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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fabulous February


I hope you’re all doing well and that this fabulous February finds you healthy, safe, and warm. February is always a month of celebrations for me. With Valentine’s Day at the forefront, February is the month of LOVE and romance—every romance writer's favorite topic. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I’ll be offering one of my favorite romantic stories for FREE from Sunday, Feb.17-Tuesday, Feb. 19th on AMAZON. Bookmark this page and stop back to download your copy. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle App to your I-pad or computer and still get it for FREE. How cool is that?



HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is a contemporary YA/New Adult romance that deals with the tragedies of war, overcoming loss, and the determination of one seventeen year old girl to find the truth. Filled with moments of poignant reality, hard lessons, and the angst and sexual tension of first love, the book combines family drama and the relationship between childhood sweethearts, Jordie Dunn and Alex Cooper. Because the focus of the story is the tenuous romance with the underlying plot of a family’s search for peace in time of war, HIFH will appeal to adult readers as well as older young adults. With entertaining secondary characters and a challenging mother-daughter relationship, the story deals with real life issues with both unwavering comprehension and uplifting humor.

Kristan Higgins, NYT and USA Today bestselling author says,

“Filled with the complex emotions of grief, confusion and first love, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES is a rich, uplifting story that will touch a reader’s heart.”

Set in a fictitious Connecticut lake-town, the story has the feel of hometown USA and is relatable to anyone questioning the value of war and the cost to the families of lost and wounded soldiers. Heaven Is For Heroes takes you through one family’s loss and the recovery of a soldier dealing with both the emotional and physical ravages of war.

Although Jordie is only seventeen, she has spent most of her teenage life studying martial arts and yoga, her Grandfather’s solution to keeping her from following in her brother’s destructive footsteps. When Alex Cooper, her brother’s best friend and the guy she’s been crushing on since the ninth grade, returns home wounded and determined to blame himself for her brother’s death, Jordie uses her experience and pushes the boundaries of convention in her attempt to help him recover. Jordie and Alex’s story is one of my favorites!

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:

The sun sat low in the sky, an orange ball that promised another hot, steamy day ahead. I threw my towel onto a rock and kicked off my boots, the warm sand inviting under my toes. I shimmied out of my shorts and waded into the pond up to my thighs. A cold chill trickled up my spine. I thought of Alex for the millionth time in the last week, my heart taking another plunge into the depths of despair. I let out a frustrated groan. I hated being this out of control of my emotions. Maybe he had found closure in telling me to take a hike, but I didn’t get to say what I wanted to say…should have said…needed to say. Instead I had pleaded like a pathetic, love sick little girl.

Angry with myself as much as I was Alex, I gave voice to my rage. “You stubborn, pig-headed, pain-in-the-ass…jerk!” I yelled to the leaves on the maple tree nearby. I felt stupid, but it was good to vent. A smidgeon of tension dropped from my shoulders. I did it again. “How could you be so selfish?” I shouted. “How could you walk away from the one person who knows you best…and still LOVES you…even though you are maddeningly stubborn and…and emotionally…immature!” I screamed. A flock of geese took flight off the surface of the still water.

I had to laugh at myself. Not because I was wrong, really, but because it was a terribly one-sided argument and I was acting a bit like an irrational shrew. It felt good not to have to hold back—constantly trying to be what Mom and Brig and…Alex…needed me to be. I sank under the water up to my chin and felt the chill all the way to my bones, all of the heat I’d built up cooling instantly. I couldn’t be mad at him. He was an honorable guy who thought he was doing the right thing by taking responsibility for a mistake. A part of me still couldn’t believe it was Alex’s fault. Where Levi was concerned, anything could have happened. But the other part of me—the part that had worried about my brother and lied to protect him--knew that if Levi walked willingly to his death, my silence was the lie that made it possible. Maybe that was the truth I was trying to get to. I dunked under and came up slowly, dipping my head back and letting the water pour over me as if seeking some kind of baptism or forgiveness.


This month is also the month of my birth, the month that brought me the wonderful gift of my youngest son (soon to be facing the quarter century mark-Yikes!), and the month that no matter how cold or snowy it gets, seems to deliver the promise of spring. With longer days and bright sunshine that beckon me to the beach, I’ll make my annual sojourn to the sea in an effort to tide me over until spring and summer truly arrive.


On the writing front, I’m nearing the end of the first draft of WESTERN DESERT and looking forward to the revision stage when I can begin to layer depth into my characters and their conflict. I used to hate revisions until I learned a bit about how to revise and what to look for to beef up the tension and make the characters come to life. This is where I deepen plot, clarify the underlying themes, and clean up dialogue to hopefully make it pop—always keeping in mind that it all has to move the story forward. I address pacing problems, catch inconsistencies, and try to do justice to the personal growth of the characters. With my first attempt at a trilogy, I also have to decide what to leave for the next book and what loose ends need to be wrapped up to ensure a satisfying end to book two. Lots to think about!

February is a time of reflection for me (I know I do a lot of reflecting), but in terms of checking in on our own personal growth, I think birthdays force us to examine our lives and where they are going. We look back at the past year and wonder what the future has in store for the next chapter. This past year hasn’t been my healthiest—at least in terms of my self-care. I let the demands of publishing get in the way of keeping a balanced lifestyle and that is something that I am determined to correct (five pounds down, ten more to go).

My first year in publishing was a whirlwind of activity, deadlines, and self-induced pressures that were a necessary part of the learning curve. There is so much to know and do in this business. If I showed you my to-do list on a daily basis you’d think I was running a major corporation or that I was a little OCD. Well…both of those might be a true, but neither has to keep me from staying focused on my highest good…which is to stay healthy and have the best quality of life I can manage to create for myself. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned in life it's that we are all masters of our own destiny, a principle that my character Jordie understands intuitively, making her a strong heroine and great role model.

The choices we make every day, both small and large, affect the outcome of our lives and the lives of the people we touch. Taking personal responsibility for making healthy choices is one of the few things we CAN control. Perhaps that is one thing writers have in common. In telling our stories, we control the Universe of our characters, forcing them to face their demons and make choices that will ultimately lead to their happily ever after. My wish for you, dear readers is that you will do the same. Take control of your destiny one positive choice at a time. Don’t be afraid to face your demons. Meet them head on and conquer them with tenacity and love, and remember, you are the master of your destiny!

Have a Fabulous February!

Comments and honest reviews are always welcome. Feel free to spread the word about the FREE promotion to any of your family and friends who might enjoy a sweet romance this month.

Blessings!

PJ

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