Thursday, July 30, 2015

Character of the Week: Jen from The Shelter Director/the Loving Her series

Shy, quiet, and unsure of herself. Many of us have friends like that. Some of us are that friend. Under the silence, lies a remarkable woman...just like Jen in the Loving Her series.

Jen Clark grew up in Manayunk, Pennsylvania, a town just outside of Philadelphia. She and her two brothers, Mike and Adam, along with their parents, lived in a modest apartment. It was close quarters, but it was a good home for the family. There was field out back for the kids to play, and everyone in the building was very nice.

Their neighbors, Maria and Addie were very nice ladies. The families were close. Addie and Elaine, Jen's mother, had an annual bake-off. However, they both baked quite frequently (it was more like a weekly bake-off than an annual one). It was one of Jen's fondest memories, just as it was for everyone else. There was no doubt that Maria and Addie were extended family of sorts.

Jen always loved little animals. While her brothers would play catch in the field, she was happy to watch the birds and talk to the squirrels. There were some stray cats that would come around every once in a while. Jen loved feeding them. She spent her time taking care of them, watching them. She was even able to have one become brave enough that it came over, and she was able to pet it. The animals trusted her, and she trusted them.

Animals of all sorts were a passion of hers. Jen considered becoming a vet, so as a teenager, Jen volunteered at a local shelter for cats. She loved her job. She cleaned the cages, fed the cats, played with them, and she loved being able to unite families with the cats.

It was all great, except for one thing: euthanasia.

Euthanasia took  a tremendous toll on Jen as a kid. So much so that she nixed the idea of becoming a vet. Instead, she decided to stay at the shelter, and work to help give the kitties new homes.

Jen worked her way up through the shelter. She dedicated herself fully to helping the shelter, and helping the cats. She even acquired a few along the way.

At the age of nineteen, she was offered an opportunity to work at a large feline shelter in Altamonte Springs, Florida. It was the opportunity of her young life time. She could work with a shelter that was able to tend to more cats, and that gave her better opportunities to do better work. Although it was incredibly difficult to move away from the family, Jen knew she needed to be in Florida.

She didn't leave until she came out to her family. She wasn't sure what to expect. Her parents loved Maria and Addie, but the family was fairly traditional. With her heart racing, she sat her parents and brothers to them, and came out.

Much to her delight, everyone was quite supportive of her. Neither of her parents harbored any ill feelings, and her brothers didn't mind at all. With that out in the open, Jen felt more loved and supported than ever. She was ready for her new life as an out lesbian in Florida.

Life in Florida was a bit lonely for Jen. She didn't actually know anyone down there, and she was too shy to make new friends. She focused on her work, and she developed friendships with her co-workers. Fred, a gay man who also worked for the shelter, became Jen's best friend.

Once again, through her dedication, Jen worked her way up. This time, she went all the way up to the title of Shelter Director. For years, Jen worked tirelessly building the shelter up, adopting out cats, improving the shelter's ability to care for the cats. Not one facet of the shelter or its work was ignored by Jen's hard work. She made Feline Haven just that.

Fred watched Jen work herself to the bone. He pitied her. They spent a fair amount of time together outside of the shelter. Even though Fred had an occasional boyfriend, Jen was far too shy to ask anyone out on a date...ever!

One day, Fred was able to get a pair of tickets to watch a touring ballet company. Fred adored the ballet, and he thought it would be the perfect way to get Jen out of her house. He told her about the tickets, and she agreed to go. When the day arrived, however, Jen nearly backed out. Fred held her to her promise, and they both went that evening.

That night, Jen met the most amazing and alluring woman she had ever seen: Elizabeth "Liz" O'Kane, the lead dancer in the performance. From the minute she leaped onto the stage, Jen was taken. She was completely awe-struck through the entire performance.

Seeing his friend's infatuation, Fred encouraged Jen to talk to her.

Somehow, Jen was able to muster up enough courage to talk to Liz. She even gave Liz her business card! As soon as Liz walked away, Jen regretted it all.

She was astounded when Liz actually called her a day or two later.

