I have a confession to make. I know I promised I'd have Finding My Way Home finished in 2014. It didn't happen. In fact, I haven't done a lot since then but breath. You see, I was in the middle of writing the story when my mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer.
Some of my fans know I wrote the first novel in the series, Finding My Escape, the month after my father passed away in 2010. When my mother got sick - well - it just knocked the wind out of my sails. My mother was the first person to read Finding My Escape. She did the first edits on books one and two. When I gave her what I'd written on Finding My Way Home, she tried to read a few pages, then handed it back to me saying it was just to hard to see the words on the page.
I was crushed. I set the book aside, for the most part, to take care of her. We lost her this February. I have picked up the book and started writing again, but it hasn't been easy. I know my mother will never read it.
But I wanted to let you know, I'm ready to get back to it, and hopefully, I'll have the book out by the beginning of 2017. I owe it to my fans. In the mean time, I'd love to know your thoughts. What do you think should happen to the characters of Hannah and Matt? What about Jonathan Larson? Does he deserve to live?
Please leave a comment and let me know.
By the way, I want to thank reader Rachel Amov. She left a comment on an earlier blog which my web service seems to have lost. Rachel, if you see this, the book is on its way.
Find out with the Dream Series by J.J. DiBenedetto! Book #9, FEVER DREAM, is out today!
What's the story?
Dr. Sara Alderson isn’t used to her patients dying for no reason. When a young boy succumbs to a mysterious illness that defies all her efforts to treat it, she refuses to accept defeat.
After two months of questions, Sara has attracted the attention of powerful people who don’t want their secrets uncovered, and will go to any lengths to make sure they stay hidden.
Now, time is running out for Sara to unravel the mystery before anyone else falls victim to the illness. And before her career, her family and her freedom are taken from her by enemies she doesn’t even know she has.
Where can you buy it?
Amazon (Kindle or Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook or Paperback)
Want to know more? Here's an excerpt!
It’s one in the morning, and the last guests have gone. Other than the cleaning crew, Brian and I are the only ones left in the ballroom. I know we need to leave, but I can’t bear the thought of standing up and trying to walk out of the room, down to the garage and then to the car. I think my feet might literally fall off.
“You’re going to have to carry me out of here,” I tell Brian, and he gives me a wicked grin in return.
“I was planning on it,” he says, and he stands, takes a deep breath, and lifts me right out of my seat. I yelp and throw my arms around his neck as he carries me out of the room and over to the elevator, barely showing any strain at all. He has to put me down once we get to the elevator, though. “I need a free hand,” he says, hitting the “up” button. But the garage is – oh. I should have known.
“You booked a room.” He nods. “And you told my parents we wouldn’t be home tonight.” Another nod. It’s all part of the fantasy, I guess. He’s been imagining that he’s James Bond all night, and after a glitzy evening at the casino, James Bond doesn’t hop into the minivan so he can get home, walk the dog and collapse into bed. No way. He takes his conquest for the evening up to the five-star hotel room, where the champagne is already waiting. On ice, no doubt.
The bell dings, he ushers me into the empty elevator, and as the door closes, I feel my fatigue suddenly, instantly, drain away, and I’m all over him. I may not be a fan of those movies, but I know how they go, and it’s not as though I need much of an excuse to throw myself at my husband. By the time the door opens onto the third floor, I’m panting and extricating my hands from his tuxedo jacket. “You woke up in a hurry,” he says, panting himself, pulling his hand off the zipper of my dress, which is already halfway down my back.
“Well, I know what you were thinking, and I also know that no girl can resist James Bond, right?” By way of an answer, he leads me down the hall, opens the door to our room, picks me up again and deposits me on the bed. In seconds, he’s finished the job of zipping me right out of my dress, and his tuxedo is in an undignified mess somewhere on the floor. After that – there’s no more thought, just feeling, just his hands and his lips and his – his everything.
