Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outlaw by Ted Dekker

Author Ted Dekker's latest novel, Outlaw, releases today; and I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy. I have neither read nor reviewed an ARC before this, so bear with me.

I was unsure of what to think when I heard that Outlaw was going to be released. Early reviews stated that it is "different" than Dekker's other works, which, generally speaking, are "different" to begin with. (It is not often that I read novels that contain talking bats, demon-possessed serial killers, vigilante priests, people drowning in lakes only to be born anew, etc. Comprende?)

Those early reviews are right. In Outlaw you will not find serial killers who have Noxema fetishes or break people's bones or stuff like that. There aren't any vampires or deadly epidemics that kill everyone, either.

What you will find is the story of a young woman named Julian Carter who is shipwrecked and "saved" by a tribe of islanders. Her infant son, Stephen, is presumed lost at sea. Julian's part of the story is written in first-person, and my heart broke for her as she is abused by the tribe, who is not welcoming of outsiders. In fact, those who wander into the valley they call home are never permitted to leave. Those who escape are killed.

Julian is permitted to live among them under one condition: that she "marry" one of the princes vying for control of the valley and produce a son for him.

This is gut-wrenching stuff, folks.

Dekker's trademark weirdness kicks in about halfway through the novel. It turns out that the first half of the book is Julian's handwritten account of her first few months with the tribe, and her son, Stephen (who didn't drown after all) was presumably reading it. He's twenty years old now, because eighteen years have passed since Julian was taken captive. Now it's up to Stephen to rescue her from the tribe...or is it?

Unfortunately, I didn't identify with Stephen very well. After being separated from his mother he had a VERY unusual upbringing, and some of the conversations he has with his mentor left me scratching my head a bit. There's a lot of philosophizing. Or is theologi-phizing? And then it gets trippy. REAL trippy. What started out as a reasonably "normal" story turned into something far different by the end.

Was this my favorite Dekker novel? No. Was it my least favorite? Definitely not. For those who can appreciate a touching story and food for thought, Outlaw is a must-read.


The story of how I, Julian Carter, and my precious two-year old son, Stephen, left Atlanta Georgia and found ourselves on a white sailboat, tossed about like a cork on a raging sea off of Australia's northern tip in 1963, is harrowing.

But it pales in comparison to what happened deep in the jungle where I was taken as a slave by a savage tribe unknown to the world. Some places dwell in darkness so deep that even God seems to stay away.

There, my mind was torn in two by the gods of the earth. There, one life ended so another could begin.

Some will say I was a fool for making the choices I made. But they would have done the same. They, too, would have embraced death if they knew what I knew, and saw through my eyes.

My name is Julian and this is my story. But more, it is the story of my son who was born to change the world.

From deep in the impenetrable jungles where New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker was born and raised, comes OUTLAW, an epic adventure of two worlds that perhaps only he could write. Full of harrowing twists, sweeping violence, and wild love, Outlaw takes us beyond the skin of this world to another unseen.


Monday, October 14, 2013


I love Google Street View. You know, when you go to Google Maps and hover the little man over the map, and if you stick him on a street that highlights in blue you can see what it would have looked like if you'd been standing there the moment that the Google Street View car went through.

When I was a child, I would pore over maps for hours, memorizing roads and names of towns and wondering what it would be like to be there. Google Street View has enabled me to finally see some of these places without requiring me to leave the comfort of my chair.

So I "went" to Peru...

Where they evidently have lots of sand.
And pretty mountains.

And I went to Chile...

...and then I look at the place where I live...

...and realize that I am deprived.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Release the Ferrets!

I've never known much about ferrets. I knew they are small, furry creatures that look kind of like weasels, and I knew that they kind of smell.

That was about it.

So when a friend of mine recently asked if I would keep her ferrets while she went out of town for a week, I was uncertain. I said yes because that's what friends do. Little did I know what I would have in store...

Ferret Sitting: Morning 1.

Sinister ferret enjoys skittering around. Attempted to pat on head. Very bitey. Mellow ferret appeared to be missing from cage but turned out to still be asleep under heap of towels.

Went back upstairs and went into bathroom to get ready for work. Heard intense skittering from below. Went back downstairs to see what was afoot. Mellow ferret was attempting to wedge itself between litter pan and wall of cage.

Ferret Sitting: Evening, Day 1.

Brought ferrets upstairs to play. Ferrets discovered how to get inside kitchen cabinets while the doors were shut. Sinister ferret kept trying to crawl up my pants leg and bit me and husband 1,278 times each. (Note to self: research muzzles.) Mellow ferret tickled husband's feet. Sinister ferret climbed behind books in bookshelf and pushed them outward so it appeared that a ghost was pulling volumes out of the shelf. Ferrets wrestled with each other for several minutes and enjoyed climbing in and out of recycle bin. Had to put ferrets away when sinister ferret became too violent and was attacking husband.

Ferret Sitting: Day 2.

Closed all doors in hallway and let ferrets run around. Ferrets went back hallway. Suddenly all was very quiet. Suspecting that they fell asleep, I went to see what was going on. Discovered that Nathan's office door was ajar. Ferrets were frolicking among the contents of office. Put on hoodie to avoid being clawed and picked up ferrets one by one to return them to pens in the basement. Upon reaching sinister ferret's pen, sinister ferret latched onto hoodie sleeve with both hands and feet and would not let go, even when the wearer of the hoodie repeatedly shook arm to free herself from a ferret death grip.

Ferret Sitting: Day 3.

