** Tuesday, 11:13 PM – ACK!!! I wrote this post Monday night for posting so it’d be up right after midnight and just figured out it never posted! 😦 😦 I’m so sorry Jay and Shannon!!! 😦 😦 **
Welcome! Today I am SUPER excited!! Today, I get to host a spot on the Book Blitz tour for my friend, Jay’s, second book, Father Figure!! I was honored to be able to help Jay with this book by beta reading several versions. Jay and I met through our blogs. If you haven’t checked out his blog, This is My Truth Now, you definitely should. It’s awesome! Even more awesome tho’ is this new book from him! I’ll be hosting a review on Father Figure during the review tour in June.
Publication Date: April 2, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama
Purchase Link: Amazon
Father Figure will be available FREE from 5/6 thru 5/10! Don’t miss out on this opportunity! Also, if you haven’t read James’ fantastic debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, pick it up on sale for only $0.99 on Amazon from 5/6 thru 5/10!!!
You can also try to win a digital copy of “Father Figure” early during the book blitz!
Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town, and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Struggling to survive in a claustrophobic, unforgiving world, they embark on a journey to overcome all the pain, disappointment, and horror of their experiences.
Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown, connect with others, and fall in love. Contemplating an impending loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia suffers devastating, life-altering tragedies. No matter where she turns, someone or something always steals her hope of finding happiness, protection, and love.
Brianna Porter, a sassy yet angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to determine her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. All the confusion stems from desperately needing to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, but an unexpected discovery of a journal leads Brianna to a shocking revelation about her missing parent. Unfortunately, by casting the net to find him, she’s unleashed a tragic history that was meant to stay buried and might now completely change everyone’s futures.
Through alternating chapters set two decades apart, each girl’s plight unfolds revealing the parallels between their lives and the subsequent collision that is bound to happen. In an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense, fate intervenes forcing someone to make a dreadful decision that will leave permanent scars.
Excerpt from Father Figure
Brianna wants answers and often acts childish to get them. In this scene, she tries to apologize and convince someone why she needs to know who her father is.
After leaving the coffee shop, Brianna approached her apartment building and waved to Lenny who sat at a small table outside the entrance to his club. “I’m sorry.” A small amount of guilt scratched at her conscience for the way she’d treated him. “I was immature the other night.” Her eyes dropped to the pavement with embarrassment over her behavior.
“Darling, you’re still young. It’s all you know how to do.” He dropped a packing receipt on the table and smiled at her. “What’s your end goal with all these questions?”
Brianna cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“Why do you need to know who your father is? What’s eating you up inside about not knowing?” He leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms. “A lotta good people don’t have relationships with their father.”
Brianna considered his words, certain she knew the answer but unwilling at first to tell him the truth. “Maybe I just don’t like secrets being kept from me.”
“Nah, that’s not the reason. No one likes it when other people know more than they do. Dig deeper, kiddo.” He busied himself with paperwork while she pondered the question.
Brianna let it rip. If he wanted to experience her reality, she’d drown him with it. “I’m alone. I don’t know where I come from. I’m scared to admit what I might be feeling for someone else. I feel like I’m not worth having a father. I worry that no one will ever love me. I keep asking if I did something wrong when I was a baby to make him leave. It’s like I live in this fucked-up fake life where I don’t belong, and no one’s ever gonna rescue me.” Brianna breathed in deeply, closed her eyes, and trudged up the steps. “Pick any one of them while I disappear into the Land of Lies suffocating me upstairs.”
“Sounds rough. Possibly an exaggeration, but I can see how much this is hurting you.” Lenny shuffled toward the metal railing that prevented him from hugging her even though Brianna desperately needed someone paternal to provide comfort. Or smack her. Either way, it wasn’t his job. “I’ll answer one question for you, but then you have to discuss the rest with your mother. And don’t ask me who your father is because that’s not something I can tell you.”
Author Interview with James J. Cudney
I’m so pleased to be bringing you this interview with my friend, Jay. He’s an amazing author and I’m honored that he was willing to answer so many questions! Thank you, Jay!
Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day? Do you enjoy your day job?
Jay’s Response: I worked in technology at a few entertainment, sports, and media companies for about fifteen years before I left in the fall of 2016 to focus on a writing career. I enjoyed my job, but I also worked way too many hours and took very few days off. I miss the positive aspects of working in a corporate environment and interview on occasion when the right fit or company surfaces. I may still go back assuming it leaves me enough time to continue writing on nights and weekends. Money is also important, as I do have to support myself with part-time or consulting work until writing books earns me enough to make that my only focus.
Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?
Jay’s Response: Each cycle for writing a book has taken me about 6 months. During that time, I have four days each week where I focus solely on writing and editing, then marketing on the fifth day. My approach and process evolves as I automate some social media and blogging features and find help with a few agencies or consultants. I do keep a strict outline in terms of which chapters and scenes need to be written each day. I won’t let myself fall behind unless it’s during editing. I will take as much time as I need during that final process to perfect (as much as possible) my final copy before it goes to the editor and the publisher.
I also need absolute silence to write or I get easily distracted. No music, social media or internet during those 5 to 6 hours each day. Then I’m a little bit like a hamster running on his or her wheel trying to catch up on whatever I missed throughout the day.
Q3: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?
Jay’s Response: I got lucky, and I fully acknowledge it. I began blogging about 4 months before I shared my writing with any beta readers. During that time, I also sent around 50 query letters to agents. I received a few responses with interest, but nothing came to fruition. After 3 months, I stopped and focused on building up my blog to become noticed in a different way. I wanted readers to know I am consistent, persistent and open-minded. I met a wonderful blogger and author, Melanie Mole, who read my work. She introduced me to her publisher, and after a few conversations, we struck a deal!
