Being a teenager is tough enough: trying to fit in, figuring out who you are and want to be, and finding your place in the world. Jasmine Price also has to deal with being alone most of the time because her mom works two jobs to make ends meet. Her dad? Well, he’s been serving in the military so long Jasmine’s afraid she might be forgetting what he looks like.
But things seem to be looking up. They have moved out of the Projects into a better neighborhood; their neighbor Bibi, a grandmotherly figure, provides the companionship and confidante Jasmine needs while her mother’s at work, and Jasmine has a good shot at making the basketball team at her new high school.
That is until she runs afoul of Nevaeh, the team captain, and her crew. The game plan is on: take Jasmine out.
Hard pressed to deal with the escalating attacks and violence against her, Jasmine confides in Bibi who offers a solution to all of her problems: Jackson, a pet chameleon from her native Tanzania. This magical creature speaks and can transform not only his colors, but also his size, and defends, to the death, those he has sworn to protect.
When Jasmine uses the chameleon’s powers, things spiral out of control. She even becomes a police suspect in another teen’s disappearance.
Jasmine learns that by her actions she must choose who she wants to be, and realizes that positive change starts with her. Now she wants to get rid of Jackson, but how?
My Friend Jackson is a unique and riveting story of the physical and emotional impact of bullying, and the consequences of one’s actions and choices to resolve conflicts that every teenager and adult can relate to. A great and compelling story!
See you next time on November 22nd!
Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.
She is the author of several Regency romances, including the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!
My husband and I went driving through the hills of Palos Verdes last Sunday afternoon. He drives a too tiny for me sports car that he absolutely loves and that I find rather confining. It was a beautiful day outside. The California coastal skies were clear. The ocean waves were gentle and incredibly tempting. For October, it was surprising just how many people were still enjoying our ocean waters.
But the air was overly warm and all I really wanted to do that particular Sunday was to stay inside with a good book. I had just finished writing my latest book and was well into the editing process and I was pretty sick of the whole thing. I still had not come up with a title, although there were several roaming randomly throughout my brain.
As much as I knew that I had work to do, I had grown tired of correcting punctuation marks and hunting for run on sentences. And so, really and truly, the only thing I wanted to do was to read my copy of Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke – You Don’t Own Me. I had started it over a month ago and had just not found the time to get further into it. It had waited patiently for me on my desk for over a month.
So my husband convinced me that the best way to get my book fully edited was to take a ride, clear my head and find something else to think about. “You’ll be sharper after you spend some time away,” he said, not really caring about my head but more about having company on his ride past the beach and through the still green hills.
We started our journey off with me offering up potential titles for my book and him coming up with sillier versions to distract me. To my surprise, he also came up with a few good ones. I was just about to launch into a discussion of why I might actually like his last suggested title when a strange man in a most unusual white car drove into the lane next to us. Our car being a lower to the ground Pontiac Solstice, I found myself having to look upward at the driver. The man, apparently aware of my interest, pivoted his gaze down on me, tipped his hat, smiled and promptly drove off.
“What an interesting guy,” I said. “I love his fedora hat (it was a strange shade of blue), but what the heck is he driving?” I asked my husband, who is well versed in the automobile world and knows far more about cars than I could ever hope for.
“A Morris Minor. A 1950 something model, I think,” he said.
Hitting the gas, while hoping to avoid a P.V. cop or two, my husband took off after the beautifully polished white car. “It’s a British made car. Came out after the war. Think it’s named after the guy who designed it.” (See, I told you he knows a lot about cars!)
“That car is older than me!” I said. “And the guy driving it looked like he could be the original owner.” Okay, so maybe I exaggerated a little, but the gentleman did look really old and his style of dress did not speak of Southern California. I think he might even have been wearing tweed on a ninety degree day!
We followed the car and the interesting character chauffeuring it through the hills for a few more minutes before the man turned off on a side street and we lost him. But in that short time, the infamous Morris Minor driver was tattooed on my brain. My husband and I drove home and I raced to my computer to learn all I could about the car I’d just seen.
A few minutes later, my husband stuck his head in my office door and said, “You need to include that guy in one of your books. Stetson…”
“What about Stetson?” I asked.
“That’s what you should call him.”
And so I will. The man in the blue Fedora, wearing tweed and drive a 1950 something Morris Minor car. Hmm, can’t wait to start. And, of course, I’ll name him Stetson.
“All stories are about wolves. Anything else is sentimental drivel.”
That’s a strong statement—lots of ways to interpret it. I love it because to me, it says that all stories should have a villain. And I agree. How can you have the good without the bad? Where would the tension live? If something has to be overcome, you need a villain to vanquish. And if the plot needs redemption the story needs a villain to redeem. (A Christmas Carol without Ebenezer’s reform? Unthinkable.)