The siblings came over to visit the ferrets. The will-be-20-years-old-next-month brother made many terrified leaping pirouettes in the air as the ferrets attempted to bite his bare feet. The sister brought jingley-bells from home so the ferrets could play with them. Sinister ferret played heated game of soccer with them by nosing them across the carpet. The sister fell in love with the ferrets and says she would like to have one. The mother says no. The husband suggested purchasing a bee-keeping suit to wear while handling ferrets. I laughed.

Ferret Sitting: Day 4.

Husband mysteriously had a meeting to attend, so I had to handle ferrets alone. Built makeshift blockade between living room and dining room consisting of giant Rubbermaid container, recycle bin, old art kit, gallon of vinegar, various shoes, and a box (anything heavy that would fit in the opening). Ferrets wrestled with each other in litter pan and sent pellets flying everywhere. Chub (mellow ferret) wanted to listen to some Beethoven and got the CD out of shelf all by himself. Sinister ferret bit my finger. Ferrets got some old photographs out of the shelf and sniffed at them. Also caused avalanche of tea light candles while rummaging in cabinet.

Ferret Sitting: Day 5.

No significant updates. But I found that it is far easier to transport Stinker (sinister ferret) from the basement to the living room and vice versa by putting him into a carrier as opposed to holding him. I swear his parents were a snapping turtle and a piranha.

Ferret Sitting: Day 6. 

And then, at last, the ferrets went home. I kind of miss the chaos. [sniffles]

"Ferrets are like cats on meth." ~My Friend

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Badly Do You Want It?

I've been busy lately. (Nothing new there.) I've been fiddling around with a few different stories that are in varying stages of completion. I've been rereading the Harry Potter series and loving (almost) every moment of it. I've been promoting Rage's Echo like the dickens. (Quick question: How did something ever end up being "like the dickens"? Why don't we say "like the shakespeare" or "like the hemingway"? I actually don't like the shakespeare OR the hemingway [despite the quote I have here on this blog], but that's all a matter of personal taste, and I have absolutely nothing against those who enjoy the work of those authors.)

Where was I? Oh yeah.

Even though the official release for Rage's Echo is still over a month away (you can preorder it here), I have been having pre-release signings left and right. I've been tweeting about it and Facebooking about it, and I even have a giveaway going on over on Goodreads where you can enter to win a copy (you can find that link here). I wish I could rent ten thousand billboards proclaiming the awesomeness that is Rage's Echo to all the lands.

My biggest wish of all is that people will read it and enjoy it and encourage others to do the same.

There are some authors who write a book and then do nothing to promote it. I would be surprised if more than a few dozen people--friends and family members of the author, most likely--get to read their book. It might be an amazing book. It might be life-changing. But people aren't going to read it if they don't know it exists, and people aren't going to know it exists if the author doesn't make an effort to get the word out about it.

If an author wants his or her book to be read by a large number of people, they have to work at it. The amount of their effort depends on how badly they want their story to be read.

But this idea doesn't just stop at authors. Do you have a goal in mind? For example, do you want to take a month-long tour of Europe? Are you saving as much money as you can for it? If not, then you must not want to go that badly. If you want to go to Europe badly enough, you will cut back on unnecessary expenses so you can put away more money for the trip. You will clip coupons and stop eating out. You'll keep the lights off. Anything to cut back, even if you're saving only a few dollars at a time.

How badly do you want to reach your goal? What steps have you been taking to reach it?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

That Story Came from WHERE?

A typical question that any writer is going to receive from curious fans is "Where do you get the ideas for your stories?" It's a good question, and one that I love answering because the answer is simple: EVERYWHERE!

My upcoming novel RAGE'S ECHO officially releases two months from today. I say "officially" because I've had copies of my own for a month and I've been selling them to random people I know, because seriously, who wouldn't? But on October 1, you will be able to download my latest tale of murder and intrigue onto your Kindle or Nook or have a freshly-minted copy shipped to you from a warehouse owned by Amazon.


Rage's Echo is about a young woman named Jessica who likes to go ghost hunting. She wants to prove that life continues after death because she believes it will get people to turn to God. When Jessica is invited to investigate some haunted church grounds she is more than excited to go. What she doesn't know is that the spirit of a murder victim named Jerry Madison is going to follow her home that night, and then terrible things ensue when it turns out that Jerry might not be so nice to have around after all.

It's awesome. I had more fun writing this than I probably should have.

But anyway. Where did this story come from?

I'll tell you.

1. Twilight

I have never read Twilight or any of its sequels, but I know what it's all about. I even saw the first movie. Girls falling in love with supernatural creatures is so commonplace these days that I wanted to write a novel in which the female protagonist does NOT fall in love with the not-quite-human dude. The Rage's Echo seed was thus planted in my brain. 

2. Field of Dreams
The awesome thing about Field of Dreams is that ghosts can be spoken to as if they are living people instead of just spooky noises filling a house at night. If you got to talk to a ghost, what kind of interesting things would the two of you talk about? It better not just be baseball.

3. Ghost Hunters

Most common phrase of those investigating a haunted house: "WHAT was THAT?" Truth: it might be a hamster. Read Rage's Echo and you'll understand.

4. My Friend Valerie

One of my Internet buddies once attended a college which she disliked so much that she transferred after only a year. She told me that she lay awake in her dorm one night hearing a tapping sound by her head, and she also sensed an angry red aura that seemed to go away after she had a priest come in and bless the place. I hope I have the details of that right. It's been years since she told me. Valerie, if you're reading this, feel free to correct me!

5. Classic Rock

Or more specifically, the songs "Dream On" by Aerosmith and "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas. They both make cameos in the novel. Just listen to the lyrics and you might get the chills.

