Release Week- Midnight Chat

My newest novel, Midnight Chat, releases tomorrow from Harmony Ink Press!

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The story was inspired by a song…my own song, “Midnight Chat.” (Available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify… links at the end of the post.) I wrote the song nearly two years ago now, after a too-long drive through rush-hour traffic to the home of a then-friend who was working with me on some music things. During that drive, I was listening to my Spotify playlist, and one of the songs, “I Don’t Like Mondays,” caught my attention.

I started musing about the subject of that song, someone who committed a school shooting apparently out of sheer boredom. And then thought about an incident about a year and a half earlier in which a girl turned a friend of hers in to police after he threatened to destroy a school from which he’d been expelled.

The words started rolling around in my brain, and by the time I reached my friend’s house, I had composed nearly the entire song. And not long after, I had the seeds of the novel firmly in my brain, with Mira MacDonald practically shouting at me to tell her story. So I did.

Recognizing when a friend of yours needs more help than you can give is difficult for anyone. When the friend takes a course that could lead to tragedy, it’s even more difficult. Mira faces some tough decisions in trying to help her best friend Rob cope with bullies, neglectful parents, and an undiagnosed mental illness, and the ultimate choice she has to make is something no one should have to decide. But she makes it nonetheless.

I hope you’ll check out the book, the trailer (which will be up later this week, and includes the song), and the single, on Amazon.com, iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.

Midnight Chat

Last week, I submitted my novel Midnight Chat. The novel, which I think I blogged about a few months ago, is based on a song by the same title, which I cowrote and recorded as half of the band Dichotomous. The band is, of course, now defunct, but the two songs we released live on.

When I wrote the song, almost a year ago now, I thought it had the makings of a potential YA novel. After a while, I decided to give the novel a try. The novel, like the song, is about a girl who receives a text from her male best friend saying he’s going to shoot people at school the following day, and if she tells anyone, he’ll come after her first. The girl then has to decide whether to assume he’s just venting, as he’s often done in the past, or believe him but keep her mouth shut to protect herself, or believe and report him.

In the novel, Mira MacDonald has been friends with Rob Stevens for years. She knows how severely he’s been bullied, and she knows that he undoubtedly has some mental health issues, but his parents refuse to consider that there are any problems and instead just tell Rob to stop whining and toughen up. Mira sees Rob’s mental state deteriorating but keeps hoping he’ll be okay–right up until he sends her that text.

Since the novel has just been submitted, it will be a while before I know whether it’s been accepted. But as soon as I know, I’ll fill you in!

Looking Ahead to 2016

Last week I did a brief overview of what my 2015 was like. This week, I’m talking about some of my hopes and goals for 2016.

I don’t set resolutions for the new year. I’ve found that those almost never end up happening, and then I get down on myself for not accomplishing them. So instead of resolutions, I make plans, and I always keep in mind that those plans are not set in stone. If something doesn’t work, I can try something else.

My main goal, of course, is to keep writing. I’m planning to submit books in April, August, and December; I’ve already committed to my publisher that those will be arriving in their inbox. I might write other things and submit them to other publishers. I probably will continue writing short stories to use as free reads, because that’s kind of fun and it’s a lot less pressure than writing something I plan to have a publisher look at.

I’m planning to keep posting on this blog twice a week. I’m *planning* to vlog once a week, but I’ve been kind of failing at that lately because I’ll have people around, so I can’t record the vlog, and then by the time I could record it, I’ve forgotten that I need to. So I should work on that.

Musically, I’m planning to finish–hopefully this week!–my vocals for “Break the Fall.” Throughout the year, I’m planning to complete the other songs for which I’ve written lyrics. I’m planning to keep improving my bass skills, and to stop being afraid to try to learn the bass line for other songs besides the three I’ve been working on for a year. (Not my songs. Other people’s.) I’m planning to keep working on learning guitar as well, and by the end of the year I hope to be fluid enough with it to actually play stuff. I’m planning on relaunching my band, Dichotomous, with the restoration of the Facebook and Bandmix pages and setting up a website.

Mostly, though, I’m just hoping to have a positive year. And I hope you do as well.

2015 In Review

This week, I’m revisiting 2015, or at least the parts of it I remember. (Fibromyalgia sometimes leaves holes in my brain where the memories leak out…) Next week, I’ll post about my goals and hopes for 2016.

2015 was a bit of an odd year for me as far as my writing career. In fall 2014, something happened in my personal life that negatively impacted my ability to write the romances I’ve been writing under my other pen name since 2009. As time went on, I realized that the issue was something that wouldn’t be easily resolved, so instead of pushing myself to continue being two authors in one, I chose to focus primarily on my YA fiction as Jo Ramsey.