The villain isn’t always a person. It can be an institution,or an illness, or Mother Nature. All those ‘larger issue’ villains work for some magnificent tales, but my favorites are the really awful, mustachet wirling, gloating, cackling, venal bad guys.
Good villains, the kind we love to hate, are never one dimensional tools included just to make the protagonist work hard to overcome something. A well-drawn villain is a fully fleshed out character with attributes, history, and purpose strong enough to motivate and justify the hero’s tribulations. We’re so fully shown who and what Mordred is that his relentles spursuit of King Arthur is entirely credible—and because Arthur is beautifully depicted
—it’s personal to the reader. Now that’s an enthralling story.
Whether redeemable or irredeemable the villain is often the best part of a story. No one can think of Oliver twist without Fagin popping upwith his “…face obscured by a quantity of red hair” as he beats and betrays the children he has enslaved. We don’t forget Oliver, but we don’t dream about him either (or is that a nightmare?). When a character is that memorable it’s because something, if not everything about him, is relatable.
To develop a really badass villain, one whose actions the reader can understand and accept, the character needs some face time. Not as much as the hero certainly, but enough to lay the background for future actions, enough to make him real and fathomable. There is nothing more boring than a serial killer who is seen only through the gruesome details of the killing. If he is complex, as real people are, if he is exceptional in some way that supports an evil bent, then all the more disconcerting—like the jolly neighborhood butcher whose cutlets may not all be beef.
Some of the best villains have sterling personality traits. Perhaps they’re charming, or witty, well mannered and gracious. Traits contradictory to the villain’s actions make those bad actions all the more frightening. Showing the bad guy through contradictory traits is a powerful tool but if you work at it you can spin evil traits to appear benign—until they’re not. That’s chilling.
A well-developed villain written as an authentic character will give any story the spice it needs. Who will your next villain be?
Time Travel – visiting another time, meeting Di Vinci, Mark Twain, or Archimedes sounds fun, on paper. Yet, I’m not sure I would be happy doing so in real life, especially those pops to the past–flush toilets, Starbucks, blow-dryers and antibiotics would be hard to give up. But I enjoy the idea in fiction.
I started out time traveling young, about nine, by reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A WRINKLE IN TIME. How I loved that book. I probably read it five or six times in a row because I was so taken with Meg, a GIRL, who was good at math, so good that she could help other children with their math homework. The time traveling part was just a side benefit.
Soon after I read PORTRAIT OF JENNIE by Robert Nathan, a haunting very short novel about an artist and a little girl who ages oddly. THE TIME MACHINE by HG Wells followed and gave me nightmares for a weeks –Morlocks! My reading lists were rounded out by PEBBLE IN THE SKY and END OF ETERNITY both by Isaac Asimov.
But my very favorite time travel novel is THE MIRROR by Marlys Millhiser. This novel is the story of Brandy and Shay –grandmother and granddaughter, who both look into an antique mirror on the eve of their weddings and switch places. I’ve never read any of Marlys Millhisner’s other novels, but they look interesting.
Time Travel has been a fun plot device in lots of TV shows I’ve enjoyed over the years, from Sam and Darrin traveling to Salem in BEWITCHED, to the many episodes of STAR TREK, DR. WHO, QUANTUM LEAP and of course Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s WABAC machine.
Movies are included in my time traveling adventures. I love BACK TO THE FUTURE. I’m laughing just typing the title for BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. A writing bubby and I dragged a gaggle of our kids and several of their friends to see this movie. We sat several rows behind the kids laughing our heads off, while the kids, ranging in age of seven to thirteen, sat there looking blankly from the screen to their clearly nutty mothers. I also enjoyed THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT.
The time travel movie I’ve enjoyed the most is the made for TV movie, THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH & EVERYTHING.
In searching for an image for THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH & EVERYTHING, I found out the movie was first a novel by John D. MacDonald. The same John D. MacDonald who wrote the Travis McGee hard boiled private detective novels. I was stunned, and now I really want a copy of the novel to read. The reissue copy of this novel includes an introduction by Dean Koontz.
I found other gems while looking on the Internet for time traveling tidbits. Andy’s Anachronisms is a website completely devoted to time travel in popular media. I also found Time Travel Institute a website that discusses possible theories behind time travel.
But, I saved the best gem for last. Susan Squires, who is an excellent writer and really nice person, has a series of time travel romance novels involving a time machine built by Da Vinci.
Would you like to travel in time?
Where would you go?
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