Jennifer Geoghan

4 Sept 2018: The Best Worst Book I Ever Read

And the award for the Best Worst Book I Ever Read goes to ….. (insert drum roll here)

Rhode Island Blues by Fay Weldon

After I finished reading this book I came to the somewhat strange realization that it was the best worst book I’d ever read. An odd realization to come to for sure. The book had no real plot to speak of. Having no development, the characters are all pretty much the same at the end of the book as they were in the beginning. Could this have been the point? I honestly can’t say. But there is an addictiveness in the words the author uses that kept me coming back for another fix until I finally found myself at the last page.  (Note: Spellcheck is saying addictiveness isn’t a word, but I disagree.) The author has a dry sense of humor which I can appreciate and so do many other readers from the reviews this book received on Goodreads.

Plot: Grandma Felicity sells her house and moves into a retirement home. Grandma then meets a guy and ends up moving in with him. That’s it in a nutshell. Characters come and go but nothing else happens.

Grandma Felicity and granddaughter Sophia are the two central characters, and quite frankly neither are very likable. I’m not sure if one of the other qualifies as the main character except that the chapters that dealt with the daughter were in first person narrative and the chapters about grandma were in third person. This was bizarre and took a lot of getting used to.

So why did I read this book all the way until the last page?

A couple of reasons. First was because the book partly takes place in my old stomping grounds of the Rhode Island and Connecticut border area. I know this area well as I vacation there quite a bit. The author is English and I suspect as not been to this part of America. Her geography is a bit off, but this intrigued me to see just how wrong she could get it. She also never quite gets the hang of the local lingo. Here’s a for instance. Grandma finds out about the retirement home she moves to from a brochure she gets in her mailbox. However … the director of the home says something like “You got our pamphlet in your letterbox.” Yeah. This is a very UK thing to say. We get brochures in the mail here in the good old US of A. Which, by the way, made no sense to the story anyway seeing as they were SUPER cheap at this establishment and had a REALLY long waiting list and were UBER picky about who they took. No way would they spend money on a mailing to Joe Schmo old person.

Anyway … I digress.

So, yes, this book kind of sucked. But it was the language that kept me addicted. I think I might even become a better writer because of just reading it and purposefully studying the way in which the author chose her words and their imagery.

Here’s an example:

Preface: Felicity is the grandmother.  The Golden Bowl is the retirement home she moves to. Angel was the mother (died long ago) Nurse Dawn is the slightly less sadistic Nurse Ratched of the book. Sophia, who is the one doing the narrative here is a film editor, hence her use of technical jargon.

“I quite liked being described by Felicty as a relative. It made me feel warmed and safe, and not so unlike other people after all. But I also quite liked the thought of this grandmother of mine feeling obliged to do what Nurse Dawn told her. Perhaps at the Golden Bowl I would find allies; people who would understand what it was like to have Angel for a mother and Felicity for a grandmother. Then I felt disloyal, and weak for wanting to belong, and sorry for Felicity, because her life was drawing to an end, and there was nothing she could do about it, not even a rewind button to press, no way of cutting the footage together differently; the picture was locked. No way of editing out the boring bits. These had to be lived through in real time, with a body that was inexorably running down, and not all the efforts of the Golden Bowl could help her.” (Page 81)

The author used a few words I had to look up to make sure of what it really meant. I’ve taken to jotting words down I’m not quite sure of on the last page of the book so I can look them up when I’m done. In this case some of the words were: patois, fitments, perforce, aural, derisory, atavistic and susurrus. With this novel, I felt the need to write out a family tree as well. I was getting very lost when new family members were mentioned.I don’t think I’d recommend this book to any of my friends to read, but I would recommend it to fellow writers looking to expand their writing styles.  So, yes, this was the best worst book I’ve ever read.  Enjoy it … or not.

-Jennifer

 

15 Oct 2017: Vampires on Vacation

Where does the writer of vampire novels (and a genealogist) go on her vacation? To visit the vampire grave of Rhode Island, of course!

