Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Dance Alone, Roller skates of Wonder



I don't remember if I've shared this on the blog before, but I love to dance. Like LOVE to dance. If I were a crack head, dance would my rock. And if I had my way, I would be all skinny and tweaked out and rocking in the corner from overexposure to the pure awesome of my dance rock habit.

I dance like a lunatic, like an animal set free from a cage. I dance until my clothes are soaked through with sweat and my hair is curly and sticking up in a white girl afro and my eyeliner runs. There have been many times--upon exiting a club--when I was asked if I'd been crying. No. Not crying. DANCING, mother-effer! Like people were meant to dance. Fierce and wild and uninhibited.

But despite all that, I hardly ever dance. I've been twice in the past seven years. Twice. Because a grown woman can not go out to a club--even with girlfriends--and dance like a crazy person and not attract a certain type of attention. I am a married woman, I don't go out to dance to meet men. I actually don't even like dancing with men, even my husband. I like to dance alone. By myself. Me and the music, that's it--maybe a girlfriend or two in the vicinity in case I need to squeal loudly when a good song comes on and don't want to look like too much of a dork (as if dancing by myself like a lunatic wouldn't have accomplished that already).

But obviously, I am in the minority in this, and therefore--as I'm sure you girls know--the few times I go out, I end up fighting off men trying to hump my leg for half my evening, which puts a damper on the experience.

So...I've pretty much quit going out. It wasn't hard to do. I have a demanding job and two small children, and my few girlfriends in Arkansas who liked to dance also had small children and demanding jobs and not enough time to spare for fun. And now, in my new home town I have no friends, so there you go, *slap, slap of the hands*, all chances of going out to dance finished. Out the window.

Good-bye soul friend. Good-bye joy. Good-bye musical-body cell connection and awesomeness.

Sniff.

I have to admit I got pretty bummed out about this a month or so ago. I sat there thinking to myself: "Self, you're 33. You've got to get out there and shake that groove thing before you loose it. When you're 54 and can't physically dance for 5 hours straight, you are going to look back on your life and this is going to be the one BIG thing that you regret." (That, and not finding a way to have my own goat herd, which I really, really want in a really, really bad way. For real. Really.)

So I thought and thought about other things that make me feel like dancing. Judging from this picture, it makes other people feel the same way:



(No, that isn't me and My Old Man. Though he would totally roller skate in his man-panties for me. Because he is that loving and awesome and unashamed.)

Rollerskating. Roller. Skating! The wind in your hair, the loud music, the flashy lights, the feel of the wheels doing that weird thing they do when you're cross-over stepping and going so fast to the right that you start to go left?

So I took 6 roller skating on Sunday and we had a blast! It was his first time, so I spent most of the afternoon holding hands with him and having my arm jerked from my socket--and GOD am I sore. Still. So sore. Ouch.--but it was still magnificent. The few laps where I got to go around fast were heavenly. And the other skaters where all kinds of kick-ass groovy. There was a 14 year old girl in rainbow feather bell bottoms who is pretty much my new hero. She skated for three hours all by herself. Dancing and throwing up her arms and kicking up her feathered pants. She had no shame. She skated like a crazy person, like an animal who doesn't even know what it feels like to be in a cage. So free and happy and not giving a good-god-damn what anyone thought of her. I never would have been that brave at 14. But I'm going to be that brave at 33.

If I get my work done this week, The Old Man and I are going on a skate date. I told him I want to skate for the entire 5 hour fun skate. He laughed. I did not. I also told him I would be wearing something obnoxious and fun that involved scarves. He didn't laugh. But he hugged me, and said he was glad. And then I cried a little.

Love. Roller skates. Wonder. I can't wait for Saturday!

Peace,

Stacey

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Undead Valentine's Day!

If there's ever been a better day to pick up your copy of the new Megan Berry novella, it isn't coming to mind, so:



Blurb:

Q: What could be worse than spending Valentine's Day alone?
A: Spending it with evil zombies!!

