Morning Tribute

My love,

 

Since the day we were introduced,

You’ve never been far.

Through laughter and tears,

The bad and the good,

You were there by my side.

My love,

There hasn’t been a day,

When you weren’t within reach,

Always giving me a boost.

You run in my veins,

Your fragrance on my skin,

Your taste on my tongue.

I can honestly say I need you every morning,

And afternoons and evenings too.

No cream, no sugar,

I like my coffee freshly brewed.

Image source https://mewallpaper.com/1778-coffee-love-coffee-beans-hd-image-free-wallpaper?

Let’s call this a poem

When I was “adjusting” some scenes in the romantic thriller, one of the comments a beta made was for me to add a rekindling scene. While I contemplated what, and how, to add the extra scene, my muse spat this one out. Since I have no room for it in the story, I decided to share it here.

Hope you enjoy!

 

A Poem

This was tagged as “living on the edge” a shack atop a cliff. Not sure if it’s relevant to the post but it sounded nice.

Down on one knee

with nothing to offer

but a beating heart

and a broken soul

and moments in time

with no guarantees

to happiness or sadness.

Those soft hands

that took the tribute

Served as a cage

with cruel spikes

that poked and prodded

the tissues of the heart

because those fingers

found it lacking

and threw the heart away

leaving behind

a pulpy mess

jagged with scars.

And years went by

and a kind face

offered smiles

and moonlight walks

and soothed the hurt

and proffered to make

the two a one

by trying to heel

the pain and the misery

of a broken soul

who preferred this time

to play it safe

and refused to go

across the street

or near the edge

where it had once been

on one knee

with a pulpy heart

and a broken soul

once filled with love

now filled with regret

of an imagined life

that will never be

because that heart

had never been

whole to begin with.

 

It’s mind control, only subtler

 

Have you ever finished a book and said, “That was good,” only to read what others thought , realize the book wasn’t that good, and instead of giving the book a 5 star, you give it a 4, or maybe a 4.5? Or have you ever finished a book, didn’t care much for it, then read some reviews that pointed out great plot points that you hadn’t considered, and instead of the 3, you gave it 4 stars?

Let me confess something: I don’t read reviews of books I intend to read soon (soon, because I have a short memory span), and I don’t read reviews before I write my own, because reviews influence the way I think. For example, if I read the review of a book on my soon tbr and the review says, that character was annoying because she did “this” or “that”, I’ll be on the lookout for “this” and “that”. What I mean is that I’ll be influenced by that review, looking for the points he/she made,, and in many cases, overshadowing the conclusions I may have drawn if I didn’t read that review.

Of course, if people are raving about a book that hadn’t made into my radar, I’m bound to read the reviews. And what happens then? I usually find myself disappointed. One such example was “Crazy Rich Asians”. When I first read a review of the book, the reviewer raved about how funny, hilarious, and how she laughed out loud all throughout the book. And then another blogger mentioned how funny the book was. And then another. So I picked up the book. And, if I were to rate it for how funny the book was, I’d have given it a 2. The book, in my opinion, was not funny. Why? Because mostly it highlighted the way rich people belittled those from other (lower) classes, and their prejudice against them. I found most of the characters shallow. But the book was good, and the author did a good job by keeping the mood light, considering the topics it covered. (If you read that book and found it hilarious, are you wondering if you overlooked all the discrimination? Or, are you feeling guilty that you laughed when there was so much prejudice?)

So now you’re thinking, but you said you didn’t read reviews.

I’d rather not, but to each rule there are exceptions, and the same holds true for me.

Times that I do read book reviews:

1- If I’m on the fence about a book, I might read a review or two to help me decide if I want to read it.

2- If it’s a book I never heard about and it caught my curiosity, I might read a review before I add it to my tbr.

3- If the person who wrote the review is someone whose reading taste I’m familiar with.

4- If it’s a book I’ve dnfed.

5- If it’s a book I don’t plan to read – or can’t afford or find.

6- And, of course, if it’s a book I’ve already read.