6. Dante's Inferno

There was one scene in this where spirits of the damned were described having to drag their own corpses to hell, or something like that. (That doesn't happen in Rage's Echo. I just wanted to mention it here because I like to mention random things.) The whole spirits-being-cut-off-from-God-but-still-yearning-for-him thing is what kicked Rage's Echo into gear.

7. My Life

(No, not the book by Bill Clinton.) Everybody goes through hardship. If you haven't, there's probably something wrong with you. Writing Rage's Echo was a way for me to transfer my inner demons from my mind onto the page. A personal exorcism, if you will. I may never be completely healed in this lifetime but writing this novel certainly helped.

8. Other Stuff

I received inspiration from a number of other sources as well, but if I told you here that would ruin some of the fun of the novel. Because spoilers STINK.

So there you have it. All of this entered my head and formed a sort of lumpy stew that turned into a story. And I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

God bless,

~J. S. Bailey

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obey the Muse

Oh no! I have been slacking here on Blogger again!

But that's because things have been happening. Cool, awesome things.

Like this:

My floor was not large enough to write out the whole title.

And Rage's Echo now has a release date. It will be available in paperback and ebook formats on October 1. I had so much fun writing this story, and I pray that you will enjoy it, too.

Also, I have joined forces with some amazing people and created a brand-new blog called Obey the Muse. (www.obeythemuse.com) We'll be talking a lot about writing, inspiration, and the randomness that everyday life brings. The Musers are:
LaDonna Cole
Pro cropLaDonna Cole is a Texas girl who thrives in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with her children. Playing Ukulele, singing, writing fantasy/fiction, and traveling as much as possible, a Psychiatric Nurse and incurable optimist, she draws on her zest for adventure, passion for family, and journey through faith to release the soul of each new story. Check out LaDonna and her imaginary peeps at HeartworkVillage.com,immortalportals.wordpress.comwww.facebook.com/LaDonnaColeAuthor, and LaDonnaColeRN.wix.com
547184_10151335581539838_176265025_nRM Harnist
RM [Robin] Harnist is a freelance editor and writing coach but also writes speculative fiction in those very few and far between spare moments.  She currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with her fuzzy puppy, Gemma, and her evil cat, Kiya.
Check her out at http://facebook.com/rmharnist, twitter.com/rmharnist, www.rmharnist.com and gotgrammar.rmharnist.com.

Katie J Cross
967511_10100289094017004_1831005078_nMy world revolves around my husband, my dog, and the mountains. I wear hiking boots instead of heels when I need to feel powerful, and on a bad day, I love a weightlifting workout. Actually, I love it on a good day. I don’t eat bread because I choose not too, even though I miss it at times. I write because I have too.
Find her at: www.kcrosswriting.com

Snapshot_20120725_2JS Bailey
J. S. Bailey is a lifelong resident of Clermont County, Ohio. She is an alumnus of St. Louis School and Clermont Northeastern High School, and graduated cum laude from Northern Kentucky University in December 2011 with a degree in Entrepreneurship.

Bailey learned to read at a young age and began writing soon after. She had a brief stint writing horoscopes for her high school newspaper before deciding she would have better luck inventing other things at the keyboard.

She penned her first (unpublished) novel while still in high school, and her debut novel The Land Beyond the Portal was released in July 2011 through Tate Publishing. Her other writing credits include short stories called Vapors and Weary Traveler and an upcoming novel called Rage’s Echo, which releases October 1.

Bailey enjoys reading books by her favorite authors. When she isn’t working or glued to a computer screen, Bailey spends time with her husband, Nathan, in their Southwest Ohio home.

Stephanie Karfelt, aka S. R. Karfelt
IMG_3626Writing fiction with a twist is my specialty. My novels crossover Contemporary Fiction with a dash of Urban Fantasy. Warrior of the Ages is my first novel, and will be released 8-15-13. It’s about an immortal warrior moonlighting as a cop, and just how dangerous a blonde in a speeding convertible can be for the world’s oldest bachelor. My hope is that this book will make cops everywhere think twice about trying to foist speeding tickets on women.

The latest on my books can be found at www.WarrioroftheAges.com, or follow my blog if you need a laugh, at www.TheGlitterGlobe.com.

Kelsey mustache picKelsey Keating

When I’m not writing (which is more often than I’d like), I’m often found doing something with very little grace. Like right now as I type this, taking momentary breaks to stuff my mouth full of Cool Ranch Dorito Crumbs.

But I guess that’s beside the point. I have four books written and rewritten, one of which is in the editing process.  My main foci are YA Fantasy and NA Contemporary novels.

To follow my insanity (and maybe see why they let me IN here), head over to my blog www.lifeunpublished.blogspot.com OR visit my website where I keep updates on all of these friends of my Asylum: www.kelseykeating.com.
P.S. That mustache isn’t real. Or is it?

DM Kilgore
midnight writer cam 5 (2)“I am a once lost and broken soul who now knows the joy and beauty of being made whole.  I write about broken people striving to find their way to that place where they too realize the joy of being whole again.  Hope in the face of desperate circumstances is a reoccurring theme in my novels.”
D.M. Kilgore enjoys writing poetry, song lyrics, blog posts, articles, and both fiction and non-fiction books in various genres. She loves being a writing gypsy and dipping her toes into the sparkling stream of whatever genre she happens to be dancing by when inspiration strikes.
Currently, D.M. is making a splash in the blood-tinged waters of suspense filled thrillers.
Drop by her official website, DMKilgore.com and blog The Realm!
You can also follow D.M. on Facebook and Twitter: @DMKilgore
Experience the journey from cover to cover as D.M. Kilgore writes her way from published freelancer to published novelist!

