Guilty Pleasures from Jackie

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May 2014, from Harlequin Kimani.  Available in bookstores everywhere and from Amazon.com.

 

Guilty Pleasures

We all have them, we all indulge in them.  And upon occasion, feel guilty that we do.  Well.  Maybe not.  Have you ever thought about why we have guilty pleasures?  If it’s not hurting anybody, why should we feel guilty for indulging in them?   Who does it hurt that I have a secret addiction to ABBA or rather disco music in general. But I will tell you, the only time I indult in Disco Inferno is in my bedroom with headphones on.  (Miriam: Thank you, God, for headphones and the fact Jackie’s bedroom is at the other end of the house from mine with lots of walls in between.)

There are occasions while at Starbucks I feel the need to break out with Dancing Queen.  In the back room with my head stuck in the refrigerator while rotating the milk or sometimes in the back of the store looking longingly at that big bottle of white chocolate sauce thinking I just want to open it up and guzzle it down.  You could probably put white chocolate on Brussels sprouts and I’d be all in. (Miriam:  Jackie has a sad face.  I just told her Stater Bros didn’t have white chocolate Magnum bars, so I had to bring dark chocolate bars instead.  We both live for the white chocolate Magnum bars.)

I’m not embarrassed by my love for tequila and cigarettes, but why am I afraid to let people know I like BDSM, (or as a friend calls it—girly porn.  He’s a man as if he doesn’t indulge).  Thank goodness for Kindle.  Sometime a girl has to indulge in a dirty ditty on their lunch hour.  (Miriam: not looking at Jackie with judgmental eyes.  Well, maybe a little.)

What else do I like to indulge in that makes me feel a teeny bit embarrassed?  I baby talk to my dog.  I know you’re not supposed to.   You’re supposed to talk to them in clear concise language than can be understood and, depending on the dog, chose to ignore.  I never do this in front of anyone else, just in the privacy of my bedroom late at night.  I wrap him up in his blanket, carry him to my room and put him to bed.  If he would let me, I’d wrap him up in little sailor, or pirate outfits.

I was talking to a friend about writing this blog.  And she confessed to me her overwhelming obsession with the attractive, but evil Vladimir Putin.  I sort of have to agree.  He’s hot, but evil.  (Miriam: Icky.)  He was the head of the KGB.  What kind of husband material is that?

I just asked Miriam about her vices and her reply, with a raised eyebrow, “I don’t have any.”  Okay girlfriend, I’m telling on you.  Let me say, turkey jerky and white chocolate Easter bunnies.

A little part of me still hopes Denzel Washington will divorce his wife and find me and take me away from Starbucks.  Like that’s going to happen.  A girl has to dream and indulge in a guilty pleasure or two.

Love, Jackie1stclr

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Miriam’s Rebuttal to Jackie’s Cigarette Break

I can always tell when Jackie is having a difficult day writing.  Answers to questions like, what would s/he say next is always preceded by very long pauses because Jackie is either playing a game or trolling the Internet or she’s thinking about another cigarette break.  Which is compounded by me having a bad day writing, like today.  But Jackie is more twitchy about it.  She has a harddreamstime_10648750 time sitting still, lots of bathroom breaks, though secretly I don’t think she really needs to go, just be away from me for a minute and innumerable cigarette breaks.  I’ve thought about hiding her cigarettes, but I never do.  Smoking is her quirk.

I have quirks, too.  I play solitaire while she’s smoking.  I check Facebook while she’s in the bathroom.  And email when she’s too twitchy to form words.  At times, even on a good day, focus for Jackie is an issue.  She’s like my grandkids, who spent the night last week and brought all these toys along and played with them for maybe five minutes.  Jackie spends five seconds doing one thing or another.  She’s like a cat in a room full of canaries, looking everywhere and banging into walls.

Jackie is a seat of the pants writer.  I’m more methodical.  I like to know where a book is going to go from the beginning.  When I insist on some sort of outline, Jackie humors me.  We may deviate from the original outline because things will occur to us during the course of the writing that work better than our original idea. Sometimes I like the surprises and sometimes I don’t.  To me, I have to keep my eye on the end goal while the journey is in progress.  Jackie wants to be surprised at the end goal.  For the her, the twists and turns in the trip are exciting to her.  Not in real life, though, only in writing.  Alien Invasion—surprise—not a good one.  Foundling dog—surprise—a good one.

