Monday, April 28, 2014

The Author-Mom Chronicles #4 - The New Adult Genre

THE FOLLOWING IS NOT A RANT! LOL! I am merely bringing up a topic and sharing my thoughts. Please don't read a condescending tone into this post - it is positively NOT intended that way.

My debut novel, IN TOO DEEP, takes place on the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus. My characters are 21 and 22 and were dealing with the subject of dating abuse. Gracie, my main character, was tested in many ways throughout the novel. Her resolve, self-esteem, convictions, self-worth were all part of the theme which is typical of an early twenties co-ed.

After my first round of edits, my publisher said, "We need the sex to be a little grittier. Leave less to the imagination. Give us more details." I wasn't completely comfortable with that for many reasons, the first being that my teenage kids would want to read my very first book...and I didn't want them INSIDE Gracie's sex life. But, because I was writing in the NA genre, I knew readers were older and more mature and my own kids would just have to wait a couple years to read Mom's book.

Well, once you start a series with gritty sex, your readers will look for that in the subsequent, I wrote in plenty of steamy scenes. I've gotten many compliments on those scenes, too. :)

But as I was laying out my first stand-alone novel I found myself trying to figure out where I would fit sex into a story that was about SO FREAKING MUCH MORE the sex. I just kept thinking, if I plop sex in here it will seem contrived and I don't want that.

So, I talked to some of my blogger and author friends who agreed, the current trend in NA is hot sex. But why is that? I worry we don't give our readers credit for being the intelligent, deep, and passionate (in non-sexual ways) women they are.

Disclaimer #2:
I am not saying that the sexual content determines a shallow plot. NOT AT ALL! You don't have to read too many NA novels to see the twisted webs we weave!

Let's dive into the details of this five-year old genre we've come to know as New Adult....

New Adult is a genre that, in the beginning, was defined by an age bracket, not subject matter.

Having been a "new adult" I can guarantee you for most of us, that age between 18-24 was hardly all about my sex life or lack thereof. It was more about the excitement of living on my own, striving for personal growth and navigating my way through life's hurdles, tensions and conundrums that sharpened my problem-solving skills. All of which opens up millions of scenarios for fiction writers, even those who write romance, without diving into bed with the protagonist.

Now, obviously sex is one of those hurdles, tensions and conundrums of the age group but I feel we owe it to our readers to feel a part of the main character finding her way in life not finding her panties after a one night stand. How many of us look back over our lives and say "if it weren't for my sordid sex life in college, I'd never be where I am today." Are we insulting our readers by assuming that's all they want?

Karen Grove is the editorial director for Embrace, Entangled Publishing's New Adult imprint and had this to say on the subject of what New Adult is:

“The mindset is different in New Adult,” Grove says. “There’s a focus on success and survival versus [high school themes of] popularity and acceptance. The new adult brings their young adult experiences and discoveries to a new level, and they get to choose the adult they want to become.”

I'm not AT ALL trashing a hot sex scene, I swear! There are more than a handful of those in all three books of my IN TOO DEEP series.

But, the personal growth between the ages of 18 and 24 is fascinating, challenging and the biggest puzzle piece of who we become when we enter the real world. And sometimes it's just as exciting and satisfying as a good romp in the hay.

Suzie Townsend, Cora Carmack's agent from New Leaf Literary & Media supports the notion that sexual content is only a small facet of the New Adult genre...

“A few of the New Adult books I’ve read could have arguably been called angsty, sexually explicit YA, but I would say that’s the minority,” Townsend says. “To me, New Adult is a more specific name for what we would have called adult novels with strong crossover. They’re targeted for those adult readers who really enjoy YA, and for 20-somethings that haven’t always been able to find a lot of novels taking place during the college years.”

Sara Megibow, an agent with the Nelson Literary Agency had this to say and I see a lot of truth in her statement...

"The assertion that New Adult is just sexually explicit YA feels confrontational to me—as if the person doing
the asserting were dismissing the sexual content as a hook or a marketing scam to get more people to buy a book,” Megibow says. “The good New Adult submissions I’ve seen tend to focus on the conflicts of early adulthood—somewhat like the first Bridget Jones book—dating, jobs, first apartments, money, identity, self-sufficiency, etc.”

