m used to hearing that line,” she said. “I don’t believe them either.”

“You didn’t ask how things are for me,” Philip said, glossing over her comment.

“You don’t look unhappy,” she said.

Phil stretched his arms back, lacing his fingers behind his head. “Things are great but I screwed up, you know? I made a big mistake… letting you get away.”

“Not interested,” she said, but the words had no bite.

She caught the soft expression on his face, the eyes narrowing to dark slits. All she had to do was say the word. His face said he knew she would. So did she. Already, her body was preparing, against her mind, her will, and her reason. The adrenalin of the evening’s activities was still pulsing through her veins, every nerve heightened, down to the tingling of her skin. She needed to take the pressure off.

“I don’t suppose you’d like to forgive me,” he said.

“Naked requests for forgiveness are a little tacky, don’t you think?”

Philip rose from the bed and came to her. His eyes held hers as he slowly slid his hands from her shoulders to her waist. He undid the zipper on her jeans, peeling them down, revealing her black bikini panties. Kneeling down, he brushed his lips across her belly. She wanted to run her fingers through his hair, dig in, and hold on for what was coming next. He glanced up with a sly smile. When he stood he caught her sweatshirt within his fingers and slid it over her head, leaving her black lace demi bra in place.

He spent a long moment taking her in with his eyes. “I wasn’t a bad boss, was I?”

“I thought lawyers never ask a question they don’t have the answer to.”

“Who says I don’t have the answer?”

“You slept with someone else.”

“Hearsay.”

“While you were sleeping with me.”

“Conjecture.”

“I found her panties.”

“Circumstantial evidence.”

“In your apartment. In your bed.”

Reaching around, he pulled the elastic band off the end of her braid. He slid his fingers through her thick chestnut hair, untangling the soft waves.

He let out a sigh. “Okay, I was an asshole.”

“Your point being?”

“Look at you,” Philip said, his lips brushing her neck. “Barely two years ago you were a wide-eyed innocent, a mere foundling. Look how far you’ve come. But you’re not there yet, kid. Not by a long shot. You need me to finish your education.”

His arms tightened around her and his lips closed over hers. She could feel her resolve melting as her body heat rose. She would not let him get away with this.

“You know,” she said when she was sure her voice would be steady, “I really appreciate this “seduce the secretary” bit but I’m not moved.”

He snapped the clasp of her bra, exposing her full, rounded breasts and began slowly caressing her. Involuntarily, she shifted closer to him; a small sigh escaped her lips. Taking one nipple between his thumb and forefinger, he squeezed. She gave a small gasp and shuddered.

“I’m sure you are,” he murmured with a wicked smile. He slid his hand between her legs.

“Forget it,” she said. “I’m ready.”

  • ••

The relentless buzz of the alarm woke her. The early morning sun cutting through the cheap, flimsy curtains cast a rectangular pattern on the tangle of blankets. She lay still for a moment, trying to orient herself, listening to Philip’s soft, rhythmic breathing.

She stumbled out of bed and into the bathroom. Flipping the light switch, she turned her face away from the glare of the bulbs. After a moment she moved to the sink. She took a long look in the mirror, running her hands through her hair. Her cheeks had a soft, rosy glow. Making a sound of disgust, she bent over the sink, splashing water on her face. But she could still feel last night’s warm, languid sensations permeating her body.

“Snap out of it,” she muttered.

Reaching into the shower and pulling the top knob, she recited her daily, silent prayer that it wouldn’t come off in her hand. She waited for the gurgle and click that would signal a half-hearted spray of water was ready to begin. She hovered under the warm stream, wishing it could wash everything away.

  • ••

Twenty minutes later, Katerina rushed around the cramped bedroom, dampness still clinging to her body.

“Good morning,” Philip said in a lazy voice.

She glanced over to find him propping himself up with both pillows. She continued to rifle through the closet searching for a suitable outfit.

“Wow, now that I get the full view in daylight, you are even more amazing than when I first met you,” he said. “Are you into yoga?”

“We are not having sex this morning,” she said, pulling out a blouse.

He gave a light chuckle.

She came to the night table and grabbed her earrings. He latched on to her arm and pulled her close.

“Good morning, gorgeous,” he said, his voice soft and low.

“What do you want, Philip?”

“What I’ve wanted since the day you left. Come back to work for me.”