I think being on a tough deadline, like the one we’re on now, contributes to Jackie’s twichiness.  We have all these worries.  Are we going to make it?  Will the story be good enough because we won’t have the leisure to rewrite the way we normally do?  Will our editor look at this manuscript and frown with displeasure or even horror?  In a lot of ways, writing a story is a crap shoot.  Jackie deals with the stress by cigarette breaks.  I deal with the stress by playing solitaire.

We’ll make our deadline.  Though it may be close.  And while we’re working toward it, we’re thinking about the next book and the next book.  Writers aren’t in competition with each other as much as they are in competition with themselves.  How to make the next story better?  How to come with something unique?  And if that takes tens of thousands of cigarette breaks and games of solitaire, I’m okay with that.

As much as Jackie’s cigarette breaks can be annoying, they are productive.  When we’re stuck in some parts of our stories and Jackie will jump up for a cigarette break and come back with an answer.  It may not always be the right answer, but it starts us thinking.  And thinking gets us to the end.

THE END

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Cigarette Break by Jackie

Cigarette Break

Writing is hard.  There are literally days when I rather take a needle and poke myself in the eye then come up with more story ideas.  See, here I am trying to come up with something and I’m having a hard time chasing ideas for my blog, possibly because I’m on Shine.com and there’s an article about dogs.  I always stop to read something about dogs. But Miriam is giving me the stink eye which I’ve noticed she has perfected.  I’m impressed.  She might give my mother a run for her money.

Maybe I’m stressed out because I only have a half-pack of cigarettes left.  I knew I should have stopped at the store.

So is writing so hard?  I think one reason is that I’m afraid of sounding stupid because when the stuff in my head hits the paper, it doesn’t make sense.  Miriam, I’m taking a cigarette break.

<cigarette break>

(Jackie wanted me to put in something witty while she was gone, but the wittiest I could think of isn’t really witty.  I’m keeping it to myself—Miriam.)

I’m back.  I only have seven cigarettes left.  Now I have to put on a bra and head out to the stop n’ rob.  I wonder if Miriam will notice I’m gone.  Maybe I can get her to take a name.  Then she’ll never notice I’m tip-toeing out of the house to replenish my supply.

<cigarette break>

(I still have nothing witty to say—Miriam.)

I’m back.  Ooo! Facebook.  Let me see what my friends are doing.  Elizabeth St. John is eating pie.  Rashounda Jones Aiken is reading.  I’m jealous because there is a Patricia Briggs book with my name all over it and Miriam is making me write stuff.

(She can’t have it until I’m done reading—Miriam .)

April Wood got her nose pierced.  Wow, there’s a life webcam to look at puppies.  Oh! Puppies!  Seressia Glass is making bacon pancakes.  Seressia, invite me to Atlanta.  Frederik Stein is playing paintball.  Farrah Rochon is in Turkey, not the bird, the country.  And she is having way too much fun.  Wish I were with her.

<cigarette break>

I only have five cigarettes left.  Homicide may be committed today.  James Madison, the fourth president, is celebrating his birthday is today.  I’ll have a drink his honor.  Did you know he helped facilitate the Louisiana Purchase, still to this day the greatest purchase ever?  (It was a land grab—Miriam.) I’m out of pomegranate popsicles.  Now I really have to go to the store today.  Where’s my bra?

<cigarette break>

Only four cigarettes left.  I’m starting to sweat.  Miriam, aren’t you ready for your nap yet.  There’s a new episode of Ripper Street on.  I love that show and an totally happy Amazon.com bought the series and will produce new episodes.  And Miriam is texting her granddaughter who sends her tons of I love you messages during the day.   Do you think Miriam will suspect I’m playing hearts while trying to come up with something for this blog?  I turned the sound down.  I think I can get away with it.

<Cigarette break>

Miriam says this is getting too long.  So in conclusion, I would like to state for the record, more than anything else in the world, I love writing.  I like the fact that it’s hard to do.  Deep down inside, I’m always intrigued by the process and grateful for the chance to do it.

<Cigarette break>

Now that I’ve got that whine off.  (Do you need cheese and crackers, too?—Miriam)  I’m ready.  I’m going to bust out a few more pages of our current story, then I’m finding my bra, heading to the store to pick up cigarettes, buy Magnum bars and then run around the back yard and hope to God I don’t trip in one of his I’m-going-to-find-the-gopher holes.