Disclaimer: I have no idea what this image is, only that it was tagged as “library” and “mystic”

Before I became an author, reviews held little value to me. If I enjoyed a book, I’d rave it to the people I knew, or discuss it with others who read it. I rarely wrote my opinion down and posted it   somewhere for people to see. But I understand the value of reviews, both for authors and potential readers, and while  I’ll hold to not reading reviews – save for the exceptions above – I do write them upon occasion, and do enjoy engaging in discussions when I see the review of a particular book I enjoyed, or disliked, or dnfed, or plan to read one day.

Have you ever heard the quote: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” By Marcus Cicero?

I’ve discovered that in the publishing world, a book without reviews is a book without much value. And that’s just sad.

What about you? How much value do you put on a book based on the reviews?

I have a question

 

So, I don’t want to make this a long post or drag this out.

The Problem:

A reader told me she’d like to know the reason for a conflict up front while the plot evolves, so I went and added some details, but kept others to prolong the curiosity of the reader. And then the other day, another reader said (after she read the adjusted manuscript) that I should add the reason for the conflict early on, adding that when she finally pieced all the pieces and realized the reason (about a fourth of the way through the book), that she no longer cared or empathized.

My question:

Would you rather have books reveal the reason for a conflict bit by bit as the plot evolves, or would you rather the conflict be explained early on, then see how the plot evolves from there? For example, the protagonist is facing a problem that resulted from such conflict. Would you rather know the reason for that conflict in one scene, or find out in snippets here and there throughout the book? Why is that?

The aftermath

Sometimes, I pause in the middle of the day and check the time, only to feel like time is crawling by slowly. But if in that same day I take a look back at the years, or months, or even weeks, my thoughts  are always on how time flies by on jet wings. Is it my cynic self being contradictory, or is everyone the same? Mostly, however, I think on how the past, the farther you think back, the better life was. It makes one fear what the future hides in store.

Inner philosopher aside, I realized last night that it’s been over a month since my last post. I meant to post something a while back, several somethings actually, but keep getting distracted.

For one, after I finished with the last book in the Roxanne Fosch Files trilogy in January, I began drafting a new book. In may, the manuscript was out with beta readers. The book, titled “Of Fame and Ruin” is a romantic thriller, something new to my writing, though not to my reading. This story has been percolating in my mind for years now, and I’d even gone and drafted some scenes so I wouldn’t forget. And the moment Heir of Fury, the last book in the trilogy was out the door, I began drafting, conferring now and then with that mismatched few scenes.

 

I wasn’t sure which excerpt to use in this post, and finally settled on one, though I’m sure when the post goes live, I’d doubt my choice 😉

 

So, let me paste first the blurb – which is still subject to future change. If any of you have suggestions, good or bad, let me know in the comments below.

 

Blurb:

 

Two opposite halves.

 

He’s a rock star who lives in the limelight.

She’s a multimillion dollar heiress who longs for quiet.

 

They were perfect for each other.

 

When the inevitable happens, their pieces no longer fit.

 

Carol’s first and last impulsive act changed her life. She’d have regretted it, had it not brought her the happiest moments too.

Chad put his singing days in the past, where he wanted them, and a certain woman to stay buried. Unfortunately, his celebrity status didn’t go away, and neither did the memories of a weekend in paradise.

 

Fate had a hand in throwing them together. Their past broke them apart.

When a psychopath decides it’s payback time, Carol had no choice but to turn to the only person who could help, even if doing so revealed her biggest secret. Chad wanted nothing to do with the woman who played him as a fool, but was he strong enough to walk away now that he knew the truth?

 

Excerpt:

Josh walked into his father’s hardware store, his eyes finding Chad at once, behind the cash register–standing for Ralph again. He sighed deeply, no longer surprised. Such a waste of talent, his brother. A bachelor’s degree and a JD, a voice that could win awards, and there he was, putting in regular hours as if he couldn’t find anything better.

He moved around to the employee’s side and came to stand beside him. A gangly teenage boy with wire-rimmed glasses shifted from foot to foot while Chad rang his purchase.

“Thanks, Mr. Parker.”

“Any time, David.”

“Mmm,” the boy fidgeted, “can I have another autograph, Mr. Parker? I forgot the last one in my pocket and my mom washed my pants, and, you know?” He pushed his glasses up with his index, and Josh smirked.

