Will Rise From Ashes

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook or if you follow this blog, you know I’m a huge fan of supporting other authors, and you’re probably aware that I’ve already supported my good friend and author Jean M. Grant twice this year with two of her releases.

Now join me in welcoming her back to my blog for her third (and final) release of 2019. This lady has been working her tail off for sure, but I have never been happier to see it pay off.

Jean’s latest novel, Will Rise From Ashes, is her first foray into women’s fiction and it’s a gem in every way. I’ve read the first version and I’ve read the finished version, and this story just tugs at a mother’s heartstrings.

WRFA BP 6

So, without further ado, let’s get into an interview with Jean.

LRS: Can you give us a quick synopsis of Will Rise From Ashes?

JMG: AJ Sinclair is a young widow, on a cross-country journey with her autistic/Asperger’s 9-year-old son in the wake of the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption. Her other younger son is missing after the eruption and she needs to find him. Along the way, her son and a stranger she meets show her a world that she’s almost forgotten…that living is more than mere survival.

LRS: I know you and your love of research. Tell me how you went about it in order to write this book.

JMG: Simply put, heaps of reading, exploring, and travel. My background is in science (microbiology, immunology, biology, and marine science—I spent a lot of time fine-tuning my interests in college and graduate school), and I love traveling and hiking. The idea of Will Rise from Ashes came from a bit of my own life (as a parent with an autistic child) and my love of nature…I asked myself what would happen if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted? Volcanoes are a constant topic in our household. Bam! My story came. 

Then, road trip time! I’d already visited the lovely national park in the corner of Wyoming as a child and took another trip this time with my family, 4 years ago. This highlight of our national park system did not let me down. I was walking on ground zero—research moments were everywhere! We also toured other geothermal wonders throughout the Pacific Northwest on that trip. The bright sapphire-blue Crater Lake was one of my favorites and meandering through the observation areas of Mount St. Helens gave me shivers. I returned home with piles of books and dug into the story. Along the way, I’d stop to dig deeper with research. And up front, I take careful character development into consideration. My stories tend to have journeys of the body and heart, and this one takes my characters from Maine to Colorado. Talk about a road trip. The experts say “write what you know” and for me that was science, journeys, and parenting. I hope my readers enjoy AJ and Will’s journey in Will Rise from Ashes as much as I do.

LRS: Any quick and easy facts you learned along the way?

JMG: This is where the scientist in me (I have degrees in Biology, Marine Science, and Microbiology) comes out! Yellowstone is a scientist’s Disney World. 

How about a few Fun Facts about Yellowstone National Park? 

  1. It became the first National Park in 1872. Over 5 million people visit it annual.
  2. Yellowstone is a hydrothermal wonderland with over 10,000 hydrothermal features: geysers, hot springs, mudpots, steam vents, and over 500 geysers.
  3. The park is the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, covering 2.2 million acres.
  4. Yellowstone is a supervolcano. Two massive magma bodies bubble beneath the park. 
  5. There are over 20 supervolcanoes across the globe, Yellowstone being one of them.
  6. The park is not all geology wonderland…there are hundreds of unique bird, fish, and mammal species in this gem in northwest Wyoming. Some signatures: bears (black and brown/Grizzly), bison, and wolves. Because of extensive programs, endangered species now flourish in the park.
  7. Old Faithful has been very faithful, erupting approximately every 90 minutes.
  8. Sadly, human trash and pollution has caused many of the vibrant hot pools to lose their color over the years. However, Yellowstone has created innovated programs to manage waste and human impact.
  9. Yellowstone has had 3 [2 of them being “supervolcanic”] caldera-forming eruptions over the past 3 million years (2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago, respectively). Will it erupt again? Yes. Soon, like tomorrow? Not likely. The last eruption: 174,000 years ago, with 60 smaller ones since.
  10. The VEI scale measures explosivity of volcanoes and runs from 0 to 8.
  11. Be safe and read danger signs! To date over 92 people have died in the park, mostly from falling into burning hot springs, off ledges, or tempting fate with a bison.

Where can you learn more? I have piles of geology, volcano, and Yellowstone books at home, but the USGS and Yellowstone National Park websites are great places to get accurate facts. Happy digging, my aspiring geologists!