Good day, mission accomplished.  I got my blog done and I’m doing the happy dance.  Everybody, go forth and accomplish something magnificent today.

<Now I need a bathroom break.>

Much Love, Jackie

 

 

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Miriam’s ungrateful list

Miriam’s blog.  Jackie has been doing most of the blog writing while I was sick with bronchitis.  So this week, I’m taking over.

Jackie did a gratitude list.  This week it’s my turn.  I try to be grateful for one thing every day.  It’s something I think about every morning before I get out of bed.  I love just laying there, curled up inside my warm nest.  This morning while I was thinking, I started thinking about what I’m not grateful for.  So I decided to be ungrateful instead.  Here goes:

  1.  Bad drivers.  In California they outnumber the good drivers by around 179,814 to 1. I’m the one.  In all my years of driving, the four or five accidents I’ve been involved in I was hit by someone else.  Several times while I was parked or stopped at a light.
  2.  Ants.  Although I do understand their place in the scheme of things and recognize they are marvelous engineers, I do not appreciate them practicing their skills in my kitchen cabinets.  (Screw the lid on the peanut butter, Jackie.  Tightly.)
  3. A leaking roof.  This last week brought torrential rains, snow, and in some places hail.  One of the problems of having your roof leak is that you don’t find out until it’s too late to fix it.  Now I have to call a roofer to fix the roof for the third time in the last ten years.  I would rather spend my money on Three Musketeers bars, turkey jerky, and salt and vinegar chips.
  4. Cigarettes.  I don’t really have to explain this one.  But as an addendum, Jackie does refer to them as her anti-homicidal medication.  I feel so safe now.
  5. Jackie just announced that I can only put ten things on my list.  I’m not grateful for that, because I have a thousand. And moving on …
  6. Bird poop on my windshield.  Maybe I’m being paranoid but I feel like a target.  (Jackie’s giggling over the fact Miriam used the word poop.  It’s an accurate term.)
  7. Dust.  I live in a very dusty area and I can literally watch the dust accrue on every available surface.  An unrealistic part of me thinks once I’ve dusted, it should stay that way—forever.  Dust is the locusts of the desert.
  8. Peacocks, especially the ones somewhere nearby in the neighborhood.  Have you ever heard a peacock?  They have the loudest, ugliest sound for such a beautiful bird.  And at 4:30 every morning, I’m awakened by their horrible cackling.
  9. Loud parties, unless they’re at my house.
  10. I love Snuggles, my dog.  I inherited her from my father-in-law a number of years ago.  She’s sweet, but getting older and has to go out ten times during the night.  Because I keep my door closed, Snuggles has to wake me up and then I stumble to the door, open it, wait for her to get back, and because she’d hitting on fourteen or so, she can no longer jump up on my bed which means I have to lift her.  I love her, but I do not love the nights of interrupted sleep.  (And yes, I tried to get her to use the stairs or ramp I bought and she refused.  I couldn’t even bribe her with treats.  She knows a good thing when she has one.)
  11. Ha.  Snuck in one extra because no 5 just wasn’t right.  Vodka shrimp pasta from The Yard House.  Jackie brought leftovers from her girls’ night out and it smells divine, because I’m allergic to wheat.

 

 

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Jackie’s Gratitude List

heart thumbnailJackie’s Grateful List

The other night I found myself stuck in the Starbuck’s parking lot with a flat tire after a hard day of work, and found out the AAA membership had expired.  Pretty much I was on my broom with my flying monkeys ready for attack and thinking I’ve found my blogging material for the week.  Then I wondered if I wanted to indulge in a vitriolic temper tantrum like I’m still two years old.  I decided no.  When I finally got home, I read my Facebook and read a post that basically said ‘what if tomorrow you woke up and only had the things you were grateful for today?’  I decided to turn the lemon in lemonade and write about things I’m grateful for.  Miriam said I could only write ten things because people might get bored.  So tomorrow, if I wake up with only these ten things, it’s Miriam’s fault, not mine.  So here goes:

