All posts by Sugar Jamison

Dangerous Curves Ahead coming in 2013 from St. Martin's Press.

Chapter 2

Sugar here, calling myself out for not posting this morning like I was supposed to. But I had 2 good reasons. I thought next Monday was my day.  AND today was my last day at work. I have worked in the same place for seven years. My very first job out of college. I love my coworkers and my building, but I don’t love the job anymore.  I was finding myself so exhausted, so stressed out that I couldn’t write.  My brain just couldn’t handle another thing and there were times when I was so overwhelmed by it all that I just didn’t want to get out of bed.  I know they call it work for a reason, but I knew I couldn’t go on like that. So I made the decision to leave.  I’m not going to be able to survive on writing alone. I’m going to work but at job that won’t suck the life out of me.

I need to write. Some people do it as a hobby. They can pick  it up and put it down when they want. But I need to write and when I can’t do it I feel bad, like I’m depriving myself of some sort of essential nutrient. And that job was making it hard for me to do what I love. So today was my last day and while I have very good memories of that place I don’t for one moment regret  saying goodbye.  I have two books coming out this fall. I’m under contract for three more. I am lucky. I know it’s a blessing to have these things when so many writers are dying to get where I am. So I am going to take this opportunity now, because I don’t I’ll always wish I had.

I feel like I started chapter one of my adult life there. Now it’s time for me to start working on chapter 2.

He Ain’t Heavy…

This post originally appeared on The Jaunty Quills , but I thought it was good enough to post here too.

As a writer I love getting emails from readers. Who doesn’t?!  It really is one of the unexpected pleasures of the job.  But what was even more unexpected was the subject of so many of the emails that I have received this year. His name is Walter, and he is a character in my first book, Dangerous Curves Ahead. A lot of readers have really connected to him. And that surprised me. Walter is not my hero, or some other hot guy in the book. He’s my heroine’s father. A sixty year old college professor/ scientist with a vast knowledge of useless information and an awesome collection of ties.  Walter also has Asperger’s. If you don’t know what Asperger’s Syndrome is, it’s a part of the Autism Spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties with social interactions.  I’ve gotten so many emails from women who have someone like Walter in their lives.

The question I get most from them is how could you have written Walter so accurately?

The answer is simple. I can write Walter so accurately because I have a Walter in my life and his name is Jason.  Unlike Walter, Jason is no brainy science guy. He’s just my big brother who loves chocolate cake, bouncy balls and visiting Disney World. Jason has a more severe form of Autism than Walter. He’ll never live alone or drive a car. He’ll probably never have a family of his own, but that doesn’t mean his life is empty.

It’s hard to explain what it was like to grow up with an older sibling that isn’t “normal”. It’s different experience than a parent raising child with a disability. I didn’t go through the grieving process. I didn’t have to put in all the work that my parents did to make sure my brother had a full and happy life. I was simply born into a world that built so much around Jason. It’s a nice world but, as a sibling it was hard to know my place at times. I had no brotherly guidance, no one to scare boys away, none of the typical big brother experiences that my friends had. Instead of my brother going first through the world, my parents looked to me for all the major milestones. I was the first to read and write and navigate social pressures. I was the first to drive a car and go off to college. And I wanted to do everything so well because I knew Jason couldn’t.

It wasn’t easy having a brother who covers his ears when things get too loud, and talks to himself, and spends so much time staring off into space. It’s was annoying constantly apologizing to people when he bumped into them because he has no awareness of his body. And it was annoying that the only thing he ever eats when we go anywhere is a hamburger. As a kid the only thing you want to do is fit in, be like everyone else. But it was hard for me be like everyone else when my brother is like no one else I know.

I think I once said to him, “If you’re going to be Autistic, why can’t you be cool like Rainman and count cards?”

To which my father replied, “I know. You could at least help me pay off this mortgage.”

Some people might be horrified at that exchange, but that’s the way it is in my family. Yes. He’s different. And maybe he won’t do all the things I got to do, but he’s NOT to be felt sorry for. He’s not to be treated less than. We joke and tease because that is what our family does. That’s how we show love. Autism is a huge part of who Jason is but Autism is not all he is.

