Friday, June 25, 2010

Dishing it up with Lauren Baratz-Logsted on her One Question Blog Tour

Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Lauren Baratz-Logsted in her one question blog tour. She is one of the most prolific and diverse authors I know with successes in various markets from Chick-lit to suspense to young adult and even broaching the young readers market with her Sisters 8 series.

Lauren took the plunge into the writing world in November of 1994, after working in a local indy bookstore in Westport for the better part of eleven years. Success didn’t happen overnight and between 1994 and May of 2002, she worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and even a window washer in order to supplement her writing career. But in May of 2002, Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy THE THIN PINK LINE.

Since receiving that call, Lauren has published a total of seventeen books including MARCIA’S MADNESS - the latest in the Sisters 8 series released on May 3, 2010 and her newest YA novel, THE EDUCATION OF BET which is scheduled for release on July 12, 2010.

So without further adieu, here is my question in Lauren’s one question blog tour:

[JET]: What made you switch up genres from Chick-lit to Middle grade/YA? Which genre do you prefer? Why?

[LBL]: It's even more complicated than that! In addition to adult Chick-Lit, I've had an adult literary suspense novel published, Vertigo. And in addition to YA (teen) and middle grade (9-12), I have The Sisters 8 series for young readers (6-10). About the only thing I don't do at this point is board books.

Of course you're right in that my first several books published were all for adults but there was never a conscious decision to change things up. I simply got the idea for what would be my first published YA novel - Angel's Choice - and realized during the process of writing it that what I'd thought was going to be another adult novel was in actuality a YA novel by virtue of the voice telling the story. Before I knew it, I fell in love with writing for teens and soon discovered there were other age groups that I had stories I wanted to write for as well.

I can't say that there's one genre I love above all others - I love it all, and that's why I'm crazy enough to attempt it all! That said, I do love writing for teens because there's so much range in YA these days and the audience is still excited by new-to-them ideas. And I really love working on The Sisters 8 because I created it with my husband Greg Logsted and our 10-year-old daughter Jackie. What could be more fun than getting to work on a series with my own kid??? I can't think of anything.

[JET]: Lauren, I have to admit I can’t think of anything more fun either!

Thank you very much for visiting my blog and answering my leading, multiple point question. :)

Lauren’s books are available at your local bookstore as well as online.

To learn more about Lauren, please visit her at her very cool website:

And to follow her one question blog tour- here are links to her stops before and after this one:
June 24: Wendy Toliver: If an alien offered to give you any position in the world, what would you choose?

June 28: Jenn

Until next week . . .



Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun Friday with CJ West!

Hi Folks,

I've got another fun Friday on tap for you. Author CJ West has graciously agreed to answer a few questions, highlighting his current release The End of Marking Time. He’s a very interesting man -- check it out, here's a quick bio before we jump into my interview:

CJ wrote his first book in 1979 while bored during school hours, but at that time writing was second to golf. CJ practiced hard daily and eventually entertained hopes of playing professionally. In 1985 he chose Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMASS Dartmouth) over golf and studied Business Management which advanced his career in computer technology.

Twenty years after that first book, CJ plunged back into writing. After six years studying other authors and working at his craft, CJ released Sin and Vengeance in 2005. He currently lives in suburban Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

JET: Your book The End of Making Time was just released on June 10, 2010. Can you tell us a little about the book and what makes it a have to have on our book shelves?

CJ:From the moment you turn over The End of Marking Time, you’ll see it is different. The first sign is that the back cover text is landscape (sideways if you’re not a graphic artist). Then, Michael O’Connor introduces himself and begins talking to you as if you already know him. He does this because he believes you are a member of his jury. Michael is trapped between two sheets of plexiglas facing an opaque window. He believes you are behind the window and that you have two buttons, one red, one green. If you press the green button he goes free. Michael spends the entire book trying to convince you to press the green button.

Michael’s story has garnered terrific reviews and encouraged debate on issues related to rehabilitation of felons and the effectiveness of our penal system and capital punishment.

