This is a quick post to let you know that Chaysing Dreams is on sale this week for only 99cents on Kindle. The sale will end on Sunday, May 8th. This is the first of a trilogy, and it’s #1 Amazon best seller and a multi-award winning series.
Chaysing Dreams has been awarded the gold medal from Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards in Romance Suspense. It has also received book of the month seal on multiple sites. This is a coming of age tale, but it’s also filled with plenty of romance and suspense.
As always, thank you for your support! 🙂
Who remembers that line from St. Elmo’s Fire? For all you young folks, this movie was out in 1980’s. I remember seeing it in high school with my friends. Of course, we all loved it. I it was one of the movies from the Brat Pack genre. And who didn’t love the Brat Pack?
As teenagers, we were all trying to find our way in life. You know, figure out what we’ll be doing when we grow up. Basically, what was the meaning of life for us. So often, we found ourselves asking one another, “Quick, what’s the meaning of life?” Sure, we were trying to be funny, but in reality, we were just a bunch of lost kids, trying to figure out where we fit in this world.
Now, years later, I find myself asking the same question. So many times, I wonder if I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do. Did I make a difference? Did I leave my mark with anybody? Am I supposed to do more than what I’m doing? Am I just stuck in the” cycle of life” and not doing enough soul searching?
We’ve all been there. How many times have we asked ourselves if we are doing what we love. I mean, what if we made wrong choices? What if we had taken the other path when we reached the crossroads in our lives?
Ah, so many what ifs. I guess we can’t really worry about the what ifs. But I still think it’s important to do some real soul searching. It’s easy to just get caught up in all of our responsibilities; we go to work, pay our bills, get some sleep, wake up, and go to work again. Yep, that vicious cycle we loath so much. Don’t get me wrong. It’s imperative that we are responsible and make a living. Obviously, we have to pay our bills on time. Sorry, we can’t get away from that. And of course, if we keep our jobs, we can take care of our family and perhaps afford the nicer things in life.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if this is all there is. Is there more I should be doing? Sometimes I think that because of that vicious cycle, we forget to live. I mean really live. We forget to do things that make us happy. That’s what I mean by soul searching. We all have to find our own happiness.
I’m not whining at all about my life. I do believe I’ve accomplished quite a bit actually. I’m quite content, if not proud of many things. I’ve practiced physical therapy for over 20 years. And truly, I’ve learned so much from some pretty amazing patients.
I’ve been married for almost 20 years to this crazy but amazing guy. That’s pretty damn awesome!
Oh and did I mention that I have three beautiful children? They’re my everything.
And lastly, I’ve published three books. I mean to be able to say that I’m a published author is pretty cool, not to mention all of the awards and recognitions they have received.
And yet, I still find myself wondering… what’s the meaning of life?
“Don’t judge the book by its cover.”
We’ve all heard this a million times. But the reality check is that people do judge the book by its cover. Since I’ve published three books, I’m slowly learning different tricks of the trade, and a good cover for a book is a must.
I really think long and hard on what kind of cover I want. Colors are very important to me. I also like the covers to look unique. Unfortunately, the stock photos have already been used on other book covers many times. So, I used a professional photographer and a model for the covers of the Chaysing Trilogy. I’m very picky about the vision I have for my covers, so it’s imperative that both the model and the photographer understand what I’m looking for.
Chaysing Dreams Cover
In the first cover, Chaysing Dreams, the model is wearing a white dress. Tess, the main character, is young in this book, innocent and even naïve. It’s mostly a coming of age tale where she’s forced into situations, and she has to find inner strength to grow up. The white dress symbolizes her innocence. At the same time, the woods are dark and have a bluish tint to them. There is some suspense and mystery to this story, so this is portrayed through the dark coloring. In this first book, Tess is haunted by nightmares of being chased through woods. In the cover, the woods appear mysterious and intimidating, just like her dreams.
Also, the model’s pose is an important aspect of this cover. She seems like she’s lost and searching for something. At the same time, her posture is confident. She’s not timid or scared. She looks like she’s trying to find some answers. Athough Tess is a teenager in most of the first book, she’s still a strong young girl.
There are tiny stars scattered throughout the cover. For me, these shiny stars symbolize hope—light through the darkness.