Interested in the books that lead up to this one?
The first five books in the series are collected in one Kindle Box Set, and it's on sale this weekend for just $0.99!
What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?
Sara Barnes has just discovered that she can. And this gift – or curse – will lead her on an extraordinary journey.
Follow Sara as her newfound ability leads her into adventures she never imagined. She will hunt down a serial killer, investigate a plot to murder one of her teachers, unravel a conspiracy between a mobster and a corrupt politician and face off against her nemesis: a woman who shares her talent, but uses it to destroy lives rather than save them. And Sara will have to manage all that while finishing college, becoming a doctor and falling in love, too.
Here are the first five books of the Dream Series, along with bonus material created especially for this collection. Included in this set are DREAM STUDENT, DREAM DOCTOR, DREAM CHILD, DREAM FAMILY and WAKING DREAM. In addition, you’ll find the short story BETTY & HOWARD’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE starring Sara’s parents. But most of all, when you open this box of dreams, you’ll find romance, suspense, humor and plenty of heart…
Where do you buy it?
Barnes & Noble
What about books #6, 7 and 8?
They're all on sale at Amazon!
The first five novels and a short story are all available on Audible! And you can hear samples from all of them right here!
So who's the author?
Well, technically, that's a picture of his cat, Danny. Danny is much more phorogenic than J.J. is. But J.J. (James, really) is a pretty nice guy. He's a native New Yorker, althoguh he's lived in the Washington, DC area for the last 20 years. He loves the opera, reading, photography, science fiction, fondue, travel and the New York Giants. Oh, and of course Danny, and also of course his lovely and talented wife.
Where can I learn more about him?
At his website, on Facebook, on Twitter and at his Amazon Author Page.
So on any given day, I have about a million-and-one things I want to do! I want to write, and read what other people have written. I want to spend time with my daughter (who's graduating next year), visit my mom (who is struggling with cancer) and have that all-so-illusive quality time with my husband. Add that to the "have-to's" of running a business, taking my mom to her cancer treatments, and (ugh) doing the laundry.
It's easy to get overwhelmed.
When I have weeks like this (and I can't remember the last time I didn't have a week like this), scheduling becomes oh-so-important. And by scheduling, I mean everything - from the simplest tasks of paying the bills (no more late fees!) to writing. But there's one more thing I schedule - down time, and I don't let anything come in and crowd that out.
You may wonder why I do that. Doesn't it make sense to squeeze out every ounce of productivity you can in a day? Actually no. Creating space in your life where you don't have to be doing something reduces stress and all the pitfalls that go with it (not sleeping, overeating, biting the head of your kids).
So take a deep breath, take out a piece of paper and write down all of your to-do's - both the want-to's and have-to's. Take out your calendar or use an online calendar or scheduler (I use my Goggle calendar in conjunction with Nozbe) then start planning your week. Schedule your margin time (the space where you don't have to do something) first.
And when you get to that point in your schedule, kick of your shoes, close your eyes, and relax.
For more about scheduling, check out Help! I Can't Finish My To-Do List on my other site, franyoakumveal.com. To get the Nozbe app (my OH-MY-GOSH-HOW-DID-I-GET-ANYTHING-DONE-WITHOUT-IT app), click here
This is so cool! I had this crazy idea the other day. You see, when I first discovered Amanda Hocking, I downloaded a rather large sample of her book from some site (can't remember where), and I loved it. I loved being able to read a good portion of the book instead of just the little short sample offered by most eBook
So I got the idea, what if I gave a large sample of my book for free? Gave people a chance to really see if they were going to like the book or not before they invested their hard-earned money in it.
If you haven't read Finding My Escape, yet, here's your chance to get the first 18 chapter - absolutely free. Just click here.
I hope you'll enjoy it!
I want to take the time to thank all of my readers for your support this year. Thanks to you, Finding My Escape and Finding My Way Back hit Number 2 and Number 1 status under Kindle's Coming of Age bestseller list earlier this year.
