Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant
Coming Soon!

Monday, August 11, 2014

WHO AM I?

If you've just found this blog - Welcome! I'd like to take this moment to tell you a bit about myself.

My epitaph will probably include the words, "she should have known better." I shuffle around the house in worn-out woolly socks, don't own a solitary t-shirt that isn’t stained, talk to myself, sing Amy Winehouse in the shower, have a morbid fear of sewing machines and ironing boards, drink too much coffee, would work for coconut cake, and spend five hours a day writing to maintain a relative degree of sanity.
As a child, my desire to entertain manifested itself in weekly performances from a cupboard in my bedroom. The repertoire was extensive and varied, including a one-woman version of “Jaws”, complete with a musical interlude for ice-cream. Sadly my audience of stuffed animals, dolls and bored siblings was mostly unimpressed and only mildly attentive.
The entertainment I provide for my family is now sadly limited to books published and occasional webcam shenanigans, since we're all far apart. They remain unimpressed by this thing called a writing career and only approve of my wicked stories when they can be assured the heroine or hero is based upon them.
They wait patiently for a story in which everyone keeps their clothes on. Mostly they claim to have no clue where I gets these ideas.
But then I really don't know either.
I've been published now since 2011 and it's certainly been a learning experience. I've discovered that while I love the process of writing and editing, I'm pretty bad at promotion and marketing. I can get so absorbed in writing a scene that I will forget the time, but I never forget a prize promised to a reader/fan. I've also learned that not everyone will like what I write. But that's fine - we can't all like the same colours and pizza toppings or life would be very dull. I've met some fabulous, supportive fans and I've also made some wonderful friends within the writing community.
I hope to continue writing for the rest of my life, to keep the readers happy and myself in wooly socks!
I can be found on Twitter @jaynefresina, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jayne-Fresina/137708499635497?sk=info and at almost any bookstore (online and on your street corner).

So that's me for you!

Welcome to my blog,

Calamity Jayne

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Release Day Party!

Finally the day is here - The Book Club Belles are formally "out" in society with ONCE UPON A KISS. Would you like to win a signed paperback of the new release? If so, please join my Facebook author page and send me a message there. I have a few copies left - not many!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jayne-Fresina/137708499635497?ref=hl

I'll be appearing in various web spots over the next week or so and posting links to the interviews and giveaways on my FB page as they come up, so keep an eye out!

Thanks and Happy Reading!


The couple in my newest novel ONCE UPON A KISS have a bit of a hard time communicating.


You expect life to mimic fiction and when it does not you are disappointed. You wait for a man like one of those you read about. One who spouts poetry and makes an ass of himself on bended knee.”



“Why not? You’re able to make an ass of yourself upright.”


Available Now!
Barnes and Noble - http://bit.ly/1f8g79J


















 
 
 

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Character Showcase - Justina Penny

Well, it's finally Jussy's turn and she's been waiting impatiently to meet you all! As the first leading lady in my Book Club Belles Society series, Justina Penny is one of the youngest and most wayward of all my heroines.
For the year 1815 she is definitely ahead of her time in some ways. She knows (or thinks she knows) what she does and does not want in her life, and her hopes for the future do not include the usual expectations of a young lady in the Regency era. Fortunately for her, no one else in her family holds out much hope for Jussy in that regard either. As the sister with the fewest expectations placed upon her, she makes the most of her freedom.

But, of course, even though she thinks she has the world sewn up, she has some growing up to do. At nineteen she is an independent, plucky spirit and while that has its good points, it also has it's drawbacks.
Her bravery also makes her reckless and gets her into sticky situations.
Her quick mind can also be stubborn and cause her to be so sure she's right that everyone else must always be wrong.
That bright imagination can also blind her to reality.

I know that for me, part of Justina's charm is that she isn't perfect. Far from it, in fact. She's not a mature, wise, all-knowing, flawless young woman who never puts a foot wrong. She begins her story in the preview short BEFORE THE KISS, when, during a trip to Bath, she meets Mr. Darius Wainwright and immediately decides he's the most stuck-up gentleman she's ever known. From that beginning it's clear she has a journey of discovery yet to make.
By the end of ONCE UPON A KISS she has learned a lot more about Darius, and also about herself.

And Jussy is not just the naughty girl bent on rebellion. She also has many good points - including a kind heart, devotion to her family, loyalty to her friends and a desire to bring a smile to a certain grumpy fellow's lips.
Yes, she leaps first and asks questions later, but one day, perhaps, she'll be mature enough (or so her elder sister Cathy hopes) to consider the consequences for once, before her feet leave the ground. By the end of ONCE UPON A KISS there are signs that this might one day come to pass. After all, miracles can't happen overnight.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from Miss Justina Penny's diary -

August 29th, 1815 A.D.

Today I splashed Mrs. Dockley from head to toe, broke a china plate, and failed to heed Mama. Thrice. All these things, but for the last, were quite accidental. I was quarrelsome on four occasions and fibbed regarding the china plate, pieces of which will one day be found buried in the herb garden and not in the possession of a wild-eyed, knife-wielding gypsy with a wart and a wooden foot. Although I think my version of events is better.

Sometimes real life is very dull, or simply incon­venient, and things never turn out quite the way one expects or hopes. I have heard it said that challenges are sent to try us. I would like to know who is sending so many to me, for I believe they have been misad­dressed. I am quite tried enough, and I suspect that someone, somewhere, is completely light since I have all their calamities as well as my own. Speaking of which, today I thought of the Wrong Man again.

I know not why he continues to plague me, unless it is a developing, chronic case of Maiden’s Palsy. It has been over a year. All I can say is, the blasted town of Bath has a great deal to answer for and I would not go there again for ten thousand pounds and a life supply of hot chocolate.

I cursed inventively when I caught my skirt in the kitchen door and again when I found a splinter in my finger. At approximately ten o’clock, when I saw Lucy in her new scarlet cloak, I was wracked with envy. But it lasted only until a quarter past, at which time she shared a jam tart with me and lamented the fact that her hair will never hold a curl so well as mine. Ah, vanity—one is hounded by it relentlessly when one has so little to be vain about.

