An interview with ‘One More Day’ author Jenny Keller Ford

Today, I am talking with Jenny Keller Ford. For anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time, her name will sound familiar, I’m sure. Last year, she launched a story in J. Taylor Publishing‘s anthology, Make Believe. At that time, she took over my blog and, for those who haven’t read it or have forgotten what she talked about, you can go back here and read (or re-read) it. She was also one of the first people I interviewed when I started blogging at the beginning of last year. You can find her interview here. Anyway, interviewing her this time was like chatting with a long-time friend. 🙂

J. Keller Ford

Hi, Jenny! I am so glad you’ve dropped by, again.
May I offer you a cup of coffee or tea? Black, cream, sugar?

Oooo, thank you.  I’d love some coffee please, with a little cream and sugar. 

How about a little banana bread or a homemade chocolate chip cookie?

Oh, chocolate chip cookies please.  From the glorious smell in the house, you must have just brought them out of the oven, didn’t you?  Mmmmm, nothing better than a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie.

Would you prefer to do the interview at the dining table or in the living room where the couch & chairs are a little softer?

If you don’t mind, I’d rather sit in the living room.  It’s much more informal and cozy don’t you think?


Definitely! 🙂
Now, let’s get down to business. A little bird told me you’ve written another story for J. Taylor Publishing for their anthology One More Day. Please tell us a little about your main character.

{Novel News} It’s time for One More Day by L.S. Murphy

Amanda Jenkins is a 17-year-old book nerd extraordinaire.  She’s also an acrophobic, meaning she’s absolutely terrified of heights.

I think I’m getting a sense of what the story might be about but have to ask, what is her predicament?

Amanda likes this guy, Dean McCall.  I would, too, if he really existed and I was her age.  So hot.  Anyway, she’s had a crush on him for years and she never thought he’d ever ask her out.  But on Grad Night at Granbury Park (the local theme park), Dean corners her by the popcorn stand and asks her to ride the tallest roller coaster in the park, Dragon Flight, with him.  Her insides tell her no, but it’s Dean McCall, right?  What else can she say but yes.  It doesn’t take her long to question that decision when her biggest fear happens.  Time halts, I mean, it literally freezes, with Dragon Flight stranded at the top of the first hill, 300 feet in the air and her in the front row.  As she is the only one who is not frozen in time, she has to figure out a way to get down from the beast and restart time.

As much as I love the thrill of a coaster ride, I, myself, am afraid of heights, so I would find that terrifying, too!
Did Amanda whisper in your ear about her problem or did the story line come to you first because of the publisher’s prompt?

I have to admit, I never really thought about this until I read the prompt. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t going to submit anything, but then this story came to me in a dream and I had one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments and had to go with it.  I tossed it off my teen son one morning before school and he gave me one of those ‘Yeah, okay, Mom’ looks, but I had to go for it.  At that point, I HAD to write the story as it wouldn’t leave me alone.

Ah, the muse that cannot be silenced. 🙂
Why did you decide on this particular setting for the story?

I love theme parks and I love roller coasters.  My biggest fear is getting stranded on one.  As I could relate to Amber Jenkins (because she is a lot like me), I thought the theme park idea would be perfect.  Also, what teen doesn’t like theme parks, especially on Grad Night?

I know you have a penchant for dragons, will we be seeing any in this story?

Only in name.  When I thought about what kind of coaster would freak me out, it would be one like Dragon Flight.  One that flies high and then dives low and twists and turns and corkscrews.  When the story came to me, I was a bit baffled that it didn’t have a dragon in it because almost all of my stories do, but then I realized the coaster WAS my dragon.  It was a feared beast that needed to be conquered, and Amanda Jenkins was just the perfect knight to save the day.

Back in 2000, our family visited Florida. One of the kids’ favourite ride was one called Dueling Dragons at Universal Studios. Is the coaster in your story based on one that really exists or is it your fantasy coaster?

Ohh, Dueling Dragons, now Dragon Challenge in the Wonderful World of Harry Potter, was one of my favorite coasters, but not the basis for my coaster.  Dragon Flight would be more like Millennium Force at Cedar Point, fused with Kumba and Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida:  tall, fast, twisting, with lots of corkscrews. 