She pushed away from him.

Philip swung his legs over the side of the bed and got up; he began pulling on his clothes. “You’re gonna drop dead working these crappy temp jobs, Katerina.” He glanced around. “This place is barely livable. The only thing you’re missing is a colony of roaches you could charge a sublet fee. You’re never gonna make rent typing and filing and your father obviously can’t pick up the slack.”

Kat didn’t answer. He’s  right. Every day, things are getting tighter. Little by little, I’m going under.  Her parents hadn’t sent money in weeks. She couldn’t reach them by phone, no answer to her texts or emails; and her father hadn’t paid the balance on this semester’s tuition. Kat had done the math. To survive, she needed fourteen thousand dollars in two weeks.

“You want to be a lawyer, you need to work for a lawyer,” Philip said.

“I won’t be practicing your kind of law.”

He finished buttoning his shirt. “That’s cold, Kitty Kat.”

He approached her and gave her a light kiss on the lips and then moved his lips close to her ear. “Can we just take a moment to recognize that you were incredible last night?”

The soft lull of his voice made her close her eyes; the nagging voice in her head kept saying she loved him. I’m supposed to love him. Her mindset of deluded innocence had been produced by a small town childhood where the message was unspoken but understood: sex means love. Love. What is that, exactly? What do twenty-three-year-old girls know about love anyway?

They stood so close she felt sure that he could hear her heart beating. His fingers sifted through her hair; a small sigh escaped his lips. For a split second he seemed like someone else entirely and then…“I wonder if you could hold on to something for me…”

Kat gave him a shove. Same old Philip.

“It’s not dangerous,” he said, tightening his hold on her.

“Then you keep it.”

“We’ve done this before.”

“That doesn’t mean we should do it again. There are lots of things we should never do again. Where’s the new secretary?”

Philip gave her his classic bad boy smile. “You were never the secretary. You’re someone I trust.”  Pulling a letter-size envelope from his jacket pocket, he held it out to her.  “I’ll pick it up in a week or two.”

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll put it in the drawer.”

She reached for it and he snapped it back.

He picked up her purse and opened it, slipping the envelope inside. “I’ll feel better if it’s with you at all times.”

Katerina opened her mouth to answer but Philip was already walking out of the bedroom, shrugging into his jacket.

She caught him at the front door.

“You’re welcome,” she said.

He turned to her. “I meant everything I said to you, kid, everything. Think about coming back. It’s a big, bad world out there. You’re not ready yet.” He winked at her and was gone.

She stared at her purse. He was right. He knew it. So did she.

Tossing the purse onto the chair, she went back inside to finish dressing.

 

 

 

 

 

June 27, 2015

How Do I Love Thee (Fictional Character)…Let Me Count The Ways

Hi Everyone,

Now that the release of The Fixer: The Naked Man is less than a month away (yay!!) this is how I’ve been feeling

most wonderful story belle gif

 

…. and I want to tell everyone! The WHOLE WORLD kind of everyone. I want everyone to read it and love it and be as excited about it as I am.  But, how do you explain to people why they should love your characters as much as you do?  I spend a lot of time thinking, musing, daydreaming, (read: obsessing) about my characters. I have definite ideas of how this series will go and what will happen to these people. I have imagined scenes for them I can’t wait to write and I hope the world turns in a way that I will get my chance to write them.

It’s a sickness. I admit it.

I hope readers will be so in love with my characters they will feel like this:

complicated relationship

 

And yet not this…

kathy bates

 

Not that… no.

I asked my friend about this problem and she answered me without hesitation: “Just tell people what you see, tell them what you want them to know.”

Fair enough. What do I want readers to know about Katerina Mills?

I want you to know that she has dreams just like we do, dreams of the things she would like to do and accomplish. She wants to finish college, she wants to go to law school, and she’s working really hard to be a success.

I want you to know that she gets caught up, like so many of us do, in situations that are not of her own making, and once she gets on that rollercoaster, she can’t get off.

I want you to know that she is many different things: brave, scared, and uncertain. Sometimes she’s forceful, sometimes timid, and sometimes all at once.

I want you to know that she has been hurt in love.

I want you to know that she makes mistakes but she tries to learn from them.

I want you to know that she cares about others before herself. She doesn’t just say it. She shows it by her actions.

I see a young woman who has to make hard choices because she doesn’t have a choice and that is where her story begins.