He’s the oldest of five kids and he knows it. He doesn’t let us boss him around, and if we try to he says, “Go ahead with your own life. Leave me alone!”  (Which I didn’t realize that he got from a Billy Joel song till I was older. How awesome is that?)

He’s a pretty smooth liar. He once called me the B word. (I probably deserved it.) And when I asked him to repeat himself he said, “I said pitch. Pitch the ball.” (No, he didn’t.)

Jason is also incredibly sweet. He likes to squeeze my nose to show me affection. He makes sure I don’t go more than three weeks without visiting him and when I see him he always tells me I’m beautiful.

I love him. Probably a little more than I love my other brothers and I’m protective of him. Because he is different, because so many people just don’t understand him, I go out of my way to make sure no one takes advantage of him.  It’s not a position a lot of little sisters find themselves in, but I don’t mind because I know if he could, he would do the same thing for me.

So, I may not have had the big brother experience that most people have had but, having a brother who is different has shaped who I am. He’s made me more patient, more understanding and more open than I would have been if I didn’t know him.

Plus he helped me write Walter . And Walter is a pretty cool dude.

So what about you? Do you have a special relationship with one of your siblings?

The Care and Feeding of Little Girls

I’m going to start this post by saying that I am not a mother.  But I do work with children and lately I’ve been seeing some things that have been bothering me.

Little girls aren’t acting little girls anymore. They are acting like women, like adults. And I don’t mean showing mature rational behavior either. They talk like grownups. They know more about sex, drugs and violence than I ever did as a child. They are more tech savvy than more thirty-year-olds I know. But it’s not just that their appearances are changing too.

This week I came across a seven year old with bleached blond highlights and and pin straight hair. She had a hair mishap and asked for my help and as I was braiding her hair I could see that it was dry, damaged from excessive heat and dyeing. I know the little girl had pretty ringlets but I so rarely saw them I realized that she must be flat ironing her hair almost on a daily basis.

I’m all for doing what makes you feel your best, but my question is why?

Why highlight a seven year olds hair? Why change it from it’s natural state?  Why give her a haircut that’s more appropriate for a twenty-five year old than a little girl?

I’ve also seen girls with high heels and short skirts and fake nails and it just doesn’t sit right.  Kids are growing up so fast these days. Childhood is a time of innocence. Don’t we want our kids to stay innocent for as long as possible?

What do you think? Am I being sensitive or are kids changing these days?

The Writing Process

Hi there, Sugar here.  I have been tagged by Xio Axelrod to blog about my writing process.

What am I working on? 

At this very moment I am knee deep in revisions for GENTLEMEN PREFER CURVES  the third book in my Perfect Fit series. Revisions are going surprisingly well. I shouldn’t jinx myself, but for the first time I don’t want to cry as I do them.  But before that I was working on book three in my Redemption series.  It’s way darker than my romantic comedies and can at times be a little difficult to write so it’s nice to take a break and revisit my funnier stuff.

How Does My Book Differ from Others in the Genre?

I write romantic comedies, and there are a million of them out there.  In my Perfect Fit series all my heroines are plus sized/ curvy, which is different, but I think my voice is unique and sarcastic and funny. Some people don’t appreciate my snarkiness but  a lot of people do.

Why Do I Write What I do?

Because I’m no good at writing regency romance.  I’m too much of a realist for fantasy and I’m not clever enough to write mysteries.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I still work full time, so I spend my nights and weekends writing.  I’m not much of a plotter but I do know the major plot points before I start writing.  I really love character driven stories, so I try to make my characters memorable and lovable or really awful people that readers love to hate. But I love for them all to be realistic and relatable in some way . I want to be friends with them.

So that’s it! What’s your process like?