Megan Berry is no stranger to heartbreak, but spending Valentine's Day serving other happy couples hot dogs while mourning the loss of her one true love is almost more than even a highly trained Zombie Settler can handle. So when her recently estranged boyfriend, Ethan, texts her asking her to be his Valentine, she ditches her bodyguard and rushes to his side.

But soon, Megan's dreams of chocolates, flowers, and lingering make-up kisses take a turn of the rotted-corpse-and-maggot variety and Megan fears that her first Valentine's Day with Ethan...will be her last.

Excerpt:

February 14th, 9:36 p.m.

Are you lonesome tonight? Do you miss me tonight?

Elvis’s voice oozes from the speakers at the abandoned Sonic drive-in, echoing off the plastic overhangs covering the parking spots, syncopated by the harsh buzz of a broken electric menu. The street leading to the last burger joint before Carol turns into a maze of subdivisions is dark and still, and the only sign of life is a gathering of crows picking at a furry, dead thing beneath the sputtering streetlight at the corner of Main and Needle Lane.

Eerie. Creepy. With tremble on top.

The sign flashing orange in the drive-through window says the place is open, but apparently freezing cold weather doesn’t put the average Carol, Arkansas citizen in the mood to grab burgers and ice cream and eat in the car.

I cross my arms and huddle tight to the side of the building, taking comfort in the fact that I can hear people moving around inside if I really try. Otherwise, it would be easy to start dwelling on how much this moment resembles the beginning of a horror movie.

Girl alone? Check.

Usually cheery setting made creepy by the fact that it’s utterly deserted? Check.

Romantic old music that will be made scary as hell when played over footage of Girl Alone being hacked to bits by zombies/mutant wolf creatures/axe murderers/escaped mental patients possessed by demons/evil clowns? Check and check.

Of all those, zombies are the only thing I’m equipped to combat, and I’d be happy to avoid contact with the feral undead tonight.

I shiver. “Come on, Ethan. Where are you?” I check my phone again just to make sure that it’s really been thirty minutes since Ethan’s text. It has.

End Excerpt.

The Kindle version of the book:

Is ready to go: http://www.amazon.com/Valentines-Undead-Megan-Berry-ebook/dp/B004N84W36/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1297523321&sr=1-4

The Nook version should be live within 24 hours, and I'll let you know sometime later in the week about the print version. And, as always, feel free to email me from the contact page on my site if you'd like a pdf file. I'll send you an invoice and once payment is received, I'll send over the file. It's been working pretty well so far, so that's encouraging news.

But not as encouraging as these mostly healthy faces:









Nothing like a cheesy photo shoot with two precious boys, some balloons, and some pink trees. It was a lovely afternoon--until we had to pry the balloons out of the baby's hand and he showed us his Despair with a fit unlike anything the world has ever seen. I was afraid he was going to do himself injury, but I couldn't drive with balloons in the backseat. So, there you go.

My 6 year old is very excited about his first Valentine's Day with a special lady friend. He got her a box of chocolates and picked out the funniest Phineas and Ferb Valentine. Of course I told him that he didn't have to have a girlfriend, that he's only in first grade and I didn't have a Valentine until I was in seventh or eighth grade and there's no need to rush these things.

But 6 just looked at me and said: Mom, it's too late. I already HAVE a girlfriend. *shakes head sadly because his mother is obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer*

Too late, indeed. Hm.

Hope you all have a lovely day!

Stacey

Friday, February 11, 2011

Megan 2 and 1/3, how to get your copy!

So, if you missed the announcement, you can read about the new Megan Berry novella here: http://staceyjayya.blogspot.com/2011/02/megan-berry-2-and-13.html.

And here's the blurb and excerpt!



Blurb:

Q: What could be worse than spending Valentine's Day alone?
A: Spending it with evil zombies!!

Megan Berry is no stranger to heartbreak, but spending Valentine's Day serving other happy couples hot dogs while mourning the loss of her one true love is almost more than even a highly trained Zombie Settler can handle. So when her recently estranged boyfriend, Ethan, texts her asking her to be his Valentine, she ditches her bodyguard and rushes to his side.