Tell me your thoughts.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Question Wednesday - Rachel Brookes

I have met so many amazing people through this author journey I've been on and I can't say enough about how welcoming and helpful they all have been. And it's always fun to have so much in common with someone and THEN find out they LOVE EDDIE VEDDER, too! LOL!

That's my sweet friend and amazing author, RACHEL BROOKES!

And who doesn't want a friend who knows kangaroos personally? That's right, Rachel is an Aussie! I love when she posts videos and I can hear her talk! :)

So, today Rachel and I talked about character traits...

As we grow up and mature, our views, passions, fears and beliefs evolve. Sometimes we look back on our lives and think, “I can’t believe I used to think that way” or “I’m so glad my views have changed so much.” What is one thing about your character or personality that has stayed steadfast over the years?

Rachel –
My belief of never living with what ifs. This was something that came to me when I was at 17 years of age and now at 32 it is still one of the beliefs that I always live by. I believe life is too short to live with what ifs. Some of my biggest successes and my biggest downfalls was because I took a chance hence taking away the what if scenario. I would rather live with a hundred regrets than one what if. I refuse to be sixty, sitting with my grandchildren and looking back on life thinking what if I had asked that guy out, what if I had published that book, what if I had gone at that trip. Life is all about taking those risks because you never know what will come out of them.

I love Rachel's answer, especially just coming off my ABOVE THE NOISE cover reveal yesterday. Rachel is one of the many authors who will tell you DON'T EVER GIVE UP! I spent seven years trying to break into the children's book market and failed miserably but my daddy always taught me, "No one tells a Kemper, No!" So,  I plugged along, not willing to throw in the  towel because I knew I would one day see my name on a book cover...and Sapphire Star Publishing believed in my little story and we did just that! 

So, I'm choosing a different trait to expand on since I just blabbed about that one ^^ up there!

Me –
I’ve always been insanely empathetic and it has my heart breaking on a daily basis. There are many, MANY things that hurt my heart so I’ll just choose one: HARM to ANIMALS
I feel guilty but I can’t watch the PUPPY MILL or ANIMAL RESCUE LEAUGE commercials because I am physically pained by the pictures on the screen. And add to that, stinkin’ Sarah McLachlan and her “I will remember you” background vocals…and I’m a puddle on the floor.
Since I was a child, I’ve been an “animal saver.” I had an annual summer terrarium in our backyard in which I constructed playgrounds and pools for the toads that came to visit. I’ve raised injured wild animals with my kids and then cried when we set them free. I’m a grown up and still save the worms that are stuck on our hot driveway after a rainstorm. I live my life as a vegetarian and adopt (not eat!) a turkey through FARM SANCTUARY every Thanksgiving.
 I’m completely and emotionally crushed by the mistreatment of animals and I can’t stomach the horrors that occur on factory farms so, as my son’s girlfriend says, “I just don’t eat anything with a face.”
So, you can imagine all the OTHER things I could elaborate on that make me sad in this world.

Have an awesome Wednesday!
Good night, sleep tight, Rachel!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ABOVE THE NOISE cover reveal and CHAPTER 1

I can NOT believe this day has come!
Last year at this time I was working on final edits for IN TOO DEEP, my debut novel, and worrying people may not like it.
And, today, because of all of the AMAZING Gracie fans, I've released the sequel ON SOLID GROUND in December and now I'm revealing the cover for ABOVE THE NOISE... the third and final book of the IN TOO DEEP series.

This last year has been amazing! Unbelievable! And I can't that all my family and friends, betas, bloggers, readers and author friends for helping this dream come to fruition. There are days I still have to pinch myself!

Well, I know you're all waiting for Calon and would like me to stop here he is...on the

And here's the synopsis:

Becki Mowry’s journalism expertise keeps her busy as she spends her waking hours filling a calendar with gigs and public appearances for her boyfriend’s up and coming band, Alternate Tragedy. Radio interviews and TV spots result in sold out concerts and rowdy groupies hot for her guy; lead singer, Calon Ridge. But, as fame would have it, their time in the limelight also brings sabotage, rumors and false accusations. Becki and Calon try to stay steadfast on a personal journey that takes them to the depths of fear and uncertainty. And finally, the rug is pulled out from under the band when they must make a transition they never dreamed they’d be faced with.

