Monday, September 16, 2019

Let's Get a Move On!

Our Empty Nest Adventures have begun, and I have discovered it’s a lot less stressful getting out of the house when I’m only responsible for myself. Yeah, I know, that sounds obvious, but hear me out. 

With two girls, there’s a lot of drama in our house. There’s also a lot of prep work. So when we have plans, the conversations typically go something like this:

Husband, in front of girls: When are we leaving?
Me: X time 

½ hour before departure

Me: Why aren’t you getting ready?
Banana Girl: it only takes me twenty minutes.
Princess: I’m going, I’m going.

X time arrives. Husband comes downstairs. I’m ready. Girls are nowhere in sight.

Me: Girls, let’s go!
Banana Girl: I’ll be ready in 5 minutes.
Me: But I said we were leaving now.
Banana Girl: Oh, I thought you were building in extra time.

Princess saunters downstairs a minute later.
Me: Why are you late?
Princess: I’m done before Banana Girl.

We end up leaving 10 minutes after I wanted (even when I build in time). I’m sweating and stressed and everyone is yelling and tell me again why we do things as a family?

Now, leaving is a lot different. 

Husband: What time are we leaving?
Me: We have to be there by X and I don’t want to be rushing. So let’s leave at Y.
Husband: Okay.

Y time arrives. Husband comes downstairs. I come downstairs. We leave.

End of story.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Welcome back to Stephen King!

With the release of Glimpse, The Tender Killer, the number one question asked of me lately is: “Why a trilogy, Steve?” It’s a very good question.
Some time ago I had an idea to tell the story of four people comprising of two married couples where each marriage is not without its problems. For me the joy of writing is to create characters; ordinary, every day, flawed people, like you or I, and put them in extraordinary situations. So, I thought, what if the male protagonist is a Major Crime Cop, and he has a recent history of having an affair, for which his wife is trying to forgive and forget. Let’s pair him with a stunningly beautiful, intriguing, criminal psychologist who is married to a controlling man who doesn’t want her working with the cops. Then have them hunt a terrible, psychotic serial killer. I wanted them to come from different walks of life, and be the kind of people who are at their best when they are working with an attractive person of the opposite sex and pose the question, will they or won’t they?
In my life I’ve had the pleasure of working with some exceptional women. The relationships have been fun, flirtatious and I am still very good friends with some of them today. I found that working with someone you wanted to take to bed, but never actually acting on it, was good for not only the working relationship, but my home life as well. I would be happy to go to work, and less stressed when I got home, if that makes sense. In my life, it’s a fact I’ve have better friends of the opposite sex, than my own. 
So, that was the relationship I wanted for Detective Sergeant Richard ‘Rick’ McCoy, and Criminal Psychologist Patricia, call me Pat (everyone does), Holmes. Then throw into the mix a cold hearted, attention seeking murderer, who has a past association with Rick, who taunts him to catch him if he can, and I thought I could make it work. But, I didn’t want the book to be a trope; the kind of story with an obvious direction where the reader would think ‘yeah, I knew that would happen,’ but, how to do that? 
If I had more words, I thought, I could really delve inside the characters, and describe the inner workings of the three different relationships, and the serial killer. I could look at the trials and tribulations of the married partners of the two protagonists; what’s it like for them having their husband, of wife working with someone they really like. And then I thought what if their story was spread over three separate investigations, into three different murderers. 
Psychology, particularly criminal psychology, has always fascinated me. My daughter has a degree in it, and a good friend works in the field. What if I combined the story of my four people’s dysfunctional relationships with glimpses into the troubled psyche’s of my three killers………hmmmmm. I like to keep a book around 100,000 words. That feels about right for me to tell what I want to tell, therefore a trilogy would give me 300,000 words. Now with that amount, I could go to town.
Lots of people have asked me the question; “why a trilogy, Steve?” Well, the funny thing is that several people who have read book 3 have demanded a fourth instalment, so maybe; just maybe, this will be the first ever trilogy made up of four books.

Book 3, Glimpse, the Tender Killer is my tenth published work, and it is released on September 11th2019. Here is the link to Amazon:
Here is the official blurb:
Criminal psychologist Patricia Holmes is now a detective paired with Detective Sergeant Rick McCoy. Together they hunt The Biblical Killer, so named for the quotes left on walls written in the victim's blood. To lure the murderer out they join the Tender Nights internet dating site, openly making themselves targets. Rick and Pat have fought their desire for each other for months. Can they now survive their lust and an insane murderer intent on vengeance?
My contact links are:
Stephen B King
twitter: @stephenBKing1
Facebook: @stephenbkingauthor
I would love to know what people think of the story and I always respond to emails or messages. So, drop me a line, let me know what you think, and please, please, if you enjoy the books, leave a review – we authors genuinely need validation. 

Once they resembled scientists in a germ-free lab, the put on white latex surgical gloves, and Rick led the way through the front door, where another officer stood guard.
Inside the entrance hallway he stopped suddenly and Pat walked into his back and rebound off him. In front of them on the wall, was a message which looked as if it had been written in blood, complete with runs and droplets so that rivulets from above ran into words written below.