But soon, Megan's dreams of chocolates, flowers, and lingering make-up kisses take a turn of the rotted-corpse-and-maggot variety and Megan fears that her first Valentine's Day with Ethan...will be her last.


Excerpt:

February 14th, 9:36 p.m.


Are you lonesome tonight? Do you miss me tonight?


Elvis’s voice oozes from the speakers at the abandoned Sonic drive-in, echoing off the plastic overhangs covering the parking spots, syncopated by the harsh buzz of a broken electric menu. The street leading to the last burger joint before Carol turns into a maze of subdivisions is dark and still, and the only sign of life is a gathering of crows picking at a furry, dead thing beneath the sputtering streetlight at the corner of Main and Needle Lane.

Eerie. Creepy. With tremble on top.

The sign flashing orange in the drive-through window says the place is open, but apparently freezing cold weather doesn’t put the average Carol, Arkansas citizen in the mood to grab burgers and ice cream and eat in the car.

I cross my arms and huddle tight to the side of the building, taking comfort in the fact that I can hear people moving around inside if I really try. Otherwise, it would be easy to start dwelling on how much this moment resembles the beginning of a horror movie.

Girl alone? Check.

Usually cheery setting made creepy by the fact that it’s utterly deserted? Check.

Romantic old music that will be made scary as hell when played over footage of Girl Alone being hacked to bits by zombies/mutant wolf creatures/axe murderers/escaped mental patients possessed by demons/evil clowns? Check and check.

Of all those, zombies are the only thing I’m equipped to combat, and I’d be happy to avoid contact with the feral undead tonight.

I shiver. “Come on, Ethan. Where are you?” I check my phone again just to make sure that it’s really been thirty minutes since Ethan’s text. It has.

End Excerpt.

Now to get to some of your questions/the nitty gritty of how to read this sucka.

Here's what I've got going right now:

The Kindle version of the book:

Is ready to go: http://www.amazon.com/Valentines-Undead-Megan-Berry-ebook/dp/B004N84W36/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1297523321&sr=1-4

Now, I'm not exactly sure what the formatting is going to look like because I fail at formatting, but there will be words and you'll be able to read them, though they might be spaced a little differently than your normal Kindle read. (The program kept putting 1 and 1/2 spaces between paragraphs and 1 space between all other lines of text. I tried to fix it many, MANY times, and finally decided that it's good enough. Until Kindle readers write me with complaints, I'm going to leave it as it is and hope for the best because I really don't have much more time to spend on this at the moment.)

The print version of the book:

It's going to be a few weeks, but I'm hoping the print book will be for sale in early March. I've already done all the set up and formatting on createspace, and just have to wait for the proof copy to reach me so I can make sure the printed copy looks right. So it will be a little late for Valentine's day, but I don't think most of you Megan readers will care, and I think the book will be positively cute. I picked the 5.25 inch by 8 inch format and it's about 100 pages long. The only down side is that it's about 2x as expensive as the digital book. I had to up the price because it costs a lot more to make the print book. So, instead of 3.25, you're looking at paying about 6.50 for the book in print.

Other digital publishing options:

I've set up a new, business paypal account and I plan to sell other digital editions of the book directly. So, theoretically, if you click on the "buy" link below the cover below, it should take you to my paypal store where you can pay 3.25 for your digital copy.

In the "message to seller" you should tell me whether you'd like a pdf file or a .doc file--which is allegedly very easy to convert and read on most digital devices according to my literary agent. (I realize that sending people a word documents is an excellent way to get pirated, but I'm not too terribly worried about piracy at the moment. As I said in the previous post, if the book is pirated and sales are poor because of it, then the series is dead and I know there are a lot of you who don't want that to happen. So hopefully this won't become an issue because I am tech-impaired and have no idea how to format ebooks. I haven't managed to save enough money to buy by own ereader because I keep spending my extra cash on really good wine. I live in wine country, and wine is good. What can I say?)