“Sure, it happens all the time,” his brother obliged, pulling out a notepad Josh suspected was there for autographs alone.

The boy took his prize with a broad smile, waved at Chad, and hurried out the door. Both Josh and Chad watched as he showed the piece of paper to a group of boys standing by the sidewalk, high fiving each other before skidding out of sight.

“You know he’s selling that on e-bay, right?”

Chad grinned. “Yeah, made more than a grand by now too.”

Josh studied his brother’s profile. He’d grown to wear some stubble after he broke his engagement with Debbie, taking to shaving only once a week. And though he’d gained some weight, most of it was muscle around his shoulders and torso, the result of the weight lifting he and Neil had started a few months back.

“So this is it? This is how you’re spending your days?” Josh asked in a low tone, aware of customer ears nearby. “Hiding in the store, filling in for lazy employees, giving away autographs for a good cause?”

Chad’s eyes flashed with annoyance. “Haven’t we closed this topic twice already?”

They had, but Josh refused to let his brother waste his life away like that. “We never got to a conclusion.”

They both fell quiet when a woman brought her purchase to be checked.

“Good morning,” she said politely, her English heavy.

“Morning, Elena. How do you do?”

“Fine,” she replied with a nice smile. “My friends and I are going to Coney Island this weekend.”

“That’s great.”

“I’m not sure yet if I should go, you know?” she shrugged, “these days I feel like I’m the extra, what with everyone and their dates and me alone. It’s kind of weird.”

Chad made a sympathetic sound. With pursed lips, Josh observed the exchange.

“Maybe I should find an extra friend to come along, just so I won’t feel left out.” She gave Chad a meaningful look that he ignored.

“Maybe you should,” he agreed.

“Maybe. I might even decide I don’t want to go to Coney Island, and me and my extra friend can stay in my place, order pizza, maybe even watch a movie.”

“That’s nice. Twenty-nine ninety-nine.” Chad gave her a polite smile, and after a second, she reached into her purse and pulled out her card.

Josh watched the woman go, admiring the rearview. She looked nice enough, dressed nice–low, formfitting Capri pants, a red tank top that enhanced the size of her boobs. Nice curves, nice smile, nice hair. Good teeth, smelled of peaches.

“Why you blew her off like that?” he asked, puzzled.

Chad shrugged. “Not interested.”

“I see. How long have you not been interested?”

***

Chad tapped his finger on the countertop, not bothering to hide his irritation. “Let’s see, Elena has been coming here since last winter. A few months, then, I’d say.”

“Is the not interested the reason you broke your engagement with Debbie?”

“No, that was another matter altogether,” Chad said, his brother’s psycho analysis grating.

“What’s the matter with you, women don’t interest you anymore?” Josh asked, his voice rising in pitch. A few feet away, Todd stopped dusting the shelves and glanced back at them.

“What’s next?” his brother went on, unrelenting.

“That’s none of your business,” Chad snapped.

“Why do you insist on throwing your life away? You’re twenty-nine, for fuck’s sake, do something besides hiding yourself in a small office, doing minimal work. When did you last go home for dinner? Talked to Nelson? Because no one’s seen him or talked to him for months. You go to the gym with Neil every day but don’t exchange more than a handful of words. Did you know Monica is expecting their third child? Or that Neil is considering filing a missing person’s report if Nelson doesn’t show up or answer his phone? Did you know Celia has a boyfriend and that they’re looking for an apartment to move in together? Noah is dead, through a fault of his own–”

“That’s enough,” Chad hissed, his brother’s words cutting deep.

Todd moved away, no doubt to give the brothers privacy, and Chad glared at Josh. “I’ll say this for the third time and no more. I don’t want, neither now nor in the future, to record a solo. Do you understand? Whether I choose to rot away in the office above or not, it’s my choice to make, not yours.” He unclenched his fists and turned away. “My singing days are over, buried in a past I don’t want to return to.”

Stiff silence followed, broken only when the front door opened and let in the sound of the outside world.

And there she was, five days, four nights, and she’d changed his life forever.