They go out on what Jen thinks is a date. Liz, however, had no idea. Things seem to be rolling along nicely, until Jen braves a kiss. It is at this time that we discover that Liz had never kissed - or even dated anyone.

Jen chastises herself tremendously. She is angry at herself for being so bold, and for making such assumptions. She is also heart-broken. The one time she steps out of her comfort zone, and it all comes crashing down on her.

After they end the tragic night, they both do a lot of thinking and soul searching. Liz agrees to meet Jen again, and they decide to start a slow, long-distance relationship.

Liz's touring schedule demands much of her, and as the relationship grows, it takes a toll on them as well. Jen surprises Liz with a few visits while she's on tour. Things are awkward at times, but the two do seem to suit each other quite nicely.

They fall in love, and Jen expects a fairy tale ending. What she gets is reality. The reality that her partner is a very talented dancer, and is wanted by many companies, forcing the couple to move all across the country. The reality of relationships hitting occasional lulls. The reality of life.

Reality strikes its worst when Liz and Jen live in California, and Jen needs to fly back to Pennsylvania because her mother is dying. Within the same week of losing her mother, while still in PA, Jen also gets a devastating diagnosis of MS. The icing on the cake, is that her doctor recommends that she moves back to Philadelphia. Yet another cross-country move.

Scared, and feeling as though she would hold Liz back, Jen tells Liz to stay in LA. After all the sacrificing that Jen had done for her, Liz would hear none of it. She loved Jen, and was willing to do whatever Jen needed. So with sadness and apprehension, the couple came back to Philadelphia.

Life isn't easy at first. With the loss of her mother, and the loss of her health, Jen doesn't know where to  begin. She does, however, reach out to one dear friend, Maria.

After nearly a decade, they reunite, and their friendship is stronger than ever. With Jen reconnecting with Maria, and Liz meeting Linda, they soon create a good life, and a wonderful circle of friends.

Through highs and lows, Jen and Liz, and all of their friends continue to love and support each other. Their life was not picture perfect, but Jen finally got her fairy tale ending when Liz proposed. After Liz professed her love, Jen could only say one thing, "I love you more."

Jen was a very giving person. She loved and cared deeply for all of the people and animals around her. Selfless and genuine, she is the best friend with one of the greatest stories you'll ever meet.

Favorite quote from Jen: “She talked to me. I didn’t think she would, but she actually spoke to me.”
“See! I told you.” Fred responded.
“No, you don’t understand! She talked to me. I gave her my card and she took it. I told her to call me and she said she would!”
“Wow! Nothing ventured, nothing gained I suppose!” Fred smiled.
Jen’s excitement quickly turned into fear.”What was I thinking? Now she’s going to call me! And then what?”
“You’ll answer the phone and you’ll talk to her just like you talk to me or anyone else.” Fred put his arm around Jen.
“I can’t. I have nothing to say. I’m not interesting. She’ll be bored. She won’t want to talk to a schlump like me!”

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Final WeWriaWa from The Peace Officer

It's WeWriWa time!

Click for more information and to see other 8 Sentence Sunday posts.
This post is part of an ongoing blog hop hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. Every Sunday, participating authors post eight sentences from a published work or even a WIP (work in progress). Then we hop to our fellow warriors’ blogs and check out all the fabulous fiction that’s happening! It's a great way to meet readers, writers, and your next favorite book!  :)

Happy #8SentenceSunday! This month, our WeWriWas will be from The Peace Officer, Brynn's story in the Loving Her series.

Brynn Racanelli is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a partner, a police officer, and so much more. Devoted to serving others through her police work, and to helping her sister who battles chronic Lyme Disease, she is the the poster child of selflessness. But she does have wants, needs, hopes, and dreams. After the sad ending of a long term relationship, she wonders if she will ever be able to get what she wants. Will fate finally bring her the life and love she’s always dreamed of?

Background on the snippet: Brynn and Donna have teamed up to arrest a local drug dealer who also shot Donna's (police) partner, John. After a lengthy search, they have found their man. They, and several other officers, have descended on his house.