So hopefully this will work and I'll be able to get the novella into the hands of anyone who wants to read it, regardless of whether they have a Kindle or a different ereader or read pdf files on their computer or if they're just hard core print people and decide to order the book from createspace in March.

So, without further ado, here's the buy link for the paypal site. Be the first guinea-pig if you dare!

EDITED TO ADD: Balls. Balls. And more angry balls. The paypal link thing didn't work. And I am SICK of messing with all this, and encountering failure. So how about this: If you want a pdf or .doc file of the book in the next few days while I'm figuring out the whole buy link thing, email me from the contact page over on my website: http://www.staceyjay.com/contact/ In the email, tell me if you which type of file you want, then I'll send you a paypal request to your email and--after the request is fulfilled--I'll email your preferred format.

I'm off to rest now because all this techie/set up stuff has given me a headache. It's also made me very glad that I usually only have to mess with the making-things-up and editing-the-things-I've-made-up side of this business.

Happy Weekend!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Megan Berry 2 and 1/3

Good morning/afternoon, all!

I leaked the cover on Facebook over the weekend so I felt it was only right to share the news here, as well. So without further ado, I give you VALENTINE'S DAY OF THE UNDEAD, a Megan Berry, Zombie Settler, short story:



The always amazing and talented April McGuire whipped this cover up for me in record time, the manuscript is written and edited (by my dear critique partner, Julie Linker), and the book will be available for download (and maaayyybbeee as a small print book, I'm still working out the logistics on that. The manuscript is about 64 pages, so it might not be long enough for print format, but I'm working on it for all you people who have written to me expressing how intimidated/confused you are by ebooks) within the week.

Yes, within seven days (assuming all goes as planned), many of your questions will be answered!

Speaking of questions, several Facebook friends have written asking if this is the end of the series. The answer to that is yes...and no.

YES--this could function as the end of the series. Questions are answered and a resolution (of sorts) is given. So if sales of this short aren't strong, I'll feel comfortable ending the series here.

NO--this could function as a new beginning. I have a lot of exciting ideas about where to take the series after this novella and I'd love to write more about Megan. She holds a special place in my heart. So, if the sales for the short are strong, I'll definitely be writing more. If I enjoy writing them, and you enjoy buying them, I see a long, happy future ahead of us.<--and notice, I say "buying." I'm a working writer and I have to choose projects that help support my family. This isn't mercenary, just the facts of life. So if you choose to download this file illegally, you're also making a choice not to support the series. Sales will be the deciding factor on whether or not more books/stories/etc are written.

But take heart! If everyone who's written me an email gently asking (or cyber-yelling at me, in some cases, lol) for more Megan buys a copy of this book, I will consider it a complete success. Assuming not too many of you are hitting me from different email addresses, I've received nearly 2000 emails about Megan to date. Pretty amazing, really, and the major reason I shuffled some work, stayed up late, and made this story a priority. (And yeah, I was tired of my email inbox overflowing with emails that required an answer I didn't enjoy giving. No one enjoys writing 5-6 emails a day telling people their series got canned. Though, speaking of zombies "trending downwards" did you all see GLEE last night? AWESOME zombie mash up dance. I was in zombie nerd heaven!)

So yeah! The story. It will be out soon, and I do so hope you enjoy it! I'll be back with a blurb and excerpt later in the week. Now, back to drafting ROMEO REDEEMED.<--he really is such a wonderfully bad boy.

Stacey Jay

Friday, February 4, 2011

Photoshop, tools of shame

Hey ya'll,

The wise and fierce Saundra Mitchell is talking about the trials of maintaining positive self esteem/body image in our Photoshop crazy world today over at her blog. (If you haven't read Saundra's blogs or her books, you're missing out because she is both brilliant and entertaining.)

And she's inspired me to do something I've been wanting to do for a long time--post pictures of myself before and after I've been creatively lit and retouched.

Here's what I look like most of the time.



Aside from the puffy pigtails and bandanna<--my standard hair choice on days when I'm busy, which is almost every day-->you'll notice the major wrinkling beneath my eyes in this shot. I have horrible dark circles and every day I have to make a choice--let the dark circles go and have everyone ask if I'm sick, or cake a bunch of make-up under the circles that inevitably gets dry and starts to crack when I smile and makes me look a good 5-10 years older than I actually am. It's my least favorite thing about my appearance, but whatever. Could be worse.