Sounds like one I’d like to ride! 🙂
Okay, final question: What is the title of your story?

Dragon Flight

Of course! lol Well, I guess that’s it, for now. Good luck with your story. ‘Talk’ to you soon!

Thank you so much for inviting me in your home, Susan.  The coffee was perfect and the company even better.  Oh, and you should market those cookies.  Fantastic!

Thanks! 🙂
For those of you who want to learn a little more about this exciting new anthology from  J. Taylor Publishing, here’s the blurb about the premise for One More Day:

What if today never ends? 



What if everything about life—everything anyone hoped to be, to do, to experience—never happens? 



Whether sitting in a chair, driving down the road, in surgery, jumping off a cliff or flying … that’s where you’d be … forever. 



Unless …

How do we restart time? 



How do we make everything go back to normal? 



The answers, in whatever the world—human, alien, medieval, fantasy or fairytale—could, maybe, happen today. 



Right now. 



What would you do if this happened … to you?

About Jenny:

J. Keller Ford is a quirky mother of four, grand-mother and scribbler of young adult fantasy tales. She has an insatiable appetite for magic, dragons, knights and faeries, and weaves at least one into every story she conceives. Her muse is a cranky old meadow gnome that follows her everywhere she goes and talks incessantly, feeding her ideas for stories 24/7.

When she’s not writing or blogging, the former Corporate Paralegal enjoys listening to smooth jazz, collecting seashells, swimming, bowling, riding roller coasters and reading. Jenny lives minutes from the beaches of the west coast of Florida with her husband of twenty years, her two sons and a pair of wacky cats and three silly dogs. The pets have trained her well.

If you hurry up and head over to Jenny’s website, you might still be able to take part in the J. Taylor Publishing Christmas Cracker Scavenger Hunt, which ends at midnight today. Good luck! 🙂

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Make Believe Blog Takeover

Make Believe

Happy Saturday, Everyone! I hope you have all been having the best holiday season, with plenty of time spent with your favourite people, eating your favourite foods and celebrating your favourite traditions. 🙂

This is going to be a different sort of post. I’m relinquishing control and allowing Jenny Keller Ford to take it over so she can talk about The Amulet of Ormisez, the story she wrote for the Make Believe anthology. Since I have already interviewed her, way back in the summer (you can find the interview here), she didn’t want to do another one. If you are a regular reader, I’m sure you recognize her, as I’ve mentioned her wonderful blog many times. So from here on in, I’ll let Jenny do the talking. Please give her a warm and enthusiastic welcome. Take it away, Jenny! 🙂

(Whoot whoot, clap, clap, whistle, whistle!)

J. Keller Ford

Thanks, Susan!

Today, I’m going to introduce you to a mythical character not many people know about – selkies.  What are they?  Where did the myth come from and how did they make their way into my short story, The Amulet of Ormisez?

Depending on what myth or legend you read, selkies are either regarded as gentle creatures, with the ability to transform from seals into beautiful, agile humans, or they are dark, malevolent shape-shifters of the sea, much like their cousins, the Finfolk.  The tales are said to have originated around the Orkney and Shetland Harbor (known as the Roane in Ireland), and like many other Celtic myths, are steeped in wonder and mystery.

No matter what legend you read, a common element in all selkie tales is the fact that in order to shape-shift, they must cast off their sealskins.  If they are ever to return to the sea and their seal form, they must return to their magical skins. If the seal skin is ever lost, the creature is doomed to remain human forever or until the skin can be recovered.

It is said that selkies in human form are very handsome/beautiful, with uncanny magical, seductive powers over humans.  While there are stories of selkie males luring human females to the depths of the sea, the most common theme is the taking of a selkie-girl’s seal skin by a human male, either through trickery or theft.  The girl is then forced into marriage with her captor.  The tales are usually sad because the selkie never stops longing for the sea.  Trapped in her human cage, she thirsts for what is just beyond her door but will never have again unless she is re-united with her skin.  Sadly, should the selkie girl ever re-unite with her seal skin and return to the sea, her human husband will die from a broken heart.