Yesterday we sat in the hayloft and watched Major Sherringham’s hired harvest hands at work. Briefly I lusted. That is when I thought of the Wrong Man again. But even I do not suffer the Maiden’s Palsy as often as Lucy, who will confess—when pressed—that she is seized by wicked desires at least twice daily, even with no militia encamped nearby. I suspect this may be due to the fact that she was once a sickly child. I shall advise her to eat nettle soup. And a quantity of it.

            JP

 
 
 
 
  
 
 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Character Showcase - Darius Wainwright

In my new series, The Book Club Belles, five young ladies have formed a book society in their small Buckinghamshire village. It is the year 1815 and they've just started reading  Pride and Prejudice. Imagine their surprise when a handsome, mysterious stranger arrives to take possession of the biggest house in the village. He's haughty, reserved, and just like "Mr. Darcy". The gossips are soon in a spin and the Book Club Belles can't help thinking he might have walked directly off the pages of the book they're reading. Whether that's a good, or a bad thing, only time will tell.

Darius Wainwright makes his first appearance in my free introductory story BEFORE THE KISS and you will get to know him more in ONCE UPON A KISS. He's a young man with many responsibilities in his life. He runs a successful shipping business - importing wonderful things like chocolate! - and he is also guardian of his fifteen-year old niece, Sarah. He takes both these things very seriously and it gives him a stiff and haughty appearance. The light relief in his life mostly comes from his best friend Miles Forester, who is always having some romantic misadventure from which he needs to be rescued. As for Sarah, (the niece Darius has raised since she was four and he only nineteen) he believes he's doing a pretty good job, and often thinks to himself...


At least she had the capacity to entertain herself and was not all noise and giggling like most females of her age.

            His stepmother, however, complained the girl was withdrawn and peevish. “You’re raising her to be as unsociable as yourself,” she snapped.

            “Sarah is fifteen. She is not ‘out’ and therefore not meant to be sociable.”

        “Whatever your future plans for the girl, she must learn how to hold a conversation and be gracious. She is too turned in on herself. Of course, she leads a solitary life in this house with no one her own age and no cous­ins, since you flatly refuse to marry and produce any.”

            But Darius saw nothing amiss in his raising of Sarah or in the way she turned out. He measured his success in the fact that he could sit quietly in her company for half an hour and feel neither the stressful need to fill an awk­ward silence nor the beginnings of a tense headache. She seldom made any sign of disagreeing with his opinions and, in fact, had said very recently, “I look at you, Uncle Darius, and know exactly what I want, and don’t want, in a husband.” He was pleased to think he had set her a fine example upon which to base future judgments.


But when he arrives in the village of Hawcombe Prior he soon finds a number of new and unexpected things requiring his attention. One is a very large, complacent, aristocratic pig called Sir Mortimer Grubbins, who by strange accident falls under his care. And another item, even more urgently requiring his attention in this wild, unruly countryside, is Miss Justina Penny - one of those troublesome young ladies of the local book society. He's been warned about those women already, but nothing could have prepared him for what he finds.

Of course, he hasn't read Pride and Prejudice so he has no idea who Mr. Darcy is. From the way Miss Justina Penny keeps mentioning that man with disdain, however, he can only guess Mr. Darcy is the most awful villain ever created. It's clear to Darius that he's off to a bad start since she keeps comparing him to this fictional gentleman. Maybe his housekeeper is right and young women should never be allowed to read romance novels. Surely nothing good can come of it!

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

GUEST SPOT - An Indecent Proposal from author Jean Maxwell.


FORBIDDEN LUST...!

A local radio deejay in my hometown occasionally starts a discussion on his morning show about this. Listeners call in and confess their 'forbidden lusts,' - a TV or other personality that they secretly lust after but would never admit to in real life! These usually turn out to be children's show hosts or geeky TV ad actors, but I want to talk about the most forbidden of forbidden lusts...the workplace love affair! While these are disastrous for a multitude of reasons, there are few among us who haven't witnessed one, or worse -- been part of one!
 
I have a day job. I work in an office. And certain real-life events got me thinking about how this happens, what goes through people's minds and how far would they take things in a setting that could expose them in the worst possible ways. I then began a story that I quickly realized could spin into an entire collection of different workplace scenarios. Thus, the 'Workplace Gone Wild' series was born.
My first installment, Indecent Proposal, released in January of 2014, with various other story ideas brewing in my mind to follow it up. Surprise, surprise, my publisher then announced an anthology call for office romance stories, to which I quickly stepped up to the plate. By this point I figured I had a reputation to maintain!
 
A big thank you to Jayne Fresina who reached out to some of her fellow authors and offered blog space for book promotions. If you're a reader who likes a little forbidden lust on your bookshelves, Indecent Proposal is for you! It centers around a busy career woman, divorced and with all the frailties an overworked, thirtysomething girl can have, and is a character a lot of readers can identify with. The train of her professional life gets derailed by a handsome newcomer who shows her some very 'forward' moves!
 
I hope you enjoy Indecent Proposal, and coming soon, look for 'The Terminatrix' in Evernight Publishing's Executive Assistant anthology due out in June, 2014. You can stay updated on the progress of this and more hot office romance stories by visiting my website/blog idreamofjean.com and thejeanjournal.com.
You can also find me at facebook.com/authorjeanmaxwell and @dearjeanmaxwell.
 
 
JEAN MAXWELL'S INDECENT PROPOSAL
 
When a hard-working professional girl gets overloaded with projects she tends to go a little crazy. Add in a hot, hunky company newcomer that she must work late into the night with and the stage is set for a workplace gone wild!!
 