In my mind, Katerina Mills, looks like this:

Jennifer-Lawrence-Hairstyles-4

But when you read the story, you may imagine someone else.

 

What do I want you to know about Alexander Winter?

I want you to know that he isn’t easy to know…at first.

I want you to know that just because he has the label of “thief,” that isn’t all he is.

I see a man who needs to be helped just as much as the young woman he’s helping.

In my mind, Alexander Winter looks like this:

max martini

But when you read the story, you may imagine someone else.

These characters tiptoe through the tulips of my mind. Sometimes I lead and choose their path but most of the time they take over, run amok, and decide what they will say and do. I’m relegated to being little more than a stenographer.

It’s like this…

Fictional characters

 

This is the link to my e-book, The Fixer: The Naked Man. I hope you will consider giving it a try and seeing if you become as attached to Katerina Mills and her story as I am.

Now I should get back to typing up the second book in The Fixer series, The Killing Kind. But, you know, I have to post this and then check Facebook to see if there are any likes or comments or retweets on Twitter…

procrastination

🙂

Take care,

Jill

 

 

June 21, 2015

If A Book Is Done… Is It Finished?

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I fell off the radar again, I know. I think I’d like to get the phrase “multi-tasking whiz” needlepointed on a pillow… but in my defense, I have been very busy with The Fixer: The Naked Man as you can see by the attached link…

Drumroll please while you click the link…

Yay!!! And when I saw the Amazon Pre-Order page live, I admit, there was a lot of this…

snoopy dancing

I also have to admit, that going through the process of writing this book, there was something very important I had forgotten about the writing experience. Something I had gone through with each of the last two books I wrote. I probably blocked it from my mind. I will explain.

It was two months ago when I announced to friends and family that I was done with The Fixer: The Naked Man. Done as in, done writing it, done editing it, where’s the Amazon upload page, let’s get this sucker scheduled because I am ready to show this to the world!!! Google the definition of done and you will see “ended,” “concluded,” “over and done with.” Right, that’s what I said. Let’s blow this popsicle stand, I’m DONE.

I looked like this…

 

happy writer

 

Good times.

Every writer needs an editor, someone who can view the manuscript with some objective distance. I wish that weren’t so because I have a stubborn self-sufficient streak, creatively speaking, and I would prefer to be able to do everything myself. I’m childish that way.

My mother is my editor. She’s smart and talented and amazing. She’s a voracious reader, a crack editor, and on top of it all designs and makes her own jewelry . For my first two books, Project Jennifer, and For Better or Worse, she was my first editor and her flawless eye for seeing things that… how does she phrase it… “need work,” was the reason those manuscripts were in such great shape before the publishing house editor saw them. So she read the “done” manuscript, made her suggestions, and announced, “You were concentrating on the story elements. You’ve got that covered. Now you have to work on style.”

As a friend reminded me, there’s done and there’s finished. Google the definition of finished and you get “(of an action, activity, or a piece of work) having been completed.”  Not just concluded, but completed. Tom-ay-to, tom-ah-to… but they are correct, whoever they are. Bastards.

And then I looked like this:

upset writer

Soooo…back to the manuscript, not once, not twice, but three times and hopefully, each round of edits has made the story better.

I’m so excited and grateful to share the very first book in The Fixer series, the beginning of the journey for Katerina Mills. I still can’t believe this happy accident happened;  almost a year ago the seed of this story appeared after a sleepless night of self-questioning. Why wasn’t I writing anymore? Why wasn’t I doing what I was made to do? The first image I had of Katerina was of a young woman in danger, facing an adversary, a powerful man, so much stronger than herself, matching courage and wits to save not just her body but her spirit as well. The story grew from there. The ideas have been coming and I’ve been writing them down and this story has grown far, wide, and deep. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

I hope you will “enter the dangerous world of Katerina Mills” and come along for the ride.

Take care,

Jill

 

March 27, 2015

To Pinterest or Not To Pinterest…Is That The Question?

Hi Everyone,

The editing continues and The Fixer: The Naked Man gets closer to completion. Yay!!! I spoke to my graphic designer, Alan, and the process of a book cover has begun!!

Continuing the discussion of letting people know about The Fixer, can we talk Pinterest for a moment? I discovered Pinterest through an article on book marketing. It was important to make a Pinterest board for your book. An author needed to do this. The article didn’t really say why or how this was a necessity but it had to be done.