“Okay.” Brynn said as she took a deep breath. “Let’s do this.”
The group of officers all walked up and spread out around the disheveled little house.
Brynn knocked on the weathered wooden front door. “Doylestown police, open up!” She shouted with all her might. Her voice boomed down the street.

Hope you liked it!
Happy reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Character of the Week: Joe from Trajectory

"No one knows what it's like/To be the bad man/To be the sad man/Behind blue eyes. No one knows what it's like/To be hated/To be fated/To telling only lies. But my dreams/They aren't as empty/As my conscience seems to be/I have hours, only lonely/My love is vengeance/That's never free."

The Who's Behind Blue eyes is the perfect song (although his eyes are brown, but we'll let that go) for our character this week: Joe Davis from Trajectory.

Joe is a man who is very much trapped in his own head. He's a police sniper. Some have deemed him to be a killer. Other applaud his bravery. Very few fully understand what he does, and how deeply his own work affects him.

Joe comes from a military family. His father was a soldier in the Army. He vividly remembered all of the times his father would ship out and leave the family while he toured. He was a sniper, and thus in great demand. Joe was proud of his father, and they spent a fair amount of time together when he was home. He taught Joe how to shoot. He taught him how to be a soldier. He taught him how to be a man.

There was one tour that he never returned from. Young and vulnerable, Joe and his mother were now on their own. At twelve, Joe was young enough to have felt a tremendous impact from it, and old enough to see how difficult life became for his mother.

There was always a chasm in his heart left by his father. It was started the first time his father went away. Each time after that, the chasm grew. When his father died, the chasm became a canyon. Desperate to find any kind of connection, Joe went into the Marines. He could only imagine the pain he was causing his mother. But his pain and disconnection from his father was far too great for him to ignore.

Joe was a very successful Marine. He graduated at the top of his class. He was an excellent marksman, just like his father. He received several medals, and moved up the ladder quickly. He was a well decorated and well respected military man,

After the Marines, Joe returned to Detroit and became a police officer. He worked patrol and served as a police officer for 6 years. His dream, though, was to join SWAT. The intensity of it, the significance of it, the correlation to his father were all too lucrative for him to resist. Many officers try for SWAT, and Joe was one of the few who was accepted.

Another man made the SWAT team when Joe did, and that was his best friend, Pete. Joe and Pete actually met in the Marines. They found camaraderie in each other since they were both from Detroit. As time went on, they forged a strong friendship. Joe finally met someone who understood him. Pete was like the brother Joe never had. He knew he could trust Pete completely, and he did. Pete was the only person in whom Joe confided that he was bisexual. He was afraid. The stigmas, misunderstandings and prejudice that many bisexual men face caused Joe to keep that a secret. Pete understood. He respected Joe. He never judged him. The bond that Pete and Joe shared was incredibly strong.

Prior to becoming a SWAT sniper, Joe visited his favorite coffee shop one day. He ordered his coffee. When he turned around, he noticed a beautiful woman painting. Curious, he came closer to her. He was quite impressed by the scene she had on her canvas. He told her that he liked her work. When she looked up at him, he melted. He was instantly infatuated with her. He asked for her business card. Her name was Claudette - it was a name he would never forget. Within a couple of days, he called her...for a date.

Thus began a rather unusual romance. Two very unlikely people found themselves deeply in love with the other. Their connection was strong, but they both enjoyed their quiet time as well. Joe and
Claudette maintained their romance for years. They complimented each other. They balanced themselves out. They both got what they needed from the other. Theirs was the perfect relationship.

That is until Claudette felt motherhood calling her. Though she was a strong and independent woman, she loved the idea of raising children. She wanted to teach, and learn, and love. She felt she had a lot to offer children, and she whole-heartedly believed that Joe would make the perfect father.

The idea caused Joe to stop dead in his tracks. Children? Children! Children who would grow up without a father like he did. Children who would lose their father at an early age and be left with the same broken heart that his father left him. No. There was no way he could do that. He refused to subject children to that. They shouldn't suffer the same way he did as a child.