 

Let’s Talk About Reviews

Hi! Sugar here. I want to talk a little bit about reviews. I had two releases this past week and the reviews have started to trickle in.  The great thing about being traditionally published is that your book gets reviewed in RT, Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. If you’re a bigger author you might get covered by the NYT or Kirkus or USA Today.  Getting reviewed by those big publications are an honor but do they really matter with readers? Liberty

NOPE. I never heard of RT until I started writing. I never paid attention to Publisher’s Weekly until my first book was reviewed by them and I was a voracious reader. Reading 2-3 books a week. I think most of your average romance readers don’t pay attention to what those publications say.

But that brings me to another question, do any reviews matter with readers? That’s a tougher question to answer.  Yes and no.  As a reader I never paid attention to reviews, because people have different tastes. Just because I don’t like chocolate ice cream doesn’t mean you won’t. So I rarely look at reviews. There are a couple of reasons why.

1.Some people like to give the  whole plot away.

2. If a book only has a few reviews and they are all great, I can never be sure if the author rallied their friends and family to post them on Amazon.

3. Some people are just stupidly mean. Ripping a book to shreds just because they can.

I choose books because my friends recommend them or because I love the author or the book simply because the blurb sounded good. So as a reader I reviews are of little importance to me.

Thrown For A CurveAs a writer… Well… That’s another story. I try not to read my reviews.  TRY. I don’t always succeed. I’ve learned not to pay attention to the bad ones because I know myself well enough to know that it will bother me. And I don’t have time to let one person’s opinion affect my day.

So what about you? Are reviews important to you? Do you read all of yours? Do you ignore them? Let me know what you think.

PS. I’ve been told by people who are in the know, that that whole “certain amount of reviews thing” you need to manipulate Amazon’s algorithms is BS. You can’t manipulate Amazon. Amazon is all knowing and all powerful. They have drones and stuff!

Bitter Stew

Jealousy. I’ve never met a single person who hasn’t experienced it in some form or fashion.  Even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves we have ALL been jealous at one point in our lives. Sugar/Ginger here to talk about professional jealousy and how it affects us all as writers.

I belong to a couple of loops that are for published writers.  Most of the time we talk about contracts, covers  and deadlines. Sometimes we go there to vent to people who understand us, to seek advice. But most of the time we go there for support. There’s a code on these loops. WHAT HAPPENS ON THE LOOP STAYS ON THE LOOP.

But recently I read a few messages that stuck with me.  And they were all about professional jealousy. There’s a writer who has only been in the game for six or seven years who has had much success with her books. Not only is this person a damn good writer, but has been so kind and generous with her advice and support.  She reported that she was being iced out by a group of writer friends that she has had for a long time. One of them saying to her that she got lucky that she hit the NYT and  was nominated for a major award. And she hadn’t paid enough dues, gone through enough hardships to be where she is now.  That she should enjoy the ride because it might end soon.

I’m a sassy girl so I might have told her to shove it where the sun don’t shine, but this writer, this hugely successful writer was really bothered by this. She was hurt by it.

I see this a lot. Maybe most people aren’t as bold as that lady. But a lot of times we aren’t always as happy for others success as we should be.  Especially in writers group where some are getting contracted and others are constantly looked over.

We call it luck, or make excuses or diminish their achievements. We’ve claimed that they changed. That they exclude themselves. That they are divas. But are they really? Maybe some of them are, but I think most find a kind of isolation when they’ve gained success.

I’m a debut author who is just finding an audience and am grateful, infinitely grateful when somebody-anybody buys my book.  But from personal experience I know that people do treat you differently when you’ve been published.Some act like you’ve got a magic secret and automatically know more than mere unpublished mortals. Or they become a little distant. And you can almost read their minds. “I write just a good as she does. Why aren’t I published yet?” People who aren’t writers assume that just because you have a book in a bookstore that you are making loads of money.

I wish I could say that getting that contract doesn’t change you. It does.  Three years ago writing was just something I did. Now it’s become part of who I am. I’m a writer. I get paid to be a writer. But I’m still a teacher too. I’m a teacher first five days of the week. And I’m still a daughter, a sister, and a friend too. My point is that nobody can be inside of anybody else’s career and no one can know each of our individual hardships. Yes, there is luck involved for some of us, but a lot of the time it’s our hard work that got us to where we are.