Pilgrimage complete!

While researching odd and interesting places to visit in Rhode Island and Connecticut on roadsideamerica.com, I came across the vampire grave of Simon Whipple in Union Cemetery in North Smithfield, RI.

In memory of Simon Whipple, youngest son of Col. Dexter Aldrich & Margery his wife, who died on May 6, 1841, aged 27 years.  Altho’ consumption’s vampire grasp had seized thy mortal frame, ……. mind …..

We’ll never know exactly how the epitaph ends at some point in the past, his stone was set in concrete?  Why?  Was it because the stone had been knocked over and had to be set again?  Or was it perhaps because to keep something in the ground from getting out?  We’ll never know …

Simon and his siblings … all died aged 27 years …. odd …

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

9 July 2017: Struggling between “Linguistical Correctness” and what’s right.

It’s funny how a small comment from a prospective editor set in motion such a large debate for me. When I received  a sample edit of a few pages of a manuscript of mine, there was a notation on my usage of the word “towards.”  Yes, it had never occurred to me to not put an “s” at the end.  Why?  Because I’ve always spoken it aloud ending with an s.

American accepted usage of the word “toward” is toward without an “s” on the end.  It seems “towards” with the “s” is the editorially correct British spelling of the word.

Here in lies my dilemma. I’m American and never in my life have I said the word “toward.” I’m “towards” all the way. I’ve surveyed many people over the last few weeks and most have said they use the offending “s” as well.  So …. what’s up with that?

This wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that my novels are all written in first person and are told by women who all grew up in the same small town I did in New York.  If I use the “s,” so should they.

Now that’s all well and good. I mean, I’m a rebel.  I could honestly care less what people think …. except I’m entering literary contests now and I feel using the offending (yet correct) “s” would be a mark against me.

What’s a girl to do?

I decided that in my novel series (The Falling Series) I’m leaving the “s” in and will be adding in a note that it’s a regional “s,” which I believe it is. It’s either regional to the town in NY where I grew up or regional to the town in Rhode Island where my mother grew up.  I inherited quite a few New England speech idioms from her. Since my protagonist in The Falling Series also has a mom from Rhode Island, the “s” stays.

However, going forward I’m caving in to linguistic peer pressure and dropping the “s.”  This bothers me no end, but if I want to win contests sacrifices have to be made.  You win some, you lose some …. battles that is, hopefully not contests!

I’ll end with asking to whom does one write a letter to get this “s” issued updated? Seems an out of date rule that needs a bit more flexibility with the current use  of American English.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

28 June 2017: Long Time – No See

Yep, It’s been a while since I last posted.  Sorry about that.  I’ve had a lot going on my life.  I had gastric bypass surgery on June 1st.  Before that it’s months of monitored diets, tests and poking and prodding like you’ve never experienced.  I’m almost four weeks post op now and doing …. OK.  They say it takes months to get back to 100%.  I believe them.

The annoying part is I have little to no energy to do anything.  I went back to work after a week and just the energy it takes to get up, get dressed and get to work means I have to take a five minute break once I get to my desk.

So…. that means I haven’t been doing much writing.  I had started my new novel before surgery but since my protagonist had gastric bypass as well, I wanted to wait until I was post op to write most of it.  Getting back on that horse has proven more challenging than I’d care to admit.

I did enter a literary contest yesterday with my unpublished cowboy romance novel. It’s the first book in the series.  The second being the one I’m currently not working on.  One of my goals for 2017 was to put myself out there and enter some contests.  I did enter this same book in the Florida Writers Assoc Royal Palm Literary awards for an unpublished novel.  Sadly it didn’t make the semi finals.  However, I also entered If Love is a Lie as a published novel as well as a short story I wrote.  I have yet to hear back about those entries so I’m hoping they’ll do better and at least make the finals.

