Exciting news! A handful readers will have the opportunity to read, Let the Dead Rest, before it's release date on 8/17/18.
Want to enter to win a spot on the Early Review Team? Just click the link and enter your email address. We'll let you know soon if you were selected or not. Thanks for your interest in J.P. Choquette's newest novel.
If you aren't a newsletter subscriber, you may have missed today's big announcement: the winners of the (2) Amazon gift cards. Angela L., and Melissa B., were chosen at random from everyone who entered the "Sharing the LOVE" contest. Congrats, ladies! I'll get your gift cards out to you soon.
My Dream of Being an Author
"Did you always want to be an author?" People have asked me that question in recent years. The honest answer? No. But maybe not for the reasons you'd expect.
I dug out my "School Years" book today to see what I had aspired to be as an elementary student. You know, those funny little spiral-bound books where you glue a picture of yourself, along with the most important facts about yourself. Like, "best friends," and "hobbies," and of course the section for "what I want to be when I grow up."
While my book is somewhat ruined due to water damage, I could see a trend in my goals: a mother and a teacher (like my own mother). By about the sixth grade, I'd apparently lost interest in being a mother, and just wanted be a teacher. By high school I'd sworn off both. I was going to be a photojournalist for National Geographic who never married or had children...or a veterinarian.
As a kid though, no one ever suggested to me that I could be an author. In fact, the little boxes in the School Years book don't list that as a potential career. But I could have aspired to be a model, I guess, or an airline hostess (except I've never been thin or tall enough for either of those careers). Those options do have little boxes beside them.
Even though I've adored writing my whole life--starting with the stories I wrote in childhood, the "magazine" my friend and I created monthly, the embarrassing poetry I wrote in middle and high school and the constant, incessant journaling I've done since I can remember--no one ever said, "Hmm. Do you think you might like to write as your career?"
In fact, I never thought of writing as a way to make a living until 2007, when my oldest sister (who obviously knew something that the editors at "School Years" didn't), asked me why I didn't try freelance writing. Not as a hobby, but a job.
So, I did.
I had a writing business for nearly eight years and wrote hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, blog posts, website content for businesses and nonprofits, newsletters, four novels, and one non-fiction guide for writers.
I fell in love with writing novels
I'd love to tell you that once I wrote that first novel my path was set, the floodgates opened and the money and fame poured in. But that would be as fictionalized as my books.
In reality, it's been a long, slow, uphill climb. I nearly gave up completely due to a new, full-time job and the criticism of my books.
Thin skin + author = unhappy person.
Still, I've never given up on my dream. Someday, maybe five years from now or 10 or maybe 20, I want to make a living from my books. I can't imagine a better job than creating stories that transport readers. To bring readers to different times and places, and offer an adventure that they can take with them wherever they go? That's the best job in the world in my book.
You might notice that it looks a little different around here. The website is being reconfigured to streamline and make things easier to navigate. Would love your thoughts on whether or not we’re accomplishing what we’re trying to do.
If you’re new to the site and a writer, be sure to check out the new Author Apprenticeship Program. There are several offerings there now (like the e-Guide, information on an upcoming retreat for writers and ways to work with me in a 1:1 setting) and there will be lots more in the near future. Really excited about this new direction and about learning more about each of you!
Several new people have signed up for the Newsletter for Writers and I’ve been chatting with them via email about certain writing-related struggles that they face. I’d love to hear from you. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do. This newsletter comes out monthly on the 1st and 15th.
I’m also excited about the emails that have come in for the past several days from group members at the Careful Cents Club. Offering a free one-hour consultation/coaching session to one lucky winner. Looking forward to the drawing for that on Thursday, 3/5.
As always, thanks for your interest in my work. I’d love to get your feedback on the site and what you might like to see more of in the blog or via the newsletter.
Remember serial stories in the newspaper? Below is the second installment of "Family Heirloom," a personalized short story that I created for Lisa Ackel Judge, winner of the personalized story contest held earlier this summer.
(If you missed Part I, click here to get caught up.)
Family Heirloom: Part II
A loud pop emanated from the beauty salon followed by a chorus of screams. Most were from inside, but a few came from people standing near the makeshift barricade. The police woman looked away for an instant, distracted by the noise. Lisa made her move, sliding under the plastic tape and launching herself through the door of the salon before the officer even blinked.
“Hey!” Lisa heard behind her and she yanked the door closed. One gunman turned, mouth gaping open through the nylons he’d pulled over his face. The other one, smaller and female, held a larger gun. She was faced away from Lisa and did not have nylons or any other type of mask over her head. The sound of the jingling bells slapping against the glass door drew her attention, though. The figure whirled around and Lisa nearly screamed in disbelief.
“Samantha, what are you doing? I can’t believe this!”
“Not now, Auntie, I’m a little busy.
Lisa stood staring at the desk near the front door, unsure whether to laugh or cry. Drawers were pulled out and items hung from them like innards. Plastic capes, latex gloves, cords for curling irons and hair dryers. Curlers in pink, purple and blue were scattered all over the floor. Three women huddled near an overturned display of hairspray and gel while two others cowered beneath dryers on the floor. One of the dryers had fallen over, it’s plastic dome cracked.
“Um, why is your aunt here?” The guy with the pantyhose on his head asked. “Is this part of the plan?”
“No, you idiot!” Samantha yelled in response. Anger management had never been one of her strong suits. “I didn’t expect this. Just go back to looking.” She waved the gun toward the back of the room and several of the women gasped in response. Samantha sighed wearily, looking at Lisa in disappointment.