So next time you think a negative thought about someone’s success imagine how you would feel if you were where they are.

PS. Jealousy isn’t always a bad thing. In my case seeing a friend get offered multiple contracts made me put my ass in the chair and work to become a better writer.

So what do you think? Ever find yourself being all green with envy?

Sugar and Ginger Go to the City

Hi, friends! Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I’m actually an author. Some authors just have that thing, that spark, where they can pimp their books to everyone, talk about their writing eloquently and network like pros. I’m not there yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever be there.

BUT this week something pretty cool happened that made me feel a little more author-like. I was invited down to the Harlequin offices in the beautiful Woolworth Building in NYC to meet with the team. I’m a newbie and not as savvy as I would like to be about the publishing industry so I didn’t know  what to expect. Luckily my very fabulous agent, Emmanuelle Morgen, was there with me.

I always had this idea in my head of what big New York publishing offices would look like. I thought they would be plush, luxurious. I thought there would be women in power suits and Prada shoes sitting at their desks doing things like plotting to take other publishers down. But it wasn’t like that. The Harlequin office, once you get past the lobby, looks like any other set of offices. Except for the books everywhere. The people were dressed fairly casually, no suits or heels in sight. Everyone was smiling. The office had this calm feeling. They seemed happy to be working there. My editor, Tara Gavin, has been working there for over twenty years. That says a lot for a company. I know editors move houses all the time but there are many at HQN who stay for their entire careers.

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I was there to meet with my publicity and marketing team. Shara, Brie and Lathea. They told me their plans for Ginger Jamison’s LIBERTY. I was impressed, not just with what they were going to do for my book, but how knowledgeable and determined they all were. I didn’t know what to expect, or realize that there was a weight on my shoulders, but after meeting with them, I felt like my book, and my career was in really great hands.

I got to see the cover for JERICHO, my second book in the series and read the back cover copy. I never knew who wrote those over for my HQN Kimani books. But it turns out Brie does. She does a beautiful job. I suck at doing that kind of stuff. But Brie seems

to know my books better than I do and I’m grateful to her for that.

Just read this!

JERICHO

She had no one to rely on but herself. 

Until a wounded stranger offered his friendship…and  ecstasy beyond her most vivid dreams. 

Georgia Williams has traveled a hard road from sheltered preacher’s daughter to struggling single mother. Determined to build a secure future for her baby girl, she takes a job as a night nurse at Jericho Military Hospital. But her precarious world shifts yet again when she meets her newest patient.  
A marine who nearly died fighting for his country, Lieutenant Christian Howard is a man of duty, honor…and deep desires. Something about the scarred war hero touches Georgia, awakening feelings she’s tried to keep hidden. One passionate night together changes everything, erupting with consequences neither could have foreseen. Now Georgia faces the most momentous decision of her life. Should she trust Christian—a man she barely knows—with the devastating secrets from her past? Could this be a love that will heal and

 save them both? 

Heartrending and sensual, Jericho tells a moving and seductive story about the power of love to redeem and transform even the most burdened of hearts. 

I’m so happy with it I could cry!

I also met with the team at Saint Martins Press later that day. I met a lot of them at RWA so it was a little bit like a reunion. My editor, Holly Ingraham, is my age and driven and spunky and all the things you want in an upcoming editor. In fact most of the team at SMP are young. But it’s good to see women my age making waves in the publishing world.

Jen Enderlin was there. She’s the boss. She’s got the biggest office. She just has that I’m- -in-charge aura around her. The day I met with her and the team was the day the news about Sylvia Day broke. Of course that was the only thing I could think about when I was shaking her.  And that she has the most beautiful eyes and dark hair. Of course the romance writer in me wondered about her personal life. I bet I could turn her into a romance heroine.

So that was my day. The biggest take away I got was that the people who are in romance publishing love romance. They live romance and they want their writers to do well. I know in the future I’ll probably be one of those hybrid authors but right now, I love where I am.