Workaholic PR Manager Carlin Cates is asked to drop everything to help out a new recruit in completing a bid proposal with tight deadlines. She’s not crazy about putting in the extra time until the newcomer, Thatcher Banks, turns out to be the hottest Project Manager in the business!
Sex on the job was only a fantasy for Carlin until Thatcher Banks came along, but just as events in the back room heat up, Banks disappears without explanation. Feeling used and manipulated, more than the proposal seems indecent as Carlin tries to heal her wounded pride and discover the truth about her mysterious co-worker.

Want to read more?
BUY LINKS: Amazon, EP

Thanks for stopping by, Jean!
Ms. Maxwell is a fabulous author with many steamy romances out there. If you haven't checked her out yet you're missing a great read! Hope this has whet your appetite.
 
 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Character Showcase - Miles Forester

Miles Forester is the hero's best friend in BEFORE THE KISS and ONCE UPON A KISS. As the younger son of an Earl he's led an easy life with few responsibilities - unlike his friend, Darius Wainwright - but these many advantages have not made him selfish or aloof. He's easy-going, seldom in a bad mood, and loyal to his friend. Wherever he goes, he makes an effort to be entertaining and is always a gentleman. He is a man devoid of malice or ulterior motive and that makes him an invaluable friend for Darius.


Miles is described by Darius as leaping into a room like a "young, amiable Labrador". And I saw the character exactly like that. I've known a few of those big-hearted dogs with their sunny, happy-go-lucky, lolloping strides, and that is how I envisioned Miles Forester. Maybe without the slobber, though!

His friend also describes him as "an optimist and a romantic", completely opposite to his own character. While Miles has a knack for fitting in wherever he goes, his friend is always very much the square peg in the round hole. But these two extremely different men are close friends and have been so since their days at university. Darius is a steadying influence for Miles. In return, Miles brings some light relief into the hard-working life of his stern, reserved friend. He's also very good at charming women and therefore keeping them out of his friend's way.

Miles has a nose for mischief too - like any good Golden Lab worth it's name - and he knows when his best friend has a secret fancy for a troublesome young lady. And with the best will in the world he means to do whatever he can to help his friend find love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Character Showcase - Dr. and Mrs. Penny

The heroine of BEFORE THE KISS and ONCE UPON A KISS is Justina (Jussy) Penny. Her parents are Dr. and Mrs. Penny who are some of the principle residents in the small village of Hawcombe Prior. I've decided to showcase them together because I don't think they would want to be separated. Well, Dr. Penny might like a little peace and quiet for a while, but his wife would instantly want to know what he'd been saying and doing in her absence!

They are a couple who happily put down roots in the village when they were first married and there is not much that goes on there now without them knowing. But while Mrs. Penny likes to collect this information about her neighbors and share it lavishly, her husband is usually off in his own world. Only occasionally does he listen to what goes on at his table - and only if it appeals to his quirky sense of humor.


The Pennys have been married for twenty five years and they have two daughters. Cathy is the one upon whom all their hopes rest - at least in Mrs. Penny's mind - because she is pretty and well-behaved, and she knows her responsibility to find a husband. But their youngest, Jussy, has a spark of mischief that her father appreciates. He shares her sense of curiosity about the world and recognizes her intelligence when, in the eyes of most people, she is simply a troublemaker. Although all the women in his family often leave him out-numbered, bemused and befuddled, Dr. Penny has a soft spot for Jussy. He is patient and thoughtful, with just a touch of eccentricity. As he freely admits, he much prefers the dead insects and stuffed birds he collects to the living patients he must tend. He prefers studying creatures when they cannot study him in return! 

Mrs. Penny is always busy and always in charge. She manages her house, her husband, her surly trainee cook and her daughters with great energy. She's a bit of a meddler, a gossip and a "fusspot", but underneath her nagging she deeply cares for her children and wants the best for them. Woe betide anyone who causes trouble for her family!

And she makes the best jam in the county - she would want me to mention that.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Introducing the Book Club Belles Society

Today my e-book novella introducing the new series Book Club Belles Society is released. IT'S SHORT AND IT'S FREE!
So you really can't lose, right?

BEFORE THE KISS is a short story to start the new series off. It introduces readers to Justina Penny and Darius Wainwright - the heroine and hero of ONCE UPON A KISS.
This novella is all about those very important first impressions that will set Jussy and Darius up for their  later encounters and explain exactly why they already have some not-very-flattering opinions of each other.
Jussy doesn't have much good to say about the haughty, mysterious gentleman when he shows up in her village. Even when her fellow "Belles" at the local Book Society start swooning over "Mr. Darcy" in their latest read Pride and Prejudice, Jussy is simply waiting for Elizabeth Bennet to crack the boring fellow over the head with a chamber pot.
And he certainly isn't prepared to fall head over heels for her.
Want to know why?

Pick it up. It's FREE.


Amazon

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Character Showcase- Catherine Penny


Today I'm continuing the showcase of short character introductions leading up to the release of my new series The Book Club Belles Society.

Miss Catherine Penny is the elder sister of Justina (my heroine in BEFORE THE KISS and ONCE UPON A KISS). She is the quiet, demure, well-behaved sister and she is also widely acknowledged as "the pretty one". Cathy is the sister upon which all hopes rest.

As Justina says, her sister "could wear a grain sack and still be the prettiest girl in Hawcombe Prior", but she also realizes it's not all smooth sailing for her sister. In fact, Justina feels sympathy for "poor" Cathy.

"It must be hard, thought Justina, to possess such beauty, for with it came not only great expectations, but the terrible responsibility of maintaining it.

How glad she was that such a burden would never be hers. "

Cathy takes her responsibility of being the one daughter expected to make a good marriage very seriously. She's a bit of a worrier and her nerves sometimes get the better of her. For instance, a family trip to Bath, which occurs in BEFORE THE KISS, is sent into chaos when poor Cathy becomes afflicted by an embarrassing nervous rash. She knows the trip is mostly about getting her a husband— her mother's high expectations are by no means subtle!— and the pressure is on. But Cathy is too shy to compete with some of the brazen young ladies of Bath. She's no flirt and her fashions belong to the small world of Hawcombe Prior, not to promenades along the Crescent.

