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My Taylor Swift lookalike video… and other fun stuff for Super Bowl Sunday LVIII and how it connects to my Valentine’s Day short story by Jina Bacarr

February 11, 2024 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , ,
It’s a mad crazy time in my life.

I’m on deadline finishing the sequel for Sisters At War called Sisters of the Resistance...

I was honored to have my Letter to the Editor published in The New York Times mentioning Sisters At War and the E. Jean Carroll verdict. ‘

Also, I’m on a mad dash working on a big happening at my alma mater UCI coming up for Homecoming. I’m on the memorabilia committee and I’ve torn through numerous boxes stored away looking for fun items I kept from college.

Emotional and heart-wrenching stuff. More about the above next month.

So…………. for this February post here’s some fun stuff for Super Bowl Sunday! and the upcoming Valentine’s Day

I had my old Home Movies digitized and when I posted the short video above of me in–you’ll never guess–Las Vegas–(I was talking about my Valentine’s Day short story about a kissing bandit in high school which I posted here!) a reader mentioned that I look like Taylor Swift. Thank you! How cool is that?

Now for the football angle — when I worked at a local radio station (on-air, voicovers, and doing PR) I had the opportunity to work with the Rams cheerleaders for a promotion we did on Catalina Island. I got to be a ‘cheerleader’ for two weeks working with them and their routines in LA for the event.

We (the cheerleaders and me) sailed to Catalina Island on a small yacht and I was in the parade at the Chili Cook-Off wearing–are you ready for this?–a pink sequin mermaid costume!

So how did I ‘swim’ to the float? I didn’t… I had two big, strong Rams football players carry me and my mermaid tail to the float. Oh, my, yes…

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Bonus:

Writers write what we know… even when it’s embarrassing.

Take my first kiss. High school. Drama class. Me, the shy new kid. And a snarky guy with a big ego.

Keep reading….it gets worse. 

Valentine’s Day is a time for kissing.

But what if your first kiss was just plain awful?

Meet Riley Murphy. She’s a kissing virgin, waiting for the right guy to come along. Until she joins the Drama Club at Holywell High and has to kiss the class dweeb on stage in front of the whole school on Valentine’s Day.

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VIRGIN KISS

Jina Bacarr

Introduction

What’s in a kiss? A kiss by any other name is—

—sweet, romantic, intimate, passionate, wet, sloppy, disgusting, probing, awful, nasty, sexy, tingly, and sometimes just plain wonderful.

But what if it’s your first kiss? And you have to pucker up in front of a live audience at your high school? What then?

Pass the Altoids, please.

The kiss-from-hell happened to me, Riley Murphy.

This is my story.

* * *

A few weeks before Valentine’s Day…

I’m the new kid at Holywell High School, a shy, skinny freshman with cinnamon-colored freckles sprinkled across my nose. Flat-chested. I’ll never be Miss Popularity with the bouncy boobs and flirty lashes.

I’m more like an olive stuck on the end of a toothpick.

Even with that dossier, I’m not a total dork. I’ve gotten pecks on the cheek and quick brushes on the lips, but I’ve yet to experience the soul-melting kisses you see in the flicks. The passionate lip-lock I’ve dreamed about, wrote about in my diary.

I’ve pined for that kiss, but it’s yet to happen to me. God knows, I’ll be in graduate school facing lifelong debt before the right pair of lips meet mine.

To overcome my shyness, my mom convinces me to try out for the Drama Club. Somehow I land the leading role in a one-act Chekhov play.Yes, Chekhov.

I play this mad, beautiful countess with passion and heart. I love it. I come alive on stage. I can do anything, be anybody, say anything, I can—

—kiss the male lead?

A gangly sophomore named Harold Brimwell with long, greasy hair and an upper lip curled in a perpetual snarl. He’s going to anoint my virgin lips with my first kiss?

Forget the Altoids. I need a stress pill.

I quit the play. They can find another dupe. Not me. I’m not going to let him use my lips for kissing practice.

Then I hear this little voice in my head telling me this is acting. Going through the motions at rehearsals and on stage don’t count on the kissing scale. I can pucker up with Harold on stage and still be a kissing virgin.

Right?