“I can’t find it. I know it’s here but I just can’t find it. And that stupid,” she drew the word out as through it was made of seven syllables, “woman isn’t telling me anything. I don’t want to hurt anyone,” she said, teeth gritted. “But I will if I have to.” She waved the gun menacingly at the clustered women and one began to sob.
“I don’t know anything,” yelled the woman closest to Lisa’s niece. Lisa recognized Cyndi, the shop’s owner.
“I would tell you if I did, but I don’t! Do you really think I’d risk losing my life, all these peoples’ lives over this?” Cyndi’s tone was getting hysterical. “You really are crazy.”
“Shut up,” Samantha snarled and smashed the butt end of the gun into one of the large mirrors. The glass fractured and popped, splintering into a thousand pieces.
“Look, Sweetie,” Lisa said, moving closer to Samantha. “I’m sure if it were here then you’d have found it by now. When you talked about this, I thought you were just joking, you know, having a laugh. I didn’t think for a moment that you were serious.” Lisa paused to moisten dry lips. “This is bad, Samantha, really bad. It’s just a ring . . .”
“Just a ring?” Samantha whirled toward her aunt, the gun trembled in her palm.
Lisa swallowed hard. “There are a whole bunch of police officers outside. Why don’t you just give me the gun and we’ll go out together and talk to them.”
Samantha snorted, shook her head.
“Are you serious? They sent you in here, didn’t they? Wise aunt comes to rescue niece from tragic mistake.” Again, she shook her head. “I’m not leaving. Not until I’ve found it. And if that stupid witch isn’t going to hand it over than I’m going to tear every bit of this place apart until I . . .”
There was a sudden explosion near the back door. For an instant Lisa thought that the young man has accidently shot himself, or maybe a propane tank. Smoke poured out of the door and settled in the room like an uninvited guest.
The women began coughing, the smoke blinding. Samantha made a gagging sound and dropped to her knees, trying to see through the smoke, gun raised in her straight arms.
“Put down the gun! Put down the gun!” A loud male voice yelled. Samantha looked over her shoulder toward the front door, then to Lisa, and then to the rear of the salon. More officers cascaded into the room through the front door, smashing through the plate glass windows. Yells, more screams from the women, a moan from the first gunman who was trying to belly crawl to a nearby closet and was instead flattened like a bug by three cops. Eerie silence filled the beauty parlor. Samantha’s gun clattered to the floor as two officers pinned her to the linoleum. Lisa screamed, protective instincts clawed out of her throat.
“Please, don’t hurt her. Please!” Lisa yelled. Then an officer pushed Lisa to the wall face first, ordering her to keep her hands above her head.
The last she saw of Samantha was her niece struggling against the three cops holding her, screaming about the ring.
To be continued . . .
Back in June, I had an idea to run a special contest to newsletter subscribers only--an original short story written by moi in which he/she would be the central character. Well, many brave souls entered and the winner was announced.
I'm finally getting around to publishing Part I of the short story, Family Heirloom, featuring reader, Lisa Ackel Judge.
Here it is:
It was a dark and stormy night . . . nah, scratch that. It was actually a beautiful summer evening. You know the kind: mid-August and the heat of the sun has finally abated, a cool breeze showing up in its place. Lisa Ackel Judge sat on her porch, listening to the birds squabble over who got to the tree first while her bunny, Charlie, hopped around her ankles. She scooped him into her lap.
“Hard day, Charlie? It feels good to relax now though, doesn’t it?” she scratched between his ears. “Not that you need much relaxing. Don’t think I don’t notice you spend most of your day lounging in my bed.” Charlie wiggled his pink nose in response, giving his right ear a good scratch with his fluffy foot.
Lisa rested back in her chair, a tall glass of green iced tea with honey in hand. The tea was sweet and delicious and after swallowing a sip, Lisa leaned her head back in her chair. Work was crazy busy as always, her boss piling more and more work onto her plate until it threatened to snap neatly in half. Lisa sighed, and opened the magazine. She’d been wanting to read it the past four nights but had been too tired.
The first article was a quick read and Lisa was moving on to the second when she heard it. A siren splitting the quiet air with its screech, startling Charlie who bolted for the front door. Lisa stood slowly, holding both magazine and drink while letting the rabbit into the house. A police car zoomed past, followed by two state troopers.
Damn. That didn’t look good.
Lisa walked inside, wishing she had a police scanner but settling instead for a quick browse on Facebook. If there’s something going on, some news in the community, she’d be sure to find it here first. Maybe not completely accurate, but information none the less. She woke the computer and logged in, browsed the feed of her friends’ vacation photos and posing kids smeared with birthday frosting.
“Trouble at The Salon,” said a post by an acquaintance in city government. Credible source. Lisa read on. “Heard there’s a break in. Anyone know what’s happening?”
Lisa’s stomach lurched and she flew to the door, one hand grabbed for keys, the other her purse. Charlie narrowly missed being plowed over by flying feet as she ran to the car. Keys in ignition, hands trembled. Cranked but got no response. Lisa took one deep, steadying breath and tried again. This time it caught.
Come on. Come on!
Yellow lines marking safe passing zones blurred into one long string. Her foot pressed to the floor, heartbeat threatening to shatter her ribcage.
Please, please, please.
The Salon was located on Main Street in St. Albans. Police cars surrounded the area, yellow plastic tape stretched haphazardly around the premises. Lisa had left the car running, barely jamming the shift into park before she’d run toward the building. An officer stopped her near the yellow tape, arm across her chest. Lisa glanced over and saw the eyes of a pretty, young police woman boring into her own.
“No one is allowed in there, Ma’am. You’ll need to wait behind the line, please.”
“Officer, you don’t understand, my. . .”
A loud pop emanated from the beauty salon followed by a chorus of screams.
To be continued . . .
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