At least...that's what I think when I'm not staring at pictures of woman much older than I am looking much less crusty/cracky on the covers of magazines. When I see those, there are times when I feel pretty crappy for a good 10-15 minutes until I pull my head out of my ass. And that's after years of training my brain not to be tricked into putting too much importance on things like weight or wrinkles or looks in general, and not to be drawn in by pictures that have clearly been doctored. When I was younger, it was much harder, and that was before the Photoshop use was so subtle and insidious.

I think it's so much harder for women to age/be a normal size now than it was even ten years ago. I saw Rachel Bilson on Chelsea Lately the other night and the poor girl looked like she was dying. She can say she "ate all the candy in the dressing room" all she wants, but I know anorexic when I see it. Just like I know a woman who's been poisoned into believing an aging woman is ugly when I see it. Looking at Nicole Kidman's shot-up-and-tugged-at face makes me want to cry. She was a beautiful young woman and I'm sure the older woman she could have been would have been beautiful in a different way, but now we'll never know. And we'll never know what new artistic highs she could have reached, either, because her face doesn't move. An actress without a moving face can not act. Period.

Our society's limited, twisted notion of what is beautiful sickens me. And the fact that we think something fake looks better than reality is downright creepy:



Fake. All kinds of fake from the smoothness of my skin to the wrinkle-and-dark-circle-free eyes. I don't even know what I looked like in the before version of this picture. The photographer didn't bother sending me a normal picture. It was assumed that I needed to be retouched before putting myself out there for public consumption. In a way, it makes me frustrated, but then...

I'd send the second shot to my publisher WAY before I'd even THINK about sending the first. So I suppose I am a hypocrite. Or maybe I'm still throwing off more of my societal conditioning than I thought.

I do know, however, that I'm going to be posting a new, non-shopped head shot on my site and blog very soon. As soon as I get my new red streaks in my hair ;). I'm going to the salon today! Yeay!

Back to work. These books are not going to write themselves. Unfortunately.

Stacey

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Locket-Available Now!



On her seventeenth birthday, Katie discovers a locket and decides to wear it for good luck. But when her boyfriend Isaac finds out she cheated on him - with their mutual best friend Mitch, no less - he dumps her, leaving her devastated.

And then a miracle happens. The locket burns on Katie's chest and she feels herself going back two weeks in time, to the night she cheated with Mitch. At first, Kate is delighted to be a better girlfriend to Isaac this time around. But as other aspects of her life become inexplicably altered, she realizes that changing the past may have had a dangerous effect on her present.

Can she make things right before the locket destroys everything - and everyone - she loves?

Reviews:

"The novel's atmospheric use of reality-bending detail and narrative tone...will appeal to a wide range of readers." --The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

"With suspense and drama, this book is sure to be a hit for teens and adults who always think about do overs in life. A great new story from a wonderful author..." -Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf

"
This is a sweet romance that will appeal to teens and adults alike." -Bookhounds Reviews

Order THE LOCKET at Indiebound, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble,

And if you do buy the book, remember to email me via the Contact Page at my website (staceyjay.com) and I'll enter you to win a locket coffee mug. (Which is very snazzy. Am drinking out of one now.)

Thanks ya'll. Now I'm going to get back to taking care of the baby with the 103 degree fever. If I owe you email, please forgive me for taking forever to reply. My kids have been sick for over a week and I have no babysitting help because I can't risk exposing other people to the DEATH FEVER VIRUS FROM HADES.

Send healthy vibes if you have any to spare!

Stacey

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

THE LOCKET-out in 2 Days!



Blurb:
Wicked Witch of the West Village
For Katie, life as Isaac Tayte’s girlfriend was pretty much perfect. Until the night she messed everything up by cheating on him with their mutual best friend, Mitch. Katie is devastated over her mistake—and she’ll do anything to get Isaac back.