After my pep talk to myself, I sail through rehearsals, knowing my lines and ‘connecting to my character’ according to the director. He says I’m a natural, my emotions raw but real. This is amazing. Me, Riley Murphy, the kid who’s always the ‘new girl’ at school because we move around so much because of my dad’s job, found something she’s good at.

Then the trouble starts.

The director insists on method acting.We don’t rehearse the kiss. He wants a real kiss on stage, not a phony smooch.

Worse yet, we open on Valentine’s Day with a preview performance at the afternoon school assembly. Not only do I have to kiss this guy, I have to do it on the most romantic day of the year in front of the entire student body.

I dump the Altoids… along with my confidence down the toilet.

* * *

Valentine’s Day dawns rainy and cold. Perfect weather for a Russian play.

I arrive at the gym early, put on my makeup in the girls’ bathroom then, with my hands shaking, I hook up my long Victorian black lace dress borrowed from the costume department, the silk petticoats rustling around my feet. I’m way nervous, but something cool happens as I run my lines over and over, my fear slowly dissolving into a shaky confidence as I slip into my character’s skin. Humming ‘I will survive’, I check my props, my fingertips tingling as I pull on my snug dueling gloves, then twirl the dainty parasol over my head like a spinning top.

I grab the small pistol for my big dueling scene, then heave out a big breath, praying I don’t drop it and everybody laughs at me.

I save putting on my lipstick for last.

First, I gargle mint-flavored mouthwash until my lips turn green and my mouth goes numb. Next, I line my lips with Chekhovian, dark red lipstick and smack them together. Perfect. I’m ready for my lip close-up.

It’s showtime.

I’m so nervous when the lights come up, I garble my opening lines. Then I trip over my own feet and nearly crash into the backdrop. Hot tears form in my eyes, but I want this too bad to give up now. All my life, I’ve stayed in the shadows. If I fail now, I may never get the courage to try again. I ignore the smirks and catcalls and swish my long skirts around like a real countess to boost my confidence.

I can do this.

Somehow, I get my groove on and my theatre training takes over. I sail across the stage, chin up, shoulders back, my voice clear, my lines down to a T. I’m ‘in the moment’. Much to my relief, the dueling scene goes off without the pistols misfiring.

Then it’s time for…

… the kiss.

I’ll never forget the expression on Harold’s face when he takes two long strides toward me. A mixture of sadistic pleasure and baddass ‘tude comes over his face, as shiny and sweaty as his palms, freaking me out. Lower lip snarling, my co-star gives me that ‘I’ve got you now’ look all fired up in his eyes, pinning me to the wall.

My teeth chatter. My mouthwash stops working.

It’s so quiet in the high school gym you can hear the director chewing on the end of his pencil.

My heart pounds so hard I can’t get my breath on when Harold pulls me into his arms, yanking me around like I’m a dollar store rag doll and then—

—he slams his mouth onto mine.

Bile rises in my throat as he pushes my lips apart and thrusts his mushy, saliva-coated gum into my mouth, making me nauseous. I swear if my dress wasn’t hooked up so tight, I would have ralphed all over him. Before I can push him off me, he shoves his tongue down my throat, way down, nearly gagging me.

I start choking.

I can’t breathe. Oh, my God, I’m going to pass out.

No, I can’t, I won’t. I’m determined not to faint. I have to get him off me. No gum-chewing, phony-macho sophomore is going to get the best of me.

I’m an actress, I tell myself, so act!

With stars circling around in my pounding head, I pull up my strength and kick him in the shin. There.

Startled, he jerks backward, but not before he bites my lower lip.

What the—

I taste coppery blood. Fresh, oozing, smearing my perfectly-applied lipstick. I’m in shock, disbelieving. It can’t get any worse.

Can it?

It can.

Dabbing my bleeding lip with my silk sleeve, I struggle in his arms, but he holds me tight, slobbering all over me, licking my face, my throat, coating my skin with stringy gum. My ears won’t stop ringing. The audience is going crazy, yelling and shouting like they’re at a basketball game and I’m the bouncing ball.

No, no, he’s not going to take advantage of me. I worked hard to get this part, learn my lines. Practiced how to walk, how to find the core of my character. Gosh darn, this is the first time in my whole life I’ve come out of my shell and done something really special.

He’s not going to ruin it for me.

I have to do something. Fast.

The pistol.

Where is it? After the mock dueling scene, I threw the prop gun down on the round table. It has to be there, but where?