In this third book of the In Too Deep series, Becki and Calon struggle to find balance as they navigate their new relationship while living amid the rock world’s nocturnal chaos. But when life’s unexpected obstacles come out of nowhere, they focus on finding their own private solace Above the Noise.

And like I promised, here's the ENTIRE first CHAPTER because you are all so awesome and have waited so patiently (NOT!) for this final book in the series. I will miss Calon terribly and after this book, you will, too!



“Change our image? Are you fucking kidding me? This is ridiculous! Guys, Becki. We’re out!” Calon’s voice was sharp and his stance was on the verge of threatening. It was unusual to see him that way. He’d been nothing but sweet, sensitive, passionate and gentle since we first met. I’d heard him get loud with Gracie when they practiced new songs at Mitchell’s but that was usually because she held back what he tried to pull from her. That kind of passion was a cool thing to see. The clenched fist thing in Greystar Management’s conference room teetered between passionate and dangerous and that was a first for me.
Mr. Barnes sat with his eyes fixed on Calon but seemingly unshaken by my new boyfriend’s outburst. I sat with the band, across from Mr. Barnes desk, on an eccentric couch. I looked around at the other guys to see if they were as thrown by Calon’s booming voice as I was. They didn’t seem fazed. Spider leaned back into the couch with his arm up over the back. Manny sat next to Spider with his elbows on his knees and his hands clasped under his chin. He rubbed his forehead then turned his head away from Mr. Barnes, looked passed me and grinned at Bones. Bones nodded, straight-faced, then looked back at Calon. I was the odd man out, the only uncomfortable one in the room. I felt like I should stand up to leave as per Calon’s directive, but no one else budged.
“Mr. Ridge, listen. It’s common practice in this industry for management to help you create an image. Your image is what sells your music, that’s no secret.”
“Funny! I like to think it’s our talent.” Calon wasn’t about to let this go. It was incredibly sexy to watch him take charge and stand his ground but I would have rather had toothpicks shoved under my fingernails than spend any more time in the meeting.
“Calon, think of the bands you know off the top of your head. You can picture the band members, right?”
“Of course I can, but that’s not what sells a record, Mr. Barnes. The passion for the craft, the investment in the art of taking an emotion and slinging words around it then folding in just the right beat and melody is what sells. Not my hair or the style of my clothes. I don’t even think about that stuff before I go on stage. All I think of is how I’m gonna move my fans. And I sure as hell think they’re longing to be moved…by my voice, not my image.” Calon added air quotes at the end of  his rant.
“Honey, what’s your name, again?” Mr. Barnes pointed at me with his pen as he stood and walked around the back of his chair. I hated that he called me that but I decided to ignore it so as not to add to the stress level in the room. He nodded in my direction and that proverbial pin would have split my eardrums against the silence in the room at that moment.
“Becki.” My name came out of my throat like it’d been dragged across sand paper first. I hated that this cocky man had me so worked up.
“Becki, you’re Alternate Tragedy’s manager.”
I nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“Which means you must be a fan of their music, correct?”
“Of course.” I nodded again and rubbed my hands on my knees to try and keep my body from shattering from the nervous energy that ran through it.
“Are you also a fan of their look?” He raised his eyebrow at me and slowly turned his head to Calon as if he was drawing an imaginary line between us, challenging me.
I took a slow deep breath and gathered my thoughts before I spoke. . I stood and walked toward a bookshelf where a framed photo of Mr. Barnes and the members of his company sat. Mr. Barnes blinked a couple times as though I caught him off guard with my decorum. I made it obvious that I would use that photo as a means to turn the table on him. I nodded in the direction of the stuffy, exclusively male executive team posed against a boardroom table in the frame.
“Mr. Barnes, image sells, you’re right. So, we agree that people may not take your company seriously if your trademark photo had been taken on a beach and you were all shirtless and in Hawaiian swim trunks. Correct?”
“Sure.” He remained behind his chair, an obvious comfort zone. He looked nervous. But I told myself I made him nervous, then tried not to pass out.
“There is no doubt in my mind that women will fall in love with these guys, as they have for years, for their music and what it does to them while they listen. I’m sure they’ll each have their very own groupies.” I heard a loud slap and looked over my shoulder at Spider who threw a dirty look at Bones then rubbed his arm. Bones who looked up at me like a scolded child. Dork.
“That’s exactly what—”