Then, on her seventeenth birthday, she discovers a strange, beautiful locket. When she puts it on, Katie finds herself going back in time—to the night she and Mitch kissed. At first, Katie is thrilled at the chance to do it all over again. If she can only change the past, she might be able to save her perfect future with Isaac. But as other aspects of her life become inexplicably altered, she realizes that second chances come with a dark price. Katie can’t help but wonder: is fate is meant to be tampered with—or is the most extraordinary kind of life the one that’s far from perfect?

Previously unshared excerpt!:

Lunch hour is the most overrated forty-five minutes of the entire school day. Even at a well-funded school like BHH, the cafeteria food stinks, the lines are horrible, and the choice of where to sit is fraught with dangerous social implications. Last year, Isaac and I hadn’t had the same lunch, so I’d sat with Mitch, Michael—the drummer in his band—Sarah, and a couple of our drama-club friends. I’d missed seeing Isaac but enjoyed significantly lower stress levels than the year before, when I’d shared a table with Isaac and the other platinum people.

This year, however, I’d been lucky enough to get second lunch with my senior boyfriend. Or unlucky enough, depending on the day and whether Rachel Pruitt decided to eat lunch on campus and bless us with her shining presence.

Today was a “blessed” day.

“It’s going to be amazing, Isaac.” Rachel stabbed a tomato from her salad, managing to make even that simple movement elegant, perfect. Her dark brown hair caught the sunlight streaming in from the nearby windows and gleamed like the coat of a ridiculously expensive horse, attracting the attention of every male passing by our table. “You and Rader should come with us to Ziggies to pick out outfits. You’d be great models.”

“I don’t model.” Rader took a huge bite of whatever meat was masquerading as chicken-fried steak and glared at the rest of the lunchroom. He looked cranky. But then, he always looked cranky. Ever since he and Rachel had broken up their sophomore year, Rader had been in a foul mood.

Losing Rachel inspired years of mourning. Years. She was that kind of girl.

“Me either,” Isaac said around a mouthful of food. His mom had packed his lunch today—two ham sandwiches and three bananas. Isaac had a strange and unnatural love of bananas. He probably ate more in one week than your average marmoset. It was amazing he hadn’t overdosed on potassium.

“It’s for charity.” Rachel cocked her head and pushed her bow-shaped lips into a pout. I could feel the boys wavering, wondering if it wouldn’t be worth the shame of prancing around at the fashion show in the name of making Rachel Pruitt happy.

“I wore a dress for charity yesterday.” Isaac’s reason for refusing was different than the first time around, but I was relieved all the same.

Not everything today had gone down the same way it had before. It was only little things that were different—the reading assignment in AP English, the cracked mirror in the girls’ bathroom—but little things were enough to make me nervous. A part of me wished I could fast-forward to my birthday and be done with my do over. Or at least fast-forward to my gran’s arrival in five days.

Talking to someone else about the locket would really have made me feel better. Too bad she still hadn’t answered the phone at her hotel. Dad said she’d probably changed hotels without bothering to let him know—Gran was over eighty years old and forgot things all the time—but still…her vanishing act made me worry. Just a little.

End Excerpt.

The book comes out in two days! Two days! Geez...this has really crept up on me this time. I've been so busy.

Speaking of busy, I've been slaving away on a little Valentine's Day surprise for all you Megan Berry fans. I don't want to tip my hat just yet, but I will have things to share soon...very soon.

In the meantime, if you've already purchased your copy of THE LOCKET--or plan to this week--send me an email from the contact page over at my site: http://www.staceyjay.com/contact/.

Everyone who emails me will be entered to win a mug featuring THE LOCKET artwork by April McGuire (see previous post for image and artist links), winner announced in two weeks. And yes, I'm just going to take your word for it that you purchased the book. If you lie, I know that the soul zombies are going to come chew on your wicked heart in the night--because that's what happens to liars. And really, what worse punishment is there than soul zombies nomming on your insides? None. And that's the truth.

Best-est Tuesday to you,

Stacey