Make yourself at home, Jessica.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A. I’m a small town Ohio girl. I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, almost smack-dab between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, which explains my sports allegiance. I’m an Ohio State Buckeye for college football (and actually all college sports), but a Pittsburgh Steelers fan for the NFL. I also cheered for the Cleveland Indians much of my life until I moved to Florida and became a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays!
I married a wonderful man. I’m a mother of three children. I have six year old boy/girl twins and a four year little girl. Needless to say, my life is a bit chaotic! J
I LOVE to travel. I got the travel bug early in my life and it has never left. My husband and I did some extensive traveling before we had children. We’ve hit just about every corner of the US and lots of places in-between. We spent three weeks traipsing around France and Italy. And we have a trip to Ireland, with the kids, on the horizon.
Q. What made you write ‘this’ story?
A. Nothing really made me write In Flames. My writing style is a bit odd… or at least I’ve been told. I usually get a scene in my head and I write that scene. Then everything unfolds from there. Sometimes the characters are not even well-defined until after that initial scene. That’s basically what happened in In Flames. There’s a scene where Gracelyn and Matt are leaving a restaurant and well, things happen, if you know what I mean. ;) I drafted that scene in my car in the notebook I carry around in my purse for that very purpose as I sat outside a restaurant. I didn’t know at the time why they couldn’t be together… just that they couldn’t. I took that scene tweaked it and created two characters that I fell absolutely in love with!
Doesn't sound odd to me at all. It's kinda how my stories start.
Q. Tell us about your cover.
A. I was pleased with Sour Cherry Designs and Evernight Publishing’s cover for my story. The male on the cover is amazing and I think I even commented that I wished I was Gracelyn after I saw it. J
I can see why you would!
Q. Describe a typical day’s writing for us
A. My days are anything but typical. With three children, a husband, a dog and a full-time job, I often don’t get to start my writing day until the evening. I force myself to write for at least 45 minutes a day. Most of the time, it is well above that. But on those days where I am just wiped-out, I put my 45 minutes in, even if it is just editing and revising my work from the previous day.
Q. What inspires you?
A. I’m inspired by life, in general. It is really everyday events that trigger a scene or character in my head.
Q. If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
A. I can’t think of much else that I’d want to be. I’m already a wife, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter and friend. Writer rounds out my titles pretty well.
Q. Do your characters ever surprise you?
A.Yes! And isn’t that crazy?! I mean as an author, you think that you are in control because you are creating the characters. But there have been plenty of times when I look back at a scene I’ve just written and thought “Huh? How did that happen?” It is true that some characters take on a life of their own and you are simply their outlet! J
Oh, yes! lol
Q. What could you not do without when you’re writing?
A. Wine. Haha! And I’m not joking! Some of my best sex scenes have come out of a wine haze!
Hehe, my best work happens when I'm tired. Go figure!
Q. What words of wisdom do you have for the aspiring authors out there?
A. When I was in tenth grade, I had a teacher ask me to be in a senior level creative writing course. I stayed in touch with her throughout my life and she continually encouraged me to not give up. I was always a little timid about putting my work out there and submitting it to a publisher because, well, who likes rejection?! But she kept at me. Then one day, I just did it!
Being an author is hard work. And a lot of that work is not just the writing. Nowadays, promoting your work is just as much effort. You have to have thick skin… not everyone is going like what you write. Doesn’t make the 1 star reviews any easier, but you have to keep trucking along. And you will get rejections! So what! Keep at it. Let people read your work and critique it. It really does only make you a better writer, even if some stuff is hard hear. Write what inspires you… what puts a smile on your face. And smile big and often! J
Fab words, and I couldn't agree more.
Q. Where do you see yourself in ten year’s time?
A. In ten years, I will be the mother of two 16 year olds and one fourteen year old… two of which will be girls! I imagine my hairstylist, Heather, will be rich as I will have tons of gray hair that I will have to hide every 6 weeks because I’ll be a mother of three teenagers!
But seriously… I hope to have way more books published.
Being the mother of three, soon to be four teenagers, I think you might be right ;-)
Q. Do you have a favourite quote?
A. I have two favorite quotes… both kind of related:
If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.
I have used both of these quotes in various aspects of my life. They are great to gain perspective when life throws you a curve ball. Change is hard, but it helps to look at it in a positive light, so that we can all become butterflies!
Q. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
A. Yes! And I hate it!!!!
Q. What other books can your readers look forward to?
A. I have an erotic novella published by Cobblestone Press, LLC entitled More Than Friends. It’s available for purchase at Amazon, B&N and ARe. It’s a friends-to-lovers kind of story with a twist. It has received good reviews and I’m proud of that piece, especially since it was my first published work.