Fair enough.

I signed up. I have boards for my two books, Project Jennifer and For Better Or Worse. I like Pinterest. It took me a few minutes to figure out it was electronic scrapbooking but I’m in. It’s actually quite addictive, in a good way. When I put together my board for For Better Or Worse it gave me the chance to post pics of my inspiration for the Ian character: Ewan McGregor.

imagesCA2GXZLT

The weird,  wonderful thing about writing is inspiration can come from anywhere, a movie, a song, an actor or actress. There were 10 characters in FBOW and yet, I really only had a visual on Ian. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love the other characters (and you really do need to love them all, even the ones that are shits), but having that picture reference helped me to develop the character and identify tics and habits.  Like I said, weird and wonderful.

So back to The Fixer: The Naked Man. I had an idea of what Katerina Mills looked like before I made the connection to an actress that was the perfect match (more on that in a minute). However, the character of Charles Winter was the big surprise. I had trouble imagining him; I had trouble seeing him. I liked him but I couldn’t seem to get a handle on him; he didn’t stand out. I tried writing his description but it just wasn’t.  I consoled myself. He was supposed to be a one shot supporting character anyway. In, out, and gone.

When I moved on to writing the rough draft for the second book, I couldn’t stop thinking  about him. Would he come back? Meh, I would think even as he kept lurking in the back of my mind (characters do that, you know, they lurk in the subconscious,  just waiting for their chance to take over and run amok, little stinkers). I would think, maybe, he might show up again in a future book, someday… And then…

I was spending my Christmas holiday channel flipping and catching up on movies when…I saw Him for the first time (who for the moment will remain nameless). An actor who was the perfect inspiration for Charles Winter. He had it all: height, build, face, and that voice! That was all I needed. I had a visual and my character had the all clear signal: let the running amok begin!

That’s when the writing took off like (insert your cliche of choice here – I’m going with “a bat out of hell.” I like the old faithfuls :)). The whole relationship between these characters opened up. The direction of the series twisted and turned in unexpected ways. That weird, wonderful process of making connections and new meanings from narrative, plot twists, and dialogue began to flow. I could visualize what would happen to these two characters, what they would have to go through, the road they would have to travel, sometimes together, sometimes apart. Seeing my characters visually led me to seeing them emotionally. Now I’m even more attached to this series.  And…yet again, I point out my petit problème…I’m the only one.

Sooooo, back to Pinterest and my marketing conundrum. Question: Do I make a Pinterest board and post pics of the actor and actress who are the inspiration for these characters? Isn’t that doing the reader a disservice? Isn’t that depriving the reader of the fun of choosing for themselves? Does it ruin the reader experience?

It is nothing new that writers find inspiration in actors for stories. How many screenwriters have said, “I wrote this part for (insert name here).” I do wonder what would have happened if John Malkovich had said “Thanks but no thanks” to starring in Being John Malkovich. Awkward.

Let’s consider Jane Austen for a minute. When she wrote Pride and Prejudice , did she have a real life inspiration for Mr. Darcy? She could not have imagined that one day Colin Firth would be Mr. Darcy.

darcy

 

No offense to Mathew Macfadyen, his performance was excellent.

matthew macfayden

 

How about Sherlock Holmes? Is it Basil Rathbone,

basil rathbone

 

Jeremy Brett,

jeremy brett

 

or Benedict Cumberbatch?

benedict cumberbatch

 

Who would Arthur Conan Doyle choose? All of them? One? None? Will the real Sherlock Holmes please stand up? Actually, I think it is all of them, each in their own wonderful way.

The chance of the actors who sparked my imagination for Katerina Mills and Charles Winter starring in a film or tv adaptation of The Fixer series is probably something I won’t have to worry about now or any time in the near future. But as Jake Barnes said in The Sun Also Rises, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

But I do wonder, do I reveal this part of this story’s evolution or should it remain the writer’s secret?

What do you think? Let me know.

Until next time, when I tackle yet another path in the marketing maze, The Contest.

Take care,

J.

P.S.: If you haven’t read the sneak peek yet for The Fixer: The Naked Man, please check it out!!! Go to http://www.jillamyrosenblatt.com and have a look 🙂

March 18, 2015

The Fixer: The Naked Man – Sneak Peek Coming Soon!

