Real Life Follows Books?

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Does real life romance ever really resemble fiction romance stories? The answer is an unequivocal yes. I think it is unusual, and uncommon, but yes. Yet if someone had asked me in 2007, I would have said absolutely not!

To explain why, I have to go back to 2008.

I had finished my novel and was divorced the the same year. After sitting on the fence for quite some time, I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to raise two kids alone, but  knew that for my sanity and that of my kids, I had to end my marriage. I was disappearing, miserable, nearly broke, and couldn’t fix him.

A month before my divorce was final in August of 2008, I had begun corresponding with a man in California whom I had met online. We had a love of cars and music in common, but I’d never expected much from it, since we live 2400 miles apart. I was thinking harmless, flirty penpals! As we began to talk via email, then on the phone, we both realized something very unusual was starting to happen; the commonalities were more than coincidental. Before long, we knew we had to meet in person—we had to know.  And weirdly, my then therapist agreed.  Here I thought she was my sane voice, telling me I was vulnerable and not ready. Instead I was asked, “Whose timetable are you on?”   Mine.  Mine.

So the man and I met in Las Vegas and when he picked me up at the airport it was like a scene from a movie. That entire weekend we could not seem to stop staring at each other. I had said to him before we met “real life never lives up to fantasy.” His response was, “What if?” As he said to me the weekend we met in person, “I just knew.”

Fast forward through, meeting parents, kids and siblings, exes, and friends, enduring teen dramas, a burglary, surgery, and seeing each other one weekend a month.

In 2011 we married! (I moved to his state just before).

So yes, real life romance can resemble fiction romance stories. And I’d never tell anyone to stop believing it might happen to them. I seem to be proof that it can.

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Jenna was born in Massachusetts and has moved 41 times in her life. She now resides in Southern California with her husband and her two sons. After graduating with a BS in Written Communications from Eastern Michigan University, she started working in marketing and PR for various corporations and non profits. Currently, she is a full time VP of Marketing and a full time mom.  Jennifer enjoys traveling, photography, cars, horseback riding, biking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Black Hole: A Novel, was begun in June of 2007 on a dare from a friend, and took a year to complete. Interestingly, after writing it, things that happened in the book began happening to her. She is currently working on a sequel to Black Hole: A Novel as well as a book on Internet dating titled, It’s Just Coffee (or is it?).

Synopsis
After the sudden disappearance of her husband, Allison Pierce must build a new life for herself and for her two young sons. Along the way she discovers herself, her strength, the value of friendship, and a new way to define what a family can be with the power of love behind it.

Rollback to 2009 and a burglary

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After my house was broken into back in 2009 and I found this journal entry a few days ago.  It puts me right back there when it happened.  I occasionally reach for a piece of jewelry or remember my mom’s jade necklace, or a brooch my grandmother gave me and the pit of my stomach lurches.  I will never, ever forget how this felt.  It. Was. Awful.

 

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2009

I rent a $400k house in a gated community, in a small town of 36,000 people. And it’s not safe to me any more.

I wasn’t physically hurt or threatened. Neither were my kids. We were never in danger.

But much like my emotionally abusive relationship of 15 years, that I just extricated myself from, the lack of physical evidence on me and my boys, does not seem to lessen the emotions nausea that run rampant within me and the sudden wariness in them. And lack of “bruising” makes understanding from some outsiders less patient.

The adage is true:  Unless it’s happened to you, you just don’t get it.

To come back to your “home”, the place that is supposed to feel safe, and see a shattered glass sliding door, kids electronic gaming system gone, all your dresser drawers upturned, a laptop gone, all your family heirlooms/jewelery  in the hands of strangers, the 99 pound fireproof safe that contained a .32 cold automatic that was your grandfather’s in 1922, and all your home movies, your kids piggy banks, wallets and all your personal papers, gone…

…it’s violating. No wonder the word violent is related.

It’s creepy. It’s nasty. It’s hateful. I’ve never hated anyone in my life until now. Those assholes are touching my stuff. And they pawed through my underwear, my books, and have my grandmother’s ring. They have home movies of my kids, my will, my dad’s death certificate.

I assume the best in others. I trust. And this has really, really rattled me. I am sick of feeling this way, and know time will help. So I ride the waves and quietly function and cope. I also clean up the mess someone else made. The broken glass is only part of it. There are papers that have to be replaced, forms to fill out for the insurance company (which wants receipts, which were, in the safe).