JET: Was writing thrillers a conscious choice or was it just a natural affinity? Why do you think that is?

CJ:I write stories that entertain me as well as my audience. I have an affinity for action, unusual characters, and intricate story lines, so that is what I write. I was talking to a reader last weekend who said she admired my ability to introduce something into a story and later turn the entire situation on its head and make it something completely different. Thrilling and surprising readers this way is what excites me as a writer.

JET: Have you ever seen a dead body? How has that influenced your writing?

CJ:Have you seen my Facebook page? What part-time assassin hasn’t? I wouldn’t be very good at my day job if I hadn’t.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

CJ:My most challenging hurdle continues to be convincing new readers to try my work. I have five books in print that receive terrific reviews, but it is still difficult to convince readers to try a new author.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

CJ:I always enjoy meeting readers who rave about my work, but if there is one moment that stands out, it is a phone call I received this year regarding the budget of the Sin & Vengeance movie. The production company decided they wanted to go for a much larger budget because they were so excited about the project. Their excitement is contagious. There have been a series of these moments starting with the first contact from the screenwriter who wanted to adapt the story for film. I’m not positive Sin & Vengeance will make it to the big screen, but I have enjoyed every step of the journey so far.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

CJ:Growing up my world centered on golf. The writers of Golf Digest, particularly Tom Watson, had a huge influence on me. I didn’t find a love of fiction until much later.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

CJ:I didn’t know I wanted to take the plunge until I was already swimming. I started writing as a hobby and enjoyed it so much that I wrote everyday for years. It wasn’t until Sin & Vengeance was optioned for film that I believed I might make a career of this.

JET: Any advice for the novices out there?

CJ:It is all about the writing. We all get wound up about promoting books and trying to reach readers, but all that effort is wasted if the book isn’t great. It’s not good enough to be almost as good as the commercial writers. You need to deliver something that wows readers. You need complete strangers to start calling their friends and talking about you. I really believe (short a half million advertising budget) that is the only way to make a living selling books today.

JET: I understand some of your recreational interests include race cars and firearms. . .What kinds of guns have you had the opportunity to shoot? Favorites?

CJ:I’ve been shooting since I was nine. I started with a .22 revolver that was my grandfather’s and fired rounds by the brick. I spent years learning to shoot a compound bow and really enjoyed 3d shooting, which is a competition set up like a golf course for 3 dimensional animal targets made of high-density foam. These days my favorite is my 12 gauge Browning Gold. My brother nicknamed me the assassin because creatures that venture close to me have little chance of escape when I am carrying my 12 gauge.

JET: What about race cars - what’s the fastest you’ve gone on the track? Off the track?

CJ:My coolest car experience was this year on my book tour. It’s actually captured on video at Anthony Ricci, instructor to body guards and professional drivers, takes me around an obstacle course backward at 40 mph in a retired police car. When we are done, he accelerates to 50 mph and spins the car so we are travelling forward again. That event was amazing and there are more videos of it on my Facebook page and Youtube channel.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

CJ:Reusable bag.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

CJ:Steak. I won’t specify my favorite because it would probably gross your readers out.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

CJ:I can enjoy a read on the beach for a few days like any writer, but I prefer the mountains in the fall.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

CJ:Funny. Both. I grew up on Rock, but for the last two years I’ve been listening to modern country.

JET: Classics or Modern?

CJ:Modern. I enjoy finding new writers.

JET: Vamps or Wolves?

CJ:No thanks.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

CJ:I really enjoyed Zombieland! The great thing about Zombies is that they move slowly and no one gets too upset if you kill one. As long as you’re packing lots of ammunition, it sounds like a good time.

JET: Horror or Comedy?

CJ:Comedy. I’ve never been a horror fan. If it doesn’t have a plot that keeps me thinking, it better be funny.

JET: Salty or Sweet?


JET: Coffee or Tea?