When I started writing the Amulet of Ormisez, I had no idea that selkies were going to be a part of the story.  It wasn’t until I let my muse take over that I wove the myth into my story.  As the Amulet of Ormisez is all about what we will sacrifice for those we love, the selkie myth made even more sense to me.  What more of a sacrifice can one make than to give up everything they are, the essence of their entire being, for the one they love?

Without giving away any spoilers, Cayden Fletcher is possessed by a powerful amulet destined to harm a vengeful king.  Cayden’s wife, Marsalí, and his brother, Elton, are on a mission to free Cayden before the amulet kills him.  The answer to its undoing lies with the selkies, but there is great animosity among the creatures toward humans, and their desire to help Cayden and Marsali is far from their list of top priorities. The solution, I believe, is unexpected and a tribute to the sacrifices we all will make for the ones we love.

Excerpt from The Amulet of Ormisez

A cold breeze blew from the east, carrying with it a crisp scent of water blended with cedar wood, musk and wild blackberries. The horses whinnied and snorted as Elton guided them down the gentle slope of the hillside, quieting their deep, vibrating snorts with gentle reassurance. In the near distance, the seals of Emrith and Lorland Bay barked. The noise grew louder and more intense as the trio approached.

“They sense our presence,” Marsalí said. “I suggest when we reach the shore, you stay back and let me speak with them first. They have grown to fear humans.”

“Understandably so,” Elton said. “We shall do what you suggest.”

The three riders made their way down the slope onto the soft, sandy shores of the lake. Elton maneuvered the horses through the tunnel of willow trees, brushing against branches that sparkled like liquid emeralds in the moonlight. Ahead, a bridge spanned from the shore to the lush greenery of Emrith. Dozens of seals splashed toward them, barking and growling. The seals took on human form as they came on shore.

***

I hope you enjoyed learning about selkies.  I know I have a great love for them and this will not be the last time I weave them into one of my stories.

Thanks so much, Jenny, for giving us a little insight into your story.

Jenny: Thanks for your all your support and help in the tour.  I am very grateful and will exchange the favor anytime.

You’re very welcome, Jenny, and I’ll keep that in mind. 🙂

For anyone wanting to learn more about selkies, or Jenny, or her story, pop over to her website/blog, The Dreamweaver’s Cottagehere. For more info on how you can acquire a copy of the fantastic anthology, Make Believe, so you can read Jenny’s story, go on over to J. Taylor Publishing. You can also learn more about the blog tour and the other authors. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 🙂

Review of Make Believe short story, Escort To Insanity by J. A. Belfield

Happy Saturday, folks!

Today, I’d like to catch you up on the Make Believe Blog Tour and let you know what I thought of J. A. Belfield’s short story. First off, on Thursday, J. Keller Ford interviewed Jennifer Eaton, her fellow anthology buddy who not only has a story in Make Believe, but is also launching a seasonal Christmas story in the anthology, For the Love of Christmas by Still Moments Publishing. You’ll also find out what Jennifer and some of the other authors of Make Believe have in common! Jennifer’s story, Last Winter Red was also reviewed on Kaiden’s Seduction, in case you want to learn more about the Dystopian tale created by this talented writer, as well as the other stories in the anthology.

Here’s my review, with further links to follow below:

Escort To Insanity is a wonderful romp through Hereford and surrounding areas, just east of the Wales border. It begins with Nicole Harrington, daughter of wealthy man, who hires an escort to a huge charity auction that her parents expect her to attend. Her escort, Benjamin Gold, is a tall, yummy (ahem! clears throat) . . . I mean, handsome man, who demands attention when he walks in a room. I especially liked Julie’s description of another woman’s appraisal of him: “her attention roamed over him like a wave across a beach.” Benjamin plays his part well, jumping in with some impromptu quips when asked about their relationship and he was very intuitive and attentive to Nicole, going well above and beyond the call of duty, which I loved. (It doesn’t hurt that Julie’s humor is impeccable! 🙂 ) Benjamin was especially helpful in dealing with Cole’s ex-boyfriend, who was especially sleezy – everything that Ben was not.