It's not long before Cathy is longing for home again, and her familiar, peaceful life among friends.

Cathy's unfortunate rash, however, is not enough to make their mother give up on the plan of exhibiting her daughter in as many public places as possible. So, on their last evening in Bath, Cathy is covered in a hastily made up powder and forced out to a ball at the Upper Rooms, chaperoned by her aunt. There she meets a very pleasant gentleman named Mr. Forester and he does not seem to notice the rash or the equally unsightly powder used to mask it. They share a dance, but do not get to complete their set, for sudden havoc is caused by her younger sister Jussy, a mouse, a little too much wine, and a certain stained waistcoat belonging to Mr. Forester's haughty friend.

Although she met him only briefly, and their dance was ended so abruptly, Cathy's impression of Mr. Forester is favorable and lasting. Sadly she is due to leave Bath the very next morning and it seems unlikely she will ever meet  him again.

Unless fate— in the shape of his stern-faced, rather terrifying friend— steps in and brings gentle, sweet-natured Mr. Forester all the way to Hawcombe Prior.

* * * * 

You can find more about Cathy and her sister in BEFORE THE KISS - a FREE e-book novella out on May 6th to introduce the Book Club Belles Society.
 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Character Showcase


Sir Mortimer Grubbins

 
            Over the next few weeks, I'll be introducing you to some of the characters coming up in my new Regency romance series The Book Club Belles Society. Today's spotlight falls upon one character who plays an important role in all my heroines' stories.

            He's handsome, well-bred, gentlemanly, proud and devoted to the ladies.

            He's Sir Mortimer Grubbins. And he happens to be a large, pampered... pig.

            'Grubbins', as he allows only his closest friends to call him, is an Oxford Sandy and Black, which is one of the oldest breeds of pig in Britain. He was born the runt of the litter and subsequently taken under the wing and into the hearts of five young ladies growing up in the fictional village of Hawcombe Prior. These young ladies, of course, become the Book Club Belles when they form a reading society to devour the novels of their favorite author, Miss Jane Austen.

            Sir Morty's first appearance comes in ONCE UPON A KISS when he ably assists in the misadventures of a wayward country miss named Justina Penny and her friend Lucy Bridges. He also takes much responsibility for the gradual undoing of a rather tightly wound, very proud gentleman from Town named Mr. Darius Wainwright, who becomes his reluctant owner thanks to those two young ladies and a playful twist of fate.

            Sir Morty is a docile fellow who trots and snuffles merrily through the series, making the occasional cameo appearance to aid the ladies in their romantic ups and downs— even, once in a while, sniffing out a reluctant, unexpected hero. Few creatures have so finely tuned senses as Sir Morty and no one can fool him when it comes to love, so they may as well not try.

 

Excerpt:
 
            “I think we should go back, Jussy. This was another of your very bad ideas, I fear.” Seated in the bow, the young lady who uttered this caution kept one gloved hand gripping the side of the rowboat and one comforting a snorting pink snout laid in her lap.

        At the stern end, heaving on the oars with all her might, Justina Penny, lifelong adventurer—but, alas, novice mariner—exhaled her words in a stream of gusty puffs, like an overworked chimney. “Do be silent, Lucy, before you wake the entire village!”

        Moonlit ripples licked up over the rattling oar hooks as the small vessel pitched and yawed from the unsteady weight of its cargo and the violent struggles of its operator, who, despite the fact that plans very rarely succeeded for her, still refused to be anything other than indignant and surprised the moment they went awry.

            “I believe the boat leaks,” Lucy protested now, in a more hushed voice. “I am becoming very damp at the hem.”

            Although Justina also felt the slow gathering of water around her toes, seeping in through a worn hole in her nankeen boots, she was not about to let that little prob­lem stop them. “You do want to save your pig, don’t you?” she demanded.

            “Of course. But sometimes I feel your methods are more theatrical than they are effective.”

            “Do you not think a little discomfort must be suffered for the cause? After all,” she reminded her friend, “this was your idea.”

            “Not exactly,” whimpered Lucy, gathering the hem of her fine new cloak out of the puddles slowly forming in the rowboat. “I said I wished Sir Mortimer Grubbins could be saved, since he was my favorite and I hand-reared him from a runt. I didn’t suggest we requisition papa’s boat and row down the stream, in near darkness, to steal him back from Farmer Rooke before he goes to the…”—she lowered her voice even further and covered the pig’s ears with her hands—“axe. This scheme was all yours. As usual.”

            Already annoyed with her friend for attending their secret, late-night mission in that bright red cloak—of all things—Justina’s temperature rose another notch. The weed-laden oar splashed down again and she hauled it through the water, moving the boat onward with a shuddering lurch that was nothing like the smooth, speedy escape she’d envisioned. “I don’t care for your tone, Lucy. You begin to sound like a wretched ingrate who cannot bear a trifle inconvenience even to save her beloved pet from slaughter.”

            “I am merely saying there must be other ways—” An owl hoot startled them both and they jumped several inches on their wooden seats.

        Justina replied in a hasty whisper, “We must work at night to avoid being seen, and over water we cannot be tracked by hounds.”

        “But this does seem a rather extreme measure. Surely, when I get the pig home again, it’s not likely I can hide him anywhere. This level of secrecy is perhaps excessive.”

        “Miss Lucy Bridges, your adventurous spirit is consid­erably lacking lately, ever since you turned eighteen, got that fancy new scarlet cloak for your birthday, and began showing more bosom at every opportunity.”

        Lucy’s lips fell into a sulk, but it was a familiar expres­sion these days. She was despondent ever since news came that there would be no soldiers encamped nearby this winter. No doubt the indignity of Sir Mortimer Grubbins’ drool on her new cloak and wet boots on her feet were simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.