I think it was a pretty good choice. I had a few novels accepted this year, and the one that released in October has gotten some good reviews. It’s also gotten some not-so-good ones, but not for the reason I’d anticipated, which is kind of cool. At this point, the only publisher I’m working with is Harmony Ink Press, and I think that’s been a fairly good choice as well.

A number of Jo Ramsey’s books were taken out of print in 2014 and 2015, including the entirety of The Dark Lines and Reality Shift series, at least the combined 10 books of those series that had been published. This happened primarily due to poor–or in some cases no–sales. I considered polishing those up to re-release as self-published, but after taking a look at them, I’ve decided against it for the time being. Despite having been published, they need a lot more work than I’d anticipated.

In my personal life, a few things happened as well. Having begun to learn to play bass guitar toward the end of 2014, in early 2015 I started a band with a good friend who played guitar, wrote some cool songs, released two singles–and then lost the friendship for reasons that had nothing to do with me. But I’ve continued working on music. In late October/early November, I started teaching myself to play guitar, I’ve nearly completed another song, and I hope within the next week to put the final touches on the vocals for one song my former friend and I worked on that we’d done instrumentals for but I hadn’t managed to get the vocals right.

The music has become a big part of my life. I don’t intend on making it a career as I did writing. I do, however, intend on continuing it as a hobby and recording the songs I compose if for no other reason than so I can listen to the finished products.

So that’s the short view of my 2015. I hope your year is ending on a good note, and that you’re looking forward to 2016!

Music Stuff

Most people reading this probably know that I’m an amateur musician. I’ve been doing it for about a year now, and I’ve made a lot of progress with playing bass guitar and singing. I’ve written a number of songs, and even have a couple of singles out under the band name Dichotomous. (I wasn’t alone doing those singles, but I’m the only one who’s still involved.)

Getting motivated to practice vocals and bass, and to work on learning guitar as I’ve been doing for a couple of months now, isn’t always easy. I don’t have a private space where I can practice. Everything’s in the corner of my living room. That means if my kids or husband are home, I can’t really practice at all, because distractions and noise and such. When they aren’t home, sometimes I have so many other things to do that I keep putting off practicing until it’s too late because one of them gets here before I can get started. The location of my equipment also means having to rearrange part of the living room before I can practice, and sometimes I just don’t feel like doing that.

And sometimes, to be honest, it’s hard to motivate myself because I get sad about the music. I wasn’t the only member of Dichotomous when the singles were recorded and released. The circumstances that led to that changing were painful. Sometimes practicing and playing those songs helps, but sometimes it brings back that pain. Hopefully some day, it won’t.

Meanwhile, I just need to push myself to keep trying. I’ve been working on rearranging my schedule to give myself more time to work on learning guitar and to practice what I’m already able to do. I’m trying to sort out what needs to be done on the rest of the songs for which I’ve written lyrics, because I would like to finish those at some point. Sooner or later, I’ll get there.

Something Else to Learn

Some people reading this know I’m a musician. At least sort of. I’ve been learning bass guitar for almost a year now, and I’m relatively competent at it, at least with some songs. I’ve been singing for years and have been seriously working at it since about January, so there’s been a lot of improvement. And I’ve been writing songs.

My band… Well, right now, I guess *I* am my band, because of reasons I won’t get into because I’ve been asked not to talk about it. But just because I no longer have another musician helping me out, that doesn’t mean I can’t keep trying. So I’ve added something else to my plate…

I’m trying to teach myself guitar.

Yeah. Because I’m either that foolish or that stubborn.

I don’t expect to be able to magically play songs just because I’ve decided I want to. I’m setting very small goals to start with, like being able to actually play the two chords I’m struggling with because I have trouble stretching my left hand. And I’m not setting any time frame for learning what I want to learn, because I want this to be fun.

On the other hand, I have “dream big” goals for the long term. I want to be able to compose the guitar parts for the songs I’m writing. Technically, I kind of already do. I know what the guitar should sound like. I can hum the parts. I just can’t *play* them. So I guess I want to be able to play what I’m already composing. Without someone else to help, I’m going to have to learn to do it myself. (Drums are no problem, thanks to downloadable pre-recorded drum loops online…)

And there are three songs that I put together when I had someone else in the band with me, for which that person did the guitar parts. So the ultimate “dream big” goal is to be able to play the guitar parts for those songs. Which is going to be very far from easy considering that there’s a lead guitar and a rhythm guitar…But if I’m dreaming big, I might as well go REALLY big.

Last year, I didn’t think I would be able to learn to play bass. I insisted I *wouldn’t* be able to. But I have, and I’m still learning and improving. So I’m facing the guitar with “It’s going to take a while, and I might not hit the big goals, but I’m going to try because I believe I can at least learn something.”

So… we’ll see what happens.