Chaysing Memories Cover
In the sequel, a lot happens. Tess is growing up but has lost much of her memory, especially of the man she once loved. Although Tess is much stronger in this book, she is still lost, searching for answers. For the cover, I wanted to show this through her expression.
Also, the male character is added in this book cover. However, he is mysterious and we still don’t know much about him. Hence, in the cover, he’s hidden within the fog.
Tess is haunted by dreams of a man with gray eyes. To make the eyes stand out, the male model on the cover has glowing gray eyes. Again, this adds to the mystery and suspense of this strange man from her dreams.
Also in this cover, Tess is wearing a red dress. The color red symbolized love and passion. In this particular story, she learns to truly love, and the relationship eventually becomes passionate.
There are stars again around her, symbolizing hope through the despair.
Chaysing Destiny Cover
By now, Tess has gone through a lot in her life. She is a strong, confident woman by now. Tess has hardened herself and is fiercely protective of her loved ones. Oh, and she’s out for revenge.
It was imperative to have a fierce and confident pose in this cover (head/chin up, fists clenched, strong legs). The cover shows how much Tess has matured, and she’s not backing down from anything. And although it’s hard to see, the model is wearing a necklace with a heart and teardrop. This is the gift she had received from the man she had fallen in love with and eventually lost in Chaysing Memories. This necklace is a reflection of their relationship.
Color again is very important. She’s wearing a black dress in this cover because black symbolizes strength and power.
In the background, the sun is setting. I like the symbolism of this. As the sun sets, the light fades, overcome by the forces of darkness. This last book is a lot darker, so the setting of the sun is the perfect background. Also, the sun looks like an enormous fireball, which represents the fire that has been growing inside her through the years.
There’s a creek right behind the model. Again, this creek has a special meaning… it symbolizes perseverance. How? Well, you have to read the story to find out.
Oh and how can I forget? There’s that beautiful guy in the background. Yeah, about that… Who is he? What is his role? Is he one of the good guys or the epitome of evil?
So that’s my hard work on the covers. I’ve never been a director of something like this, but I did have a lot of fun directing these photo-shoots and eventually picking the cover shots. I think it forced me to work out of my comfort zone and really brought out my creative side. Besides, I had a fabulous model and photographer who did a fantastic job doing their magic and creating my vision.
Although the covers may not be like the big publishing house covers, they’re not bad for a little indie author like me. Besides, nothing beats the feeling of creating something yourself and having complete control over it. Now that’s priceless!
The images flash by at a lightning pace…
The pain sears through me, but the reward makes it tolerable. I have to push harder to bring my baby, my everything, into this world. As the fear for my baby’s safety engulfs me, an overwhelming sense of sorrow sends tears cascading down my cheeks.
The sound of the explosion has me running toward the source. I have to save him.
Screams and cries of women and children urge me to run faster. Blood everywhere. Too many dead, mutilated bodies are all around me. No, please, no! I’m too late.
Suddenly, I’m running through the field of beautiful wild flowers. I’m playing with Gem, and while I laugh, she barks with excitement. I glance over my shoulder to see Chayse running after me. He tackles me, his weight holding me down. I laugh.
When he turns me over to face him, his eyes are not happy. Without any warning, the force of his knuckles land hard on my face.
Everything goes black.
The nightmares continue to haunt me. The dread of not knowing if these nightmares are a part of my past, present, or future consumes me.
Too many questions. Not enough answers.
But the truth is out there.
I won’t back down. I will find my answers.
I can’t believe 2015 is almost here. How can that be? I still remember listening to Prince’s song “1999” and I used to think that 1999 seemed so far away. Man, if there was only a way to slow down time.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to that. But as I’m getting older and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve learned to force myself to slow things down. I’ve promised myself that if there’s a moment in time I want to remember, I’m going to stop what I’m doing and just feel. It could be somebody singing a beautiful song, or my kids opening their gifts, or my dog playing with her toys, or welcoming the birth of my beautiful niece, or finishing my manuscript…
Memories are very important to me. Since time is slipping away, I at least want to try to remember things that touch me—you know, just to internalize it all and live for the moment.
I know, I know…we all try to come up with a New Year’s Resolution, promising ourselves that this new year will be different. We all work hard on it for the first couple of months and then we fall back on our old habits. Trust me, I’ve been there many times!
But this year, I challenge you to come up with realistic goals. It could even be simple things that are easy to achieve. You just really have to look within yourself to see what’s important to you.
