Alissa said, “Is it me or is it getting hot in here?”
From the corner of my eye, something captured my attention and I turned to see what it was.
Our indulgence had resulted in yet another mess. The potatoes were an over-boiled pile of mush; the braised chops were charred as its pan had caught fire; and the gravy did thicken–to the consistency of a dried up hockey puck stuck to the bottom of its pot. Suffice to say, dinner was effectively ruined.
She was giggling into my back after I had managed to put a stop to the tiny blaze with the help of a box of baking soda and an expired kitchen fire extinguisher.
“How do you feel about take-out?” I asked over my shoulder.
“I think it’s a safer bet.”
It has come to my attention that not many who’ve read Once Written, Twice Shy is in the know of Jasper’s condition. With that said, I decided to write up a short informative piece to enlighten you all (particularly those who’ve thought it unrealistic) about JMML.
What is JMML?
JMML or Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia is a rare hematopoietic malignancy of childhood accounting for 2% of all childhood leukemias. It occurs more prominently in males and usually around the first year after birth. With that said, these cases are typically diagnosed in children between the ages of 0-4 years of age. The older the child, the worse the prognosis. The cause for JMML is not known. Children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are at increased risk for developing JMML, and up to 14% of cases of JMML occur in children with NF1.
- Constitutional symptoms (e.g., malaise, pallor, and fever) or evidence of an infection
- Symptoms of bronchitis or tonsillitis (in approximately 50% of cases)
- Bleeding diathesis
- Maculopapular skin rashes (in 40%–50% of cases)
- Lymphadenopathy (in approximately 75% of cases)
- Hepatosplenomegaly (in most cases)
JMML can be treated with a chemotherapy regimen as well as utilizing a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant from either a relative or a donor match. The latter seems to lead to the best turnout. Although survival is possible, it is very rare and usually, long-term survival (longer than 9 years) is considered a major feat. The reasons are because JMML has a rapid onset and progression that often, is too quick to nip in the proverbial bud.
I’m not going to go into further details with regards to JMML because that would all bore you to tears but what I will say is that although a rare disease, JMML is real and for those who thought it a bit of a reach, I’d have to state that on a personal note, I’ve witnessed friends become donors for other friends and family members. It may not have been with regards to a marrow transplant but I’ve seen it twice in my life and thus it all makes Jasper’s part of the adventure in Once Written, Twice Shy that more plausible!
For more information on JMML as well as clinical trials that exist, please visit the National Cancer Institute or call 1-800-4-cancer.
And they thought women were complex creatures… Ha!
After decades of reading an array of novels: thrillers, mystery, suspense, paranormal and yeah, romance, I realized one thing… I hadn’t come across a work of romance where a woman had written in a male’s perspective, in the first person.
Since I’m some kind of masochist—okay, so I love to impose a challenge or two (or a hundred) where my writing is concerned—I took a leap of faith. Thus began my adventure!
Once Written, Twice Shy (OWTS) was inspired by a play on online dating and my love for reading and writing. What I didn’t know, at the time, was that not only would one book be born, but an entire series would follow!
All interconnected, yet vastly different, the men of The Broken Men Chronicles series each have a unique story to tell. From a divorcé, to a widower, a retired militant, even the age-old lost love scenario, and childhood nemeses, these men are scarred in some way yet they persevere. Some battles, both physical and emotional, are tougher than others but they all seek one thing… to come out on top.
I’m no shrink. I’m no guy. I don’t have some kind of degree in male psyche analysis of any kind. And no, I haven’t suffered an electrical shock much like Mel Gibson in What Women Want where I miraculously know what’s going on up there. Now, you’re wondering how in the world does a woman pull it off?
You see, at a certain point in life (nearing my thirties), I came to realize that what men and women want out of life, isn’t all that different: a career, a family or at least someone to call theirs, a home, friends, happiness… need I say more? So, I seized the gauntlet and began to write.
I’m the kind of writer that writes with inhibited emotion. If I can’t feel it, it’s no good. In keeping close with everyday life, I like to mix things up. From the hot and sexy, to the rage, the grief, the turmoil that uncertainty in one’s life can cause, not to mention the humor, my readers are thrust into a world where they can relate. Personally, I love nothing more than a work of fiction where I can picture myself, or someone I know, experiencing or having experienced whatever hurdle, whatever scene I’m reading at the time.
Reading is an escape. It’s a way to detach yourself from your world and immerse yourself into another’s. Should you laugh, feel angered, annoyed, overjoyed, not to mention, thrilled, at any point in a read, then the author’s done their job efficiently.