I reach out behind me, my nails catching on the lace doily… I twist my head just a little… yes, I see it. I edge the gun toward me, an inch at a time. Sweat oozes down my too-tight collar and my knees buckle, but I don’t give up.

Almost got it… there. My fingers wrap around the pearl-inlayed handle. I suck in a breath then, without losing my nerve, I jam the prop into his ribs. Hard. I yank my body with such fury, I rip the black silk sleeve right out of the armpit. It slides down my shoulder, but it doesn’t stop me.

Get your hands off me, you sloppy-kissing, gum-chewer!’ I yell, ignoring the script and re-writing Chekhov. ‘Or you’re getting an “F” in drama class.’

The director gasps. Loudly. But he doesn’t refute what I said.

‘Yeah, sure,’ Harold stutters, letting me go, raising up his hands and backing away. ‘Anything you say, Riley.’

‘That’s telling him!’ a girl yells from the audience.

Amy Zanderbar. His ex-girlfriend.

She’s not the only one. All the girls stand up and start chanting, ‘Go, Riley, go!’

Wow. I hit a nerve with the females sitting in the bleachers who had their share of bad kissers.

They love it.

The audience starts clapping wildly and stomping their feet and continue chanting my name. I break the fourth wall and give them a ‘V’ for Victory high sign until the chanting dies down, then my thespian instincts kick in and I get back into character, giving Chekhov his due and ending the play as he wrote it.

I’ll always remember this night when a shy freshman girl in a borrowed Victorian dress took on a snarky sophomore and became empowered to stand up for herself in front of the whole student body.

It changed my life.

* * *

Epilogue

We performed the one-act play for the next few nights without further incident, faking the kiss each time. Harold is cool, not attempting any more way-out kissing. For me, it’s strictly acting.

I’m still a virgin in lip-land.

But I’ll never forget V-Day and my experience with the gum-toting, kissing bandit. Not a bad guy, just a rotten kisser.

And in case you’re curious, next semester I do find the right pair of lips to land that first kiss.

A hottie junior. Jack Dwayne.

When Jack takes me in his arms and lowers his face to mine, I quiver with anticipation and soon discover a kiss isn’t just a kiss, it’s…

… magic.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

——————–

PS — yes, Riley is me, a shy freshman back in the day.

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‘Sisters At War’ and writing the sequel ‘Sisters of the Resistance’ can be maddening by Jina Bacarr

January 11, 2024 by in category historical, Jina’s Book Chat, Paris, sexual assault, sexual violence, World War 2, Writing tagged as , , , , , , ,

It’s called ‘development hell’.

That writing path that causes you to wish for a coffee pot that’s always full of hot java, when connecting the dots in your story drives you crazy, how they jump around in your mind like impish video game icons, taking you down one path then another, then golloping up our words in a big gulp and we start again.

I first came across this phrase when I was writing for TV — kids’ cartoons, daytime drama, kids’ musical show, cable. You submit an idea to the producers, they love it, then spend three hours telling you how to change it.

You rewrite it.

They love it. Then more notes.

You rewrite it…. well, you get the idea. As a king in a famous musical comedy once said, ‘Etc. Etc. Etc.’

Writing the sequel to ‘Sisters At War’ (Paris WW2 — the story of two sisters and how sexual assault on a sister by the SS affects both their lives), is maddening. If I were writing a TV drama and continuing the story from the following week, you put together a recap: ‘Previously on [name of show]’ and you show clips that give the viewer enough of the story so they can jump right in and enjoy the episode.

Try doing that in a WW2 historical novel set in Paris.

Mon Dieu…

I’ve written the opening chapters several times — the goal? Add enough backstory so the reader continuing the story enjoys revisiting ‘Sisters At War’, while the new reader gets enough information so they’re excited about reading the sequel while… here’s the kicker… you KEEP THE ACTION GOING.

You can’t stop the story in midstream with nothing happening but ‘backstory’ in the opening chapters of the sequel. For example, that’s like the heroine sitting on a raft in a river and watching the clouds roll by.

Boring. You need action.

Let’s try this:

A rainstorm with hail pelting her in the face… her baby sister in a big basket crying… then a north wind blowing and the raft nearly capsizes… causing the heroine to nearly fall into the river and a hungry alligator, jaw wide open, swims toward her… while a river bandit shoots at her with a repeating rifle. Then the raft falls apart and dumps the heroine into the river while her baby sister in the basket is about to go over the waterfall…

Oh, my.

