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Bringing Back The Memories (and those twins)

FullSizeRenderWriting The Matchmaking Twins was so much fun for me, especially because I got to channel so much energy into my eight-year-old characters, Aiden and Caden Gregson. I have two boys (not twins) who’ve caused plenty of mischief and have taught me to cringe every time their school phone number pops up on my caller ID.

But even more compelling for me was to write about Nana Gregson and Abuela. Luke, the hero, had a favorite relative he’d connected to early on during his childhood and Carmen, the police officer heroine in this story, is not about to be outdone by Luke’s bond with his Nana. She invokes quite a few of her own recollections and favorite expressions of her insightful grandmother.

These scenes made me realize that many of us have specific expressions, smells or songs that trigger memories of certain loved ones. Like Luke, I sought solace away from my gaggle of brothers by spending quality time with my Aunt Mary Jane. She taught me how to roll hair curlers, how to scour a kitchen sink, and how to light her cigarettes for her so she could keep both her nervous hands on the steering wheel of her ’74 Lincoln Continental. To this day, the smell of Ponds Cold Cream, Soft Scrub Bleach and Kent 100s always make me think of her.

 

5

PFC DONUT

When my little brother, Jeremy, was seven years old, he decided to open a donut shop in the back yard.  He found scraps of wood and assembled something that looked like a two foot wide woodworking fail on Pinterest.  For several years, he insisted that he was going to finish his donut shop project and to this day, he will still maintain that he built it, but just hasn’t produced or sold any donuts.  Yet.

When he was eighteen, Jeremy decided that he was going to join the military and I went with him to recruiters office to get more information.  Unfortunately, he (like many of us in our family) probably enjoyed donuts a little too much and the recruiter told him he would need to lose about 40 pounds to “make weight” and qualify for enlistment.

Now, fast-forward sixteen years.  Jeremy is 33, happily married with one son and another child planned for the future.  He owns his own home, has a steady job at FedEx, and a wonderful family who supports him…including a know-it-all older sister.  In 2014, my brother brings up the fact that he’s always wanted to join the military.  What’s more, when my grandfather was under hospice care the previous year, Jeremy had bonded with one of the male RNs and slowly began kicking around the idea of pursuing a career in the medical field.

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That’s Jeremy (on the left) with me, my dad and my brother at Dodgers Stadium in July 2014–right before he started working out.

We didn’t make much of his talk because we all remembered the donut shop dream and, well, the guy was now 33 (the cutoff age for enlisting is 35) and almost 100 pounds overweight.  But then he started working out and watching what he ate.  He began hiking with friends on the weekends and took up running after work.  His wife also adopted his healthier lifestyle and became pregnant with their second child.  Surely, now with two young children at home he wasn’t still considering this military idea.  Yet, apparently, we’d all underestimated his determination because on my 40th birthday trip, he announced to my entire family that he’d enlisted in the Army as a combat medic and was leaving for basic training the following month.

Last week, I attended his graduation at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.  Just three months shy of his 35th birthday, Jeremy was older than any other soldier in his class and most of his drill sergeants.  They’d nicknamed him Grandpa, but he was showing up these eighteen and nineteen year old kids like a champ.  He’d lost over one hundred pounds and ranked 6th place overall in his platoon for all the PT requirements.  I was amazed and impressed and, quite frankly, honored to call him my brother.

T and Jeremy

Look at this guy! Down to 184 pounds.

 

And after all he went through, I had a special treat waiting for him in the car after graduation ….

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His son was equally excited for some donuts… Maybe they’ll open a shop of their own together one day.