I need to get my energy back soon as I purchased a ticket to go to RWA2017, the Romance Writers of America convention.  Lucky for me, it’s being held here in Orlando.  It wasn’t a cheap ticket.  $495! That’s ticket only, not hotel or travel. I’ll let you know if I think it was worth it. That’s coming up in about a month.

Anyway, that’s the state of this writer.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  Click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

15 Apr 2017: A Controversial Decision

There comes a time when you have to make the hard choices in life, and for me one of those choices was to scrap the titles and covers of my book series and start again.

  • Why would I do such a thing?

Because they were never living up to their potential. My other novel, If Love is a Lie, sold rings around the series and really they’re just no reason why when you take into account the stories. So, I now introduce you to the new and improved book series:

The Falling Series

  • Falling for Death (formerly know as: The Purity of Blood)
  • Falling for Stars (formerly know as: Purity Lost)
  • Falling for a Kiss (formerly know as: The Blood that Binds)
  • Falling Head over Heart (formerly know as: Purity’s Progeny)
  • Falling Ever After (formerly know as: Blood’s Solemn Vow)

The new titles convey that, yes, these are romance novels.  They downplay the vampire aspects of the novels, which in the end are not the most important parts of the books anyway.  The titles and covers are much more cohesive now as well.

Did I make a good decision?  Only time will tell ….

So what are your thoughts of rebranding a book series or any book for that matter?

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

17 Mar 2017: The Reading Challenge Continues …

So as I mentioned last month, I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books in 2017. How am I doing so far? Right now I’m reading book 17.  Yes, I’m a little behind, but I’m sure I’ll come across some good and short books soon to make up the short fall.  Here are the books I’ve read since I last posted and the full reviews of them.  I do reviews on twitter as I finish each book, so if you’d like to follow my progress, follow me on twitter at @JenniferGNovels

Book 7: MEG: Nightstalkers by Steve Alten

4 stars

I’ll start by saying MEG is short of megladon, as is megladon sharks, sort of dinosaur sharks. I thought I’d take a break from my romance extravaganza to try something a little different. Nightstalkers is I think the 6th book in the MEG series and is an adventure story about scary prehistoric marine life roaming our oceans. Not my normal fare but a good read none the less.  It being late in the series I did have a little catching up, but I give Mr. Alten high marks for making the 6th book in a series also a very good stand alone novel.  Having written a 5 book series myself, I know that’s a really hard feat to accomplish. That’s not to say there weren’t a few issues.  Holy Guacamole, Batman, there were a lot of characters in this book!  You need a program to keep track of them all, and that’s my suggestion.  I’ve read books that have had one or two sentence bios of the main characters at the beginning of a book. I’d have been super happy to have had one of those for this book, especially for some of the dead characters eaten in previous books.

Most novels I read don’t have illustrations.  This one did. It had maps, which were very helpful as the ships were sailing all over: from Alaska, to Australia, to Antarctica.  There were also a few illustrations of the creatures.  Yeah … I could have used a couple more of those.  There’s only so much you can describe of a fanciful sea creature before what I’m picturing in my head looks nothing like what the author intended. It ain’t just sharks, we’re talking prehistoric whales and alligators too.

I will admit, the story lost me a bit when time travel got involved.  Quite frankly that little side story flopped for me. All they say is that’s how the one guy knew what was going to happen, that he’d gone back in time a few months and was reliving them. The book never says how that happened and why it didn’t happen again so I’d have written it out of the novel if I were the author.  Thankfully, that bit only lasted a few pages, any more and I’d have stopped reading.

Book 8: Undisputed by A.S. Teague

5 stars

This is a great read.  I finished it in two days, not that it was all that long.  It was unpredictable, funny and boy, did I cry! Yes, it’s a tear jerker, but in a good way.  It paced well and had a fabulous ending.  Honestly, my only complaint was that the male protagonist dropped the F bomb a few too many times for my taste.  Yes, it was probably in keeping with his character, but still, it’s not in keeping with me as a reader.  I highly recommend this book.  So much so that I’ve already started book 2 in the series.

