Tag Archives: Sugar Jamison

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?

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?

Why You Want to be Traditionally Published

During my relatively short time in the publishing industry I have become friendly with quite a few writers. Self published, small press, digital only, and big 5/6 authors. Everybody has to decide what path is best for them. And I make no judgements on which path one chooses. Each path has it’s up and downs and it’s share of hard work, but recently I have seen some authors on social media bashing the hell out of the traditional model. I mean beating it with a big club until it’s bloody and crippled. They have nothing nice to say about it and in turn are convincing hordes of writers that the New York model of publishing is going to die and that they are only out to rip off new authors and take all their money.

That’s not true. New York publishing has gotten the rep that it’s a big soulless, faceless institution that’s only out for itself. Here’s some of the things I keep hearing about it lately.

Myth: You have no control over anything when you publish traditionally.

Fact: You do have control. More than most people think. In the end publishers would cease to exist without writers and they do not want unhappy writers.

Let’s talk about covers.For my very first cover for Dangerous Curves Ahead I thought my heroine was a little too slender. I wasn’t in love with the font for my title and I let them know that. They fixed it immediately. I got the original cover on Friday, but Monday I had a brand new one waiting for me. It’s like that for every step of the process.

Same goes with editing. If I disagree with what my editor says we have a discussion about it. I’ve never had anybody tell me what or how to write. They’ve asked me to do things. Like add a dog into my second book, which I did, but I didn’t have to. I never felt pressured to do it. I’ve worked with two editors so far and having a professional there to have thoughtful conversations about my writing has made me a better writer.

Myth: You have no control over release date.

In some cases that is true. In most actually. But I was contracted for a series. Going in I knew I was going to have a book come out every six months. I happen to write fairly quickly so that wasn’t going to be a problem for me. But I know other authors who have their releases scheduled nine months to a year apart because they need the time. Your publisher will work with you. Of course if you miss your mutually agreed upon deadlines there will be consequences just like any other job. No you won’t get to pick your exact release date but for most of us that isn’t a problem.

The only thing I really don’t have any control over is price point. But keep in mind just because you can price a book at $2.99 doesn’t mean it’s going to sell better than books priced at $7.99. Especially if it’s not a well written book. Readers are no longer going to excuse poorly edited books. I have found that if people really love an author they don’t care how much their newest release costs. If people really love a book they’ll tell their friends.

Myth: Most writers won’t make a lot of money with the traditional model.

Fact: That’s BS. You can make money. You can make buckets of money. And if you want to know the truth most writers aren’t making buckets of money no matter which way they choose to publish. For every Amanda Hocking there are two thousand Ms. Mary Nobodys out there. Yes, it takes a long long time for your advances to come in and most big publishers only pay royalties twice a year. And if that just doesn’t sit right with you then find another way to bring your books to the world.But the great thing about advances is that you get money up front! I got paid for books I hadn’t written yet.

But if you are going into writing solely for the money you are doing it for the wrong reasons. You have to have some kind of love for it or I believe you’ll never truly be successful at it.

Myth: Print books are going to die.

I highly doubt this. In my first five days of sales I sold TWICE as many print books as I did digital. And not on Amazon either. People are still buying books at bookstores and drugstores and supermarkets. A reader told me she found my book in an airport. Libraries buy books. Print is still powerful. There are soooo many ebooks out there. So many new authors that readers become inundated. I can spend hours on Amazon searching through books by new to me authors and not buy one because I simply don’t want to spend money (no matter how little it is) on a book that might disappoint me. Other readers are the same way, much more likely to try a new author if they see their book sitting on the shelf, if they get to hold in their hands and feel the pages beneath their fingers.

So let’s recap.

REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO BE TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED

1. You have a team behind you. Editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, proofreading, publicity is all done for you. I don’t care how great of a marketer you think you are having a team behind you to help you is awesome. (Really, I’m not sure how self pubbers find time to get ALL that stuff done on their own and work. I have a hard time keeping up with a team.)

2. You can make money. Large stupid amounts of money. Ask Nora Roberts.

3. You do have control. I’m a control freak and I have never once felt stifled by my publishers.

3. You can see your book in the bookstore and at the airport and in CVS and Walmart and Stop and Shop. And that right there is better than all the ads and blog tours in the world.

4. Publisher parties. Harlequin throws a damn good party. And there’s free booze and dancing romance writers. And socks! I love my pink Harlequin socks.

So there are my reasons why being traditionally published is pretty cool. If it’s not for you then it’s not for you. Just don’t go around bashing it.