KimroKimberly Robertson

Kimberly Robertson is a recovering high school English teacher, Mother to a tribe of boys, a non-profit Director, blogger and aspiring novelist.  She writes in the cracks of her life, often in random notebooks or on the pages in her head while car pooling, watching little league or caring for an ailing parent.  Her current blog project is a journey to self discovery to eat less, pray more and love abundantly at:www.lessmoreabundantly.com.  She has one faith based speculative fiction novel awaiting editing and is currently working on a YA project with her 9 year old son as inspiration.  Her goal in writing is to inspire, to encourage and to push herself and others into the beyond space-beyond limits, beyond expectations and beyond greatness.

Europe 328Katie McElhenney
Ever since age 3 when I read “See Spot Run” and felt annoyed that Spot wasn’t given more of a back story, I knew I needed to be a writer. I’m currently living the life of a nomadic homebody with my husband and dog and focusing on creating stories kids want to read. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far in life is if you want to really understand the world, spend a few years teaching preschool. There’s more wisdom to be found on the playground than most people realize.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Choices of the Heart by Rhonda Kooyman

Choices of the Heart by Rhonda Kooyman is one of the most terrifying and moving novels I have read in a long time. It is written mostly as the fictitious memoir of a woman named Tracy Dewitt who became entrapped by a psychotic and manipulative boyfriend who brutally abused her for years. Though this story is fiction, it seems very real because Tracy's story happens to women every day all over the world. They know they can't stay with their abuser because they'll end up being killed, yet at the same time they believe that they can't leave because their abusers have led them to believe that they are helpless on their own.

This story is full of tragedy and heartache. I was actually frightened for Tracy as if she were a real human being, and it takes a lot of talent on the author's part to make me feel that way about a character. However, this novel does not lack in hope. Even though the choices Tracy made were devastating, she does learn from her mistakes and finds the ability to forgive. I wish I could give this novel ten stars. Kooyman's writing sucked me in so well that I actually felt like I was there with Tracy. I could see what she saw and feel her terror and desperation as if it were my own. I think that more people need to read this so they can recognize the signs of an abuser before it is too late for them.

I highly recommend this novel. It is a must-read.

Choices of The Heart

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tell a Real Human Person!

I have read hundreds of books in my lifetime. Maybe thousands if you count The Cat in the Hat and Hop on Pop and all that stuff. But one author whose work I have yet to read is Neil Gaiman.

I follow Mr. Gaiman on Twitter, not because I have read his work (obviously), but because he is an author and I like to follow other authors to see what they're up to. Not the I'm-in-a-van-with-tinted-windows kind of following. You know what I mean.

Anyway, last night I saw this tweet from Mr. Gaiman:

A request. If you liked The Ocean at the End of the Lane, tell someone. Tell a real human person. It's all about word of mouth.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is, evidently, his most recent novel. I think it's funny that he's trying to get people to use word of mouth to spread the news of "Ocean's" release because seriously, he's Neil Gaiman, and he has millions of fans who will eagerly snatch up his latest work without anyone having to tell them about it.

But for some of us, it's a different story.

My novel The Land Beyond the Portal was released two years ago. In that time, it has sold 500 copies.

That's it.

I have to do all the marketing on my own. My publisher published the book and helps me set up events, but they don't advertize their books. Their books do not find their way onto bookstore shelves except on rare occasions, like when I was invited to have a book signing at the Kenwood Barnes and Noble in October 2011. They kept "Portal" in stock for about three months after the event was over.

That was it.

But they looked amazing while they were there. :)

It is so hard being a first-time author whom nobody has ever heard of. Fortunately in the past couple years I have met some awesome fans who have shown unending love and support for my stories, and I will be forever indebted to them. They took a risk on a newbie and have stuck with me. I wish I could gather them all together for a big group-hug, and maybe that will happen someday (even though hugs are scary).

My second novel, Rage's Echo, releases on October 1 of this year. I've been brainstorming ways to get the word out so it will be more successful than "Portal." I write so that people will read my stories and enjoy them, and it's tricky finding those particular people. Not everyone likes every kind of story. It's kind of like looking at a scene from Where's Waldo? and trying to pinpoint my target audience among the throng. Who are you? And where are you hiding?

So please, people. If you read and enjoy a book, especially one by a lesser-known author, TELL people about it! Sing its praises to your hairdresser. Your doctor. Your pastor. Your kid's teacher. Your parents. Your siblings. Your cousins. Your cable guy. The person bagging your groceries. LEND them a copy. Or give a copy to them as a gift. Ask your library to add it to its collection. Recommend it to people on Goodreads. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Interview the author and give away a copy of the book as a prize for those who comment on it. Pin pictures of it on Pinterest. Write reviews and post them on Amazon. Climb to the top of the nearest mountain with a megaphone in hand and shout its praises to all the land.

Not everyone who hear about a book will want to read it. But what if, say, your hairdresser says, "You know, that sounds like it could be a really good book! I'll have to go check it out."?

That's what we ask of you. It means so much to us. We are the future Gaimans of the world. And it is up to you to help us get there.