Thus ended their relationship. Sort of. Neither was able to truly let go of the other. Claudette came around and helped Joe with his cat, Gertrude, when he was out on calls. They would talk on occasion. They both enjoyed the other's company and conversation. Joe couldn't bring children into this world knowing that they would hurt the way he was hurt. But he also couldn't bring himself to let go of Claudette.

Life continued on. Joe did his best to make sense of it all, which wasn't always easy.

One specific call changed everything.

It was a call to a known drug dealer's house. A sixteen year old kid who sold out of his house when his parents were away for two weeks every month. Narcs had their eyes on this kid for a while. It was time for SWAT to come in, and hopefully take him down.

For days, Joe sat in observation. Behind his gun, watching this kid's every move. After three days, the police decided to send in an under-cover agent. That's when things got bad.

It didn't take long for the kid to realize something was up. SWAT stormed the place. Shots were fired. When there was finally a clearing, Joe shot, and the kid went down. After all the smoke had settled, the kid and one SWAT officer were dead.

Pete, Joe's best friend and confidant was gone.

Joe was shaken to his core. Nothing made sense any more. Everything was strange and confusing and meaningless. Joe couldn't make heads nor tails of life. He needed to get away from himself. So he went to the one place where he knew he was safe: Claudette's apartment.

He ran back to her, gripping tightly (both literally and figuratively). He felt as though he had lost everything, and he could not bear to lose her again. He went to her that night, hoping for a better outcome.

Joe Davis is a tremendous man. He's dark and mysterious, and yet incredibly vulnerable. He is a strong, sensitive, wise character. His story is one that I still find to be incredibly potent and poignant.

Favorite quote from Joe: "The media swarmed around us like hornets. Today was a big day for them. Pieces of meat for them to fly around and gobble up, like the maggots they were."

Happy reading!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

More WeWriWa action from The Peace Officer

It's WeWriWa time!

Click for more information and to see other 8 Sentence Sunday posts.
This post is part of an ongoing blog hop hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors. Every Sunday, participating authors post eight sentences from a published work or even a WIP (work in progress). Then we hop to our fellow warriors’ blogs and check out all the fabulous fiction that’s happening! It's a great way to meet readers, writers, and your next favorite book!  :)

Happy #8SentenceSunday! This month, our WeWriWas will be from The Peace Officer, Brynn's story in the Loving Her series.

Brynn Racanelli is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a partner, a police officer, and so much more. Devoted to serving others through her police work, and to helping her sister who battles chronic Lyme Disease, she is the the poster child of selflessness. But she does have wants, needs, hopes, and dreams. After the sad ending of a long term relationship, she wonders if she will ever be able to get what she wants. Will fate finally bring her the life and love she’s always dreamed of?

Background on the snippet: Brynn is taking a leisurely stroll through the streets of Philadelphia. This is her first encounter with Donna, but she doesn't realize that yet. This snippet has been edited to fit 8 sentences.

As she strolled down the sidewalk, she walked past one of her favorite cafes. The women at one table really caught her eye. A butch woman in a mechanic’s shirt and jeans sat across from a blonde with curly hair. The blonde wasn’t overly feminine either. She had a strong jaw line and stunning blue eyes. She showed off her muscular build in a black tank top and dark blue jeans that hugged her hips and legs in all the right ways. She was…hot. Brynn couldn’t keep her eyes off her.

Hope you liked it!
Happy reading!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Character of the Week: Stephania from The Model/the Loving Her series

Stephania is as unique as her name. You will never meet such an...interesting character.

Let's come get to know her.

Stephania is one of four. Her mother is Salvadorian. Her father was a Mulatto American. He was fluent in Spanish as he had great hopes of being a missionary in Latin America. He went to El Salvador on a missions trip. It was there that he met Gabriela. He fell in love with her. He saw the poverty she came from, and he wanted to give her a better life. So when he returned to the States, she came with him.

Life wasn't always easy. Harold actually had no formal degree. Now with a wife, he was forced to find any job he could. The first job that was offered to him was as a school janitor. He worked hard for what little pay he earned, but he was bound and determined to give Gabriela a good life. The family was raised in a poor section of Philadelphia, but it still surpassed Gabriela's home in El Salvador. They lived a modest life, and the children wanted for nothing.