Somebody once told me that nobody is responsible for my happiness but myself. I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that the person was right. At the end of the day, it’s up to me whether I see the cup as half full or half empty. I’m in charge of my own happiness—not my family, not my friends, not my work. It’s up to me to find where my happiness lies. So guess what? I decided to laugh more, to appreciate the little things in life, to just live my life to the fullest. Because before I know it, things could be taken away from me in a heartbeat. Yes, life is moving that fast, folks.
What are your dreams? What are some things you always wanted to do? What is your calling? Only you can answer these questions. The only way to do that is to really do some soul searching. Sure, you may not be able to drop all that you’re responsible for and pursue your dreams. Unfortunately, that probably is not very practical. But maybe you can come up with some sort of compromise.
Let me explain. In my case, I wanted to see if I could write a novel. Granted, this has nothing to do with my career field. I’m a physical therapist for heaven’s sake. But I wanted to just challenge myself. And do you know what? I realize I absolutely love it. I enjoy creating my own world through my books, my characters, and most of all, I love bringing these books to my readers. Who would have thought that this was something that would be my passion? But does that mean I’m going to drop my job, go to other countries to do my research for my books, and just focus on my writing? That’s just not very practical for me. So what do I do? I compromise. I try to focus on my writing/marketing on evenings and weekends. Instead of writing two or three books a year, I write one every ten months. It’s the best I can do and that’s good enough for now. Like I said, I enjoy creating stories, and it’s a nice therapeutic escape to lose myself into my fictional world.
So don’t sell yourself short…just go for it! Don’t wait for the right time because it’ll never come. 2015 is YOUR year! Embrace it and take control of your own happiness!
As you think about what you want out of 2015, I’ll leave you with a little excerpt from Chaysing Dreams. This is actually New Year’s Eve party and Tess and Jack are nineteen years old in this scene.
Chaysing Dreams Excerpt (New Year’s Eve)
Jack takes my hand and leads me under the mistletoe. He lifts my chin up to look at him and says, “Ok, Tess, don’t freak like you did last time I tried to kiss you.”
“What? I didn’t freak. I didn’t know…” Before I can finish my sentence, he leans forward and plants his lips on me. It’s a brief kiss, but full of tenderness.
“See, not too bad, right?” Jack asks.
“Shut up, Jack,” I say, laughing with him.
Jack takes my hand, leads me to the rest of the guests, and we begin mingling.
Right when midnight is about to strike, we start the count down.
All of us yell, “10, 9, 8….4, 3, 2, 1!” We all jump around, hugging one another, and screaming, “Happy New Year!”
As I embrace everybody, suddenly my phone buzzes. I glance down at my phone and notice a text that says,
“Thinking about you as this new year starts. Happy New Year!”
I don’t recognize the number. So I reply:
“Thank you. Who is this?”
“Come on, Tessnia, you know who this is.”
Oh my god, it’s him! My heart skips a beat.
“How did you get my number?”
“You gave it to me, a while back.”
“I don’t remember giving it to you?”
I know I hadn’t given it to him.
“I guess where there’s a will, there’s a way. Have a good night, Tessnia.”
And that’s that. The conversation ends and I’m left wondering if that really happened. I quickly save his phone number, purposefully ignoring my shaky fingers and erratic heartbeat.
In my novel, Chaysing Dreams, Tess, the main character leaves for Stanford. Here’s a little excerpt when her parents drop her off:
When our parents bring us to our apartment to drop Kylie and I off, it’s the strangest feeling. I mean, we’re going to be totally on our own. Eighteen and independent! Nobody is going to be checking up on me. No curfew! No rules! I can do whatever I want. Wow, it feels amazing to have this freedom.
Both of our parents give us really tearful goodbyes. My dad can barely look at me. He just mumbles to be careful under his breath and walks out.
After they leave, Kylie and I just lie on our beds in our apartment, staring at the ceiling. We both have separate bedrooms, but because the two bedrooms are across from each other, we can see one another. Instead of feeling excited, it feels empty. Just that quick, the appeal of “freedom” is gone.
In my own life, my oldest baby just left for college this week. After living under the same roof for the last eighteen years, I now have to get used to not seeing her every day. It feels like I’m just throwing her out there to the world. Is she ready? Did I prepare her enough? Will she be able to problem solve through tough situations? Will she know whom she can trust, or will she be naïve and trust everybody?