I also want to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Presents are wonderful, but for me, the best gift of all was the one God gave when He sent his son to die for us so many years ago.
Have a blessed and wonderful New Year! I'll be back on in a couple of weeks.
Since my mother got sick, there have been days where I've felt like I'm literally walking "through the valley of the shadow of death", but even in that, God is drawing me closer, encouraging me to live in the moment. You see, ultimately, my hope is in Him, and without Him I have no hope.
On my walk today, I plugged in some Christmas hymns and really looked around. I saw a pile of leaves on the side of the road and jumped in it. I watched four squirrels as the scurried to pick up the last of the nuts for winter. I saw a yard full of robins and one beautiful cardinal trying to hide behind a bush.
I know I'll face loss in the future. We all do. We all face loss and hurt. We have days where we'd give our right arm to change every aspect of them, but we can't live in those days. We have to choose to live in the moment - right now, where we are.
Tomorrow, I'll be at Vanderbilt Hospital, sitting with my mother as she goes through yet another day of chemo, but for today, I'm going to play in the leaves, and watch the squirrels.
This season is about God's gift. I hope you all will open it up and enjoy it.
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 NASB
I wish I could tell you that every time I sat down to write the words just flow out, every phrase perfectly turned, to form the perfect story, chapter or book. Unfortunately, that isn't the case - at least not for me. Sometimes I really struggle with it.
When I wrote Finding My Way Back, I got about 30,000 words into it before I realized it just wasn't working and what I was basically doing was regurgitating the story from Finding My Escape, and while it was a pretty dang good book, no one who was eagerly awaiting the sequel wanted to read the same thing again - so I took a step back, rolled up my sleeves, and started over.
I started to have a similar experience with Finding My Way Home, the final book in the Finding My Escape series. The story wasn't flowing, and my characters were getting bored with themselves.I took a good look and realized that once again, the story was starting to resemble the previous one. Fortunately, this time, most of the story was salvageable, and I'm now well on my way to finishing.
Writing should be fun, and if you find yourself staring at a blank page day after day - chances are there's something wrong. So start with the basics. Take a good look at your story and ask yourself these three things:
What about you? Have you ever started a project -not necessarily writing - and midway through found yourself unhappy with where it was going? What did you do to fix it?
My friend, J.J. DiBenedetto has just released the 8th book in his dream series. I've read it, and it's just as wonderful as the first seven.
Here's the blurb:
Thanks to her unique ability to step into other people's dreams, Dr. Sara Alderson has solved murders, unraveled conspiracies and saved lives. But when a crisis hits close to home, even her supernatural gift might not be enough to avert disaster.
On a family vacation to Paris, Sara's fifteen-year-old daughter Grace disappears without a trace. The only way to find her is through Sara's dreams. But her gift has taken an unwanted vacation, and without it, Sara has no idea how to rescue Grace. In a foreign city, with no clues, and her dreaming talent failing her for the first time, Sara must figure out another way to find Grace before it's too late.
Dream Vacation is the eighth book of the Dream Series and you can get it here.
Sara is somewhere high up, looking down over Paris. The Eiffel Tower – there’s nowhere else this could be. She wonders whose dream it is, and then she sees the girl.
Blonde, young – a high schooler. Hair down to her – Sara has to blink, look away, look again. Hair in a ponytail all the way down her back, and then curled up around her until Sara can’t see where it ends. It’s a dream, she reminds herself, not questioning what she’s seeing. It doesn’t have to make sense.
She’s seen this girl before, but where? The memory comes back almost immediately – last night, in another dream. She was on the plane. And here she is, and the boy, too. Definitely her brother.
Sara watches as the siblings peer far below to the ground, looking for something – or someone. After a while, the girl lets out a little shout. “There! In the blue! Do you see?” The boy follows her finger, pointing hundreds of feet down. “I knew we’d find him again. We’ve got the money, we just need to get down to him now.”