LRS: Tell me about Will Rise From Ashes and your shift from historical romance into women’s fiction.

JMG: Will Rise from Ashes was by far my hardest book to write. For many reasons, some personal, some technical. I’d been writing romances with HEAs for so long, shifting to women’s fiction with grittier topics took some getting used to. The romantic in me though, did toss in a romance subplot, and I am a sucker for a happ(ier) ending.

A few more facts about this book:

  1. I began writing it in 2015, 4 years ago. The first draft took a year (while working part-time and around kids’ busy schedules). Editing took a few more years…
  2. It underwent at least 8 full-length revisions before I submitted to my editor at The Wild Rose Press. I’ve also written/edited the entire manuscript at least 20 times (that is 400 pages x 20 = 8,000 pages. It’s no wonder authors can be a little nutty!)
  3. It’s my first book written in both first person (AJ, the mother) and third person (Will, the son).
  4. My villain is a volcano!
  5. The book spans over a month of time and over 2,000 miles.
  6. My theme of heartache, healing, and hope dominates this book.
  7. It is the 7th book I’ve written, but 4th published. (Yeah, that’s some funny math. Hint: 3 books are now shoved in drawers as “practice” novels).
  8. The story tackles topics of widowhood, anxiety, autism, and redemption.
  9. I threw everything but the kitchen sink at AJ. I love an emotional journey, but I do enjoy lots of external conflict and roadblocks (teehee, in this case, literal roadblocks).
  10. Its title was changed from the original. And nope, I won’t tell you the first one, but it took quite some convincing from my editor to change it!
  11. This book underwent the most “killing my darlings” (aka scene slicing!) of all my books. All for the better, or course!

LRS: What are some of your favorite things from Will Rise From Ashes?

JMG: 

  1. Experimenting with point of view. I enjoyed writing from 9-year-old Will’s POV for some scenes. This was my first time writing in first person (AJ, the protagonist).
  2. The science. Researching (and traveling to) Yellowstone still makes me smile. I am a scientist, nature-lover, and traveler. Put all three together and I am a grinning fool!
  3. The physical journey. I have printed out maps from online stitched together with tape and folded in a drawer. My master map is marked up with plot points, dates/timelines, and places. I triple-checked it for accuracy each time I wrote another part of the story. The map still sits in my drawer with other plotting and writing pages/charts.
  4. Will’s resilience.
  5. AJ’s perseverance and growth/character arc. 
  6. Reid’s gentle, wise nature.
  7. Harrison’s guiding presence in AJ’s life, even from beyond the grave.
  8. Scene? That’s always hard to choose. The romantic in me likes the camp-fire scenes between Reid and AJ. The mom in me likes the pizza shop scene. The HEA-phile in me likes the last scene.
  9. Writing a strong heroine, who is also emotionally wounded and finding herself while on a road to healing.
  10. And finally, that my editor at The Wild Rose Press totally “got” what I was going for with this story and is my biggest champion.

 

And no interview would be complete without including an excerpt from the book, right? Here’s one of my favorite passages from Will Rise From Ashes, when widowed A.J. and her son Will meet a hitchhiker on the road when their car has blown a tire…a hitchhiker they formerly passed instead of offering a ride.


Excerpt

Even from far away, I recognized the man’s plaid long-sleeved shirt and the large backpack, but now he was walking alongside a bike on his approach. 

“Hey, look! It’s that guy you drove past this morning!”

 I shuddered inwardly. Well, karma just bit me in the butt. 

“How did he catch up with us?” Motherly instinct took over as I rose, my legs wobbly. “Will, stay there. Here, take this,” I said, handing him the tire iron.

 “We already tried that, Mom.” 

“Not for that, Will.” 

He scratched his brown hair, which was overdue for a cut, and looked at me, confusion wrinkling his brow. 

“Be my wizard, Will. It’s your sword.” 

“Wizards have wands.” 

“Will…” 

The circuit connected. “Oh…yes, Mom, I’ll protect you!” 

I smiled faintly. “Thank you, honey.” I didn’t want to explain further that it was me protecting him. I didn’t want to say that if something happened, to run and hide in the woods. Because he would run and hide. Then what? Who would come help? 