  1.  My friends and family.  Not only am I well-loved, I’m understood.  Considering at times, I’m out there where the trains don’t run, that’s a blessing.
  2.  Not only am I grateful for my job at Starbucks, but for my baby birds who work so hard for me, make me look good, and entertain the hell out of me.  FYI it’s a cape, not an apron.  You are all super baristas.
  3.  I’m grateful for my dogs.  Even though they wake me up at 5 am with a potty emergency, and come back with a dead gopher as if I wanted to re-enact the horse head scene from The Godfather movie.  No matter how bad the night was, when I come home, you greet me with pure unadulterated joy.
  4. I am grateful for books.  They are my friends, my entertainment, and with pride and humility, the way I make my living.
  5. I am grateful for readers.  Readers indulge me, inspire me, and invigorate me.
  6. I am grateful for ice.  Ice keeps my black orchid martinis cold. Woot, woot to Yard House.  Not only for hosting ‘girls’ night’ every Sunday, but introducing me to the Black Orchid Martini.
  7. I’m grateful for girls’ night.  For Brit, Leah, Rose, and Paige.  For the booze, the bonding, and Dominican cigars.
  8. I’m grateful for Steve the tow truck driver.  Not only because he served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also for rescuing me at 12:30 am in the Starbucks parking lot.  (Because Miriam forgot to pay the AAA membership bill.)
  9. For Pete and John, for helping me make Jane the bad-ass she was meant to be, and for your stories of guns, glory, and goats.
  10. For Miriam, cause she’s superglue.  She can fix pretty much anything, especially my computer when it doesn’t want to play fair.
  11.  I’m slipping in another one.  For butterflies and hummingbirds.  I just saw both of them feeding at the same bush at the end of February in my backyard.  This proof that nature will always endure.

 

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Fat Princess Day from Jackie

fat princess graphicWhat do a coconut, a waffle iron, $27.00 in change, a half pack of cigarettes, the latest Avenge Sevenfold CD, a pound of decaf Sumatra, a copy of Kelly Meding’s book Another Kind of Dead and a left  flip flop have in common?

Last night when I went to bed, I promised myself after a hard week, I was going to have a Fat Princess Day. But at 6am I get a phone call asking me to come in and work a small shift—a princess shift—which in Starbucks means anything four hours or less.  I’m okay, I can do that, which proves another thing, when you call me at 6am on any given morning, I will agree to anything—rob a bank, bury a body, run naked down the freeway.  At 6am Jackie is your girl. I go into work, come home and instead of just kicking off the shoes, taking off my bra and mixing a margarita, I realize I need to clean out my car cause I’m sitting on the sofa my little mind wanders and I remember something I read that said a cluttered car is the sign of a cluttered mind.  Or some such thing.

I don’t want a cluttered mind, so I decide to de-clutter my car which goes back to my first sentence—I found all of the above stuff in my car.  What does that say about me?  What am I going to do with the waffle iron, set it on my engine block, make myself waffles with shredded coconut on top, reading a book and rocking out to Hail to the King while smoking a cigarette?  Come to think about it not a bad way to spend a day.

My mind is not only cluttered, but cluttered with some incredibly random shit.  How I get anything done is a minor miracle.  (Miriam snickers.)  It is even so bad, that I rebought the book and CD and threw away the unmatched flip flop before I found its mate.  Now, it didn’t even occur to me to look in my car for some of this stuff.

I’m kind of mad at myself because I missed Fat Princess Day.  And FYI what is Fat Princess Day is.  It’s when you get out of the bed between noon and one, eat a popsicle (blood orange flavor because I ate the last pomegranate one last night) for breakfast, binge watch Arrow which is straight up hot man TV.  Steven Amell is hot and scarred.  David Ramsey is tight-assed and hot.  Manu Bennett is evil and hot and even Paul Blackthorne who always looks like he’s hung over is hot.  My point right there.  I had a mind wander.

Back to Fat Princess Day.  It is a do nothing harder than pushing the pause button on the remote and getting up to go to the refrigerator.  The day is gone because I worked at Starbucks, I have cleaned out my car(but didn’t wash it) and now doing laundry and I’m thinking, maybe I should clean out the refrigerator while I’m thinking about it.  I know I’m going to talk Miriam into writing today cause God knows I can talk and clean out the refrigerator at the same time.

So much for a day off.

WAIT.  I’m off tomorrow.  Fat Princess Day is on.  Don’t call me, I’m not answering the phone.

Much love,  Jackie

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Random thoughts from Jackie

The other day, I forgoSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESt my book.  So I had to suck it up and read the New York Times on my lunch break.  An article caught my eye about a billionaire building shelters for stray dogs at the Sochi Olympics.  I had to laugh because it reminded me of something my mother used to say when we were kids and we weren’t being appropriately grateful.  “You could be a child living in Russia, standing in line for hours for a piece of moldy bread.”  But I digress.  The root of this story is a day in the life of Ranger Hamilton, my dog.