 

***

So this is it for today. Hopefully I’ll be back next week with a new post. In the meanwhile, I plan to make some rounds and visit the blogs I’ve missed since my absence.

The aftermath

https://www.amazon.com/Heir-Ashes-Roxanne-Fosch-Files-ebook/dp/B07B1JBMCW/

 

Author Interview: Jina S. Bazzar

Peeps, I’m over at Biyai from RovingBookwormNG for an interview. Come and check it out! And readers, poets, travel lovers, take a look around, Biyai has an interesting blog.

***

What one thing will you give up to become a better writer?

Jina: Now that’s a hard question. Let me see – my free time, I suppose, could be a fair exchange.

Come and read all ten questions: https://rovingbookwormng.com/2020/04/30/author-interview-jina-s-bazzar/

Not a bestselling author? You must be a failure

 

Lately I’ve noticed that when I tell someone I’m an author, but that no, my books don’t make enough to support me financially, I’m met with silence. I suppose their looks are pitying too. To them, if I’m an author and I’m not making a lot of money, then I must be a failure.  On top of that, my books aren’t worldwide best sellers, so I must be just an eccentric with a delusional affliction.

To some, I explain that to be a best seller, one need to have the right marketing tools, a lot of money, or, if the author is lucky, get a movie adaptation. In fact, I can testify to a lot of books I read who could easily turn into best sellers if they were only marketed right. The same, sadly, is also true – meaning I’ve read best sellers that are hardly worthy of the title.

For one, a few years ago, there was this bestselling trilogy by Amanda Hocking called The Trylle trilogy. There was so much talk around it, naturally, I couldn’t help but pick up the first book.

My first impression was that my draft – before the editing – sounded much better. Biased that I am, I put my thoughts aside, aware that a lot of books I read had unappealing beginnings. But it wasn’t just that the beginning was dull, but the characters were 2D, the language boring, the dialogue flat, not counting all the blatant typos. I can’t, in good conscience, mention the plot because I never got around to deciphering it, or even if there was one. Her books sold so many copies, She eventually signed a multi-million dollar deal with St. Martin’s Press.

But before I knew that last tidbit, and  after I realized my draft was much better than this already published, bestselling book, I did what any other person in my situation would do: I googled the author’s name with the question why was she a best seller. And surprise, surprise, google provided me with so many links that I realized just by scanning the headlines that I wasn’t the only one confused with the success.

One of the many articles google provided me said “She’s a case of good luck and the right place at the right time” – https://jessicameigs.com/2011/06/07/on-amanda-hocking-and-self-publishing/

The opposite of Amanda Hocking, I dare say, is Deborah Harkness. The first book, a discovery of Witches, was a best seller when it was released in 2011, but when I read it in 2014 after the final book in the trilogy was released, the books had only a few thousand reviews. The rave reviews came around a few years later when the books were turned into a TV series. Now, around nine years after its release, the book has more than 300K reviews

So then I’m asked, why not send your books to Hollywood?

Hmmm. I’d like to point out the ignorance in that question, but then I remember the days when I too, believed all I needed was to type my thoughts on a page and send a copy off directly to the publisher, and another to Hollywood. Of course, I knew not every book was picked up by a publisher, I was aware there were rejections, but then again, I was also of the mind that I had created a masterpiece and no one would turn it down.

Again, to some, I explain  it isn’t as simple as it sounds, and again, I’m met with pity, because, if I’m not making a lot of money, I’m just deluding myself. That could be true to a degree, but the simple task of creating characters and building a world around them makes me happy, not to count the huge sense of accomplishment that follows when the book is released. Maybe it’s a feeling only other authors and artists can relate to, and maybe only a few outside my virtual life will ever understand the feeling, but I don’t plan to give up my writing, even if I never become a bestselling author.

 

The Baking Soda Incident

So here it goes, peeps, the third Bartholomew incident. Hope you enjoy it!

***

I leaned a casual hip on the table edge and watched cousin Laura open and close cabinet doors, muttering to herself. “What are you looking for?” I asked when it was obvious she hadn’t noticed me.

My cousin stiffened, turned her head slowly and smiled at me, the kind of smile that made me straighten and check my back for a sticky note, begging for a kick to the butt.