And yes, it could have been so much worse. I know that. Again, I was not hurt, killed. My kids and I were not home at the time.

But I am scared. Scared they will come back. Scared they will take even more. I sleep with light on. And I mean all the lights in my house. I am afraid to leave my house to go to work. Before this, I made sure doors were locked, but I never gave my safety or that of my boys, a second thought. I lived in a gated community!

To add to my angst, 24 hours after my “home” was ransacked, the listing agent wanted to show it to a prospective buyer. The very thought of more strangers in my home made me recoil. Who, in their right mind, would want to see a house that was just broken into?  I declined, she insisted, I acquiesced and moved it to a few days later. The door was still not fixed, but she didn’t care.

How did she explain this?  Did the buyer not care?

The door repairman came and took out the remaining shattered glass and installed plywood in lieu of the glass, which is on order. He arrived the same time as the buyers.  I watched them track more glass around and take photos of the house and thought, this is beyond insane.

I wanted to scream.

But the fact is, it is not my house. It is for sale. The owner, an acquaintance, wants to sell it. The market is soft. So I have no rights.

I am at the whim of so much right now. And my shaken soul is done with that. I need stability in a new way.

I feel like I have been “camping” in Florida ever since I moved here in 2001 and then I owned a house. Now I feel even more transient, even more like Florida does not want me here, that I don’t belong here, and I have to find a way out of it for my own sanity and peace of mind.

My next move will be to a place my boys and I can stay for awhile. A place to invest in. And it needs to happen. Soon.

Romance at Heart Interview and Author Grilling Session

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Hi Jenna. Thank you for doing this interview. I would like to welcome you to the Romance at Heart Interview and Author Grilling session. *bg* We are interested to find out as much about you as we possibly can, so lets get started…

– Please tell us about your latest book.
Black Hole: A Novel, was written on a dare. My friend Gwen bet me I could not give her two pages about a woman in an elevator. I did. I gave them to her, she read them and handed them back and asked, “Then what?”

Four hundred pages, and a year later (2008), it was done. I passed it around to friends, who insisted I do “something” with it. After getting a ton of negativity about finding a publisher, and how hard it was to even get it read by an editor, I decided to go another route and self publish. Now it’s on createspace.com and I finally, this year, converted it to Kindle format. I have given copies away and sold a few. So far, even strangers who have read it enjoyed it.

The odd part is that after I wrote the book, things in it actually happened to me: the main character is left to raise two sons alone (I divorced in 2008 and have residential custody of my boys), the main character goes to Vegas (I had never been there and a trade show for work came up in 2008), and other things I cannot mention without ruining the plot!

The book was very cathartic for me in many ways. Admittedly, some of the emotions in it are drawn directly from me at the time. It was also a distraction and I committed to it fully. Although in retrospect I would say it sucked ME in.

– What can we expect from you in the future?
I have two books in the works now. The second one is a sequel to my first and I’m having to research milking sheep for it.

The third one is completely different. Friends who have seen parts of it have said it is like another person wrote it.

– How may readers contact you?
Email is the best way. JPPeranteau@gmail.com, I am also on Twitter as VTALUNA.

– Why did you decide to write romance novels?
It was never a conscious decision. I started writing and the story seemed to generate itself.

– What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing – or are there constant interruptions?
I try to write when my kids are in bed, with their grandparents or their dad. Sometimes, though, the muses insist I get something down RIGHT THEN! I use a Dictaphone in the car!

– What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Sleep. I think I could sleep a week. I also spend time with my husband of 3 years, who lets me be me.

– What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
Feedback. Tangibles. New reviews on Amazon!
What I do on the corporate side (marketing) gives me both statistical feedback and tangibles (designed ads). As for writing, frankly I love writing dialog! I listen to conversations in restaurants, airports, anywhere public.

– Where do your ideas come from?
Experiences I have had, or would like to have. Or experiences I hope I NEVER have. Experiences of friends or family. Dreams.

– Do you feel humor is important in women’s fiction and why?
It releases a ton of tension and everyone reading can relate to some form of it. It’s also really good physically for you to laugh! I have one friend who is one of the happiest people I know. She’s rubbing off on me, thank God. I always say that if I did not have a sense of humor, I would be dead by now.