After overhearing a disturbing conversation in the ladies washroom, Cole quickly drags him away from the pretentious affair – and then the fun really begins. Nicole discovers Benjamin’s true nature in a heart-racing adventure through Mersian Park and outlying areas of the city. I had to chuckle at her reference to the children’s song with the line, ‘If you go down to the woods today…’ Ironically, Cole does end up with a ‘big surprise’, but certainly not anything like the song or the nursery rhyme might suggest!

Although I don’t usually read this particular type of story, I quite enjoyed Escort To Insanity. Julie has a way of quickly drawing in the reader to empathize with her main character. I really have no idea how it must feel like to be from a filthy-rich family, but I think everyone can relate to the obligation Cole felt to do a favor for her parents, something she really did not want to do. As far as the romance part goes, Julie certainly created the perfect leading man for this story, as you can see by this quote: Cole was “trying hard not to get distracted by the sweet, sweet curve of his bum as it tick-tocked with each step”. As you may have guessed by what I’ve told you already, Benjamin Gold is breathtakingly handsome, strong and has a wonderful sense of humor, as well as a strong sense of responsibility for his friends, which comes out later in the story. Cole has her reservations about the man, but soon finds herself quite taken with him, until she learns his dark secret for which she is totally unprepared.

I highly recommend getting your own copy of Make Believe, and not just because of this particular story, which was enough to make me want to read her other books and I hope we see more of Benjamin and Cole at some future time.

All the shorts in this anthology are excellent, I must say. I will review the others later in the month, as well as provide interviews of their authors. In the meantime, I hope you will look forward to my interview of J. A. Belfield, scheduled for Monday. However, in case you can’t wait to learn more about this author, pop over to Kelly Said‘s site and learn more about how she (maybe) gets some writing done and what her workspace looks like. Kelly also gives us a peek into J. Keller Ford’s ‘writing lair’ , here. 🙂

Over at Terri Rochenski’s blog, Scribbler’s Sojourn, you can read an interview of Kelly Said, as well as Lynda R. Young, so please drop around to give them a gander.

Have a great weekend! 🙂

Make Believe – Official Kick-Off

Make Believe

Over at Jenny Keller Ford‘s blog, she posted a link for a Make Believe anthology give-away, hosted by Jennifer Bielman. If you pop over there now, you might have a chance of winning an e-book version of the anthology produced by J. Taylor Publishing. You can also read the blurb for her story, The Amulet of Ormisez as well as for the other stories and reviews.

Over at Julie Reece‘s blog, Julie is interviewing Jennifer M. Eaton about her Dystopian Romance, Last Winter Red, found in the Make Believe anthology. If you’re interested in learning more about the story, be sure to pop in on Julie to read her interview.

J. A. Belfield’s story in the anthology is called Escort To Insanity. You can find her blog tour schedule by clicking on the Make Believe button on the sidebar.

At Terri Rochenski‘s blog, you will find some reviews of her short story, Sacrificial Oath and she is offering the chance to win signed bookmarks and a signed cover, so pop over there to see what’s happening and how you can register to win. She even has a widget that will help you order an authorgraphed version if you’d rather not wait for the contests to end and want your own copy of Make Believe, available at these on-line stores: Amazon Barnes & Noble Amazon UK / All Romance  /  Diesel eBooks /  Books on Board 

Lynda R. Young‘s blog, Scribbler’s Sojourn, tells how excited she is about the launch of the anthology, which includes her story, Birthright. There is a brief blurb about it and links to her blog tour schedule, as well.

Kelly Said, whose story is Petrified, has a list of places where she will be hosted during the tour on her blog site here.

I think that’s all that’s going on with the tour, today.

2012 YA Author Blog Takeover

Something exciting is beginning on Jenny Keller Ford‘s blog beginning this Sunday. She will be featuring 9 YA authors, one each day until the end of the month, including me. 🙂

We will be discussing our books and our thoughts on writing, publishing and life.

Her line-up will be as follows:

Sunday, June, 22 – Kim Richardson, author of ‘The Soul Guardians

Monday, June 23 – ME! (Susan Rocan), author of ‘Withershins‘ & ‘Spirit Quest‘.