 Rage's Echo releases October 1. Click here to preorder:  http://www.amazon.com/Rages-Echo-ebook/dp/B00DOAX9CO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372816667&sr=1-4

Monday, June 24, 2013

Risky Business

I often find myself thinking about random things. Earlier today I was thinking about how my stomach started feeling bad and I couldn't finish my sushi, and how it will really stink to throw it away; and then I thought how it would be funny if someone tried to return their leftover sushi to the store; and then I remembered how I worked at a shoe store six years ago and someone tried to return a pair of used shoes that had the wheel in the heel of them; and then I remembered how popular those shoes were and that I never see them anymore. What were they called? Heelies? Hang on a sec...nope. Just Googled it. Heelys, they were called. And I only remembered they existed because my stomach felt bad and I couldn't finish my sushi.

I tend to do that a lot. One thought leads to another leads to another, and then a light bulb goes off in my head, and I exclaim, "Blog post idea!!!" Okay, maybe I don't exclaim it, but whatever.

Today I got to thinking about risk.
No, not that one.

I realized that every tiny thing we do in life involves taking some kind of risk. Do I get out of bed and face the day and the unknowns it will bring, or do I just lie here wasting away until someone comes in and feeds me? Do I leave the house and face the dangers of car accidents and armed robberies, or do I stay home and wait for the roof to cave in on me?

I think that most of us will choose to step out into the world each day as opposed to hiding under the blankets. Yet even those of us who step outside can fear taking additional risks. Say you've been offered a job in a different state. It pays better than your current job, but you're hesitant to move because everyone you know and love is here. You don't want to risk losing touch with them, and you're not even sure you'll like living in another state. What if they have funny accents? What if they don't have Gold Star Chili and goetta? What if the weather stinks and the new house gets buried in a mudslide? What if what if what if?

About five years ago I hit rock bottom hard. I was depressed, on medication, and seeing a counselor. I was plagued by the what-ifs and it was literally making me lose my mind. I felt like the whole world was crashing down around me and I was going to die. I've tried to block most of these memories, and that's okay. They weren't very fun, anyway. But one thing I do recall from those dark days was someone (my mother, maybe?) telling me to turn the what-ifs on their heads. What if I'm happy? What if Decision X is the best decision of my life?

What if this whole fiasco has happened for a reason?

(It has.)

Anyway, let's go back to the previous example. You're afraid to take up that job offer. Right? Well, what if it ends up being the most enjoyable job you've ever had? What if you make some really amazing friends in that new state? What if you fall in love? What if the weather is perfect? What if? What if? What if?

It's okay to be a little afraid because fear breeds caution and caution aids in survival. But when your fear inhibits you from taking the initiative to move forward--not just with a job offer, but for anything--take a step back. Breathe in. Let it out. Open your eyes. What if everything is going to be fine? What if this decision makes you happy? What if this is what God is telling you to do?

Do you do it?

"The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision." --Maimonides

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Updates, Randomness, and More--Oh My!

Goodness. A week and a half without posting. I'M SORRY. Truly. Honestly. But I'm here again. I don't have a lot to say, though. But there's nothing new about that. ;)

I finished the rough draft of a Top Secret novel earlier this week. It really stinks. Because that's what my first drafts are like. When comparing my rough drafts to my final products, it's like holding a picture of a stick figure up next to the Mona Lisa. In other words, there isn't much of a resemblance, and turning that stick figure into a beautiful work of art takes a LOT of work--and I think that this novel is going to need even more work than the others I've written.
Fortunately I write everything on the computer now, so fewer trees will have to die at my hand.

I pray a lot when I write. I ask God to show me what he wants me to write, only oftentimes it's more like begging. PLEASE tell me what Character A is doing here. Why am I doing this again? HEEEEELLLLLLP!!! I'm sure others will understand. This writing business is tough.

In unrelated news, I acquired a piano this week, so now it can help me procrastinate some more. Oh, I need to revise my novel? Let me just sit down and play Rondo Alla Turca a few times. And what was that one song I played back in college? [flips through book of music]

Anyway. I also joined a writing group this past week. Pretty cool, huh? I'll tell you more about it soon enough.

In the meantime, peace out! And please pray for me, too. :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

That My Dreams May Change You

I'm sorry, Blogger.

I really am.

I have been neglecting you. And fear not, because it's not you, it's me.

It's the laundry piled on the floor. The dishes in the sink. The weeds in the garden and the constant battle against the wildlife that would gladly ruin it all.

It's spending time with family. Finishing that book I've been meaning to read. Going through Scripture so that I may never go astray.

And, of course, it's the words that I bleed onto digital pages through my fingertips. The stories I pour forth from my heart so that I might reach out across time and space and touch yours.

My hair is greasy. My stomach is growling. The laundry is swishing around in the machine. I sit here listening to my favorite music in the whole world. I am alone.

Writing is a very lonely profession.

Nobody ever admits that they are insane. Am I insane? I don't know. I live inside my head all day long, dreaming not only while I slumber but while I am awake.

An author dreams. We turn our dreams into stories and share them with you, because we love you from the bottom of our hearts. We want you to sink to the deepest depths of tragedy, and we want you to become filled with so much hope that you soar above the clouds into the sun.

I know that I am rambling. An author rambles. My head is filled with millions of thoughts that scream for dominance in my mind.

Sometimes I write them down. Like now.

I can remember the first time that a piece of art made me soar. I was sixteen years old--only eight years ago, for those who don't want to do the math. It awakened me. It opened my eyes and made me view the world in a way I never had before. I saw beauty in the tragic. I saw the bittersweet hope that too often is representative of real life.

And I can never, ever go back--not that I'd want to.

That is my hope. That my words--my stories--can change those who take the time to read them.

Who's with me?

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Rage's Echo Cover Reveal!