CJ:Iced Tea. I might be the only writer who doesn’t use caffeine on a regular basis.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

CJ:I’m working on a love story / thriller called Addicted to Love. To call it romantic suspense would be a misnomer. It is as suspenseful and plot focused as my other books, but it is about love. The first chapter is available at the end of The End of Marking Time.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about CJ and his work at the following places:

CJ: Thanks for having me, J.E.

Thanks for joining us for this interview! Next week I have the fabulous Lauren Baratz-Logsted on her one question blog tour!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pay it Forward . . .

I’ve been thinking about this movie lately and how if everyone partook in random acts of kindness with no expectations of anything in return - even if only for a day - this would be such an amazing thing.

I guess this stems from something I did recently -- and no - this wasn’t my feeble attempt to save the chipmunk. LOL.

This goes back to the Thursday before Memorial Day when I was on the Metro North heading into NY from New Haven. A passenger thought he could charge his ticket on the train -- Amtrak allows this but apparently Metro North doesn’t. They were going to kick him off at the next stop, where he could buy a ticket at the window, but with waiting for the next train he’d miss his connection in Stamford.

After the conductor stepped away, I poked my head around the corner and asked him how much he needed. I actually had cash - which for me IS an odd occurrence - and he needed twelve dollars to get to Stamford from New Haven. I nodded, dug in my pocket book and handed him the money, much to his surprise.

The conductor came up to me after the man paid and took a seat in the far side of the car and informed me that the man had a twenty dollar bill on him. I had heard the original conversation; I heard he needed that for his destination because he where ever he was going - they didn’t take credit cards.

I smiled and nodded and said I was aware of that. The conductor got flustered and wandered away.

I know folks try to get something for nothing and whether the man’s story was true or he was trying to scam Metro North - I don’t really care. I was in a position to help and as grateful as he was, I highly doubt he was blowing smoke at the conductor. He even offered me his business card to contact him for the money and sincerely wanted to pay me back but I waived him off and told him not to worry about it.

What I should have said was Pay It Forward.

So if you get the chance, do something nice and unexpected for someone today - whether it’s a stranger or someone you know.

I’d love to hear your inspiring stories! Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Until next time . . .



Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Night Lights - An Interview with Bill Romanowski

Today I have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Bill Romanowski to my blog. We share the same high school - Rockville High School in Vernon, Connecticut - as well as the same passion for reaching for the brass ring. Most of you know him as Romo, one of the fiercest linebackers in recent NFL history, but he has since graduated from the National Football League and become an author, an actor and most recently a CEO of a successful nutritional supplement company.

Bill, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to hang with me on my blog and answer a few questions, the first of which I have to attribute to my ten-year-old son:

[JET] My son wants to know why you loved being a linebacker so much and was that your original choice in position or did you just fall into it naturally?

[Bill] That position chose me. From the time I was ten years old playing linebacker came easy to me. The one thing I liked about it is you have a chance to be in on every play. Linebackers get to fly around and be in on a lot of plays and to me that was a lot of fun.

[JET] What are your best memories of high school?

[Bill] Playing football for the love of the game with my buddies. There’s a certain camaraderie that comes with it, it’s a special thing, a bond - kind of a blood, sweat and tears thing going through what we used to call hell week together.

Growing up as a little kid I used to watch my brothers play football in high school and I always dreamed of playing. Being a Rockville Ram was special to me. Like I said, just playing for the love of the game and being out there with my buddies and the laughs, the wins, the losses, everything that goes with it.

You know, a lot of people think that football builds character, but I think more than anything it reveals character.

You see how tough someone is out on a football field. You see how hard someone is willing to work, how dedicated they are. How passionate they are and those traits get revealed on the field.

You may not be the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, but guess what? If you work hard and are out there flying around that’s seen, that’s revealed.

[JET] Since this is coming out around the time of graduation, do you have any advice for today’s high school graduates?

[Bill] Yeah, absolutely.

Follow your dreams.

Find something you’re passionate about.

Don’t let money be that thing you’re chasing after.

Make sure you choose something you love to do, something that you would do for free. When you go to college, pick a subject you absolutely love, that you love to do and the money will come.

