Category Archives: Writing

Happy Birthday, li’l Book!

 

It’s a birthday celebration, and that calls for Jake Ryan. Because I know if he could, he’d be here today to wish IF ONLY a very happy birthday. OR, this is just a gratuitous Jake Ryan pic. Either way, I’m good with it. sixteencandles

Because holy wow, one year ago today, this story I wrote–this romance not just about the love of love, but about the love of stories themselves–made its way into the world! Happy birthday,
IF ONLY!

Pine_Cover

I am so grateful to get to do what I do and to have such wonderful people in my life who supported me (and still do) and this little dream I had to write this book and see what happened next.

So, just some quick thanks  first to Lex, the first ever to read this book and give me the confidence to see where it would go; to Amy for not only helping me write the three-sentence pitch that started this whole publishing ball rolling but for loving the book when I finally had the nerve to show it to you!

To Natalie, Megan, Lia, and Jen–early readers, critiquers,  and fans of Jordan, Noah, Griffin, Duncan, and Elaina– my writing life would be immeasurably more difficult without you, and my heart would be way less full without your friendship. You really do make my dreams come true.

Thank you to my fabulous publisher, Entangled, especially IF ONLY’s editors, Karen and Nicole–GROUP HUG.

There’s no way I could do any of this without readers. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for making it possible for me to keep on keepin’ on.  Sending you all virtual Baymax fist bumps!

What’s next? Well, 2014 closed out with IF ONLY‘s follow-up, WHAT IF. And in four weeks, thanks to my lovely agent, my first book in a new series, ONE NIGHT, releases with Berkley/Intermix (4-21-15), with book two, ONE LIFE, following in the fall (10-20-15).

books2

Hope to have more publishing news for you soon, but until then a quick thank-you gift. This giveaway will expire in 24 hours!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is it me on the page?

“How much of you is in your writing?”

This weekend I took part in a local literary festival, kicking off the festivities by sitting on my first author panel (which was so much fun, btw).  One of the questions we were asked was the one above, which is always a fun question to answer about my debut novel, If OnlyI told our audience, “Well, If Only is about a girl who studies abroad in Scotland her junior year of college and dates one guy but falls in love with another guy who just happens to have traveled to the same school with his girlfriend.” Pause for breath. “When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Scotland. I dated one guy and crushed on another…who had a girlfriend.”

What are the odds? But as much as there are similarities, If Only is 100 % Jordan’s story. Not mine. The same is true for all the books I’ve written so far. There’s a little bit of me in every hero/heroine I write. Jordan loves British literature. So do I. Noah loves The Great Gatsby and is going to be an English teacher. So do I/So was I. In What If, Griffin likes to deflect with humor rather than wear his heart on his sleeve. Waves from corner of deflection. And Maggie not only loves Gilmore Girls but is emphatically #teamjess. Wonder where she gets that from. But still, these are not my stories. They belong to the characters I create and the readers who follow them on their journey. I might infuse parts of my life that are special or important, traits I want to share with my characters, but they take those traits and make them their own.

Which brings me to One Nighta new book in a new series releasing with Intermix on April 21st. In One Night, my main character, Jess, and her roommate, Zoe, become fangirls of The Vampire Diaries. At the time I started writing the book, I had just started watching the show (erm…binge-watching on Netflix), so I made that a way for Jess and Zoe (and even the hero, Adam) to bond. Throwing fun shout outs to some of my favorite things in my writing lets me indirectly share those things with my readers. Additionally, infusing important issues into my stories also lets me share what I hope are important messages as well.

In One Night, Jess’s personal story arc stems from how she deals with depression. Depression is not a part of my life now, but it was in my 20s. Back then I would have shied away from talking about it. As someone who was (and still is) her own worst critic, for a long time I let myself believe that if I couldn’t kick whatever was wrong with me, then I was a failure.  And right there was the poisonous thinking because nothing was wrong with me. Depression didn’t make me any less of a person than anyone else. I just needed help, needed to realize that no form of self-medicating was going to make me the healthy person I knew I wanted to be.

I gave Jess a snippet of my experience but made it hers. Why give it to her in the first place? Because, like I said, I was afraid to talk about my depression when I was going through it because I worried what people would think. I thought self-medicating could top professional help. But I missed the mark on both accounts. When I opened up to close friends about what was going on with me, I found tremendous support. When I took my health seriously (first at the insistence of my mom but later by choice) and sought both medical and psychological support, my life changed dramatically. I gave a similar journey to Jess so that through her story others who might be in a like situation would learn with Jess that getting help shows strength, not weakness, and that she (and others going through the same) is worthy of a life full of hope and love.