– What kind of research do you do?
I do a ton of research on the internet. What was very cool was writing about The Pinball Hall of Fame without having been there. Then, before I self published, I had the chance to go. I was surprised to find out that I was eerily accurate except for smells. Actually being there allowed me to add that sense in a great way.

– Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
I was born in Massachusetts and I have moved 40 times if you include moves from college. I’ve lived in ten states, gone to three elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and three colleges. I am the youngest of four and my siblings call me the drama queen. Sometimes I’m nine years old with my kids (boys 15 and 12). But I’m a grown up when I pay bills and go to work. My mom and I are very alike in an oddly winsome way. Hobbies? Writing. With a full time job and two boys, that’s all I can handle!

– Fill in the blank favorites –
Dessert – Tirimisu. My mom and I spent 14 days in Italy trying to find the best one. I was sick of it for a month after that. Not anymore!
City – Portland, Maine: I lived in Maine for awhile and it feels familiar and the most like home. I also lived near DC and having the ability to explore that city every weekend was a great experience.
Season – Season’s a toughie. Fall: in New England. Winter: somewhere with no snow, except Christmas Day. Summer: NOT anywhere humid!

– What are some of your favorite things to do?
I have been riding horses since I was nine. Dressage. I am trying to incorporate that into book #3. Horses have made me cry (in a good way) for as long as I can remember. I never seem to find the time to do it more. I adore traveling and finding odd places in big cities. The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas is one.

– Where do you see yourself in five years?
Frankly writing in some form for a living. The unknown being what form?

– How long have you been writing – have you always wanted to be a writer?
I started in high school with teenage poetry full of angst. I got up the guts to show one to my English Lit teacher my senior year. She liked it and encouraged me. I knew by wanted to write for a living, but decided to go the corporate route and into marketing and PR.

The creativity was not there (too stale and conservative). Writing a novel’s opened up my creativity in a new way.

– How many books have you written, how many have been published?Finished one. Working on two more. Yep. Simultaneously.

– After you’ve written your book and it’s been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
I didn’t open it for the longest time after it was “finished.” When I did, I read parts and thought, “Wow, I wrote this!!” It was a bit of a defining moment!

– Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
My first finished book was constructed oddly. I wrote the beginning and the end and then filled in the rest. The main character was a given: she and her name appeared fast. The other characters: One is partially someone I know who asked to be in it. All the rest are out of my head.

– Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
At one point, one of the main characters in my first book insisted upon going “one way” when I wanted her to go another. I got really frustrated with her and thought “Fine!” So I didn’t write for a week. When I returned to it, she went my way!

– Have you experienced writer’s block—> If so, how did you work through it?  It’s happening now.  But I tend to write in spurts: suddenly have something in my head that needs out. I have never been a “I will write for an hour a day” writer. To me that’s forced creativity: a disaster and an oxymoron.  I am watching YouTube videos now about writer’s block and hoping I will snap out of it.  I’ve had other issues get in the way lately that I cannot control, and I’m waiting that out.

– If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
My day job is VP of Marketing and I work from home. (I know, very lucky!). Until my books pay enough, it will be the corporate world for me.

– Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Just keep writing. Keep trying. It only takes one person to love it and suddenly a new door opens.

 

Life Goes On

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My mind is still wrapping itself around my aunt’s death yesterday.

89 years may seem like enough time on this earth but for her it was simply too short. She was truly a life lover and giver.  I long to know her secret: loving life even through heart aches and frustration. This never dimmed in her and I wish she’d sprinkled me with gobs of that pixie dust every time I saw her.  Sometimes I “get” this feeling of “grateful to be here.” And when I do, I want to roll around in the feeling and make it stick to me, instead of having it slide off me as I grab at it in desperation.

This lady called “bored” a swear word. She loved to sing and had an amazing voice. She loved Grey Goose, her cocktail hour, traveling and chocolate and wrote me the funniest letter in 1999 after I delivered an 11# baby without a c section, having had large babies of her own. “Where on earth did you put that child when he was in utero?”

I’m so glad I saw you, Issie, last July. And I think it’s safe to reveal our secret: the one I whispered to you every time I hugged you. “You’re my favorite aunt. Don’t tell anyone.” You always laughed. But it was a truth that never faltered.

I am sad, but know I will see you again. Enjoy your next adventure in your soul life and say hi to my dad!