Book 9: Unraveled by A.S. Teague

4 stars

Yes, the sequel dropped by a star. The protagonists in this story were very good, but not as compelling as in the first book. Plus a few things sort of annoyed me with this book. Rebecca, the female lead in this book was a side character in book one.  It was said that the male protagonist in book one was a little scared of her because she beat him up as a child.  He still seemed intimidated by her which seemed odd to me since she mostly drank wine, shopped and did her nails in book one.  Low and behold… in book two we find out that she used to me a cage fighter along with the male lead in Book one!  Well, had I known that in book one, that would have made a lot more sense.  In this book, Rebecca has two friends that are party girls, always going to clubs.  It isn’t until the end of the book that you find out the friends used to be cage fighters as well.  I think these were my main complaints about these books, that vital bits of info were neglected and tossed in a little too late for my taste.

Book 10: Nice by Jen Sacks

4 stars

This is a very funny book in a satire sort of way. Basically it’s a love story between a professional killer and your joe average woman who ends up killing her dates when she doesn’t have the heart to tell them she’s just not that into them, thus hurting their feelings. The story itself is a five-star story that I highly recommend. There were a couple of issues that kept it from that five-star overall rating. First would be the use of words you have to look up in the dictionary, like vituperously, somnambulistic and ablutions. I’m all for writing stories that make the reader stretch their mind, but come on. Who did she think was going to read this book?

The other issue I had was one that made me rethink how I write my own books. This book has two narrators.  The name of the chapter is the name of the character who narrates it.  This is what I do in my novels as well.  Problem with this book is that the first chapter is titled “Grace” and no where in the chapter do you find out that the name of the narrator to associate the chapter title as the name of the person talking. I honestly paid no attention to the chapter title, I rarely do. So when chapter two was titled “Sam,” I was wondering why the narrator was suddenly doing strange things.  Chapter two switched back to “Grace,” but I hadn’t realized we’d ever switched away from her.  I didn’t figure all this out until chapter four switched back to “Sam.”

Book 11: Moment in Time by Lisa Mondello

3 stars

This was a really short read, but still a good story.  Had Miss Mondello added an epilogue, I probably would have given in 4 stars.  As it is, the story ends awkwardly, leaving me to wonder if they live happily ever after … or happy for now??? To me, romance is all about the ending.  I get that this was a shorter novella that she put out for free to attract readers, but she does herself a disservice with this ending.  I’ve read other books of hers that were better.

Book 12: Billionaire Unknown by J.S. Scott

3 stars

I’ll start by saying I’m a big fan of this series, but the first 6 or 7 books in the series were definitely the best. Once they started branching out to the family in Colorado, I think the series started to lose me.  I was really confused when I started reading this book.  I thought I’d read it before.  So much so that I was just about to put it down when I realized that the author had put out a Christmas short story that was the beginning of this book.  Once I figured that out, the story was good.  Nothing special. Maybe I’m being a bit unfair seeing as the first books in the series were all 5 star wonders.

Books 13-14-15: The Maybe Series

Maybe Yes / Maybe Never / Maybe Always

3 stars

Since I bought this as a boxed set, I’ll review it as one book, not the three books it touts itself to be. If I was to review them individually, they’d all get 2 stars each. To be honest, book 1 was pretty good, but left you with a cliffhanger. Book 2 was a complete departure from the love story of book 1.  I’m not even sure if I’d classify Books 2 or 3 as romance.  They’re more action, suspense that romance. Personally I’m always disappointed when a writer has to bring in a Mexican Drug Cartel to spice things up.  To write that Kinsley could join a drug and smuggling cartel with any believability strains any sense of realism. I know most romance novels are escapist literature, but please … I think the author wrote herself into a corner in this story.  I get the distinct feeling that she was writing without an outline and once she’d gotten Kinsley involved with the cartel, had no idea how to resolve the story.  Most of Book 2 and 3 was her incessant interior monologue wondering if they believed her or not. For some reason she seemed to think the FBI had jurisdiction in Cancun Mexico and Paris France, because the author had them storming the Cartels facilities in both places. Not terribly realistic.