And then the girl burrows into the endless tangle of her hair, pulls up what looks like it actually is the end, and Sara has to laugh; now she understands the hair. She remembers this fairy tale from her childhood. The girl begins to tie her hair to one of the girders. She ties a double-knot, then pulls on it, hard. The knot doesn’t slip.
“Ready, Jamie?” The boy nods, and throws his arms around her neck. She takes hold of her hair about halfway down her back, and, in one fluid motion, leaps off the Tower.
Sara knows what to expect now; she isn’t even surprised when she looks over the edge to find the girl rappelling down the tower a few bouncy steps at a time…
AND A BIT ABOUT MY FRIEND, J. J.:
J.J. (James) Dibenedetto's fans would swear he's got a sixth sense when it comes to seeing into the minds of others and often wonder if his stories could possibly be fiction. He enjoys suspending disbelief with suspenseful paranormal tales that are a perfect blend of reality meets fantasy.
His popular Dream Series continues to delight readers with each and every exciting installment.
Born in Yonkers, New York, he currently resides in Arlington Virginia with his beautiful wife and a cat he is sure has taken full advantage of its nine lives. When it comes to the cat, he often wonders, but then again it might just be his imagination.
CONNECT WITH J.J.
My first experience with the Twilight series wasn't from reading the book (which I'd sworn to myself I'd never do - I mean vampires and werewolves - just not my thing), but there was a moment in the movie that caught my attention and forever etched the characters of Bella and Edward in my mind. I wasn't even watching the movie - my daughter was - and I was working on Finding My Escape.
The music caught my attention, and I looked up to see Bella leaning up against her truck, reading a book. Another vehicle begins to careen out of control. Bella barely has time to comprehend what the oncoming van means to her when Edward steps in and pushes the oncoming vehicle out of the way. A look passed between them, and I was hooked. I read all four books that week.
The story wasn't the best I've read, and Bella got on my nerves (she was way more immature in the book than she was in the movies), but the characters resonated with me. Stephenie Meyers made me feel the emotions of the characters. My favorite character was Charlie. As a mother of a teenage daughter, I could relate to the over-protectiveness as his daughter began dating. I could also relate with Bella, sneaking around with Edward - after all - I was a teen girl, myself, once. I felt for Jacob for giving his heart to a girl who was really just using him to pass time.
So I guess that brings me to what makes a character memorable. Good characters need to resonate some emotion in the reader. Love, hate, anger, pity - it doesn't matter - if a character brings it out in you, you'll remember them. Sometimes they'll trigger a memory, make you cry, or make you laugh.
That's what I tried to do with the characters of Finding My Escape. I wanted the reader to feel what Hannah was feeling when she saw her parents murdered. I wanted them to relate to Aunt Laura's quirkiness, and to hate the killer. I wanted to stir up the emotions of first innocent love with the scenes between Hannah and Josh. When I write, I see my characters as if they're on a movie screen, and I'm just taking dictation, and I know if they don't move me, they won't move anyone else, either.
So what about you? What makes the characters you love memorable.
A few of my recent blog posts have been about finding your WOW. Now I have a question for you:
Have you given up on your dreams? Do you walk through each day, marking time, "working for the weekend"? Is your life full of "thank God it's Friday" and "oh hell it's Monday"?
It doesn't have to be that way. You can rediscover your dreams and find the strength within you to go after them again. If this sounds at all interesting to you, then head over to my new site http://www.franyoakumveal.com/. I'm super excited about it because I believe I've discovered the answer to you overcome whatever it is that's holding you back.
As a bonus, if you'll go over there and leave a comment letting me know you found the site from this one, I'll give you one of my fiction books in ebook format - free. But act FAST, this offer is only good through November 30, 2014.
So let me ask you a question - what's holding you back?
That's me. Wife, mom, former teen, and writer.
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