Hi Everyone!

Let’s get right to the important stuff first. It’s time for a sneak peek of Chapter 1 of The Fixer: The Naked Man. I’m so excited to share and I haven’t been sick to my stomach with nerves in a good long time so let’s do this! Okay, what you need to know:

What: The Fixer: The Naked Man Sneak Peek

When: Saturday, March 21, 2015

What Time: 11:00 p.m. (Please don’t ask me why, I don’t know,  it seemed like a good idea)

Where: http://www.jillamyrosenblatt.com
Anyone who subscribes to my newsletter will receive it before Saturday at 11 because I promised subscribers first looks.

Okay, important stuff done. Now, let me tell you what’s going on. The Fixer: The Naked Man isn’t the only thing that’s been happening. Nope. In a fit of inspiration, I finished a full handwritten draft of the second book in the series. But wait: there’s more. I started writing scenes for the third book in the series. Is that all? That’s a negative. I’m so attached to these characters, I’m sketching out scenes in later books.

Is this good or bad? Depends on the writer you ask. Some never want to know what’s coming; it takes the fun out of the writing journey. I’m a McKee girl, myself. He’s an advocate for knowing your end game, up or down, positive or negative. The fun is using all your powers of creativity to craft the story to get there.

With all the writing I’ve been doing (and loving it) I still wonder a) how long it will last and b) am I getting to the point in the process when writers are so deep in their heads with their story (I am) they either start binge watching tv to turn off their brain (check) or they drink (not there yet. Give me time).

I’ve written in previous posts about my past creative drought, the doubts, second guessing, and general mind numbing anxiety that shut down my writing for a few years. Believe me, I’m thrilled and relieved to be engaged, all in, with this project. I’m attached to these characters, invested in the story, completely committed to seeing this series done. Yay for creative commitment!

Until….once again, I realize that in all of this excitement over my creative baby that there is one little issue.

No one else is attached to this story. 99.99% of the reading community doesn’t know it exists.

AND I HAVE ZERO KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL IN THE AREA OF MARKETING.

Bummer.

I admit it. I’m a marketing moron, a newb, a foundling, hopelessly flummoxed by the idea of mass advertising in order to introduce my book to readers. Twitter analytics?  Adwords? Blog tours? Page likes? Hashtags???

Clueless. (Okay, to be fair, I know what a hashtag is).

I did read that the recommendation for writers is write 70% and market 30%. Right now I’m writing 100% and marketing 0% (scratch that, I’m taking 5% for this blog post).

I guess I need a goal too, you know, how many readers do I hope to introduce to The Fixer series (that’s more of a question than a statement. Don’t I need to do that?)

So it’s time to introduce Katerina Mills and the beginning of her strange, exciting, and dangerous journey as a fixer.

If you like this post, please pass it along to as many people as you can.

If you like the sneak peek, please pass that along as well.

I thank you.

There’s nothing more hopeful, exciting, and frightening all at the same time than the waiting and the hoping that readers will discover your characters and love them as much as you do.

Until next time when I dive into the deep end of the Pinterest pool to consider the question: do you post pictures of the actors who are the inspiration for your characters?

Take care everyone. …

March 14, 2015

The Fixer: The Naked Man – Character Profile – It Takes a Thief…

Hi Everyone,

I’ve been so busy with edits on The Fixer: The Naked Man (and writing book 2 of the series!) that I haven’t been sharing enough info about the book itself. Yikes! A problem all writers suffer from, from what I hear. We’re so busy writing, we neglect to remember we actually have to tell others about what we’re writing. I guess no one is stunned to find out I was NOT a marketing major in college. 🙂

Anyway, here is the next Proust Questionnaire for The Fixer series. This character profile is for Charles Winter, a man who excels at his profession: thief. Katerina Mills meets Winter when she is desperate – but he is not.

I hope you enjoy getting to know him… in future posts I will share more of the evolution of the Winter character, a process that took some unexpected turns. And yes, there will be a sneak peek coming soon…

As always, I love to get questions and comments. You can get in touch through my website at http://www.jillamyrosenblatt.com

Proust Questionnaire: Charles Winter

What is your idea of perfect happiness? A flawless theft.

What is your greatest fear? Getting caught.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Houdini. The man knew how to make an escape.