        Suddenly, a large winged shadow flew over the boat and skimmed the passengers’ heads. Lucy let out a squeal that must have woken every light sleeper in the village. Justina finally lost her embattled grip upon the oars and, as they floated away from her, the stricken vessel drifted aimlessly into another band of weeds. Here they were apprehended, firmly stalled in the midst of the stream.

        “Well, that’s done it,” Lucy somberly observed.

        There was a warning creak, followed by a splintering crackle. More cold water pooled quickly into the bottom of the boat. Nestled in the tight space between his com­panions, Sir Mortimer Grubbins, the unsuspecting pig, let out a contented grunt.

            “We shall be drowned,” said Lucy, as if she’d always known such a thing would happen. In all likelihood the girl had already picked out a gown in which to be buried and an imaginary, weak-chinned suitor to lay flowers on her grave. But they both knew the water in that spot was merely two feet deep, and what worried Justina far more than drowning was the realization that they would have to carry Sir Mortimer between them to dry land. As the fate of the boat proved, he was no little weight.

            The pig lifted his snout and grunted again, probably won­dering when it might be dinner time. She patted his back.

            “Worry not, Sir Mortimer, we’ll find somewhere to keep you safe.” She already had the very place in mind: Midwitch Manor, recently left empty upon the death of its cantankerous owner. There was a very pleasant orchard there with several small outbuildings, all cur­rently abandoned to Mother Nature. What better place to hide a pig until other arrangements were found?

            One thing was for sure, she thought crossly as cold water slowly wicked up her petticoats, no morsel of bacon or despicable sausage would ever pass her lips again after this.

            A quarter of an hour later, using Lucy’s cloak as a makeshift hammock to carry the noble Grubbins between them, the two young ladies finally struggled up the bank of the stream, through the bulrushes to dry land. They were both wet and exhausted, yet so busy arguing with one another—Lucy still protesting the use of her precious cloak in this manner—that neither heard the approach of hooves and wheels.

            As they emerged from the tall reeds and into the narrow lane, the four horses charging along it at the same moment were startled and reared up. Although the coachman took swift evasive action, he was too late to prevent damage. The coach lurched and jolted.

            The lanterns swung in wide arcs across the lane and with a tremendous creaking and groaning the vehicle finally came to rest in the opposite ditch.

        She heard the coachman inquire whether his pas­senger was hurt and a man’s voice confirmed that he was not. The door of the disabled coach opened and the apparent owner of the voice looked out. Immediately he must have seen the strange rescue party struggling with their burden. “What the devil..? You there!”

        “Fine evening, is it not, my good fellow?” Justina shouted jauntily, shuffling along and straining under the weight of the lounging pig, attempting to ignore the first fat spots of rain dropping with quickening speed to the earth around them. If they let the bundle down now, she feared they would never pick it up again. Lucy had a trying habit of breaking into giggles when she had to lift anything, which invariably made Justina laugh too. They already fought to maintain their anger with one another while at the same time holding back their help­less laughter.

        “Are you quite mad?” the stranger bellowed. “What do you think you’re doing, woman?”

        “Isn’t it obvious?” she sputtered over her shoulder. “We’re carrying a pig.”

        Lucy snorted and then made a small whimper of despair.

            A determined, angry stride followed them a short way down the lane and she hissed at Lucy to pick up speed. If they put Sir Mortimer down to let him walk, he would meander along, snuffling at the ground, delaying the journey. They’d have to carry him at least until they were within sight of the manor house.           Fortunately, the beast did not appear too distressed by his current leisurely repose.

            “Someone could have been hurt,” the man bel­lowed. “The horses might have trampled you both into the ground.”

            “Oh, dear, how dreadful. Sorry,” shouted Justina. “Can’t stop. I bid you a pleasant evening.”

            There was no time for explanations. Rain spat down on her head now with more velocity and although they couldn’t get much wetter, it would doubtless make their path much softer and more difficult. And really, what could be said about something dire that might have happened, but didn’t? Couldn’t he see she had enough immediate and actual troubles of her own?

 
Hope you enjoyed the excerpt! ONCE UPON A KISS will be released on June 3rd, 2014 and is available now for pre-order in e-book or paperback, from most book stores!

copyright: Jayne Fresina 2014
 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sydney Dovedale

As the release date of my second Regency series nears, I would like to celebrate by offering my readers a signed four-book set of my first series. If you'd like to win the complete set, either for yourself or as a present for a friend, please like my Facebook Author page and comment on the post.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jayne-Fresina/137708499635497?ref=hl

Thanks to all of you for reading!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Call


            I vividly remember the sunny day when I got "The Call". To anyone who has ever submitted a manuscript to a literary agent or a publisher, "The Call" means that long-yearned for phone call with the offer of a contract and an advance.

            At that point in my life as a writer I had suffered countless rejections, my hopes had been puffed up and then flattened more times than my bed pillows. To top it all off, I had just parted company with an agent who had gamely tried to sell my work to the "big" publishers for eighteen months, with no luck. I came close- I made it to the dartboard a few times, but never to the bulls eye.

            Then, out on my own again and determined not to be defeated, I began looking at publishers who accepted submissions from lowly, unagented writers. On December 9th, 2010, I sent a query to Sourcebooks.  I was advised fairly soon that they would like to read my full manuscript of "A Fallen Woman." In January, as we were all recovering from the usual over-indulgences of the season, they contacted  me again. I was asked to make some revisions and resubmit.

            And then I waited. I'd been here before— so I had learned not to get my hopes up. Meh. I feigned elaborate indifference as the days ticked by with no rejection appearing in my inbox. Of course, in the meantime, I continued sending my work out to other agents and willing publishers. The weeks passed into months.

            One day I had an email from Aubrey Poole, an editor at Sourcebooks. She liked my revisions and wanted to take "A Fallen Woman" to her acquisitions board, but first she needed to know if I had any other book ideas she could make into a series proposal.

            Did I?

            I had more ideas than I knew what to do with! More ideas than she could shake a stick at!