There’s a lot going on and it could work, but only if the reader is invested in the heroine. If they care. Why is she on the raft? Is she running away from an abusive father? Is her baby sister sick with the colic? Does she have an important letter to deliver that will change their lives? Is she praying she’ll survive so she can tell the man she loves ‘yes’, she’ll marry him?

So many possibilities.

Blending together backstory and action is the challenge I faced while writing the sequel ‘Sisters of the Resistance’. Keeping my facts straight, talking about what happened when the Nazis occupied Paris, foreshadow where the story is going. And most important, up the stakes on the dynamics between the two sisters who are not only at war with the Nazis, but each other.

I’m happy to say I’ve climbed out of the hole, that the story is humming, rolling along with a lot of action and character development and scenes ‘that make you cry’.

Now to finish it… thank God there was a sale on Starbucks coffee at my market.

Thanks for listening! And I’ll be back next month with my progress…

Sisters At War:

US https://a.co/d/eZ25gZb      

UK https://amzn.eu/d/0LEWy2z

Who are the Beaufort Sisters?

They’re beautiful

They’re smart

They’re dangerous

They’re at war with the Nazis… and each other.

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Writing ‘Sisters At War’: my personal journey by Jina Bacarr

December 11, 2023 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, sexual violence, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

For a date night back in graduate school when my life took a sharp right turn, I slipped on a pair of new red high heels, never dreaming I’d break them in by jumping out of a Mercedes and running away from the man who kidnapped me. I was the victim of sexual assault. For years afterward I blamed myself. Relived the night, asking, what did I do wrong to make him take advantage of me? What should I have done… why didn’t I fight back harder? I couldn’t, the man I dated was drinking heavily and bigger and stronger than me.

Questions and more questions, but no answers.

I kept the details of that night to myself, afraid to share my experience with anyone. Afraid I’d be judged. As if it were my fault.

I left the university and went off the grid for a year. I traveled throughout the US in a job that let me get lost… never staying for more than two days to two weeks in one town. I glammed myself up in a blonde wig and fashionable clothes to forget and pushed the old me into hiding. Then something cool happened. I found purpose in my cosmetics work, bringing a smile to ladies’ faces young and old when I did makeovers for them, traveling from the Big Apple to Amarillo. It was the era when the grande dame department stores ruled the downtowns. I was a language major in college, but I also studied art and costume design and I enjoyed creating color palettes and showing ladies how to look their best.

Until the old fear reared its ugly head.

I’d freeze if I saw someone who reminded me of him.

I couldn’t get into a car without checking to make sure the doors were unlocked.

I didn’t feel safe alone with a man.

To gain confidence in myself, I took self-defense classes, but it took me years before I could talk about what happened. The strange thing is, that came about because of my writing.

I’ve written four books about Occupied Paris and Berlin during World War 2. I’ve covered the concentrations camps, the Resistance, dealing with life under the Nazis, saving Jewish children. It wasn’t until I wrote Sisters At War that I attempted to write about the sexual violence women faced from the Nazis and the Gestapo… the horror and humiliation, not to mention the physical pain and degrading of their bodies.

War crimes against women.

I was appalled and shocked by the inhumane and horrific treatment I unearthed in my research against French and Jewish women.

I was even more disheartened when I discovered that rape wasn’t prosecuted as a war crime at the Nuremberg Trials. That haunted me and set me into motion to tell the story about the two Beaufort Sisters in Paris in 1940 when one of them is raped by an SS officer and the effect it has on both sisters.

Sisters At War is the hardest book I’ve ever written, reliving my own experience through the eyes of the Beaufort Sisters… but writing the sequel Sisters of the Resistance is just as hard because I’m dealing with the aftermath of sexual violence and how it affects the rest of their lives.

I went on with my life, but the mental and emotional anguish stayed with me until I started writing about it. Then I couldn’t type fast enough. I find there’s power in sharing, a healing of the soul and mind. And most of all—     

I’m not afraid to talk about it anymore. 

Jina ‘glammed up’ in blonde wig

Sisters At War:

US https://a.co/d/eZ25gZb      

UK https://amzn.eu/d/0LEWy2z

Who are the Beaufort Sisters?