I shoved my hand into my front jeans pocket to nestle my fingertips around the pocket knife I had given Harrison for our wedding anniversary. The man slowed his bicycle as he drew nearer. He gave me an understated, yet significant, nod. The nod of understanding, of kindness. I didn’t buy it. 

“Hello, again,” he said. 

Ouch.


Are you hooked? Do you just love Will? (I do!) You can get order a copy for yourself at any of these sites below!

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ iTunes ~ Kobo ~ GooglePlay

And don’t forget a list of things you can do to help budding authors like Jean Grant!

More on Author Jean M. Grant below. Follow her on social media!

Website ~ Twitter  ~ Facebook ~  Goodreads ~ Bookbub ~ Amazon Author Page ~  The Wild Rose Press

J Grant JPEG squareJean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

A Brief History of a Perpetual Misfit

I’m hoping to participate in the very selective #PitchWars process this year and potential mentees are encouraged to share a little bit about themselves on their blogs in what is affectionately coined #PimpMyBio. For those of you who know me, most of this information probably isn’t new.  For those of you who don’t, welcome!


Fun Stuff

#novelaesthetics teaser for my #PitchWars YA Fantasy manuscript, A THOUSAND YEARS TO WAIT

(Disclaimer: Only two of these images are mine. I don’t claim rights to the others!)

A Thousand Years to Wait

What is all this about? Well…

At 18, Moreina di Bianco is a young healer who believes in medicine, not magic, even while possessing a second sight she can’t fully explain. So when a talisman and a thousand-year-old prophecy choose Reina to reawaken an ancient magic and find a way to end a war, she must reconcile her beliefs and learn to master the unknown magic.

Reluctant to accept help, Reina’s only company on her journey is her estranged and mysterious childhood friend and a dashing captain who claims to be her protector. There’s just one problem with her new companions. They, too, are featured in the prophecy. But what woman wants a suitor, let alone two, when she’s busy defeating an evil general, ending a war, finding the true king, and rightfully seating him on the throne?

Random ‘Stuff’ About A THOUSAND YEARS TO WAIT

Reina would really get along with Nadia from The Forgetting (Sharon Cameron) or Mae from White Hart (Sarah Dalton). The three of them could probably be best friends…though they might butt heads from time to time. They’re all pretty headstrong. She also has a lot in common with Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas), but killing stuff isn’t her thing. In fact, she’s a vegetarian.

I normally like to leave characters to the imagination (nothing is worse than finding out on page 284 that a character has blond hair when you’ve been picturing her as a dark brunette for the duration of the book), but…

Here’s a visual for what I picture my three main characters to look like. Seriously, it’s okay if this is isn’t what YOU picture. I’m cool with that.

Moreina (Reina) di Bianco, Quinn D’Arturio, and Niles Ingram (yeah, yeah, I know it’s Ryan Gosling…)

 

About Me

An ever changing chameleon, I seem to fit in both everywhere and nowhere at once. I grew up on Long Island, but moved to Pennsylvania with my family when I was 10, making me a lover of both indoor and outdoor fun. Theater, art, culture? Yes! Hiking, camping, and horses? Let’s!

Hiking Bryce
Yay – a camera in hand and hiking boots on my feet!

I love outdoor photography (Hey – that’s a combo of art, camping, and hiking!) and I even blogged about one of my most ambitious travels – a cross-country trip over the course of just 3 weeks. (Two years have passed since that trip and I’m still dreaming about it.)

But my love of art and travel didn’t stop me from also pursuing a love of science and I have an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. (I also earned a Master’s in Business Administration as a parent of two young children just to prove to myself that I could.) But maybe what I love most is actually the world in all its forms, and perhaps its why I’ve never been content to stay in just one place doing just one thing.

My ever-changing career has taken an interesting path to say the least. My titles have included:

  • Microbiologist
  • Pharmaceutical Technical Writer
  • Mom to 2 girls
  • Animal Adoption & Kennel Technician
  • Animal Shelter Administrative Director
  • Marketing Director
  • Freelance Writer
  • And always, always – Aspiring Author

The reason for my leaving any of these jobs was not because I didn’t enjoy them or because I wasn’t very good at them. (Quite the contrary, in fact!) Rather, it was because I always felt that there was something else I *should* be doing, something else that needed my attention, somewhere else that I should be fitting in.