2

Self-Esteem

Writing books isn’t for wimps.  Two weeks ago, I had to do a line edit on my book coming out in July (The Matchmaking Twins) and today was my due date for turning in my most recent manuscript to my editor.  I’ve decided that my self-esteem goes through several phases while writing a book.  Here’s an example of my thought process:

  1. *driving in car*  I know exactly where this new book is going to go!
  2. *types furiously* Go! Go! Go!  Get it all out on the page.  You can go back and fix it later.
  3. *turns off computer*  I just wrote a bunch of crap.  That was a complete waste of a day.
  4. *edits previous day’s work* Where did I come up with this?  I don’t remember most of it, but it isn’t too bad.
  5. *repeats steps 3 and 4 for several weeks* *sings Just Keep Swimming song from Finding Nemo*
  6. *does a final read-thru*  I think this may work after all. 
  7. *emails completed manuscript to editor* She’s going to hate it.  Everyone’s going to hate it.  Why did I ever let my mom talk me into this stupid career?
  8. *waits for line-edit notes from editor* Maybe I should go to culinary school.  Or  blackjack dealer school.  But then I’d have to have perfectly polished fingernails all the time. I hate my nails. 
  9. *book gets released* Don’t look at online reviews.  Don’t look at online reviews. 
  10. *looks at online reviews* Oh my gosh.  Someone actually liked my book.  Or at least they didn’t think that it totally sucked. I should go get my nails done to celebrate!
2

Let The Promo Begin

ChristyJeffries_SugarFallsLogoSo I wrote a book, but now what?  I can’t just sit back and cross my fingers, hoping someone will buy it.  That’s where my readers (and friends and relatives) come in.  I need people who are willing to read my books and post an honest review on Amazon: Christy Jeffries, Barnes & Noble: Christy Jeffries, and Goodreads: Christy Jeffries.

And when I say honest, I kinda only mean post a review if you love the story.  If it wasn’t your cup o’ tea, that’s fine.  Please feel free to skip the review and pass the book along to a friend or the Goodwill donation box.

The better my reviews, the better my sales.  Which means Shameless Incentive Offer coming in 3…2…1…

I also get a few free copies to give away to people who will help me get the word out about my book.  Hit me up if you think you can be one of these people.

 

1

My New Cover Is Here

I just got the official artwork of the North American cover for my new book, A Marine For His Mom, and I am SO SO SO excited!  Seeing it this morning was similar to the first time I saw my kiddos on the ultrasound screen at the OB/GYN office…except less blurry.  Okay, so maybe I was a little more excited to see my wee babies, but this is still an awesome feeling.

Front Cover

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Accessorizing For Success

I previously posted this blog on the SoCal RWA California Dreamin’ Conference website (http://caldreaminwritersconf.org/).  But just in case you missed it, I will be speaking on a panel about women in law enforcement the weekend of March 27-29, 2015, in Orange County and this is a glimpse into some of the things we will be discussing …

They say people wear many hats. Well, personally, I believe that women can wear several hats AND a ton of shoes. Growing up in a house with four brothers, I became that unique hybrid of female who is one part tomboy and one part feminist with a double dose of girly-girl thrown in for good measure. In other words, I was drawn to male dominated activities and careers, but I wanted to look pretty while doing them.

Unfortunately, when it comes to law enforcement, the two opposites didn’t always work well together.   I remember the first time I learned this cold truth. During a college internship with the parole department, I was out late one night with the Anaheim Police Department on a task force operation. I had gone to a trendy restaurant with friends for dinner beforehand and was wearing jeans and a new pair of high heeled boots. Jeans and boots are pretty tough, right?

Wrong.

Walking down a quiet, dark alley, a seasoned detective from the gang unit finally turned to me in frustration and said, “Girl, if you ever wear shoes like those again, we’re gonna leave your ass in the car.”

See, they were trying to be stealth and didn’t want anyone alerted to their presence. Yet there I was, clink-clinking along as though I was a semi-finalist on America’s Next Top Model, and my stupid footwear was drawing all kinds of unwanted attention and compromising the entire team. Oops.

If you attend the Badges, Bad Guys, and Babes…Oh My! panel at SoCal RWA’s California Dreamin’ Conference, one of the things you will learn from both me and the very experienced and entertaining M.A. Taylor (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MATaylor1010) is that female law enforcement officers usually have to check their femininity at the door.

Case in point:  these boots aren’t the only things that look chunky in this picture.  Trust me, there is nothing slimming about Kevlar vests and cuffed cargo pants.