Introducing Ms. Ginger Jamison

Hello, friends!

I’m not sure if many of you know this, but I have an alter ego.Ginger Jamison’s stuff is a little darker and a little bit spicier than funny girl Sugar’s stuff.

I’m the kind of writer who needs multiple personalities. I like funny. I like to be funny, but I like dark too. My own personal reading collection has more dark historicals than light romcoms. And sometimes my need to tell a more emotional story takes over. So I wrote Liberty. The first book in the Redemption series published by Harlequin.

Want to hear about it? Here you go…

A man she thought she knew. A passion beyond her wildest fantasies… 

When Ryan Beecher returns home after a long deployment overseas, Lexy barely recognizes her husband. The man who left Texas for Afghanistan was cruel and abusive. The man who comes back to her is a badly injured stranger with amnesia—and no memory of their life together. 

Lexy can’t believe how much Ryan has changed. The wounded marine is now gentle, caring and tender. And his touch awakens yearnings she’s never felt before. As he takes them both to the point of no return, can Lexy trust this lover who seems to live only for her pleasure…as he seeks his salvation in her healing embrace? 

A poignant and erotic story of longing, secrets and second chances, Liberty explores the limits of desire and the boundaries of love

At times this book kicked my butt and I have to give a big thanks to Casey Wyatt our Friday scribe for helping me see the light! I’m so excited to share it with you!  It comes out February 25, 2014 the same day as Thrown for a Curve by Sugar Jamison. That’s right two book releases in one day!!! Thrown for a Curve is Colin and Cherri’s story. I know many of you have been waiting for it to come out. I hope you like it too.

Must Buy Authors by J Monkeys

Hiddey Ho Scribblers!  J Monkeys here.  This past week or two, I have “discovered” a couple of new “Must Buy” authors.  These are authors who’s work I LOVE and will buy and devour the moment it becomes available.  I thought I’d share ’em with ya.

dangerous curves in the wildNow I’ve known Sugar Jamison for a while…obviously – she’s been our Monday Scribe since we started!  I read Dangerous Curves Ahead this summer and loved it.  But for me, it takes more than one book to be a “Must Buy” author.  Last week I read her new novella, Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmasand I LOVED it!  Somehow, Sugar took a very unlikeable character from the first book and made her into a heroine!  There were so many things that I liked about this story – I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t tell you what they were, but trust me.  If you’ve got a spare $1.99 laying around and a Kindle app, do yourself a favor and read it!  In fact, you should probably write Dangerous Curves Ahead first to fully appreciate the wonder of Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas.

tessa dareLast week, I also read a book I picked up at the RWA National Conference last summer – Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare.  I’ve read one or two of her books before, but this is the one that grabbed me.  When I have some space in my TBR shelves (I brought home more than 80 books from RWA and I’ve got another 50 from my local library sale in June) I’ll be looking for Ms. Dare’s back list.  I don’t mine telling you that I’ve read so much regency romance at this point, that if it wasn’t written by Julia Quinn, I usually can’t get into it.  But Tessa Dare has just edged her way into my heart.

39 cluesNow, Scribblers, you know that I write kids books.  I read a lot of kids books too.  The 39 Clues series is still going strong.  The first 10 or 11 books wrapped up a year or more ago.  They then came out with the sequel series, Cahills vs Vespers. It looks like that story wrapped up with book 6.  Yesterday, I bought Nowhere to Run, book one in The 39 Clues Unstoppable series.  Our heroes, Amy and Dan, are back with even more Cahill trouble.  I’m about 1/2 way through it.  It’s a very enjoyable read.  If you’ve got 3-5th graders out there, as well as older kids, especially boys, they might like this fast paced, action packed adventure series.  They travel the world, so there’s some geography in it and a nice message about not carrying on the feuds of your ancestors.

infinity ringAnother series for kids that I really like is the Infinity Ring series.  There are 4 books out in it right now.  It’s similar to The 39 Clues in that the books are written by a variety of authors but tell the story of a trio of Tweenage time traveling heroes, working to write historical events set awry by a shadowy company of baddies.  I like the history in these – it’s a nice sneeky way to get it in.  And they come with an online game that is fun, but not so hard that I couldn’t figure it out.  

Today’s secret: By the way, Julia Quinn’s next book is out next week!  I can’t wait.  The teaser on her website cut off at an inopportune time…I’m sure on purpose!

Who are your Must Buy authors?  For me, at this point it’s just these that I’ve mentioned here and Lynn Kurland.