I am currently writing a short story that I plan to submit to Evernight’s Romance on the Go line. It deals with a man that sits on the board of directors for an insurance company and becomes completely taken by one of the company’s female attorneys. So far, it is turning out to be a fun one to write. I hope Evernight takes it! Fingers-crossed!
I also am working on a sequel to More Than Friends. The book ends in a HFN scenario that I have come to find is difficult for a lot of readers. They want their HEA! So, after many requests for a continuation of Jeni and Brian’s story, I am writing that as well.
And I have just started outlining a book about a Florida cowboy. I’m not ready to reveal the premise yet because I am still ironing out the storyline and characters, but I promise it will be worth the wait!
Q. And finally can you share an excerpt with us?
And excerpt from In Flames.
“This is just so hard, Matty. Raising Jenna and Josh on my own. It’s a big responsibility when both parents are around, but on my own… I feel like I am screwing everything up,” she cried. “Shit around the house that he would normally take care of sometimes falls by the way side because I forget about it… like the trash. And then I see it sitting there and get mad that he isn’t here to take the trash out or mow the lawn or help the kids with their math homework. He was always better with math than I was. Not to mention, I feel so damn alone.” She looked up at him. Her blue eyes sparkled through her tears.
“You know you can always count on me,” Matt said. He put his arms around her and cradled her. “I’ll help with Jenna and Josh as much as I can. And you know Mom and Pop will always be here to help too. And when I don’t have Brian on the weekend, I can be here to do whatever you need…like I have been.”
“I can’t ask you to do more than you already do,” she said. “You already do so much… too much. You attend the kids’ events and games. You help take care of the yard… fix the little things around the house… make sure my car is always up and running. You need to have a life. You can’t spend your free time taking care of your brother’s widow all the time.”
“Gracey, you are more than just Chad’s widow. You’re family. And you have always been a friend. You’ve been a tremendous support for me. I wouldn’t have made it through this last year without you. I will do whatever I can to help you. You know that. We’ve helped each other through this last year and I’m not abandoning you now. I’ll always be here for you.”
“I just don’t want to be alone anymore,” she cried into his shoulder. Her hands gripped his t-shirt desperately. Matt held her tight. Tears welled in his own eyes. The past year had been difficult for everyone, especially Gracelyn. But she’d always stayed strong…whether for the kids, for everyone else or for herself.
They had shared tears together over the last year, but he had only witnessed her completely break down twice. First, when she found out about the accident. Matt wouldn’t let anyone else break the news to her. He had been at the scene when the accident happened. Several firefighters had to restrain him to keep him from rushing back into the collapsing building to get to his brother. The fire chief wanted to tell Gracelyn about Chad’s death, but Matt refused that as an option. He and Gracelyn were close and he did not want her to find out from anyone other than him, so he rode with the chief to her house. She knew the minute she opened the front door and saw him standing in his turnout pants, t-shirt and suspenders with his face all smudged black from the smoke and his own tears. She collapsed in his arms when he confirmed it. And then when they buried Chad, Gracelyn broke down for the last time… at least in front of anyone else. Maybe she sobbed every night in the shower or lying in bed by herself. But he had not seen it. The sight of her in his arms now… it just broke his heart.
Gracelyn lifted her head and looked at him through her tears. Matt gently touched her face with the back of his hand, in an attempt to wipe away her tears and soothe her. Leaning into him, she pressed her lips to his. At first, Matt didn’t comprehend what was happening. Her lips were soft against his, yet she kissed him so confidently. Her fresh strawberry scent enveloped him… so sweet… so intoxicating. She smelled like summer despite it being the end of September.
Matt’s mind told him to stop the kiss. Stop it before it went any farther. But her tongue slid against the seam of his lips and his head jumbled with a mix of thoughts—none of which were coherent.
Gracelyn Riley married a firefighter. She knew that came with risks. But she never imagined herself widowed in her early thirties with two children to care for on her own.
As a fireman, Matt Riley was at the scene when his brother, Chad, was killed. He suffered greatly from survivor’s guilt and depression after the accident.
The last year has been difficult for both Gracelyn and Matt. They’ve relied on each other to get through the tough times. With the anniversary of Chad’s death upon them, Gracelyn and Matt once again turn to each other for comfort and support. They find it in each other’s arms (and bed). Will their desire for each other consume them? Can they overcome the guilt and scrutiny to find love again…together?
Hmm, this does sound fab! Must put it on my TBR list
Thank you, Doris, for hosting me and my new book, In Flames. I can’t say how grateful I am to be a part of the Evernight family. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. This experience has been wonderful.
Ah, you're very welcome and Evernight are fabulous. So glad you joined the family :-)
And on Twitter @JessicaJayne13