[JET] As one of the lucky ones who got to live their dream, can you tell us what your favorite football moment was - pro or otherwise?

[Bill] Wow. I had so many.

Probably the moment that stands out the most for me is beating the Greenbay Packers in the Super Bowl when I was a Denver Bronco.

I came into the league and won two Super Bowls back to back and I was kind of spoiled - [laughs] - not kind of - very spoiled.

Then from there, we lost three NFC Championship games, got traded to Philadelphia, then landed in Denver and I realized how hard it is to make it to the Super Bowl. How special it is to win a Super Bowl.

To go in and be underdogs and to win . . .

I remember on the very last play I was blitzing Bret Favre and he threw the ball pretty quick because he knew the blitz was coming. This was on fourth down with very little time on the clock and John Mobley - one of my teammates - knocked down the pass and the game was over and we won.

That moment - knowing how special it really was - was the highest high I ever felt in the game of football.

[JET] Beyond Football, you’ve also taken a stab at both writing and acting. What was your favorite movie that you appeared in? Why?

[Bill] The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler.

I’ve had fun with all the movies I’ve done, but The Longest Yard - it was the greatest group of guys from Chris Rock, Adam, Burt Reynolds, Stone Cole, Steve Austin, Michael Irving, it was just an unbelievable group of guys that came together and we worked our butts off every day but it was almost like being in the locker room. It was so much fun every day and we had some great laughs.

To me that was the most fun and it had a lot to do with Adam Sandler and the way he handles the movie set and the people he has on staff. That one was really special.

[JET] As far as the writing front is concerned, as an author, I’m always intrigued at how others approach writing. What was your experience like?

[Bill] That was one of the toughest things, one of the toughest projects, putting my emotions, my feelings on paper, writing the stories, deciding what goes in and what comes out.

You know, I told the story from where I was emotionally at that point and the growth that came with the experiences I had - good and bad - and what I learned from it in the very end.

Just the process of going through that was very . . . healing. It was spiritual.

It was one of the toughest, most demanding things I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding.

[JET] Did you have any Aha moments?

[Bill] Oh, I had a lot of them and they kept coming to me. It’s like ahhh, man . . .

Looking back on it now, there’s things I would have done differently. I’ve grown and continue to grow as I go along and there are things I feel differently about. And things that have come out since then that I’d love to get into and maybe that’s where the second book comes in.

[JET] Have you started a second book?

[Bill] I haven’t . . . I’ve started it in my head.

[JET] As a writer, I’m very familiar with that concept.

Your autobiography hit the New York Times Best Seller List - how’d that feel?

[Bill] You know what, with all the goals I achieve, I think I celebrated for like five minutes, but then it’s time for the next goal.

I’m just a driven guy that as soon as I attain a goal - it’s ok - I’m ready for the next one.

[JET] I particularly liked the conversational tone of the book - just like this conversation. Your autobiography garnered reviews ranging the spectrum from outright praise to searing criticisms. For something so close to home, how did you deal with the harsher criticisms?

[Bill] The New York Media? How’d I deal with them? They were just pussy cats. [laughs] Holy Moley.

No, really.

How’d I deal with them?

It was like - tell me something I don’t know and it’s what I said in the book and if you don’t like the truth, I’m sorry.

If you’re going to tear me up about something, just read the book first before you trash it. That’s the biggest issue I had with people that wanted to put it down - to put me down - before they even read the book. There were certain guys that came out and said a lot of things but I figured they didn’t know me and they have no idea what I went through. I remember I would say they’re the guys that believe everything they read in the news papers.

[JET] Now onto a more serious subject. . . :-)

With so many football stars throwing their hat in the arena - is Dancing with the Stars in your future? :-)

[Bill] You know what - I would love to go on there. I heard someone talking about the fact that having athletes and folks like that Pussy Cat Dolls on the show is a little unfair, saying this is what they do every day but really - that’s a little different from doing the tango.

I’ve always been intrigued with it and I like to dance. I think it would be a really big challenge to see if I could translate my athletic skills onto a dance floor.