“Excuse me, I’m not finished making my point Mr. Barnes.” I nodded when he motioned with his hand to continue and I walked back over and stood behind the guys on the couch and next to Calon who had stepped out of my way when I stood up to go head to head with Mr. Barnes. “As an avid music fan and former groupie myself, I have to stand behind my clients and support Calon’s concerns. There needs to be an authentic match between appearance and music. If there’s even the slight shift it will appear orchestrated and unnatural to the fans who’ve followed them for years. Just as it would if the professional reputation of your company was challenged by a beach bum photo. Do you see what I’m saying, Mr. Barnes?”
Mr. Barnes folded his arms across his chest and reached up with one hand to rub his chin. He walked around the front of his desk and sat on the edge.
I took my phone from my pocket and scrolled through my music while I struggled to keep my trembling under control. I pressed play. The acoustic guitar that sprung forth would not only prove my point, it would help to calm my nerves immediately.
 “Mr. Barnes, you know this artist.” The guys instinctively kept the beat with their feet on the expensive oriental carpet under their shit-kickers.
“Chris Cornell.”
“Yes. When you close your eyes and picture him performing this song, ‘The Keeper,’ live. Can you feel the vibe he has?”
“Of course. The man’s an icon.”
“But that’s not why you can picture him. You can picture him easily because he wears his music. Everything about who he is, what he loves, what cuts his soul, how deeply he loves and how passionate he is about his fans is externally evident in his image. If I saw Chris perform in anything other than his signature combat boots, jeans and t-shirt it would be a distraction. If he walked out on the stage holding his guitar in a pair of Justin Bieber’s saggy leather dance pants, a flat brim hat and awife beater I wouldn’t appreciate what he had to offer that night. It would seem contrived. I would feel cheated out of what I could have received from him in the form of an artistic experience.”
I looked up at Calon for approval of my calm rant. He smiled that crooked smile that dropped the bottom out of my stomach. He tried to hide the smile and scratched his forehead, then nodded.
“Mr. Barnes, what you see in front of you in how these guys are dressed and how they wear their personalities is what you get on stage. Calon couldn’t take a handful of short hair in his hands to show the ache in the words he’s singing. Spider couldn’t throw it down on the drums the way he does if he wasn’t comfortable in his own skin. Manny and Bones light up the stage with those guitars, if you asked them to morph into something they are not, they wouldn’t suck that crowd in like I know they can. Listen, it’s smart marketing. You can look at a photo of Alternate Tragedy and know the kind of music you’re getting just like you can with Chris Cornell. Asking them to become something they’re not, would be cheating everyone out of what they have to offer. And in my honest opinion, that would be a huge mistake for you and this tour.”
Mr. Barnes looked a bit stunned but kept his eyes locked on mine. He wasn’t going to admit that I’d just put him in his place. “Becki, you raise a good point. Let me mull this over and we can get together tomorrow and discuss my thoughts. Sound good?”
“Sounds great.” Calon’s voice was calm and relaxed. However, I was about to throw up but I plastered a classy smile across my face and nodded. We all shook hands and left Mr. Barnes’ office in a single file line; Calon right behind me bringing up the rear. We walked silently to the elevator and once we were in and the doors closed all four of them let loose. Whoops and yelps that I’m sure could be heard two floors away were showered down all around me. All I could do was laugh. My very first official day as Alternate Tragedy’s manager and I rocked it like nobody’s business.
Calon turned his body to mine and forced me into the corner of the elevator. He pressed his hips into me and slid his face next to mine until his lips touched my earlobe. I could feel his hot breath on my neck as he spoke. “That was the hottest thing I’ve ever seen, Becks.”
“Oh, here they go again. Good grief, get a room, would ya!” Bones was always the one to complain about me and Calon. The other guys didn’t seem to mind all that much and it’s not like we were all PDA all the time. We’d been stuck in a van with all of them since we left Knoxville for LA. Calon hadn’t gotten anything from me in all that time except a few stolen kisses.
“Yeah.” It was the breathiest word I’d ever spoken but the sexual tension between the two of us turned me inside out.
“I can’t wait until we have our own room.” Calon spoke loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Me too.”
“We can’t wait either.” Bones’ voice was harsh. “God, you’re making me horny. Would you put your dick away, man. All this sexiness is really starting to be a problem for me.” He grumbled something else under his breath and Calon chuckled and turned toward Bones in our cramped space..
“Bones, man, I’m sorry my dick is such a problem for you.”
“Shut up, faggot.”
The elevator erupted into celebratory laughter. When the doors opened on the ground floor of the posh LA office building, we stepped into the glass atrium and the late afternoon August sun stung our eyes. Manny spoke the words forming in the back of my mind.
“Let’s go get some drinks.”