Book 16: The Education of Sebastian by Jane Harvey Berrick

4 stars

This one gets 4 stars by the skin of its teeth. Honestly, if I wasn’t on a three star streak, it would probably get 3. What’s holding it back? WORDS!  This book has wonderful characters and a good story line, but it is plagued with way too much extra prose. I found myself skipping pages upon pages of just too much detail and unnecessary information. It really is a shame as an edited version of this book would rate a good five stars. Basically the gist of this story is that Caroline, a 30-year-old military wife in a bad marriage, falls for Sebastian, the 17-year-old son of another military family. Yep, they’re breaking the law. The whole book builds up to the last couple of pages when the author answers the question, will they get caught or not. I thought the last pages were a bit of a let down as it just leads you into book 2, that is if you want to find out that happens to them. Yep, sucker that I am, I’m reading the sequel right now (but only because it was free with kindle unlimited!) From the way book two is shaping up, I’d say if both books were combined and edited, they’d make a great single novel. Still, if you don’t mind skipping pages, The Education of Sebastian is a really good read.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind. You have no idea how much you’ll brighten my day by leaving me a comment!

4 Mar 2017: Never Underestimate Likability

Here’s the second installment of my series on How to Write a Good Romance (or any story really) based on what not to do:

#2: Never Underestimate Likability.

Not all characters have to be likable. Not everyone in this world is likable. Although the protagonists in a love story should have flaws, like all humans do, they should also have more redeemable qualities than flaws.

caution-tape

I recently read a book where I kept thinking, why is she interested in him? He’s a total jerk and an unrepentant man-whore to boot! She can do so much better than him! When the finally got together at the end of the book, I really could have cared less. Did I read any more of the books in that series? No, they all sounded pretty much the same, with “heroes” that were not good people at all, certainly not anyone I’d ever want to fantasize about.

cartoon-evil

The real problem was, he was just as much of a jerk on the last page of the book as he was on the first. There was no progression of character, no redemption, no understanding of why he was the way he was. Remember that your readers have to find something likable in your protagonists in order for them in invest themselves in them.

  • What keeps someone turning the pages of book is caring.
  • They care if the protagonist finds love or doesn’t.
  • They care what trap or mystery they may be walking into.

If you want to have a character that’s a jerk when the couple first meets, that’s fine, but give them a journey that reveals why they are the way they are, and continue that evolution of character until the final pages of the book. Every event that happens to us in our lives changes the person we were when we woke up that morning. How does this fact of life change who you characters are when you finally type “The End?”

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of:

I’d love to hear from you!  So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

8 April 2016: To Kindle Unlimited … or not to Kindle Unlimited …

In case you’re not aware of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, for $9.99 a month, you can have unlimited access to read as many books as you like so long as these books participle in the program. It’s sort of like a library card.  You can take out “on loan” up to ten books at a time. You can keep any book for as long as you like, but if you should decide to drop the program, any books you have on your Kindle that you acquired through KU will be yanked off your Kindle.

kindle-unlimitedIf you’re like me and you read constantly, this $9.99 is a huge savings. I’m simply limited to book that are in the program, but so many are that it’s never been an issue.  I still buy books that I can’t resist, but all things considered, I save a ton with KU.