            So I typed up a series proposal and sent it in.

            Eventually, on March the 7th 2011, I checked  my email and there was a message from Aubrey. I almost daren't click on it to read the sad rejection I was surely about to get.

            But with a quaking heart, I clicked. And I read. How bad could it be?

            Aubrey Poole... wanted to know... when would be a... good time... to call me. Say what?! I read it several times before it sank in. I believe I walked out of my office to get another cup of coffee before I came back to read it yet again, as if I thought the message might mysteriously change into a form rejection while I was gone. Hey, one can never be too careful! Never too sure.

            When would be a good time?? Er...let me think about it...ANYTIME! It had, after all, been ten years since I started my mission to be published.

            So I sat on my bed in a warm patch of early Spring sunlight and talked to a real live editor, in person, for the first time. I felt as if I was ten years old. I don't remember what I said, but I suspect I giggled like a fool. I do remember every word she told me. Aubrey thought my book was wonderful and the acquisition board loved the series idea I had built around the fictional village of Sydney Dovedale. They wanted to offer me a three book deal with an advance.

            That same day, Aubrey emailed me the offer memo and then the contract, which was duly signed by my trembling, sweaty hand.

            All those years of struggle had finally paid off.

            The three book deal became a four book deal and then Aubrey asked me for a second series proposal which I got to work on immediately.

            I have to admit, over the years leading up to that contract, there were times when I came close to giving up. Rejections are never easy, but I started getting used to them with a dull, weary sort of acceptance. So used to them, in fact, that I began to wonder what I thought I was doing spending so much of my time typing away at a computer— typing stories no one would ever read. But I couldn't stop doing it.

            I think my family felt so sorry for me that they stopped asking about "that book" I was writing.

            But the ideas were always there, characters chattering away to me at all hours. They had to come out somehow.

            Thankfully, other people finally get to read their stories now too.

            "A Fallen Woman" was considered too serious for the title of my book, by the way, and after some discussion it was renamed "The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine". It was released online and in all good bookstores in June 2012. So that was my journey.

            And that's how Jayne Fresina finally got to see her books on a real store shelf!

 



 
The Sydney Dovedale Series (published by Sourcebooks Casablanca) includes:

The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine

The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne

Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal

Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction

 


My first book signing at Barnes and Noble. Girly flowers courtesy of my sister.
 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

TAMING THE TUDOR MALE IN THREE EASY LESSONS


            A dozen years ago I wrote a story called The Poppy and the Pomegranate. It was never published— oh, it needed a lot of work, and back then I didn't know the many rules to writing in the romance genre. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a "word count" requirement. And I typed with double spaces after all my periods and extra returns between all my paragraphs! Heaven forbid. That was how I was taught to write and type, of course.

            I'd been taught all wrong.

            But in my hopeful, newbie naiveté, I sent queries out to a few literary agents. I loved my story and my characters, particularly the two leads — Griff and Maddy. I just wanted to be a writer and thought that if I put a good story down on paper it didn't matter about silly things like POV and "head-hopping", how many characters got to tell their thoughts, or how many words I used to tell the story. After all, I'd grown up reading those doorstop-sized tomes by Judith Krantz, James Michener and Barbara Taylor-Bradford. Those epic stories were a different breed and belonged to another time in publishing, but I didn't know that. I'd also grown up with the classics— Austen, Bronte, Hardy and Du Maurier. Not that I thought I could compare to any of those writers, but they inspired me to try. I wanted to entertain people with my stories, the way those authors had always entertained me, even so many years after they were created.

            Well, I did get some interest from agents. Several asked to see the entire manuscript and I sent it off— great piles of paper in manuscript boxes, because this was before we all went "green" and email became the preferred method for submissions. One by one the rejections came back. Usually two lines typed on posh-looking letterhead. Occasionally it was just  my original cover letter with a big "NO" penned in the margins between the arc of a coffee mug stain and a cream cheese smear. Sometimes it was just my letter of inquiry, refolded and mailed back to me. I often wondered what happened to all those piles of manuscript paper I mailed to them. Were they ever looked at? I hope they were recycled!

            For a while I kept my rejection letters— a curious form of self-punishment, I suppose— but that pile soon got too large and too humiliating. Two house moves later and it's long gone.

            So is that original manuscript.

            Over the years since, Griff and Maddy's story changed many times. But the two main characters have not. They stayed just as I first wrote them and they live clearly in my mind, like old friends. Only their story has morphed into something quite different to the way it began. It had to change, because although I wanted to tell a story, the publishing folks weren't buying the one I'd written.

            So I started over.

            Catching a submission editor's interest requires many things your English teacher never told you about. You need a hook, a first paragraph, first sentence, that makes them stop and take their finger off the delete button. You need to know how to write an eye-catching query letter that hits all the bases, yet still leaves them wanting more. In a few short paragraphs. In the body of an email. Addressed to the correct person. With a polite, carefully worded salutation —nothing cheesy. No fancy fonts.

            And no attachments unless they ask for it. Don't you know that already?

            I've applied to colleges and for jobs with less requirements to remember.

            But if you want to be a published writer you also have to become a marketing guru with more shine and stubborn resilience than those strands of hair sprayed down over Donald Trump's head. They don't want just a writer. They want a brand. A sharp, tough, professional business person who won't annoy them, harass them or embarrass them. It takes perseverance and a hard head to get through that door and prove you're not their worst nightmare. You have to be hopeful and confident enough to put yourself out there, but you have to know when not to bug that person who is holding your manuscript in their sweaty, powerful hands while they ponder over its — and your—marketability.

            As a would-be writer you get advice from everyone. Even when you don't think you need it.

            Here's mine: Acquire a tough skin that lets the insults bounce off, because you will get a lot throughout your career. It's part of the territory. Grow up, put on your big girl breeches and realize that you'll never be everyone's cup of tea. And it's probably just as well. A swelled head is not becoming in this industry. No one has time for a diva. Creativity, hard work and professionalism are necessities. Publishing is a surprisingly small world and everyone knows everyone, so it's good to be polite too, watch what you say. Write every day. Learn when to let it go and don't be a "helicopter" parent.