In some of these jobs, I felt as though I had almost made it, that I almost assimilated, but there was always some small part of me that knew I was only fooling myself. I could “almost” fit in anywhere, but it wasn’t until I joined the writing community online that I began to feel as though perhaps I had finally found my tribe. A misfit among misfits, and I couldn’t feel more at home! If you, too, are a misfit writer and bibliophile, I hope you’ll find me on Twitter and say hello!

 

And Now – Random Trivia

My Loves: 

  • Landscape photography
  • Hiking
  • Travel
  • Music
  • Good NY pizza
  • Dark chocolate (Seriously, what is life without chocolate?)
  • Books (Duh…) – particularly well-done fantasies that take me deep into new worlds
  • My children & my husband (Duh, again… This is a given, of course. I’m so, so very lucky!)

 

My Current Obsessions:

  • Planning vacations I can’t take
  • #resist with @botresist
  • Sweetgreen’s harvest bowl (Yum!)

 

Things I despise (not necessarily in this order):

  • Narcissists (I worked for one for a long time – never again!)
  • Willful ignorance
  • Cancer (The disease, not the astrological sign. We crabs need to stick together.)
  • That Thing currently occupying the White House (See also: first bullet point.)

 

Things I think you should know:

  • Myers-Briggs: INFJ
  • I will hold my bladder as long as humanly possible if it means I can avoid using a porta-potty.
  • I love stories about time travel and/or reincarnation (Maybe why I resist the porta-potty—too many past lives without modern day plumbing?)
  • I don’t shy away from hard work, and Persistence is my middle name. (Actually, I don’t have a middle name, but if I did, this would be it.)

 

One More Thing:

(I debated adding this section, but I think it’s important enough that it should be included. I want to make sure that anyone who wants to work with me also knows where I stand on #OwnVoices.)

I’m not an #OwnVoices writer. I don’t come from the marginalized community and I can’t tell the stories that should be told by #OwnVoices writers. I am, however, a strong supporter of diversity and equal opportunity and will do whatever I can do to help advocate diversity in the publishing industry. So, a shoutout to my many writer friends from the marginalized communities who are making a difference every single day by using their voices to tell the stories that need to be told! Thank you for sharing your story! The world needs it. I need it!

 

 

On Work and Effort

I’ll admit that I’ve been slacking a bit when it comes to blogging (for the obvious reasons), but as I’ve scrolled through my Twitter feed, I’ve seen a lot of my writer friends elated either because they are about to send out their very first query letter or because they’ve received their very first rejection letter!

I vaguely remember that excitement. The feeling of being a “real” writer on a legitimate path to publishing my beloved work. How would my story unfold? Would my offer of representation from an agent come after one query? Ten? A hundred? What if I had multiple offers? How would I choose?

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 9.37.54 PM

Oh, how funny I am! How naive. How cute and hopeful. The book I began querying nearly three years ago recently received its 85th rejection. To be fair, at least 30 of those rejections were really me trying to figure out how to heck to query an agent—what works, and what doesn’t. It should come as no surprise that for the entire first year that I queried, I didn’t get a single agent request for either a full or partial manuscript read.

My first full manuscript request didn’t come until after nearly two years of querying. To say I was elated would be putting things mildly. I shook with excitement. (Literally.) Needless to say, that agent didn’t offer representation, but what she did offer me was hope. What had previously seemed a futile attempt at baring my soul to no one who seemed to want to listen now suddenly seemed a legitimate line of communication. I had been sending out emails, but getting no responses for so long that I might as well have been using a megaphone to announce my intent to an empty parking lot. Getting that first request for a full read meant that someone out there had not only heard me, but was willing to having a conversation.

It’s been a year and a half since that first request, and since then I’ve received 3 more full requests and 2 partials on a manuscript that has continuously morphed into a deeper story than the one I originally wrote. That couldn’t have happened without accepting and embracing the feedback I received from each of those agents. So even though I’ve received 85 “no thanks” emails (or worse—cringe—no responses at all), I’ve got a stronger story and a better query letter than I had when I first began my journey.

Why mention all of this? Because I want my newly querying writer friends to remember not to be discouraged after they receive their 15th rejection and to keep going even after they receive their 50th. No one writer’s journey is the same as another, and the only way to be certain you won’t succeed is to stop trying.

Never stop trying.