Which living person do you most admire? No one.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I have a weakness for a pretty face.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Self-righteousness.

What is your greatest extravagance? I enjoy living well.

What is your favorite journey? I’ve had too many to pick one.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Honesty.

On what occasion do you lie? When someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

What do you dislike most about your appearance? Nothing.

Which living person do you most despise? No one at the moment but I like to keep my options open.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  “It is what it is.”

What is your greatest regret? I have a weakness for a pretty face.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? Next question.

When and where were you happiest? I’m happy now.

Which talent would you most like to have? Magician. That would cut down on the legwork.

What is your current state of mind? Calm and alert.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Nothing. Everything is as it should be.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I’m not in jail.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? William Pierce. He pulled off the Great Train Robbery of 1855 and got away with the gold. Well done.

What is your most treasured possession? I’m not attached to possessions.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? To be trapped in a small space with no way to escape.

Where would you like to live? A warm, pleasant climate.

What is your favorite occupation? The one I have now. What else?

What is your most marked characteristic? My voice.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Professionalism and precision.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Ingenuity.

What do you most value in your friends? Their silence.

Who are your favorite writers? Machiavelli. I appreciate a little moral flexibility if it gets the job done.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Simon Templar, Professor Moriarty, the usual.

Who are your heroes in real life? I have none.

What are your favorite names? Katie, short for Katerina.

What is it that you most dislike? Stupidity.

How would you like to die? I wouldn’t. But if it’s a necessity, quickly and quietly.

What is your motto? “It is what it is.”

November 20, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To “The Fixer”

The last time I published a book was 2009. 2009. It’s no secret that writers have a myriad of problems; we’re a notoriously moody, preoccupied, anxious, and angst ridden bunch. There are two basic nightmare scenarios for writers: not being able to write and not being able to finish what we write. The jury is still out on which is worse.

I did write another book after For Better or Worse. It was called Deciphering Bella. It was about a married couple and the wife suffers from mental illness.  The story explores the level of commitment between a husband and wife when life events are what they “didn’t sign up for.” I loved that story. I was the only one. What can you do? It happens. I put it away.

And then something happened. It wasn’t as if I was doing nothing. I was doing lots of somethings. I went back to school, finished a Master’s degree, tutored English, wrote a few short stories, a bunch of blog posts, a screenplay, and created a cartoon strip (artwork and text). But a full story wasn’t coming.

It’s one thing to stare at a blank piece of paper. That wasn’t my problem. I had story ideas, lots of ideas. I even had titles. I never think of titles. Scenes would come to me out of the blue. But for different stories. Then came the great yellow pad debacle of Spring 2014. I could only write on small 4.5 x 7 yellow legal pads. Don’t ask. I now have piles of small yellow legal pads all over the apartment. Lots of small half-filled yellow legal pads.

I’m a follower, a. true believer, a practitioner of the Robert McKee method of structuring and writing a story. I took his seminar, read his book. His class changed my writing life. His class made Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse possible. The man is my Yoda.  But I couldn’t settle down. couldn’t do the outlines, the character profiles, the scene narratives.

And then something else happened. A few months ago on a Saturday night, my mother showed me an article on authors successfully self publishing on Amazon. I went to bed that night agitated and irritated. What was I doing? Actually, why wasn’t I doing what I was supposed to be doing? What I was meant to be doing? Early Sunday morning, I woke up to my moment of clarity. And an idea.

It was a spark. A young woman and a wealthy, powerful man. A story of mystery and suspense. She’s a fixer on the verge of failure. He issues an offer to help. He’ll fix the problem for her, for a price. I dug deeper into the idea. Who is this young woman? How does she get into this? There are several stories about fixers now, Scandal, and Ray Donovan to name a few. What place would Katerina Mills have? As I got to know her better, I realized that the novella stories would form an origin series. It will be exciting to see Kat grow and change into the woman she will become and how she will handle a world she is unprepared for. The pieces began falling into place as the magical process of the story parts connecting to each other took off.

So that’s what happened. I feel like I’m back and it’s an amazing feeling, even though I can only write the stories using cream colored paper journal books. Don’t ask.

Next post I’ll be introducing the characters one at a time, starting with Katerina Mills.

Don’t forget to check my website for updates and to sign up for the newsletter for the latest, news, giveaways, and contests. http://www.jillamyrosenblatt.com

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