So last night I finished reading a book that I got for free on my Kindle.  It wasn’t through KU, just listed at a price of $0.00.  It was an okay book.  The story was decent, but I could take it or leave it. As I suspected, when I checked to see what else this author had to offer, the book I’d just read was indeed the first in a series. The second book was $2.99.  For $2.99, I took a pass.  However … had this book been on the KU program, I’d have read it.

kindleunlimited

There are many authors that poo poo the KU program because they feel the royalties just aren’t there for them.  To those authors I feel the need to remind you that the members of KU are hard-core readers, but we’re also extremely budget conscious. I might WANT to read your book, but I’m just not willing to pay more than $2.99 for an ebook of an author I’ve never read before, or was slightly ambivalent about their first book.  This was the case with the book I read this week.  The author missed out on me reading the second book in their series because I’d have had to have paid for it.  My suggestion would be to take the first book and put it in the KU program instead of making it $0.00 on amazon.  If they had, they’d have gotten royalties on the first book instead of nothing which is what they got from me.  I’d price book one at $0.99 for non KU and have it enrolled in the KU program.  I’ll be honest, if a book looks interesting enough, even with my KU, I’m willing to pay $0.99 for it.

royaltiesAs an author, I can tell you that I’m currently generating just as much royalties through the KU program as I am with straight sales. So what have your experiences with KU been like?  Let’s here from some other authors or KU members!!

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.

4 April 2016: Maybe we should just hold hands instead of kiss …

What is Romance?

Exactly how much “romance” does a novel have to contain for it be considered a romance novel?

I’ve been pondering this question for a while now. Is it as simple that at the end of the book the male or female protagonist ends up with the person they’ve been flirting with? Is it the amount of sex in the book, and by sex I mean sex other than casual sex? Is it as simple as love, two characters that weren’t in love when the book began but are when it ends?

couple_kiss3[1]

Oops! Sorry, I can’t kiss you there. If I did, that would be a romance and I don’t do romance.

Let’s take my latest book, If Love is a Lie, for an example. I list it as a romance, but there’s a whole lot more to it than your standard formulaic romance. The first third of the book is Emily’s relationship with her internet dating scam artist. Hardly a worthy romance! The next phase of the book is her working with the FBI to bring her scammer and his gang to justice. There’s a growing attraction between her and the FBI agent assigned to the case, but really this section of the story is more crime/action/adventure. The last section of the book is where she’s forced to make a choice about the direction of her life. She’s caught in a love triangle between her scammer and the FBI agent. In the end she makes her choice and they ride off into the sunset together to start a new life. The last section is very dramatic but I suppose it would fall into a romance category. I’ll admit I like love triangles. There’s always a happy ending in my books but I like to keep the suspense of who she’ll be happy with until the very end.

So is If Love is a Lie a romance novel?

Sometimes I think romance is like vampires. My book series (The Purity of Blood novels) has vampires in it. Is the fact that they are vampires central to the story? No, but because there are vampires in it, it’s automatically “Paranormal Romance.” Personally, I don’t feel that classification is warranted, but a vampire is a vampire and if even one creeps into a novel, it’s automatically a paranormal book. This makes me wish there really was a vampire in the world, just one, a friendly one preferably, but just that one would make the paranormal … normal. Thus my “paranormal romance” could be classified as just romance.

I was gonna suck your blood, but I'll just kiss you instead!

I was gonna suck your blood, but I’ll just kiss you instead!

As with vampires, I think any book with kissing involved gets unfairly classified as a romance novel. Is If Love is a Lie a romance? Yes … and no. I think folks who like and those who dislike romance novels would both enjoy it.

Does underwater kissing count?

Does underwater kissing count?

Yesterday I wen to lunch with a friend and asked him this same question, how much romance is enough to push a book into that category. His reply was if the central theme of the book was romance, than it’s a romance. A logical and well thought out answer. With that in mind, I’d say my series (The Purity of Blood) is not a romance series at all. The central theme is the development of Sara from the innocent girl she is at the beginning of the series to the strong woman she is at the end. Are her romantic relationships part of that development? Yes, but even stronger in it is her relationship with Randall, her grandfather. But seeing as Randall is a vampire … I’m still stuck with the paranormal label. Oh, well. C’est la vie as the French say.

-Jennifer

Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.