Case in point: these boots aren’t the only things that look chunky in this picture. Trust me, there is nothing slimming about Kevlar vests and cuffed cargo pants.

But then, there are also times when we DO get to dress up for work. Now, this doesn’t go for many of my sisters in blue, but one of my favorite duties was going to court since I would get to wear a skirt and fancy shoes. One day, I was walking down the hall toward the courtroom and a defendant on my caseload said, “I didn’t even recognize you dressed like that.”

Male criminals love to turn on the charm with female cops (also something you can learn about in our panel), and I quickly put him in his place by responding, “I call these my prison shoes. I wear these whenever I’m sending someone to prison.” That shut him up very quickly.

My “prison shoes” usually had at least a four inch heel.

My “prison shoes” usually had at least a four inch heel.

As women in law enforcement, every person we meet in the field has their expectations of us.   Female suspects expected me to be more empathetic and male suspects expected me to be soft and weak. It was my job to be physically and   emotionally prepared to change their minds. Once, I was receiving an award and my director gave me the best compliment ever. He referred to me as, “The steel hand in the velvet glove.” And that’s what we ladies are. In that line of work, both my fashion sense and my entire mindset had to constantly negotiate a delicate balancing act.

Sometimes, I miss my career days—especially when I run into former colleagues or when I see an unmarked Ford Crown Victoria barreling down the street. But, nowadays, I’m finding that the shoes I’m most fond of wearing are my mom shoes …

Blog 3    Followed closely by my writing shoes…Blog 4

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The Big News

Every writer who has ever sent their completed manuscript off to an editor always fears rejection.  And I was no exception.  It didn’t matter that my agent told me my book was great and exactly what the publishing house was seeking.  It didn’t matter that my mother, a published author who planted the writing seed in my brain once I left work to be a stay at home mom, told me I would sell.   I still held my breath every time I opened my inbox, hoping I wouldn’t see that rejection letter.

But a part of me, the dreamer part, envisioned the exact opposite.  I thought about the phone call from my agent telling me I just sold my first book and what I would say in response.  I thought about who I would call first, how I would share the news with my loved ones, and what we would do to celebrate.  I mean, c’mon, it’s not every day a person finds out they’re going to be a published author.

So when the call finally came, it was actually an email.  I was out doing errands with Momoo (my eighty year old grandmother who lives with me) and we had stopped to get a quick lunch.  My iPhone pinged and there was the email from my agent with the subject line “Offer.”  I looked back and forth from my pocket sized screen to my grandma who was dripping soup all down her blouse and I couldn’t even process either.

I handed Momoo some napkins and called my mom.  She asked what the email said and I told her I wasn’t exactly sure because I was too excited to read it through.  She offered to read it to me but I told her I was stunned, not illiterate.  I called my husband as we paid the bill and asked him what it felt like to sleep next to a published author.  Then I blushed and ducked my head as I realized the table full of mechanics on their lunch break had just heard my question.  I fired off a quick and barely legible reply to my agent and, when I looked at the clock, I realized I was running late and we had more errands to do.

I sent out hurried text messages to my four brothers and all my close friends in between my stops at the post office, library, beauty parlor (for Momoo), and the bank right before making it to the school in time for pick-up.    I was overwhelmed, but I was excited…right up until the point when my kids got in the car.  My nine year old did his best impression of Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, listing every possible complaint he could think of.  My five year old had a tummy ache and, according to him, the only thing that would make it go away was a bowl of ice cream and me sitting next to him to wwatch the entire Lego Batman movie.

Apparently, neither of my children and none of my pending housework realized I’d just experienced the amazing, life-changing news most authors longed for.  It was my first lesson that no matter how important I might think I am, life goes on and someone still has to make the meatloaf…

But my parents sent me some beautiful flowers, so that served as a reminder that something big had just happened.

Literally.  That is my favorite mixing bowl filled with meatloaf ingredients.  But my parents sent me some beautiful flowers, so that served as a reminder that something big had just happened.