Some may say that I have feminized my male leads. I disagree. Inspired by people in my life, I wrote characters that have a certain degree of respect toward the opposite sex (yes, even players can have some). In true guy fashion, my men’s dialect can be crass and inappropriate at times as it can be loving and endearing. Same goes for their behavior. I wasn’t looking to write up a slew of Stepford characters. Realistic means with fault and I strive to capture that no matter who the character may be. Of course, writing first person also means that your characters need substance and delving into each of these men’s lives, you’ll quickly come to find out, there is no lack of it. With that said, male readers are able to relate to these characters as much as their female counterparts.
In closing, I have to say that my experience in writing from a male’s perspective has been a humbling one. I’ve loved the self-imposed challenge, not to mention the humorous discussions I’ve had with my male friends and husband while entertaining the task. For those of you reading this, I hope that you enjoyed the insight to my inner writer workings. For those of you who write, I hope you’ll take this as me throwing you a gauntlet and seize the opportunity to challenge yourself in your work.
Seeing as Once Written, Twice Shy is being featured on The Fussy Librarian today, I figured a little teasing was in order. Here are some of my favorite snippets from the book.
Drama, drama, drama…ex’s that just can’t let go
I waited for Alissa to disappear outside.
“She’ll ruin us, Paxton,” Julie said.
“You’ve done enough of that all on your own, Julie,” I said. “Alissa’s right, I’m sick of being stuck as I watch you move on with your life and I can’t do the same. It’s been a year since you’ve left, Julie. A goddamn year!”
“How long have you two known each other?”
“You sound as if I’ve betrayed you somehow. Last I checked, I wasn’t the one who ran around or the one that gave up without a fight,” I said.
Friends…with benefits or something more?
“Let’s not kid ourselves, Alissa,” I said against her skin as I trailed hot, wet kisses down her jaw. Her head tilted back and I moved down her neck. “We’re not friends with benefits and you know it.” I pulled away to gauge her reaction. Her lips were swollen and pursed, and those gorgeous breasts of hers rose and fell at a more frantic rhythm. I smirked. “I believe the word you used yesterday was girlfriend?”
“About that,” she said and bit down on her bottom lip.
“Shh.” I reached up and trailed my thumb, releasing the soft flesh from her pearly whites.
There might just be more than food when you’re cookin’ things up
I grabbed her hips, turned us so her rear faced the kitchen island and backed her up until she was barricaded between my arms. Her arms bent at the elbows as she used her forearms to pull my head closer to her face while she devoured my mouth. My hands rubbed down her sides until I had reached the hem of her dress. I began to hoist the garment up and around her hips, and squeezed her tight ass.
She gasped at my roughness and I pulled away long enough to see the surprised look on her face which faded into pure animalistic lust. Sitting her on the counter’s edge, I kissed her hard and fierce, supporting the back of her neck as I lay her down on its surface.
Now this is a buffet.
Pancake dates…the stuff tiny love is made of
I was coming back with coffee for Allie and me when I heard her voice. She was talking to Jasper and so I leaned onto the room’s threshold and kept vigil on the pair.
“…so Jasper, honey, I need you to wake up for me,” she said. “Mommy and Daddy would like to see those beautiful bright green eyes of yours. We miss you and that smile, sweetie. What about our pancake dates?” Her voice cracked, sending a jolt of pain to my heart. “I need someone to pour those blueberries for me. And who else would help me make a big mess?” She began to sob softly into the edge of the mattress. “We all need you, Jasper.”
A hero comes along in an unexpected way
I sat down, laid my hand on her thigh and let my head fall to the side of the mattress as I breathed my relief that she was okay. “I can’t believe you’ve done this,” I said to the silence.
“I would do it again,” she said with a croaky voice before I felt her hand tangle itself in my messy hair. “Now kiss me like you did before they took me away.”
I smiled at her loopy smirk and what else could I do? I indulged her. Hell, it was quite possible that she had saved my son’s life.
Looking for an emotional roller coaster of a read? Why not combine a bit of love and romance with some heat and family drama?
When I set to write Once Written, Twice Shy, I never thought that I would be so consumed with the story that it would lead to an entire series. As OWTS took shape, other characters began to beg for their very own stories, their chance at the proverbial “happy ever after”. And that’s when I made the decision to create The Broken Men Chronicles series.
Set in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in the good ol’ US of A, through this series, you will come to love, despise and admire each and every character. I prided myself on keeping things “real” with this series. Each man, each book has its own unique story-line. Yes, scars come in varieties of shapes, sizes and everyone overcomes their challenges in different manners–some with help, others…well, not so much.
For now, Once Written, Twice Shy, the first of this series is on sale for $0.99 from October 11-14, 2013. The second book of the series, Almost Forgotten is in process of being edited as we speak and hopefully will be out before the new year should all go according to plan.
Stay tuned for more news on publishing more from this series as well as other random little tidbits from me to spice things up from time to time.