For those of you who are new to my neck of the Internet woods, you should know that I write speculative fiction and suspense. (Specu-spense? Suspecu-fiction?) Something like that.

Also, some of you may be aware that my next novel RAGE'S ECHO will be released later this year. No word on the exact date yet. My publisher is keeping me in suspense just as I am keeping you in suspense by beating around the bush. You really want to see that cover, don't you? Because I've been talking about RAGE'S ECHO for a long time--over a year, in fact. I have enticed you with the opening chapter. I have piqued your curiosity by making a teaser poster using the materials I found in an art kit that I've had probably since I was eight. (Immortal paint, anyone?)


Sometimes I get carried away.

You may notice that I have not yet shown you the actual cover. "Why are you doing this to us?" you might ask. "We want to see it!!!"

Two reasons: I am an author of suspense. Or specu-spense. And I will not be revealing the cover until my author page on Facebook reaches 600 "likes." As of this writing, we're only 42 shy of that number. (You can find the page here: www.facebook.com/jsbaileywrites) I think we can get to 600 soon enough. Don't you?

I'll give you a hint: The cover is reflected in my glasses.

I have been truly blessed by the 558 of you who have already shown your support by "liking" my page, as well as the untold number of you who have taken the time to review my work, pray for me, and lift me up when I am down. It is so difficult being a new, relatively unheard-of author, and I couldn't have gotten to where I am today without your love and support. 

I would like to thank Kara, Valerie, Abby, Michael, Casey, the Dustins, Jason, Janie, Catherine, Donna, Evan, Gavin, Josh, Reuben, Taylor, Clint, Vanessa, Rhonda, Don, Richard, and many others who have aided me in my journey in their own special ways. I would like to thank Erin Healy for her wisdom and advice; and my family for believing in me. And most of all, I would like to thank the One who made it all possible.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Might be a Dekkie if...

Or, "Signs you might be reading too much Dekker." If it is possible to do such a thing.

1. You visit the White House and wonder where the statue of Thomas Hunter went.

2. You wonder if the fancy writing journal you received for Christmas is actually a blank Book of History.

3. Your parish priest comes through your checkout line with duct tape and garden shears in his cart and you immediately call the cops.

4. Noxzema is your moisturizer of choice.

5. Steak and wine sounds like the perfect dinner.

6. The name "Eve" sends a cold chill down your spine. I see you, Daniel...

7. You've contemplated the possibility that you might be someone's multiple personality.

8. You have a fear of receiving a severed finger in the mail.

9. You think this is the dream.

10. You see someone buying a pack of Marlboro Blacks and for a split second you swore it said "Marsuvees."


11. You know the significance of the term "Blue Monkey."

12. You are a blue monkey living in a brown monkey world.

13. You have "Dekkerated" your office in Dekker quotes.

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14. You develop dry skin and immediately fear that you've become part of the Horde.

15. You hold a certain fondness for jumping into lakes.

16. You turn on the news hoping to hear updates about the Raison Strain, momentarily forgetting that it isn't real. OR IS IT?

17. You schedule your vacations and family events around Dekker book signings.

18. You really can't wait to die--but you mean that in a good way.

19. You're afraid that your evil clone is going to hunt you down and kill you.

20. The phrase "Wanna trip, baby?" makes you burst into fits of giggles.

21. You want this necklace.

22. People find you slightly unusual.

23. But you don't mind.

24. You've put more than 200 round-trip miles on your car to attend a Dekker event.

25. You come home from said event and find out that THIS is what your picture looked like:

That awkward moment when an author encounters another member of her species.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Problem of Villainy

Everybody loves a good villain. And of course by "good" I really mean "evil," because that's what villains are good at: being evil.

Some of my favorite characters from both books and movies are the villains. I think it's because they're often more complex than our faithful protagonists. What caused him or her to act the way he or she does? What factors in their life influenced their villainy? Will they learn the errors of their ways? Why? Why? Why?

I'll illustrate this by analyzing one of my favorite villains; a barber by the name of Sweeney Todd. But of course that isn't his real name. He was once called Benjamin Barker, and he had a wife who was very beautiful. Together they had a daughter named Joanna.

Benjamin was a good man. He loved his family. But then...

"There was a barber and his wife, and she was beautiful... A foolish barber and his wife. She was his reason and his life...and she was beautiful, and she was virtuous. And he was naive. There was another man who saw that she was beautiful... A pious vulture of the law who, with a gesture of his claw removed the barber from his plate! Then there was nothing but to wait! And she would fall! So soft! So young! So lost and oh so beautiful!"

The cruel Judge Turpin wrongfully accuses Benjamin of a crime he did not commit and has him sent to an Australian penal colony so that he can have his way with Benjamin's wife, Lucy. Fifteen years later Benjamin escapes and returns to London using the alias "Sweeney Todd." He finds out that Lucy killed herself and that Judge Turpin has taken in Joanna Barker as his ward, who is basically imprisoned in his home.

Sweeney decides that he must get revenge on the judge. After teaming up with the cheerful but ever-sinister Mrs. Lovett who happens to own a pie shop that sits beneath Sweeney's old barber shop, they decide that Sweeney will practice getting revenge on the judge by slaughtering his barber shop clients and baking them into meat pies in order to hide the bodies.

The plan seems to work flawlessly. Since Sweeney Todd is a musical, throats are gleefully slashed and bodies are sent down a chute to be butchered all while the characters sing pleasant songs that I enjoy listening to again and again.

Yes, it's disturbing. But it's also FUNNY. Because seriously--PIES? You're killing people and having unwitting customers pay to eat them? It's laughable. Good old Sweeney. You may be a creep, but we still love you because you're messed up and we feel sorry for you because of all the crap you've gone through in your life.

