It’s Wednesday morning and that means we have a fabulous guest blog for you from the prolific and much loved author Jae. It also means that I (Jove) completely missed my turn to blog yesterday, but I’m hoping you’ll all forgive me since we’re having some seriously stormy weather here and the power has been playing hide and seek all over town.
This is, if I’m not mistaken, Jae’s first time blogging at Women and Words and I’m feeling mighty fancy to have her with us. She has a new novel, Under a Falling Star (check out that sexy cover), and it’s available now from Ylva Publishing.
And, because Jae is especially awesome, she’s also giving away an ebook copy of Under a Falling Star! Yeah, you can totally cheer out loud. The people around you will understand. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below. I’ll draw the winner on Friday, 11/14/12.
Coming Full Circle
By now, I think pretty much everyone and their dog knows that I’m German, but many people seem to assume that I either live in the US or at least spend a lot of time there. It’s a fair assumption, really, since the nine books I have published so far are all set in the US.
I had my characters go on a desperate search that leads them from North Carolina to the streets of New York City in True Nature; pick grapes in Paso Robles, California, in Something in the Wine; travel along the Oregon Trail in 1851 in Backwards to Oregon; experience the highs and lows of Hollywood in Departure from the Script; and run from shape-shifters in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in Second Nature. Yet before this year, I had never set foot in the US.
My former job as a psychologist didn’t allow me to take off more than a week—not enough time to get on a plane and travel the US. But after taking a leap of faith and becoming a full-time writer last December, I decided that it was finally time to visit the country I’d been writing about.
I spent nearly six wonderful weeks on the West Coast, finally meeting my critique partner, RJ Nolan, and her Great Dane in California; conducting thorough research into American ice cream (and gaining five pounds in the process); almost running out of gas in the middle of a desert; attending the Golden Crown Literary Society conference for readers and writers of lesbian fiction; and accepting an award for Beyond the Trail, a collection of short stories that are set in Portland, Oregon.
I found this fitting because the main characters in the first book I published, Backwards to Oregon, ended up in that very city, and Portland was also the city where the GCLS conference took place this year. Somehow, I had come full circle.
My newest novel, Under a Falling Star, is also set in Portland. Here’s a sneak peek:
Austen, the main character, has just started a new job as a secretary in a games company. To prove herself, she volunteers to decorate the Christmas tree in the company’s lobby.
All goes well, until Dee, the company’s workaholic, demanding COO, who is nicknamed “Attila the Hun” by her employees, finds it necessary to reposition the lights on the Christmas tree—and gets hit by the star-shaped tree topper. Nice person that she is, Austen takes her to the ER and then drives her home. Pretty soon, she falls in love with Dee, not knowing that she’s practically her boss.
The novel takes them on a (literal) roller-coaster ride that includes amusement parks in Los Angeles and rose gardens in Portland, so I used my time in the US to do some research (and I’m not talking about my ice cream research). I was able to visit the Peninsula Park rose garden when the roses were in full bloom. In Under a Falling Star, Austen and Dee meet at the fountain in the middle of the rose garden after Dee loses track of time at work and stands Austen up on their first date.
I also had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios in Los Angeles, as Dee and Austen do, and I got just as wet as they did during that last eighty-foot plunge at the end of the Jurassic Park ride. Despite these wonderful experiences, what I will always remember most about my trip along the West Coast is the people I met. Some of them were friends that I’d made online through my writing—readers, beta readers, and fellow writers—and others were complete strangers. I was blown away by how friendly most people were and how easy it was to start conversations.
In Cambria, where I finally got to see Moonstone Beach, which plays an important role in my romance novel Something in the Wine, a 90-year-old woman started a conversation with us at the beach, and she invited us, total strangers, to her home for breakfast the next day. Over breakfast, she asked us what we do for a living.
One of my traveling companions is a writer of erotic romances. She hemmed and hawed for a minute, not wanting to admit to a nice little 90-year-old lady what kind of stories she writes. When she finally told her, the 90-year-old lady clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Oh, I love erotica!”
Well, as we say in German, sometimes life writes the best of stories. If I get to make a wish “under a falling star,” it will be to write many more stories and experience many more adventures in the US.
BIO: Jae grew up amidst the vineyards of southern Germany. She spent her childhood with her nose buried in a book, earning her the nickname “professor.” The writing bug bit her at the age of eleven.
She used to work as a psychologist but gave up her day job in December 2013 to become a full-time writer and a part-time editor. As far as she’s concerned, it’s the best job in the world. When she’s not writing, she likes to spend her time reading, indulging her ice cream and office supply addictions, and watching way too many crime shows