Summer flashback
The first time Calon and I drank together was after one of their shows when he walked me back to my dorm. The guys didn’t usually drink during a show but a big storm rolled in that night just as their first set started. The atmosphere inside Mitchell’s unexpectedly turned from a slamming rock sound to an acoustic vibe when the lights went out. Gracie ran around and gathered as many candles as she could from the back room and we all helped her light them and place them on the silenced speakers on and around the stage. Calon and the guys enjoyed beer after beer and did a show like I’d never seen from them. It was rustic with a little folk-funk. The bar’s patrons sang along in the glow of about forty container candles of all different sizes. Calon sat center stage on a stool and sang away the hours with his guitar resting on his thigh. The whole night was ethereal and quaint and very fucking sexy.
He asked if he could walk me home again which was exactly what I’d hoped for. When we crossed the road right outside of Mitchell’s, Calon grabbed my hand and we ran for the opposite sidewalk that lead across campus and up to my dorm. Electricity ran through the hand he held, I was sure he could feel it because he didn’t let go.
That night he told me groupie stories for the entire length of our walk. I was laughing when I pushed my door open. And being a little tipsy, I tripped and fell into him, pinning him against the open door. My hands landed on his chest and in an attempt to keep up both upright, his strong  hands grabbed my hips. My mind shot back to the thoughts I’d had earlier watching his deft fingers move on the strings of his guitar.
His t-shirt was damp from sweat and his curls tickled my forehead when he laughed. It was one of those moments you see in movies when the couple finds themselves in a compromising position and they freeze. Chests heaving, mouths agape and hearts racing. His eyes searched my face but for what I didn’t know.
I pushed off his chest and walked, a bit shaken, to the mini fridge and grabbed the bottle of vodka from the top freezer portion.
“Shots?” I spun around and took him all in. Dark curls, sultry deep green eyes, an intense stare and lips I could entertain for days.
“Absolutely.” He plopped down on my bed and leaned back against the wall, his legs so long they hung at a weird angle not quite touching the floor. He had a hole in his jeans just below his front pocket which puckered when he sat and I had a hard time not trying to see into it.
I was completely oblivious to what my heart was capable of at that point, so the alcohol was an attempt to loosen up before we started making out. He kind of brushed me off the first two times he walked me home like he didn’t want to be that jerk rock star and left without even a kiss.  But this was the token third time he’d been to my room and that’s just how it typically worked. The guy comes back the third time after not getting any the first two, you know they want it or they’d have given up after the second night of blue balls.
We did a couple shots and laughed about random shit and then there was the uncomfortable silence; it was deafening. I decided to make the first move before it got really awkward. I turned on the twinkling lights that hung above my bed and flipped the switch for the overhead fluorescents. I climbed onto the bed on my knees facing Calon and reached for his face to pull him in for a kiss. He stopped me, and held me still by the wrists.
“Becki, I’m not here for that.” He loosened his grip on my wrists and I dropped my hands in my lap.
“Oh.” Fuck. He wasn’t interested. It was one thing to be turned down by the conceited freak from my study group but to be turned down by a hot rock star seemed to slice a little deeper. I brushed it off like it didn’t bother me, but it did.
“No, no. Listen.” He took my chin between his thumb and finger and pulled my face a little closer to his. “I am extremely attracted to you, Becki. I love your personality and you are gorgeous, so my comment wasn’t a rejection.” He smiled and I felt like a complete idiot. A slutty idiot.
“It’s okay, I get it. It was stupid for me to—”
“Shh. No regrets, Becki. You’re attracted to me, too and I’m glad. I’m just not one to rush into that kind of thing.” He dropped his hand from my chin and it joined my hands in my lap. I held his hand with both of mine.
“Wow. I’m pretty sure you’re the first rock star in history to turn down a groupie.” I rolled my eyes and got up to pour more shots. Calon followed me over to the mini fridge, put his hands on my waist and spun me around. His thumbs touched my skin when my blousy Marilyn Monroe tank flounced with my spin.
“I don’t see you as a groupie, Becki, and I’m technically not turning you down. I can’t explain it but I feel like there’s more here, between us. A connection that we should pay attention to.” He rubbed the outside of my bare arms with his warm, strong hands. Those fingers.
I didn’t know what to say. I suddenly felt mute. He had all the right words and I didn’t have a single word in my head. He left me speechless which is no easy task.
“So, am I crazy? Or do you feel it, too?”
“Yeah." It’s all I could muster but admitting just that much sucked the air from my lungs. I wasn’t the sappy, talk about your feelings kind of girl. In my experience, it just made life messier. But there was something about those green eyes and sexy grin that pulled the sap right out of me without even trying. He was so incredibly intense and it took years for me to build the walls I had around my heart. He’d already knocked away a couple bricks and something told me he could get to my heart if he really wanted to. Calon may be ready for me, but what if I wasn’t ready for Calon?