Dropping a wooden spatula on the counter, she turned and faced me. “You’re my savior!” There was a maniacal gleam in her eyes I wasn’t sure could be blamed on her upcoming nuptials.

“Yeah?” I took a cautious step back, calculating how fast I could run and trying to remember if there was a key for the guest bedroom door.

She came closer, hands outstretched, a patch of white powder on her cheek. “You still like cookie dough, don’t you?”

I scanned the kitchen counter, found  no bowl filled with the sticky dough. “Sure. Want me to taste it?”

cookie dough

“No, no,” she cackled, lowered her voice. “I need you to go pick me some baking soda. I sent Barth earlier and he brought me some white powder I suspect he picked from the meth lab fronting as the grocery store on the corner road.” She showed me a small plastic bag with the label ‘sodium bicarb’ written in black marker. “I think it’s a code for meth.”

“You know, I think baking soda and sodium bicarb is the same thing,” I mused.

“Maybe,” Laura said, raising the bag to my nose. The powder looked suspiciously like sugar, and it smelled like bathroom cleaner and paint thinner.

lab

My eyebrows shot up. I had no idea how meth looked or how it was cooked, but paint thinner definitely didn’t go with cookies.

“You have to help me. I need to get rid of this and I need real baking soda before everyone comes back.”

“So what, you want me to go to the grocery where meth is being cooked and – what?”

“No,” Laura scoffed, “to the Walmart.”

“But that’s seven blocks away.”

“Eight, actually, and Barth can drive you.”

“Absolutely not.”

Before Laura could say anything more, Barth strolled into the kitchen.

“I heard my name,” he said, smiling at me.

I suddenly needed to get out of there fast. “You know what,” I said, snatching the bag from her hand, “I’ll go get you what you need. Anything else?”

“A bag of chocolate chips, I think I’ll make another batch.”

“You’re goin’ out?” Barth asked, taking out keys from his pocket, “I’ll drive you.”

“Thanks, but no, Barf.”

“It’s Barth.”

“That’s what I said.”

“I’ll drive you,” he insisted.

“No,” I enunciated slowly, “I’d like to walk and exercise my legs.”

“Your legs look fine to me.” He gave said legs an appraising look that caused Laura to burst out laughing. Her guffaw turned to sniffs when she caught the death glare I aimed her way. I turned to Barth and gave him a practiced smile people claimed made me look deranged.

Deranged

Barth, of course, smiled right back.

“I’m going to walk, Barf, and that’s that.” I turned and left through the back door, hurrying to cover more ground faster.

I was congratulating myself for a day gone without a Barth incident when there, right in front of me was the LaCross captain I’d crushed on my entire high school year.

“Tom?”

Tom turned around, our eyes met, and everything happened in slow motion. He smiled with recognition. I squealed, covered my mouth. Tom took a step toward me. That’s when Barth came in, charging Tom like an enraged bull. Shouts and punches and grunts rang out and because I was a total fool, I threw myself on Barth, meaning to drag him off, but I ended up pinning Tom under our combined weight.

prison cell

I’ll skip the embarrassing part where people dragged us off, the ride in the back of a police car and the bag of sodium bicarb that may or may not have been meth still in my pocket.

“You were screamin’,” Barth said from the cell next to mine.

“It’s called a squeal, it’s a scream of happiness.”

“You raised your arms to surrender.”

“I was going to hug him.”

“You helped me subdue him.”

“Barf,”

“It’s Barth.”

“Barf,” I said through gritted teeth, “If you don’t stop arguing, I’m going to walk out of this cell only to be put in another for murder.”

“What? Nonsense, we didn’t even give him a scratch.”

“Guard!” I shouted. “Please!”

***

To read the previous Bartholomew incidents, check it out here:

The Panty liner incident: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/pun-fun-and-carefree/

The Recliner Incident: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2019/08/26/the-recliner-incident/

Hope you had fun – and yes, it’s fiction!

Two months with cave monsters, beta readers and free stuff

Peeps,

I’m back after a very long hiatus – apologies, apologies. But, like I mentioned on my last post, sometimes life brings out fangs and claws and you have to dodge. Well, dodge didn’t work, but you get used and you go with the flow.