            And that's another thing.

            I know people say that every parent thinks their child is the cutest, smartest pumpkin ever. Well, all writers feel that way about their work when they start out. But they soon learn that it's not productive to think that way and it's also quite soul-destroying if you cling to that idea. My work is not the greatest thing ever written, yet it's still important to me and I'm proud of it. I still think of each book as a child I've produced, but I don't create genius children. I'm learning with every book I write.

            Twelve years ago, when I wrote the first draft of Maddy and Griff's story, I was just beginning a long education in the world of publishing.

            This is a world of splinter-short attention spans. The story that winds itself up to a slow conclusion like a long, leisurely, bending country road is almost extinct, so I've been told. At least, it is in the romance genre. Writers are advised that readers don't have time any more to sit down and open a book that contains much more than 90,000 words. They want fewer pages, but more dialogue; more sex, but fewer characters; less internal monologue and detail, but fully developed, three-dimensional characters.

            Readers want that happily ever after and the publishing industry prefers that it comes neatly packaged within a fairly rigid structure— a plot or trope that's well-tried and a proven seller. Somewhere writers have to find a balance between the marketer's comfort zone and the reader's right not to be bored.

            When I finally acquired an agent she changed the title of my romance to "Seducing the Beast". My sisters laughed their pants off, but I swallowed my pride and said, in a very small voice, "ok". I was willing to do whatever it took to get this manuscript looked at and not just passed over in the slush pile. Eventually, I parted company with my agent, but I kept the title she'd given me and went on to get Seducing the Beast contracted, then published. It was a long road (yep, one of those winding, lingering roads "they" don't like in books any more) and I learned a great deal along the way.

            Maddy and Griff's story became a series, as I followed first Maddy's brother and then her daughter to their own happy-ever-afters. I had never imagined, twelve years ago, that this would become a series, or that so many strangers would get to read my work and enjoy it.

            A lot has changed since I typed the first sentence of the first draft. My writing, my life, my outlook— and even the publishing world itself has endured a few rocky changes to which they're still adapting. But Maddy and Griff are just what they were when I started. Like true friends they've been with me through it all, stayed genuine to the people they were when we all started out together, and because of that I know they'll always be special to me.

            I didn't say they were perfect, but they're still my babies and I'm proud of them!

 

The Taming the Tudor Male in Three Easy Lessons series is now available in e-book and in print.

1.         Seducing the Beast

2.         Once a Rogue

3.         The Savage and the Stiff Upper Lip.

 
Would you like to win a signed copy of any book in the series (you choose)? If so, please comment below or "Like" my Facebook author page and pm me there. Thanks for reading!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jayne-Fresina/137708499635497?ref=hl

 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SHOWCASE - Stephanie Berget

Today I'm welcoming author Stephanie Berget to my blog for a showcase of her latest Evernight Publishing release, SUGARWATER RANCH (Salt Creek Cowboys).

 * * * *


Bar-manager Catherine Silvera finds a waterlogged, unconscious cowboy freezing to death in front of the Sugarwater Bar. She saves his life--then runs faster than a jackrabbit with a coyote on its tail.  Any man who makes his living rodeoing is bad news, especially if Sean thinks partying is part of the competition. He’s everything she doesn’t want in a man, so why can’t Catherine shake her attraction to the rugged cowboy?

 

Excerpt:

Just driving to the town made the trip worthwhile. The scenery was incredible, and the residents of Sisters had remade their community into a replica of a western town right out of the 1800s. The storefronts were made of wood with hitching rails running the length of the main street. Located in the shadow of the Three Sisters volcano mountain range, Sisters was a tourist town through and through. When the logging business went bust in the area, they’d encouraged tourism and saved their town when many others hit hard times. Sean had been to Sisters many times for the rodeo, and he’d always been impressed. Not only did the town ooze western hospitality, each trip he’d felt like he’d stepped into the past when cowboys ruled the area. Best of all, they put on one of the best paying and well-run rodeosin the northwest.
Today the town had been transformed. Quilts of every color and size were displayed in the windows and hung from the store railings, many with blue and red ribbons. The judging was done, and they were out for everyone to enjoy.
"Park the truck, and we’ll start at one end of town and go until you get bored,” Catherine said. She jumped out before he had the engine off and started toward the first store. “Isn’t this beautiful?”
The wonder in her voice had him hurrying to catch up and see what she’d found.
An eighteen-inch square quilt was made of half-inch pieces of cloth. Someone hand stitched all those tiny squares together to make a picture of flowers. The workmanship amazed him.
They wandered along the boardwalk, taking in the quilts and other handmade items. At the ice cream parlor they took a break.
Over ice cream cones, they discussed which quilts Cat liked best. Sean still couldn’t get over the amount of work people put into one of the handmade works of art.
“What do you think?” Catherine asked as she licked her cone. “Are you bored yet?”
“What?” Sean’s attention was riveted to the sight of Cat’s tongue licking the ice cream and he hadn’t heard her question.
“Do you like the quilts?” she asked, as the tip of her tongue slipped around the melting cone.
He forced his gaze up to her eyes. “For blankets, they sure are pretty. I’d be afraid to use them.”
Her smile told him she knew where his thoughts were. “I use one my grandmother made on my bed, but I keep the others stored in my closet because I can’t replace them. Except for sentimental value, most quilts are made to be used."
"You mentioned your grandmother and mom. Where are they now?” Sean gathered the napkins and cups then dropped them in the trash can.
When they were alone on the street, Catherine said, “My grandmother was a member of the Northern Paiute tribe. My grandfather was white. When they wanted to marry, her parents weren’t happy. My grandfather agreed to live on the reservation near Burns and learn the old ways. He became a part of the tribe. They passed away years ago. I didn’t know them well. Mom was born and raised there. When she married my father, he was white like my granddad. Everyone assumed they would stay, too.”
“I’m guessing they didn’t,” Sean said. “Where did you go?”
“It didn’t take long for my daddy to get bored on the reservation. He had other ideas. Big ideas. We wandered across much of Oregon and Idaho, chasing a dream he couldn’t quite catch. After each failure, he drank a little more. Let’s just say things went downhill from there.”
"I’m sorry,” Sean said.
 “Maybe you’ll tell me more about them sometime." But not now, Catherine thought. “What about your family?” she asked. “I know Frannie, and I knew of your mother. You come from nice people."
“Nice people, that’s my family,” he muttered, “all but me."
She glanced over to him. “You’re nice people. You just hide it well.” The giggle burst out of her. Sean had never heard her giggle. She didn’t seem like the giggling type of woman.
Then he realized what she’d said. “I hide it well? And I suppose you can see right through me to the warm chocolaty core?”
She giggled again then laughed outright. And laughter looked very good on Catherine Silvera. “Chocolaty core. Good description. I just need to lick through the hard sugar shell.”
Oh hell, the mental image just about blew him out of his boots.
He grabbed her and pulled her between the buildings to a private spot. “So you’re going to lick through the sugar shell?” It was his turn to laugh as he watched the blush spread up her neck and across her cheeks.
“I didn’t mean... You dirty-minded old man.” Even though she was blushing, she smiled.
“You’d better get started if you want to get to the chocolate tonight.”
His mouth closed on hers. She pressed against him and slipped her tongue into his mouth. She’s taking me seriously was his last thought before his brain scrambled.
They were both breathing hard, and if they’d been any closer together, they’d have been on the other side of each other. Sean cradled her head in his hands and bent to give her another soft kiss. He loved the way this woman smelled, like fresh air and oranges. Sliding his fingers through her hair, he heard her sigh. “I wish we were home,” Catherine said.
“You’re kidding me. This was your idea, and we’re going to finish the tour. This will give you time to think about your treat.” Sean turned her around, put his hands on her waist, and steered her back to the street.
 