And, don't forget, you can find EACH BOOK'S playlist on SPOTIFY! Just search my name.
I think this playlist is my favorite...well, they're all my favorites!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Author-Mom Chronicles #4 - My Teen is Driving

I remember turning 16. It was exciting. There was a sense of freedom. My car was always filled with friends and loud music. But there was also that annoyance of the parents who thought they could still hold me down...

And this was my car, Betty Boop!

Well, now my husband and I are those parents.

Our son turned 16 in September and got his permit within a week. We did the necessary driving time and he passed his license test a week and a half ago. Of course, the test wasn't near as rigorous as I would have liked. He basically had to drive through a shopping plaza, out to a light and back into the plaza. I would have preferred the have a rush hour simulator set up with full-time actors cast as asshole drivers to push his limits. Maybe they could also have a couple gorgeous teen girls in the crosswalk and some old ladies vying for their turn across the street. I would have happily let them borrow my youngest to add the ADHD distraction I deal with every time we get in the car.

But, he is a good driver and he, of course, passed the test.

But, this opens the door to a new level of anxiety for us as his parents. Even though he's had his license for almost two weeks, he hasn't been allowed to drive alone. Mostly because there are a couple things we needed to have done to his car so he doesn't have it yet and my husband and I both have new cars that we are not willing to let him drive alone. (Good excuse for just not wanting him to be off on his own, yet. Yeah, we suck like that!)

He gets his car this week and, even though we have given him the deets, still thinks this is his FREEDOM PASS. NOT! There will be rules.

1. When your girlfriend is in the car there will be a hired Amish widow to sit in the backseat as a chaperone.
2. There will be a GPS chip and surveillance camera in the interior of your car so we can monitor everything.
3. We have hired a private investigator to tail you closely every second you are not in our driveway.
4. You can drive to school and back, to WalMart to help me out when I'm in a pinch and to church. All other places you'd like to go will be added one at a time in 6 month intervals.
5. When all of these rules have been followed to a "T" and you have not been pulled over, caught parking, had secret excursions and the GPS has not logged unknown/unapproved addresses and you have been driving for five years...then you may come and go as you please.


Of course, I'm joking about all the silly rules but not about the anxiety level I will experience when he leaves our house with his sister each morning for school. Even though I can see the school from our living room window. Shut up! I'm just that kind of mom.

I will, however, be keeping myself occupied with a new book boyfriend to keep from giving myself a stroke over his new-found freedom.

You will soon get to know the beautiful boy that will steal your heart but FIRST, you will need to come back  tomorrow for the COVER REVEAL of ABOVE THE NOISE and a last minute decision to post all of CHAPTER ONE!

Don't miss it.
Hey, I gotta go install an engine speed and stereo volume monitor before the 16 year old wakes up.