So, what I’ve been up to:

I’m going to keep the bad and the hairy parts out– did you know if you stare at the elephant too long, it grows in size?

Anyway, I was going to post the third episode of Barth and his mishaps, but decided to leave it for next week and keep this one short, and re-introduce myself around WP, see what I missed.

As for the good:

I finished Heir of Fury, the third book in the Roxanne Fosch Files trilogy, FINALLY!!!

I’m looking for beta readers and early readers. Anyone interested please let me know either on the comments below or by email jina.salameh1@gmail.com

Another good news is that my books are being made into audio. So, naturally, I went back to earlier books and did another proofread to make sure they’re good to be narrated.

And I’ve discovered I have a few more illnesses – aside from RISD (Revisionitis Intolerance Syndrome Disorder), I have two more conditions:

Andophobia – Every time I come upon the “and” in the middle of a sentence, I break out into a cold sweat, and I have to either delete it or take a break.

Butophilia – I have this tendency to add buts everywhere!

*Credits for Butophilia go to Heather tasker – she was the one who diagnosed this new illness.

So, and this is hard to admit… but both my books are now lighter a few thousand words, wince…. but narration has begun!

 

Writing wise, this is all, I think, unless I’m forgetting something.

Reading wise – I haven’t read one single book in the past 2 months, but I still have a few reviews from before then that I mean to post in the coming days.

That’s it, I guess. I’m eager to do a round and see how everyone is doing!

And oh yes, I remember now – I have a book out for free!

Download your free copy here from anywhere in the world:

http://mybook.to/thecursejb

The recliner incident

The past two weeks past in a blur of back to school and edits and random need-to-dos, and honestly, I have no idea where the time went.

But I’m back and today I’m posting the follow up to Barth the Moo and his panty-liners, and how “I” almost became a murderer.

***.

Once settled in one of the guest’s suite, I headed to join the family and friends gathered in the patio, passing by aunt Crozella’s relaxation room. I ducked my head inside, found it empty.

Five minutes, I told myself.

I’d been sitting in the comfortable recliner for almost half an hour, watching some classic show I didn’t know the name of when I picked the wrong remote and clicked. Instead of the channels switching, the chair behind me began to vibrate and undulate. Delighted, I forgot about the bad show, leaned my head back so my neck could benefit from the massage and moaned with pleasure. After my long flight and sweaty, horrifying drive with Barth the Moo and his scented panty liners, I really needed this.

As if my thoughts had conjured the guy, I heard him call my name, his voice so close. Alarmed, I closed my eyes just as his steps stopped at the door.

“Hey,” he said, but I didn’t reply.

In hindsight, I should’ve paused the massage, maybe even turned off the TV. Still, , nothing would’ve prepared me for what Barth did next.

Moving closer, he tried again, “you asleep?”

I swallowed my “duh” and suppressed the need to roll my eyes, as well as prevent a groan of gratitude from escaping when the back of the recliner changed into a rhythmic percussion.

“It’s a seizure!” he shouted, and startled, my reactions were two seconds too slow. I suddenly found myself dragged to the floor with Barth over me, one hand – thankfully without any panty liner – holding my head sideways.

Before I could say anything, Barth had the audacity of shoving two meaty fingers into my mouth and pinning my tongue.

“Uhmmmmmmmmm” I tried buckling, but all I accomplished was getting Barth to pin my legs down with his knee. In the back of my mind, I was pretty sure he was doing it all wrong.

“Call for an ambulance!” Barth shouted, and soon a stampede of running feet approached.

“Uhmmmmm!”

“It’s a seizure!” Barth shouted to whoever reached the relaxation room first.

I tried moving my head to see who had come and plead for mercy with my eyes. Barth shouted, “see how her eyes are pin wheeling! Call the ambulance!”

And Victor, the good Samaritan he was, dialed 911 while everyone piled around me. I let myself go limp, hoping someone would have the good sense to pull Barth off of me – and keep him far, far away until my murderous urges have passed. I’d never live this one down, I was sure of it.

**Did you miss the previous piece and the panty liner incident? Check it out here: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/pun-fun-and-carefree/

Hope you had fun!