Their seemed to be a normal, quiet life until Harold passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. Suddenly, the family found themselves in a tragic situation. Gabriela lost her husband, and her only income. The children were now fatherless, and their futures suddenly looked bleak.

At fifteen, Steph had no choice but to work. Her mother did various odds-and-ends work whenever she could. Stephania dropped out of school and worked at a taco store in the mall. It wasn't great work, but it brought in money. Her sisters, Yoanna and Erendiria earned money by cleaning houses and offices.

The family was able to keep a roof over their head. Alvaro, Steph's younger brother, was the only one who was able to stay in school as he was too young to work. The women all sacrificed, but they held no resentments. They were happy to keep the family safe and together.

At sixteen, Stephania has an experience that is something out of a fairy tale. By some force of serendipity, a modeling agent sees Stephania at work, and offers her the chance of a life time. Gabriela is skeptical at first, but it ends up being the family's Cinderella story.

Early on in her modeling career, Steph meets an energetic model named Chrissy.

Stephania never really ponders whether or not she's gay. She always found women attractive, but she never put a label on herself.

Chrissy opens Stephania to love, lust, and life in the fast lane. Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll were the norm for their daily life. Their careers and use of recreational drugs puts them in some interesting situations. Following her parents' example, Stephania is completely smitten and loyal to Chrissy from the beginning. Unfortunately, Chrissy is unable to respect Stephania in the same manner. Their wild life knows no bounds, especially for Chrissy.

Time after time, Steph hopes that things will change. Perhaps she's reading too much into things. Maybe Chrissy will realize the depth of her love and remain faithful to her. Chrissy is given many chances, but she fails every time.

In the midst of all this, Steph receives horrible news that her brother, Alvaro has died.

When the family comes together, pressure is placed on Steph to come clean. Alvaro died from an overdose of heroine. After losing her father, and now her brother, Stephania is at a cross roads.

During all of this, Chrissy is nowhere to be found.

The final nail in her coffin isn't Alvaro's death, however. It's at a moment where Chrissy dismisses Steph's heritage and upbringing.

Stephania finally found the courage and self-respect she needed. She then focuses on her work, and her life improves tremendously.

By yet another serendipitous encounter, Steph meets Linda Scott, a local lesbian who is a mechanic. The two hit it off, and they forge a great friendship. They begin to work on an annual calendar to help benefit the LGBT community. By doing so, they both open themselves up to new people and new experiences.

When Stephania finally meets Maria, something clicks. She realizes she has met someone like no one else she's ever met. Maria is older, wiser, calmer, and far more stable. Maria reminds Steph of her family, and the importance of love and devotion. She is fascinated by Maria's work as a writer. Moreover, she is fascinated by the woman.

One date becomes two becomes a trip to New York. The pair had taken their relationship slowly. Stephania still struggled with trust issues resulting from her relationship with Chrissy. Maria lived a quiet solitary life for far too long. This trip became the turning point for their relationship. One night at the hotel, Stephania comes out from the bathroom looking ravishing in some lingerie. Maria's reaction is not one Steph could have expected. But with all the love in her heart, she spends the night consoling Maria.

Their relationship solidifies thanks to that trip. From there on, they knew theirs was a marriage in the truest sense.

Due to her drug use, and even her childhood, Stephania can be quite eccentric. She is liable to say unusual things, make silly faces, or be just plain quirky. She is a free spirit, and she enjoys her uniqueness. She does not worry about how other people perceive her. Any judgment is their problem, not hers. She is odd, but she is genuine. Her love and concern are unwavering. She is loyal to her family friends - to the bitter end at that. She may say something that could shock or embarrass you, but she will give you the shirt off her back.

Stephania is a very fun character. She is intense, immature at times and wise at others. She struggled through so much in her life, and yet she is one of the most tender people you'll ever meet. She is grateful for all that she has, and she clearly appreciates the people in her life. Unusual, unique, and unforgettable, Stephania is one great woman.

Favorite quote from Stephania: “No skin off my back, cusca.”

Happy reading!