Tuesday, June 24 – Emi Gayle, author of ‘After Dark

Wednesday, June 25 – L. S. Murphy, author of ‘Reaper

Thursday, June 26 – Kevin McGill, author of ‘Nikolas & Company: The Merman and the Moon Forgotten

Friday, June 27 – Jus Accardo, author of ‘Touch‘ and ‘Toxic

Saturday, June 28 – Michael Conn, author of ‘Maxwell Huxley’s Demon

Sunday, June 29 – Jamie Ayers, author of ‘18 Things

Monday, July 30 – Rachel Coker, author of ‘Interrupted: life beyond words‘ and ‘Chasing Jupiter

Please come by and see what we all have to say. Each day, the featured author will be hanging around Jenny’s blog to answer any questions you may have for them. To get there, just click on the picture, which will link you straight to Jenny’s site. Hope to see you there! 🙂

Second Sunday Interview

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my second Sunday interview. Today, I’m talking with Jenny Keller Ford.

Hi, Jenny! I am thrilled to have you here, today. I’ve been reading your blog since I discovered it a few months ago and have loved reading about your journey to publication. For those who have not been fortunate to catch your beautiful blog, would you please tell them a little about yourself?

Hi Susan.  First let me say how happy I am to be here.  Thank you so much for thinking of me and including me in your new blog endeavor.  It’s a great idea.

As for me, I was born in Neu Ulm, Germany and was adopted by a U.S. military family when I was six weeks old.  I traveled around a lot as a kid, and returned to Germany when I was six years old.  We lived there for two years and during that time, my mom made sure my brother and I were introduced to all the country had to offer…including castles.  As a little girl, I adored fairytales, so seeing these castles up close and personal solidified my love for them and all things fantasy, especially stories of King Arthur, Merlin and Camelot.  I suppose that’s why I read and write stories centered around dragons, faeries and magic.

I’m twenty-one years married, have four children ranging in age from 17 to 27, and I have a granddaughter who will turn 4 in July.  I am a willing slave to an orange tabby, two Australian Shepherds and a speckled mutt, and would probably own every stray and abandoned animal in the world if I had the space and the money to care for them.   

Wow! That’s a fascinating history. I love castles, too, and I long to travel overseas to see them. You’re lucky you got to live there! As for the animals, you sound just like my daughter! 🙂

How long have you been writing?

Ever since I could hold a crayon.  My mom used to have a whole box of my scribbles from when I was a kid.  Sadly, she passed away in 2006 and I have no idea what happened to them all. 

Sorry to hear that!

What inspired you to start writing?

My mom read to me all the time.  I remember snuggling with her on the couch when I was four, maybe five years old.  I’ve always loved to read.  Of course, I always thought I could tell a story better than anyone and I embellished lots of stories.  I called it having an imagination.  My mom called it lying.  I would tell stories about our Fox Terrier rescuing fairies from avalanches (that was one of my favorites), or tell stories about the dinosaur-turned dragon that lived in my room. 

I love that! lol

In which genre do prefer to write?

I primarily write Young Adult fantasy, but I have ventured into other areas.  I like to push myself, step outside my comfort zone.  I don’t think I’ll ever be known as a romance or mystery author, but I enjoy playing around with the genres.   

It IS fun to stretch yourself and I’m sure it has a lot to do with becoming a better writer. 🙂

Please tell us a little about your writing process.

I sit down and write.  I don’t plan anything, however, sometimes I do write down brief outlines of what I’d like to see happen in the novel or story, but I tend to let my brain take me wherever it wants to go.  Most the time I write in sequence, but sometimes I’ll get ideas for later chapters and I have to stop and write them down.  I wrote the last line in the second novel of my Chronicles of Fallhollow saga before I ever wrote one word on the first novel.  In fact, every event in the second novel is written to lead up to that last line, that’s how much I’m married to it.

When I worked full-time, I would write from around 9 pm until 1 or 2 in the morning, wake up at  6 a.m. and write for another 2 hours before I had to go to work.  Then I’d write during my hour lunch break.  After I lost my job in June 2010, I’ve dedicated the majority of my day to writing.  This includes short stories, flash fiction, novels and on my blog.  The writing never stops.  I’m truly blessed that way.  Now if only I could stop fiddling with my novels and get them published.  I also provide editing services to authors, especially those who have written non-fiction and want to self-publish.