Ranger’s day starts at 6 am when Ranger decides he wants to go outside.  So I put on slippers.  Someone left the door to the garage ajar and Ranger, a master of escape, gets out.  I have to chase him.  I’m wearing pink and red fuzzy slippers, mismatched pajamas, hair in a dew rag and no bra.  And I always think when Ranger does these things, he’s transmitting into my head, like ‘bye Felicia’ while he’s running around the cul-de-sac and eventually right into the arms of my incredibly hot neighbor.  Refer back to how I’m dressed. My neighbor hands me my dog, I say thank you trying not to get too close because I have morning breath, and trudge back to my house.

Later on the same day, Ranger gets into the trash.  I’m scolding him and he and I can see the wheels turning in his brain.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  He’s thinking he just eliminated a part of my carbon footprint.  A half hour later, he recycles that trash on the tile floor in the kitchen.  Sigh.  He gives me another look that says ‘it’s easier to clean the tile than the rug.  I did you a favor.’

I clean up the barf and put him outside.  He comes back.  What’s he carrying in his mouth?  Poop.  He drops the poop at my feet like he’s giving me a diamond.  And in his little doggie thought bubble, ‘it’s not my poop,’ which makes it okay.

So I’m outside smoking a cigarette and of course Ranger and Snuggle come out with me to take care of business.  It’s not he hasn’t done it before, but there he goes again, peeing on Snuggles.  He walks by me and his thought bubble says, ‘she’s my bitch.’  Snuggles doesn’t seem to care which worries me, but that’s another story.

I have to go to work.  I get out of the shower and I find him on my bed chewing underwear.  I can just imagine him saying, ‘Hey.  You said you needed new underwear.  I’m just hooking you up.’

I’m grateful to go to work because I apparently will need new underwear.  I get home and I fix myself a cocktail because it was one of those nights that had bourbon written all over it.  I’m planning to sit down and watch the season finale of American Horror Story: Coven, but Ranger has other plans.  At midnight, after a hard evening of slinging lattes and Frappuccinos, Ranger want to play chase.  I’m running around the house, barefoot so I don’t make any noise, chasing Ranger around the dining room table.  I’m done.  I just look at him and say, “Ranger, you could be a dog in Russia.”  And in that moment, I know, one of my worst fears has come true.  I have become my mother and the curse she heaped on me years ago has finally been fulfilled.  I have a child, admittedly one with four legs and a tail, who now is just like me.

Until next time, much love, Jackie

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Love Takes All

Thumbnail.LovwTakesAllfront coverOur May 2014 cover.  Love Takes All.

The cards are dealt. Now let the game of passion begin…

Architect Hunter Russell’s grandmother just won a Reno casino in a high-stakes poker game! And she wants Hunter to help renovate it. It’s a crazy idea, and he is just about to tell her so—until he meets the stunning young woman who is his grandmother’s new business partner. Suddenly Hunter is tempted to say yes.

Lydia Montgomery has lived the life of a trophy wife. Now she’s a trophy widow, with a young daughter to support, longing for independence and purpose. The last thing she needs is another strong-willed man in her life. But Hunter’s surprisingly sensual touch, an intoxicating mix of desire and tenderness, is making her reconsider.

Can a man who has always been alone, and a woman who has never stood on her own, take the biggest gamble of all…together?

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Love Takes All by J.M. Jeffries, May 2014

Thumbnail.LovwTakesAllfront coverHave you heard the good news? Love Takes All, originally scheduled for December 2014, has been moved to May 2014.

Jackie and I are so excited to announce our new Passion;s Gamble series featuring the Hunter family who own a casino in Reno, Nevada.

Watch for updates.

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Calfornia Christmas Dreams.

It’s here.  It’s here.  It’s here.

So excited to have our newest book in the book stores.  Available in print and ebook.   California Christmas Dreams received a 4 star review from Romantic Times Book Review Magazine.

California Christmas Dreams

Every writer is taught to write the book of their hearts.  Jackie and I wanted to write a Christmas story set in California for the longest time.  And here it is.  We really wanted to set it at a Disneyland type theme park, but using an amusement park turned out so much better.

Come take a ride on our romantic carrousel.

Love always, Jackie and Miriam aka J.M. Jeffries.

 

 

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