Want to read more? Find Sugarwater Ranch at: http://www.evernightpublishing.com/sugarwater-ranch-by-stephanie-berget/

About the author:

Stephanie Berget was born loving horses and found her way to rodeo when she married the Bronc Rider. She and her husband traveled throughout the Northwest while she ran barrels and her cowboy rode bucking horses. She started writing to put a realistic view of rodeo and ranching into western romance. Stephanie and her husband live on a farm located along the Oregon/Idaho border, where they raise hay, horses and cattle, with the help of Dizzy Dottie, the Border Collie, and two Munchkin cats, Magic and Martin.

 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Showcase - Nikka Michaels

It may be the end of March, but since Mother Nature seems to have her seasons mixed up this year, why not celebrate a little bit of Christmas spirit? With all this snow around still for most of us, it would not be out of place! Are you in the mood to snuggle up with a good read as you wait for things to heat up? Then this might be what you need.

Nikka is a fellow author who writes in multiple genres. She's been kind enough to share an excerpt from one of her books CHRISTMAS WITH CADEN here today. I hope you enjoy the teaser! Read on to find out more about Nikka and where you can discover more of her work.

CHRISTMAS WITH CADEN
 
Paige Anthony is annoyed at spending Friday night at the company Christmas party. She’s bored until she spots the son of the boss, Caden Davis dancing and is intrigued.
When Caden saves Paige from the advances of his brother, she looks at him in a new light. A few sexy dances later, she manages to forget the horrible beginning of the night. When she decides to leave, he offers to walk her home and admits he’s wanted her for a while. Will Paige’s attraction be enough to make her forget about holidays past and consider Christmas with Caden?
Excerpt:

 
“Is this how you really dance? Because you can show me the real you, you know. After all, you did just middle school dance me. I want a Caden dance.”
His slow, wicked smile made her stomach flip and heat flood her skin. “You want me? You got me.”
Slowly he spun her in a circle, her back resting against the front of his body. His hands settled on her hips, squeezing gently as he nuzzled her ear. His fingers pulled the fabric of her dress taut against her nipples as the delicious friction intensified with every move. She bit back a low moan at the sensation.
“This is me. This is how I really dance.”
Shivering at the feel of his warm breath against her ear, she closed her eyes and let her body go loose, relaxing as she moved with the beat of the music. His hands smoothed up and down her sides, teasingly light as he moved with her, not guiding but simply moving with her.
Through the thin fabric of her dress and his shirt and suit pants, heat from his body added to the sweat that beaded on her skin. She could feel his hardness pressing against her ass when she rocked back into him, though he let her lead all their movement. The club had gotten more crowded as they’d danced. The look on his face when she glanced up at him was one of hunger, his heavy-lidded eyes gone dark, illuminated by the flash of the strobe light. With the top buttons of his shirt undone, he looked as though he’d just been dragged off the floor and ravished.
Paige wanted to be the reason he looked that way.
Want to read more?

To find out more about Nikka Michaels and her work go here:


Nikka Michaels lives in the often rainy Pacific Northwest where she spends her time cooking, laughing and crafting romantic tales to satisfy her craving for HEAs with heat. A voracious reader, novice knitter and music lover she’s been known to multitask without breaking a sweat. She loves to read and write M/M romance but believes everyone deserves a love story. She currently has three releases out, Chasing Matt, a M/M novella co-authored with Eileen Griffin, Christmas with Caden, a M/F romance novella from Cobblestone Press, and “Waking up Wolf”, a M/M shifter romance in Evernight Publishing’s Alpha’s Claim: Manlove Edition anthology. Her short erotic M/M BDSM story, Room Service was released from Cobblestone Press and the sequel, Lip Service is out April 15, 2014. Nikka is currently at work with her co-author on two M/M foodie romance novels, set to be released summer and fall 2014 from Carina Press.
It's cold out there, so warm up with a good book!