They’re beautiful

They’re smart

They’re dangerous

They’re at war with the Nazis… and each other.

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I was a Doughnut Dolly…another tale from my wayward youth for Veterans Day by Jina Bacarr

November 11, 2023 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , ,

I love this fabulous painting outside the Salvation Army Building in Tulare, CA re: the photographer © Karinoza – Dreamstime.com

.————–

I was a doughnut dolly.

Back in the day, I served with the U.S. Army Special Services in Livorno, Italy. My job was to make coffee and play pool with the troops, set up entertainment and gourmet restaurant tours.

And make cookies.

I whipped up hundreds and hundreds of cookies. Chocolate chip.

And doughnuts, too. I got help from the mess hall sergeant, a bespectacled guy from the Midwest who let me commandeer his big pots and huge ovens. Along with my Italian liaison, Maria, we’d cook up hot doughnuts and top them with powdered sugar we got from the PX, a sweet favorite with the boys.

Those were the days.

I’m proud of the time I spent with US Army Special Services — I made turkeys, fruitcakes, hot chocolate, and tons of cookies!

So on this Veterans Day I think about all the Doughnut Dollies who help bring our servicemen and women a touch of home.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize the amazing effect my time with the service affected me. I had some difficult times, like being assaulted on the street by a thug and my pants ripped, also in an elevator (story for another time), but I had some heartbreaking and soulful times, too.

Like the sisterly bond I developed with another American girl on base that lasted far beyound my time there, the wonderful Italians I worked with who took me in like I was family and taught me about music and photography and how to properly eat pizza.

I drew on these experiences when I started a series of historical novels set in Wartime Paris about the brave women who fought in the French Resistance.

An actress, a parfumier, a Philly debutante and my latest, SISTERS AT WAR.

On this Veteans Day, I want thank the brave servicemen and women who have served our country. If you were stationed in Livorno and dropped by the service club once up a time and saw a girl with long hair from California handing you a cup of coffee, it was me. 

Jina

PS — For fun, I put on my old uniform with U.S. Army Service Clubs patch.

I lost the hat years ago somewhere in Italy.


Sisters At War:

US https://a.co/d/eZ25gZb      

UK https://amzn.eu/d/0LEWy2z

Who are the Beaufort Sisters?

They’re beautiful

They’re smart

They’re dangerous

They’re at war with the Nazis… and each other.

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Jina Bacarr October Featured Author

October 29, 2023 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Featured Author, Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , ,

About Jina Bacarr

I discovered early on that I inherited the gift of the gab from my large Irish family when I penned a story about a princess who ran away to Paris with her pet turtle Lulu. I was twelve.

I grew up listening to their wild, outlandish tales and it was those early years of storytelling that led to my love of history and traveling.

Jina Bacarr | A Slice of Orange

I enjoy writing to classical music with a hot cup of java by my side. I adore dark chocolate truffles, vintage anything, the smell of bread baking and rainy days in museums. I’ve always loved walking through history—from Pompeii to Verdun to Old Paris. The voices of the past speak to me through carriages with cracked leather seats, stiff ivory-colored crinolines, and worn satin slippers. I’ve always wondered what it was like to walk in those slippers when they were new.

You can follow Jina on social media:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest
Goodreads
Bookbub

Jina also has a column here on the 11th of every month: Jina’s Book Chat.

Jina’s newest novel, Sisters at War, is available now.

SISTERS AT WAR
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Google Play
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Apple iTunes
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Amazon

A Few of Jina’s Other Books

THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

Buy now!
THE ORPHANS OF BERLIN

THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS

Buy now!
THE LOST GIRL IN PARIS

RESISTANCE GIRL

Buy now!
RESISTANCE GIRL

THE RUNAWAY GIRL

Buy now!
THE RUNAWAY GIRL

HER LOST LOVE

Buy now!
HER LOST LOVE

A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

Buy now!
A NAUGHTY CHRISTMAS CAROL

A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

Buy now!
A SOLDIER’S ITALIAN CHRISTMAS

COME FLY WITH ME

Buy now!
COME FLY WITH ME

LOVE ME FOREVER

Buy now!
LOVE ME FOREVER

SISTERS AT WAR

Buy now!
SISTERS AT WAR

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