And that sexy vampires are awesome.

(See what I did there? It got all serious, so I deflected.)

So yes, a bit of me seeps onto the page in every story, but none of these stories are mine. Through my characters I may share something I love or something important to me, but the story always belongs to the people on the page and those who read my words. My only hope is that readers find a way to connect to the people I create through laughter, tears, frustration, fear, and always, ALWAYS–the swoons.

 

IF ONLY-RELEASE DAY!!!!

March may be almost over, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over at Embrace. My debut, If Only, releases TODAY! You can pick up If Only on sale for just $.99 right now! Thank you, everyone, for your amazing support up until today. Let the next phase begin!

9781622664351_500

About If Only:

Sometimes it takes crossing an ocean to figure out where you belong.

It’s been two years since twenty-year-old Jordan had a boyfriend—which means it’s been forever since she, well, you know. But now she’s off to spend her junior year in Aberdeen, Scotland, the perfect place to stop waiting for Mr. Right and just enjoy Mr.

Sexy, sweet (and possible player) Griffin may be her perfect, no-strings-attached match. He’s fun, gorgeous, and makes her laugh. So why can’t she stop thinking about Noah who, minutes after being trapped together outside the train’s loo, kisses

Jordan like she’s never been kissed before? Never mind his impossible blue eyes, his weathered, annotated copy of The Great Gatsby (total English-major porn)…oh, and his girlfriend.

Jordan knows everything this year has an expiration date. Aberdeen is supposed to be about fun rather than waiting for life to happen. But E. M. Forster, Shakespeare, and mistletoe on Valentine’s Day make her reconsider what love is and how far she’s willing to go for the right guy.

Find If Only Online:

Amazon
BN
iTunes
Goodreads

Find A.J. Online:

Website
Twitter
Facebook

If Only Swag Pack -An “I love you from here to Scotland” print, Ahava pendent, A pack each of Much Ado about Nothing and A Room With a View confetti, Much Ado about Nothing travel mug and A Room With a View Blu-ray (a $25 Amazon gift card will be substituted if winner is outside the US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

On the eve of release…

Welp, we’re less than 24 hours from release, and I’m trying to figure out how to articulate what I’m feeling. But I’m feeling SO many different emotions at once, so I’ve decided that in honor of my first book release, I shall write my first GIF blog post to try to somehow encapsulate EVERYTHING I’m feeling all at once.

First and foremost, I am EXCITED. I wrote a book, and it’s being published, and everything I’ve always wanted is happening. This is freaking AWESOME.

Jimmy

As much as I want to keep my cool, grooving to the beat of this awesomeness that is happening to me, I’m also a little bit this:

jon-fan

Because OMG, EVERYTHING I’VE ALWAYS WANTED IS HAPPENING AND THIS BOOK I WROTE IS NOT JUST MINE ANYMORE.

And I’ve slowly been able to get used to this because my galleys went out a month ago, and people have been reading and reacting and it’s so THIS.

barney-yes

 

And THIS.

Ewan And I’m overwhelmed at how many people have already requested, read, and loved IF ONLY. But on the same token, THIS BOOK I WROTE IS NOT JUST MINE ANYMORE.

sheldonAnd YES, it’s scary. Scary to get what you want but realizing that the thing you want most also comes with putting yourself out there, with making yourself more vulnerable than you’ve ever been, and there’s really no way to prepare for that. All I can say is that I’m grateful for this this amazing, scary, crazy thing that’s happening–grateful for the people who’ve supported me up until this point, to the early readers who’ve helped put IF ONLY on the map, to my amazing publishing team at Entangled for making my debut all I could have hoped for and more, and to YOU, the readers. I am hopeful and anxious, proud and terrified. Because in a few short hours, IF ONLY will be yours, and I’m beyond grateful to you for wanting to share in this experience with me.

And so, in the immortal words of the wickedly talented, Adele Dazeem, I’m gearing up to LET IT GO.

let it goBecause I have a book coming it, and it’s time to CELEBRATE!

Justin

 

 

I hope you’re ready to one-click tomorrow.
CoverandBlurb

 

 

 

 

 

Mini Announcement

Well, if you follow me on twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, this isn’t really news, but just in case you missed it…

 

I’m so thrilled to announce that I just signed with Entangled’s NA line, Embrace, for one of my New Adult manuscripts! There’s more to the story that isn’t quite official yet, but once it is, I’ll be back to tell you even more! Until then, thanks for all of the wonderful support so far! I will keep you posted as edits begin and we get closer to publication (hopefully late winter of 2014).