That’s good to know. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who would be interested in that service. And I am certain that you WILL get your novels published, one day. 🙂

What is your strategy with regards to editing?

I do a lot of editing myself through multiple reads.  I also read my story out loud to my youngest son.  By reading aloud, I can find the spots where the cadence is off, where dialogue doesn’t work, and misspelled words my eyes skipped over before.  I also rely on beta readers and critique partners a lot!  They are better than any hunk of software out there.  They’re priceless.  I would be lost without them.  There is not enough gold or chocolate in the world to pay them for what they do. 

When I’ve completed a piece and I’m ready to submit, I put out a call for help.  I usually get about 5 or 6 takers, depending on the story.  Being that most of what I write is somehow fantasy related, I tend to call on those who enjoy fantasy and science fiction.  After the beta and critique partners finish their final edits, I put my story/manuscript through a free Autocrit-type software that catches overused words, clichés, incomplete phrases, etc. that my betas didn’t catch.  If I dare, I might ask one or two more betas to re-read it just to make sure I caught everything before sending it out to agents and publishers.

That sounds like a pretty good methodology.

I understand you recently had some exciting news about one of your stories. Would you like to let my readers know about it? Feel free to brag as much as you like! 🙂

Wow, this one really surprised me!  J. Taylor Publishing put out a call for submission this past January for their upcoming Make Believe anthology.  They offered up a visual prompt and asked writers to submit a short story, up to 10,000 words, based on that prompt.  As I always do with publishers, I took a look at what they usually publish, who their authors were and I read some of their books to get a feel of what they liked.  It seemed most of their authors wrote romantic urban fantasy/paranormal type stories.  The fantasy aspect I knew I could do.  The romance?  I was about to step out of my comfort zone but I figured, what the heck?  I convinced one of my friends and beta partners to go along on the ride with me.  We had until mid April to submit our short stories.  For three months my mind remained a blank slate.  Sometime in March the idea, as well as the MC’s name (Elton Fletcher), slapped me in the head, and I ran with it, with only 2 1/2 weeks to go.  My beta partner ran into the same problem and was scurrying to finish hers.  Finally the stories were done and we exchanged as well as called in more reinforcements.  Those last couple of weeks were intense with all the re-writes and beta suggestions.  Finally the day came and I had to hit the submit button.  I have to say my finger hovered over the enter key for a long time before I closed my eyes and did it.  Sometimes you just have to let go.

A few days later I heard from the publisher and they liked my story, but wanted to know if I would be willing to make changes.  After some nervous e-mail exchanges back and forth, they informed me they would get back to me.  About a week later, I received a congratulatory e-mail from the publisher welcoming me to the J. Taylor Publishing family of authors!  It was a remarkable feeling.  Sometimes I still can’t believe it.  My first real, contracted published piece.  There are no words to describe the feeling.  It goes beyond elation.  My story was chosen…my writing was validated.  I was, and still am, on cloud 9.  

After about a month, the publisher gave us permission to announce the great news.  A week or so later, the publisher revealed the cover of the book and the back cover marketing blurbs.  When I saw my name on the cover, I cried.  It was real.  My publishing dream had come true.  If you want, you can read all about the six authors and their stories at http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/books/17 . Here’s the gorgeous cover.  The anthology releases December 3, 2012 in e-book format only and I can’t wait.  

That certainly IS a beautiful cover!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Only this:  never, ever give up on your dreams. Don’t be afraid to take chances.  Don’t be afraid of hitting that submit button.  I’m a prime example of what can happen if you go for your dream.  I never thought I could write something outside my ‘norm’, much less get it published, but I did. If I can do it, so can all of you.  All you have to do is believe in yourself and your writing.

Those are very inspiring words, Jenny. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. 🙂

This is so cool. Thanks again for everything!

You’re so welcome, Jenny!

If any of my readers would like to check out her blog, you can do it here. You can check her Facebook page here with her Author Page being this. You can follow her on Twitter @jkellerford. Hope to see you all back here next Sunday for another interview. Enjoy your week! 🙂