There’s a part of me that says ok - I’d just apply my same work ethic to what I do each and every day whether it be football, nutrition, the book, movies, and apply it there. I’d make a run at it if Dancing With the Stars asked.

[JET] I usually ask a quick ten questions of my blog interviewees - random information, a little geeky - but it’s still fun, so here we go - my quick ten:

[JET] Paper or plastic?

[Bill] Paper

[JET] Miami Vice or Starsky & Hutch?

[Bill] Starsky & Hutch

[JET] Ginger or Maryann?

[Bill] Maryann

[JET] Beach or mountains?

[Bill] Beach

[JET] Country or Rock-n-Roll?

[Bill] Rock & Roll

[JET] Steak or Tofu?

[Bill] Steak

[JET] Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali?

[Bill] Muhammad Ali

[JET] Vampires or werewolves?

[Bill] Werewolves

[JET] Zombies or demons?

[Bill] Demons

[JET] Horror or Comedy?

[Bill] Comedy

[JET] Thanks for indulging me. Before we wrap up - can you tell us what you’re doing these days?

[Bill] What I’m doing today is nutrition. Nutrition had a big impact in my football career and I learned how powerful nutrition is at a pretty early age after reading the book Ultimate Sports Nutrition. Whatever issue you have, a good supplement program can help.

For me being in the NFL I made a living with my body and I wanted to be the best there was in the game and I wanted my body to be the best and the only way I was going to do that was by taking care of it. And I was obsessed about it, but it worked.

I learned an awful lot in that process and when I got out of the game, I’ve had issues with multiple concussions when I was playing and went around to several different doctors and they all told me the same thing: There’s nothing that you can do . . . time is your friend . . . we don’t know if you’ll end up like Mohammad Ali.

So I took matters into my own hands, hired my own scientists, nutritionists and doctors and came up with a formula for me and for my brain to turn it back on after all the concussions. I had a lot of success with it and said you know what? I think I’m going to start a nutrition company and this is going to be one of the ways I give back.

I took what I learned from all these great minds in nutrition and formed a company around it to help people with issues they have. Our first product was a brain focused mental performance product, the next product was a natural sleep aid. Then it took two or three years but we’ve come out with a really good weight loss shake called Lean One and now we also have a multivitamin.

So basically right now my focus is nutrition and living a healthy life style.

I want to change the world through functional nutrition.

[JET] Thank you very much for joining me today.

[Bill] Thanks for having me!

A brief bio:

Meet 4-Time NFL™ Super Bowl Champion & CEO Bill Romanowski

As a NFL football player with a 16-year career that included an almost unthinkable 243 consecutive games highlighted by five Super Bowls, Bill Romanowski showed the kind of awe-inspiring skill and accomplishment that earned him a place in the national spotlight. So, too, did a passion for the game so intense it earned him an enduring reputation for badass ferocity.

To those who truly knew him, the fierce scowl and bold headlines were the caricature of a man on a personal quest to find the ultimate tools for enhancing his performance. Despite his individual achievements, Bill always regarded his greatest feat as helping his teammates. He dedicated himself to giving them the tools to become better athletes, from the best nutritional supplements and access to top massage therapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors to teaching rookies about mental toughness and more.

At the end of his pro career, Bill’s quest took an urgent new turn: the incessant punishments of the playing field had robbed him of his ability to achieve mental clarity and focus along with his quality of life being in serious jeopardy. Putting his years of knowledge to new use, Bill sought out the best doctors and nutritionists to arrive at a formulation that would restore his mental function.

Today, Bill has broadened his quest to share the benefits of new knowledge, healthy living and superior nutrition to help people live optimal lives. As CEO of Nutrition53, a company that incorporates his career playing number into its name, Bill has built a new team of top doctors, researchers and nutritionists - to create the highest quality functional nutrition formulas available today. From staying lean to sleeping well and thinking clearly, under Bill’s guidance, Nutrition53 is providing people with real tools and answers to help them achieve their goals - and “live like they mean it”.