Yes, I torture myself with these thoughts every day and night. It’s just a mother’s instincts to protect her baby. If I can keep all of the pain away from my children their entire life, I would. I want nothing more than to protect them and keep them from all the cruelty and evil of the world.
But the practical side talks to me. Yes, I do have conversations with myself… you know, all of those voices in my head. Hence, I’m a writer. Anyway, the practical side tells me that I can’t keep my children in a bubble their whole life. Let’s face it. They have to go out there and learn. The only way they can grow up to be a respectable man or a woman is by experiencing all that life brings—and that includes the good and the bad. Yeah, yeah… blah, blah, blah…
My husband says it’s time to “cut the cord.” He keeps telling me we did our job with our daughter, and we should be proud. She’s attending a great university and isn’t that what all parents want for their children? To succeed? Okay, I’ll give that to him. But can’t she just go to a local college and commute from home?
Well, it’s been three days since Taj has left. And although, I miss her dearly, I know it would be very selfish of me to keep her from experiencing these years at a major university. After all, I attended the same university, and I have to admit, they were the best years of my life.
So, even though my heart feels like somebody is squeezing the life out of it at times, and I desperately try to take deep breaths to get some air into my lungs, I let her go. Ultimately, all a parent really wants is his or her child to be happy. And I have to allow my babies to find their own happiness.
Here’s to you, Taj. May you find your own path in life. And may your path be smooth and full of happy memories.
Today is my one year anniversary since Chaysing Dreams has been published. Wow! What a ride.
When I first released Chaysing Dreams, it was more out of curiosity to see if anybody would like it. I thought all I had to do was to write the three books and share the story of Tess and Chayse to the world.
Was I wrong! I had no idea that your work doesn’t end once a book is published. I probably average 20-30 hours per week on writing, reading, and marketing. Most of my marketing efforts have been online. I honestly have had no time to go anywhere personally to get the word out except for a few book signing events I attended.
So, now that I’ve been in this “book” world for about a year, I sat back and reflected on all that I’ve accomplished.
- I have my own website! jalpawilliby.com I try to post something weekly if possible. But who would have thought that I was going to have my own website?
- I now have a Facebook page, twitter, and I just started Pinterest. Believe it or not, I have over a thousand followers on both Facebook and Twitter. Before all this, I had no knowledge of social media. I was forced to learn a lot—and you know what? I’m glad I did because let’s face it. The world is changing… and like it or not, social media is not going anywhere any time soon.
- I’ve got three trailers out on You Tube for Chaysing Dreams. Two are official trailers and one is a fan made trailer. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a very visual person. Watching trailers is kind of like watching the miniature version of your book.
- Chaysing Dreams was on the Amazon best seller list several times. Here’s a picture when Chaysing Dreams was ranked just three behind Stephen King.
- It received the five star seal from Readers’ Favorite. Three different reviewers read the book and all three gave it five stars. When those reviews came back, it felt pretty damn good.
- As of date, Chaysing Dreams has sold 452 copies (includes the paperback and the eBooks) No, it’s not thousands or anything. But to be honest, I was just expecting some close friends and family to buy it. The fact that strangers are buying it and liking it makes it all worthwhile.
- It has won “Book of The Month” recognition from Book Review Depot. This group is full of some amazing authors. So, I felt pretty awesome to be voted by them.
- More recently, it is a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award finalist in three categories. (Romance General, Romance Suspense, and Fiction Chick Lit). For me, this is completely not the type of recognition I would have expected. I know it’s tough to even be a finalist for these types of awards. If I win any medals from this contest, I’m going to Miami to accept my prize!
- I have 68 reviews on Amazon (4.8 out of 5 ratings)… I have 55 five star reviews, 11 four star reviews, 1 three star, and 1 one star. I realize that not everybody’s going to LOVE what I wrote- that’s life. But overall, not bad, right?
- The best part of this experience: I have met some pretty cool people. I’ve gotten some loyal fans who contact me regarding my books. I’ve also met some great authors who are more than willing to share their experience and knowledge.
So for now, I’m going to keep on moving forward. It may be at a slow pace, but it’s better than standing still. I’m just glad that I had enough courage to put something out there, not knowing how it was going to be received. Trust me, that’s a very intimidating feeling… you never know if the reviews will be positive or negative.
One year! I made it through one year! Go me!