Now for the flip side of the Problem of Villainy: the kind of villain who is real.

There is a man named Kermit Gosnell whom some of you may have heard of. He is a real, flesh-and-blood human being. He exists. He is not the product of an author's imagination--which is unfortunate.


Gosnell provided abortions to women from 1972 until January 2011, when he was arrested for eight counts of murder against newborns and a Nepali refugee named Karnamaya Mongar who died as a result of the abortion performed on her. When Gosnell's Philadelphia clinic was raided, it was discovered that he had been reusing medical instruments on women without sterilizing them and that cats had wandered freely in the clinic and left urine and feces everywhere that evidently were not cleaned up.

This may sound bad, but it gets worse. Gosnell hired teenagers to administer anesthesia to patients, and unlicensed medical personnel helped perform the procedures. The remains of 45 fetuses were found stuck in the freezer in milk jugs and orange juice cartons. Investigators also found a row of jars containing only the severed feet of fetuses Gosnell had killed, as if he were a serial killer collecting trophies from his tiny victims.

To top it all off, Gosnell has admitted that as many as three fetuses were born alive each day. Many of these were viable and far past the legal abortion limit of 24 weeks. To solve the problem of having living babies in the clinic, he or a worker would stab the babies in the back of the neck with a pair of scissors in order to sever their spinal cord. If these babies had received medical treatment instead of virtual beheadings, they very likely would still be alive today and in the loving arms of adoptive families.

I have a vivid imagination. I know that the babies would have been crying and flailing and struggling to breathe. Gosnell never gave them a chance. He committed, in essence, infanticide.

It makes me sick. It makes me burn with a righteous rage knowing that he got by with this for years because inspectors never responded to complaints from former patients. I don't care what Gosnell's childhood was like. I don't care why he decided to become an abortionist. I only care about the victims who died at his hand and pray that they will receive justice.

Nobody is laughing at Gosnell, either.

But this gets me thinking. Is it okay to laugh at Sweeney Todd and his murderous actions because he isn't real? Or is it wrong to do so simply because murder itself IS real, and by laughing at its fictional portrayal I am somehow being disrespectful of those who have been purposely killed by another human being? Is there something wrong with me? Do I need to reexamine my conscience? Because I would never, EVER laugh at a real-life murderer. It isn't funny. So why would I laugh at a murderer who never existed?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Speaking vs. Writing: The Power of Word Choice and Editing

I'm not much of a talker. Part of it is because I don't always know the right thing to say, so it's safer just to be quiet and listen. Part of it is because I'm always thinking. When I'm awake there are about ten quintillion thoughts bouncing through my head:

Look there's a fork on the table you know what you can do with a fork you can stab someone's eye out with it THAT'S IT when the protagonist is trapped in the house with the killer he can use a fork as a primitive weapon and poke the killer to death so he can escape.


You know what I'd like to do I'd like to sell a MILLION books so I can move to the mountains and I can have a beautiful landscaped patio with a beautiful view of mountains and it will be isolated so no one will bother me and I can get up as late as I want to in the morning and drink my coffee sitting outside with my laptop and I can write and write and write and it will be awesome.

Writing is much easier for me than speaking. When I write, I tweak each sentence to perfection. I might edit a page twenty or more times until it is just right. And it takes time. LOTS of time. Sometimes I agonize over my word choice so much that I have to start praying, "God, help me out here! Please show me how to word this in a new and intriguing way!"

And it works.

Speaking, however, is a different story. When writing, my rough drafts are more worthy of lining the bottom of a bird cage than of being read. The final edited product usually bears little resemblance to the first draft. My problem with speaking is that in a way, the stuff that comes out of my mouth is a rough draft. It stinks. I can't write down every single conversation ahead of time and tweak it to perfection. Plus, I constantly jumble my words so that what comes out doesn't quite sound like English. I remember one embarrassing moment when I was telling my mother about one of my classmates. I said, "Our nockers are lext to each other."


Imagine the ensuing horror.

Other times I'll just flat-out say something in a way that other people interpret in a way I had never intended them to. Earlier this week I was telling my mother-in-law about all the yard work I've been doing lately. I said, "Yeah, I been goin' out at night with a flashlight 'n a shaker a salt so I can get ma slugs." (Clermont County accent added.) She gave me this My-God-what-is-wrong-with-you look and asked, "What are you doing with them?"

"Killing them!" I said. "Cuz they're killing all my plants!"

She had thought that I was gathering them to eat.


What I should have said was, "We currently have a slug infestation in our flowerbed. They are devouring our plants at an astonishing rate. I have been countering their attacks by going out at night with a flashlight and shaker of salt so I can dissolve them where they lay, thus saving my plants from certain consumption."

But I didn't say that. I opened my big mouth and blurted a string of gibberish like a dummy. Would that I could speak in a way that would never make one question my sanity!

(Word choice, Jenn. Word choice. It is a powerful thing.)

Random Internet cat cannot believe the occasional stupidity of the author. But hey, nobody's purrfect.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Characters of Life

People tell me things.

I don't really know why. To them I can't be anything more than a glassy-eyed twenty-something standing behind the counter waiting to ring them up and send them on their way. But they talk to me anyway. Maybe inside they think that I'm an unbiased listener. It's okay to talk to me because they don't really know me. And I, never having much to say, myself; just nod when they tell me their stories. I don't know how to respond to them with words other than "Uh-huh" and "Wow" and things like that. Our conversations are overwhelmingly one-sided. I'm like a sponge into which they pour out their hearts. Kind of odd, but I've always felt a little odd inside, so that's okay.