To find out more about Nutrition53, please visit their website at

For a more in depth look at Bill and his football career, check out his autobiography, ROMO - My Life on the Edge: Living Dreams and Slaying Dragons. Honest and eye opening, I highly suggest this for anyone with sports as the epicenter of their life!

You can purchase it here on Amazon:

Catch you all next week!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday Night Lights and a contest for a free signed copy of Survival Games!

I just received a 4 nymph review from Literary Nymphs and I'm  stoked.  I also have a very special guest on my blog tomorrow -- Former NFL Linebacker Bill Romanowski -- and in light of my top of the world mood - I thought I'd have some fun with both our fans!

So here's the deal. . .
Anyone who comments on my blog tomorrow in a creative manner including both the phrase '4 nymphs' and any of the subjects I talk to Bill about will be considered in a drawing to win a signed copy of my novel Survival Games.    

You can increase your chances of winning by doing two things: 
1.  If you also ask Bill a question in addition to the 4 nymphs comment -- you will get two entries in the drawing.

2.  Creativity counts as much as asking questions - so if I find the entry particularly entertaining - or if Bill comments about the entertaining quality of your comment - you'll get an extra contest entry in the pot!

The blog will be up at 12:01am EST Friday 6/11 (tomorrow) and all comments meeting the criteria that are entered through 12:00am EST Saturday 6/12 will be placed in a drawing.

The winner gets a personalized signed copy of Survival Games!

This contest is only available at my Blogspot Blog - so be sure you're in the right place!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Shout outs!

Hi all,

Welcome to the first Friday in June! My first order of business - June shout outs to my Backspace brethren with books coming out this month:

ONLY THE GOOD SPY YOUNG (6/29) by Ally Carter, THE TRUTH ABOUT DELILAH BLUE: A NOVEL (6/8) by Tish Cohen, JUBILEE by Eliza Graham, SILENCING SAM (6/22) by Julie Kramer, and FIRST THRILLS: HIGH OCTANE STORIES FROM THE HOTTEST THRILLER AUTHORS (6/22) which includes a story by Backspace’s very own Karen Dionne! Grab one of these at your local book store or at!

Now, let me tell you I’ve had a tough time getting back to the swing of things after five days of bliss that started in New York City at the Annual Backspace Conference and ended in York, Maine. In New York, I had such a blast meeting up with other authors, agents, and editors. There really is nothing like the excitement of a first book sale or being on your first panel. The only thing that tops that is meeting fans face to face and seeing that glimmer in their eyes usually reserved for someone special -- and then realizing it’s aimed at you. That my friend is the ultimate high!

I can now say I am no longer a conference panel virgin! Yay. I was terrified at the prospect of speaking in front of a room full of people - even in the panel format. You see, I have this habit of forgetting words when I get nervous and I’ve been known to freeze in front of the microphone before, but gladly, neither of those afflictions hit.

On Friday, May 28th, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Backspace Conference in New York City ( and participating in a panel called “Writing From the Edge: Sin, Sex and Similar Taboos” with a great group of ladies including Rachel Kramer Bussel and M.J. Pearson with Randy Susan Meyers as moderator.

The discussion was lively with questions ranging from how to incorporate sex into a mainstream novel without jarring the reader to inquiries about any taboo that we wouldn’t tackle within our stories! Very fun indeed!

Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay for the Saturday panels which I heard were stellar - but then again Karen Dionne and Chris Graham know how to put on a killer conference! If you are a writer, especially a writer just starting out and looking for a great conference to attend where you have access to agents and editors, I’d highly suggest the Backspace Conferences. They have an agent/author conference in November and then their regular Annual confernce in May. This year they even had Donald Maass there! How can you beat that?

Anyhow, the panel I was on prompted an interesting question that I’m shooting out there for any writer and reader to weigh in on:

Writer: Have you ever written anything that you had a hard time showing to a family member or a friend? How did you handle that?

Readers: I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions: How would you feel if your spouse, or your siblings, or your children or parents wrote something racy? Would you want to read it? How would you handle it?

Thanks all!