For me, every bit matters. Every reader matters. Every review matters. Every recognition matters.
I’ll keep taking the baby steps because you know what? Every step matters.
I’m so excited to participate in an ongoing blog hop about my writing. I was tagged by James DiBenedetto. Thank you, James, for including me with some very talented authors. James is an author of the incredible Dream Series. You can check him out at this link: http://writingdreams.net
Now, here are the questions that I have to answer as part of this blog hop:
What am I working on?
I am currently working on Chaysing Destiny. This is the final installment of the Chaysing Trilogy. I’m only on Chapter Five, but I’m hoping it’ll be available by Spring of 2015. I’m excited, yet apprehensive to be done with the series. I’ve gotten so attached to the characters… I’m sure it will be bittersweet when I write the conclusion.
How does my work differ than others of its genre?
Well, to be honest, I have to admit that my books are multi-genre. The first book, Chaysing Dreams, could be classified as young adult, new adult, romance, suspense, thriller, action… But it’s still so much more. It talks about family, friendship, growing pains, depression, perseverance, and sacrifice. The main character, Tess, is a young girl of fifteen in the beginning and grows up to be a young woman of twenty-two by the end of the first book. This is very different than other books… my character grows up from an innocent young girl to a strong young woman.
In the second book, Chaysing Memories, Tess’s story continues. Again, this is very different because we watch Tess grow even more through her life experiences. But outside of that, we see the other characters change and grow through their experiences as well. Again, many dynamics are brought into this book. Friendships are tested, lost love comes back in her life, and there’s just more action in this one. Very difficult to just label it into one genre.
I think the books are unique because the readers go through the same emotions as the characters. They can feel their pain, happiness, fears, sadness…I really enjoy getting inside my characters’ heads. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology, so I believe this helps me to really understand how to accomplish this. Many readers have said that the stories made them “feel.”
Why do I write what I do?
I write because I have this crazy head that’s got an imagination out of this world. All these years, it’s been screaming at me to get my thoughts down. I’ve always been an avid reader, so one day, I decided to listen to the voices in my head and began writing. A year later, Chaysing Dreams was produced! And now, I realize how therapeutic writing is for me. I love creating stories. I love bringing my characters to life. I’ve always read to give myself some escape from the craziness of the real world. Knowing that my books have done the same for others is enough of a reason for me to keep writing.
How does my writing process work?
My laptop is my best friend. I work full-time during the day, so I try to get my writing done either in the evenings or on weekends. When I can, I try to go to Barnes and Noble with my laptop. For some reason, this really creates the right mood/atmosphere for me.
Also, I do have an idea of how my stories will go. I’ve taken notes on each story. I know how I want them to start and how I want them to end. But sometimes, when I’m writing a particular scene, the characters kind of take over, and the scene develops into something completely unexpected. I love that- it’s as if the characters are directing me on how they want their story to go. Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy. But hey, I’ve never claimed to be completely sane anyway.
Ok, enough about me… Let’s now move on to some amazing authors that I’m about to tag:
Regina M. Joseph is the author of The Alterran Legacy Series, her first foray into fictional writing. Colony Earth was published in October 2012, Khamlok on March 1, 2013, and on Resurrection May 1, 2014. She is at work on the concluding volume, Redemption. All three novels have been 5 stars by Reader’s Favorite. www.alterranlegacy.com
Errika Lee is a registered nurse dedicated to spreading positive messages of esoteric truth through various routes, her favorite being those that allow her to make use of her creativity. The Kingdom of Dala is her debut novel and marks the beginning of her story-writing ventures. Devoted to her spiritual studies, Errika intends to publish a sequel to The Kingdom of Dala shortly after the first book’s release in hopes of realizing a powerful message. http://www.errikalee.com
Lisa Sommers was born and raised in San Diego, California. She graduated from the University of Phoenix majoring in Business Management. After working in the Accounting field for more than fourteen years she decided to become a stay-at-home mother to her four children. Moving out of San Diego after 37 years, her, her husband and their children moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be near family.
Lisa is just as much an avid coffee drinker as she is a reader and writer. Her genres of reading and writing have been in the romance/erotica/suspense arena. Although, she has been writing for a couple of years she just recently published her first series called, Caught Off Guard, in February 2014. http://www.lisasommers.blogspot.com/
Give these wonderful authors some love!