But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; 
Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days

            “What do you make of that, Pat?” He asked in a hushed voice.
“Hmmm, worrying on several fronts. Some sort of God complex? Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord; that kind of thing. It’s not going to be pretty; I’d know that from the message, even if we hadn’t been told what to expect. It’s not just this is boasting; it’s a warning to others, and that, is scary.”
He turned to look, her face was flushed around the mask she wore, her eyes shone, and it was almost as if she were turned on. “What do you mean by that?”
Men, plural, more than one. Also, them, again plural. This is like telling everyone who is a liar or cheat they will face his wrath; he will kill them half way through their lifetime. On the other hand, he is saying that God, not him, is the one killing. That infers schizophrenia, and a very angry one at that. I wonder what deceit our victim is guilty of? Clearly, our Mr. Byron Banks has upset someone by being violent, or by lying to them.”
Rick shook his head in amazement, once again, she had surprised him with being able to make sense of something that could have taken him days of investigation to uncover. “Should be easy to catch him, or her then, if they know the victim well enough to know he’s a liar.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

My Hanukkah Story

The romance world is becoming more diverse, and Jewish characters add to the lovely tapestry of colors, religions, customs, sexual orientation and genders that today’s story depict.

As a Jewish author, some of what I write is considered “own voices.” By writing characters who are Jewish, like I am, I bring an authenticity to my stories that non-Jewish writers can’t necessarily achieve. But writing Jewish romance is more than just writing Hanukkah stories. It’s inviting Jewish characters to the table—into the small towns, the big cities and everywhere in between. It’s acknowledging there are more holidays than just Christmas—and I happen to be a Jewish author who LOVES Christmas romances, so no yelling at me, please—and that weddings don’t just happen in churches. It’s food and faith and funny anecdotes that come from years of experiencing the inclusiveness of my own religion, while also, at times, the exclusion of others.

So when people hear I write Jewish romance and they respond with, “You should write a Hanukkah story!” I smile and sigh. Although they’re only touching the tip of the iceberg, they mean well, and if people like reading Christmas stories, it stands to reason they’d like reading Hanukkah stories, too. 

With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve written one, and that my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, has agreed to publish it this holiday season.

Since I have such a conflicted opinion about Hanukkah stories, why did I write one? Well, an author who self publishes decided she wanted to publish a Hanukkah anthology with eight other authors, and opened submissions to everyone. The stories had to be short—15,000 words or less—something I’d never done before. How in the world would I be able to develop characters, story arc, conflict and a satisfying ending in so few words? But after almost every author who knows me said I should enter a story, I did it. It was out of my comfort zone, but I was proud of what I wrote. As with all submissions, a lot depends on luck, and my story wasn’t chosen. So what to do next?

Well, I mentioned to my current publisher that I had this Hanukkah story that I’d written, asking if they had any holiday anthologies planned for next year—I really didn’t think anything was possible for this year. And after hearing about it, she told me she didn’t have one planned, but she’d love to see the story and potentially publish it on its own this year. 

This was in July. Hanukkah is in December. That’s not a lot of time, and I don’t want to publish less than my best just to make a deadline. But I trust my publisher and my editors. If they think it’s possible, they’ll do it, and it will be good. After some expanding of the plot and editing, I received a contract.

The story, Waiting for a Miracle, will be released sometime this holiday season (we’re still waiting on a specific release date) in e-format only. And despite my ambivalence about Hanukkah stories, I really do like this one. My characters don’t live in a bubble. Their neighbors celebrate Christmas, and the decorations, sights and smells are easily woven into the setting of my story. There’s a child and a pesky grandmother and food—three of my specialties—and of course a hot guy and a smart heroine.

The fact that everyone who hears I write romance with Jewish characters tells me to write a Hanukkah story means we still have a ways to go before we achieve full inclusiveness (ask any author of color and they’ll agree, as well). But in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this story, and I’m tremendously thankful to my team at The Wild Rose Press for once again, taking a chance on me.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Empty Nest

I’m an empty nester now. Both girls are away at college—so far, both seem happy—and the house is big and quiet with just my husband and myself (and the dog, who doesn’t bark). We frequently pause during the day and stare at each other, joke about still liking each other, and wonder what our kids are doing.

We’ve been temporary empty nesters for years each summer while our kids were away at camp. Those summers were filled with activities and honey-do lists, and we jammed as much as possible into those seven weeks since we knew they’d be short-lived. 

But this time, it’s going to be our new normal. I’ll admit to being nervous. I haven’t been in a situation where my world didn’t revolve around my kids in almost twenty-one years. But I’m also excited, because I get to rediscover myself.

At first, I was creating lists in my head of all the things I wanted to do—clean out closets and bathrooms and stuff. Write. Visit people. But then I realized something. Entering this phase of my life isn’t just about what else there is to do. It’s also about who I am. It’s my chance to rediscover myself now that I’m older, supposedly more mature, and aware of who I am and who I want to become.  It’s the time for my husband and I to redefine our relationship as a couple, rather than as parents (not that we aren’t those, too). 

During the summer, we have our annual Rummy-Q tournament that we play each night at dinner. This year, for the first time, I won. But now that summer is over, we’re establishing new routines, like walking together after dinner on the weekends, checking in on each other during the weekdays with a call or a text—the days with him at work are long, and writing is a solitary endeavor (more on that another time). 

All of this is to say that this new stage is scary and awesome and challenging and fun. I'm excited to learn more about me. And in the meantime, how long should I go before I text the girls to find out what’s going on???