I do think about quitting but it’s only for a few brief moments either when I think about the bank account being drained too low or a particularly negative review is posted. I’ve got a phenomenal support system who kick my backside just enough to get me to realize I’m living my dream at the moment. I need to make it work for as long as I can or as long as is possible because I absolutely love my life.
Q4: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?
Jay’s Response: Great questions. I tend to write a full first draft that matches the original outline in about two months. I then edit the story and ensure the full plot and characters are fleshed out in that third month. The last three months are the editing and beta reader process. I’ve connected with ten readers who have been instrumental in identifying small to medium issues that need resolution, as well as help with proofreading. I trust their voices to help shape the story where it needs some guidance.
My editing process is about 10 different machinations ranging from looking for repeated words to weak works, spelling errors to poor grammar, dialog quality and detail of narrative descriptions. From there, I have a list of 20 things that turn your writing from ‘good’ to ‘great’ – these are where I re-write sentence to reduce words, to add imagery, to fix awkwardness, etc. At that point, it goes to the editor where she finds oodles of things I missed! By then, beta readers have read twice, sometimes a few parts get a third read, and then it goes to the publisher. I’ve never set it aside for more than two weeks because I like to be busy and push through to the next project.
Q5: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
Jay’s Response: I wish… well, I don’t really. I am surrounded by wonderful people, so all my villains are entirely made up. I will admit that some of the things villains have said or done are things that crossed my mind whenever I was hurt or disappointed. No… nothing bad like Riley or Janet, but who hasn’t wanted to strangle someone at some point? And you think about it in your head for a brief second and then forget it. That’s where I draw from reality and include the evil nature that lurks around us sometimes. But I promise, I have not ever nor will I ever be as mean as the characters I put in the books!
As for how I get in touch with them, I’ve spent so much time in my head that I think about what really makes a person tick. I put my place in the shoes of the character and ask what I would do if I could get away with it. Imagination can be a blessing and a curse. At the end of the day, I feel the emotions from everyone I create, so I often find myself getting sad or scared or depressed for a few minutes up to a few hours… luckily, I have someone at home who can make me snap out of it easily.
Q6: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
Jay’s Response: What a great question! I use surnames from my family tree, as I’m a big genealogist. I like having those connections. I did include a few friends’ names who helped with marketing or beta reading on both books, just as a fun ode to them. There are a couple of scenes or phrases in each book that were said by someone in real life. I’ve added to the appropriate character… and I wait for friends to stumble upon them and either laugh or roast me! Other than little things, everything is entirely fictional. Although I have some interesting friends and family members with stories, no one is quite like the characters I’ve created.
Q7: What are some great books you’ve read recently?
Jay’s Response: I had an Agatha Christie Readathon on my blog in April where we read 4 of her best books. I love sharing that experience with my blogger buddies and friends. I’m hosting another one in July, but we’ll focus on children’s books next time. I’ve become a huge fan of Fredrik Backman after reading his book, Beartown, last year. I just read A Man Called Ove and Us Against Them. I will be reading the author’s other 4 works this summer. And then there’s Lisa Jewell, Kate Morton, and Ken Follett who just absolutely make me love reading more than anything else in the world.
Q8: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Jay’s Response: It used to be Olivia Glass from Watching Glass Shatter, but now it’s Amalia Graeme from Father Figure. I’d want to be her friend in Brant, Mississippi and steer her away from all the problems she encountered after leaving for college. Sometimes it only takes one good connection to help change a life. And maybe it wouldn’t stop everything, but the poor girl deserved a break much sooner than she ever got one. Yes, I blame myself, since as the author I caused the problems… but I would also want to help fix them in some other fantasy world. We’d spend the day together cooking, talking about a book, having discussions about the purpose of life, and building the strength for her to survive.
Q9: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?
Jay’s Response: I read every single one on Amazon and Goodreads, and if I stumble upon a review on a blog or social media, I read it. I can’t help it. It’s like desserts. If there is a cake, I eat the whole thing. If I open a box of cookies, I throw the empty bag or box in the garbage the same day after eating every single one of them. I’m a bit compulsive about those things. With reviews, I want to know what people think so I can improve. I try to find the constructive feedback in the review so that I can incorporate my own reactions and ideas into future work.
I have seen two things in my negative reviews that I agreed with and have made a conscious effort to fix. I didn’t edit the first book as well as I needed to edit it. I hired someone to fix it and then re-issued the book shortly after it was published. I no longer see any reviews citing proofreading issues. The same editor also polished my second book and it shines! The other area I agree with is that I can be overly descriptive and need to tone it down. From book one to book two, there’s a dramatic and positive difference. I will always be descriptive, but I know when to stop now.
I’ve seen some negative reviews that are from people who seem to prefer being mean and pointing out bad things, never saying anything good. I try to forget those, but they still hurt. I’ve got a thick skin, but it does bother me from time to time. Luckily, I’ve had ~90% positive reviews and ~10% negative reviews. In the negative ones, it’s clear a few didn’t give the book a chance, but it’s also clear people have different tastes and reading styles. I respect that… especially when someone clarifies why a book didn’t work for them rather than just trash it without any examples or reasoning. I’ve reviewed ~600 books in the last 2 years, so I am very conscious of being helpful rather than hurtful. I aim to deliver quality and useful feedback without penalizing the author for something that I’m not particularly fond of.
Thank you again Jay for answering my questions!! It’s been fun to read your answers! And thank YOU for joining me today to celebrate this awesome new book from James J. Cudney! Pick it up from Amazon either as an e-book or paperback version! I beta read it and am in the middle of reading the final version – it’s brilliant! Enjoy!