There's a woman who comes in from time to time. I'll call her Gloria. Gloria has always seemed a little batty to me. She's in her mid-fifties, dresses like a teenager, and frequently hums to herself. Sometimes she smells a bit like marijuana. (Don't ask me how I know what that smells like.) One day she came in and mentioned having been in the hospital, and I told her that I knew how expensive that could be, because I had recently had a miscarriage and incurred $3,000 worth of expenses for my 6-hour visit to the hospital. Gloria then proceeded to tell me, in her perpetually-chipper voice, that she had lost three babies of her own and had never been able to bear any live children. "One was in my tube," she said. "And I lost another at eight months. They had to turn the ultrasound screen away from me. I'm gonna be one busy mama in heaven."

I was rendered speechless. This batty woman had gone through so much loss, and I had always dismissed her as something of a nutcase.

Another time a family passing through from Colorado stopped in to use the restroom. There was a husband, a wife, and two daughters who were probably ten or twelve. While the others were using the bathroom, the husband noticed the copies of The Land Beyond the Portal sitting on the counter. (I sell them there.) I told him that I had written it, and that it was a Christian suspense novel. We got to chatting a bit, and he told me that his daughters' biological mother had abandoned them, saying that it was okay because God wouldn't judge her for it, or something along those lines. The husband was a single father for years until he met and married his current wife; the woman in the restroom.

They bought a copy of my novel and I signed it for them. Then they went along on their way. But I was thinking, Wow. How could a woman bear two children and suddenly decide to leave them behind? What is she doing now? What made her choose to leave?

Then, the other day, yet another regular told me her story. She made the comment that the Dollar General shouldn't be called that anymore since the prices are all going up, and I said something about how there couldn't be "Five and Dimes" anymore, either. Then the woman (whose name I've never learned even though I've seen her multiple times a week for six years, so I'll call her Mary) told me how she was the youngest of twelve children. Her family was so poor that she had never even received a birthday present until she was twelve years old, and the only reason she got one then is because she asked her mother to please get her one. Her mother went to the Five and Dime and bought her a bottle of perfume and a necklace, spending maybe twenty-five cents all together. Mary said she has always remembered that.

And it made me think: What did *I* get for my twelfth birthday? I can't tell you without grabbing out my photo album. (Runs to look at album...) Okay. I got a curling iron brush thing, some CDs, and a puzzle box. I never would have remembered if I hadn't written it down in the album. I just take things like birthday presents for granted. But Mary, who had never received a birthday present until that age, cherished her gifts so much that she still remembers what they were more than fifty years later.

I often refer to customers as "characters." It's a small town. We have The Conspiracy Theorist. We have the Drunks. We have the Creeps. We have Farmers and Rich People and Poor People and Pot Heads. It's so easy to stick people into a box based on our immediate perceptions of them. Often they seem like one-dimensional characters whom you might see in the background of a movie or novel. But when they open up and talk, I remember that they're as human as I am and have fascinating stories to tell that give me little glimpses of life that are very different from my own.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lady Gaga

There are two men I know who were both born on Christmas Day a year apart from one another. (I'll call them Bob and Steve.) These men do not know each other. They live in different states. As far as I know, they have never met.

Bob and Steve do not live in the states in which they were born. They both lost their fathers at a young age. Both ended up joining the military (Navy for Bob and Special Forces for Steve) and went to the Middle East. Both men have been married twice. They had no children with their first wives and fathered a son and a daughter with their second wives. Their sons have the same first name.

After leaving the military, they became involved with their respective churches. They both have a penchant for teaching. They even look a little bit alike. It almost makes one wonder if they have some sort of parallel connection by being born on December 25. Could it be true? Who knows?

"What does this have to do with anything?" you're probably asking. "And what's the point?"

The point is, I was born on Lady Gaga's birthday.

When I first found out, I was a little miffed. How could she have stolen my birthday like this? True, she was born three years before me, but it still felt like the sanctity of my birthday had somehow become destroyed in my mind. Lady Gaga is strange. She wore a meat dress. She has political and religious leanings that are very different from my own. She and I couldn't be anything alike, right? The parallel-life birthday theory I had regarding Bob and Steve couldn't possibly hold true for the two of us.

But then I began to dig a little deeper. What I found spooked me.
This was me in 1997. I was wearing hair curlers and decided to stuff fake flowers into them. Because why not?

This was me in 2003 doing an Emperor Palpatine impression.

 This was me in 2004 portraying a denizen of Middle-earth.

This was me goofing around in Drama Club after school in 2005.

This was me and a friend in Drama Club, also in 2005.

This, too, was in 2005. It must have been a good year.

Conclusion: Lady Gaga and I both like to wear funky costumes. BECAUSE IT IS FUN.

The similarities run even deeper. I have always been fond of the arts. I studied piano for ten years and acted for two during high school. And, obviously, I write; and have done so for as long as I can remember.

We both attended Catholic grade schools, where we got picked on for being "different." Our professional names are not the ones our parents gave us at birth. We are both human rights advocates (though our respective causes are very, very different). We both are fond of Freddie Mercury. We like to contribute to charities. I'm sure there's more, but that's all I'll discuss for now.

So DO people who share a birthday share similar traits? Some would say it isn't Christian to think such things, but what if it's just part of God's sense of humor? I don't see what would be wrong with that.

And now readers, I ask you this: Do YOU know of people who fit into the parallel-life birthday theory? Tell us about it in the comments!