Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Series: Dunnavin Saga Book #1
Release Date: 15th January 2-15
Publisher: Yes U Publications
Publisher: Yes U Publications
Genres: New Adult Romance / Women's Fiction
About the Author and Ever Locked
Why I Love Indie Publishing
By Jeannie Kaye
I began my writing career as an Indie author in 2001 when I created a beautiful full-color Astronomy manual for children, the first in a series of seven award-winning elementary science textbooks. I had it printed, and sold about two hundred copies before a publisher approached me. I can honestly say I’m very happy with the decision I made to go with a traditional publisher for my science series. With all that said, I’ve decided to go Indie with my fiction career. My first book Ever Locked released in January, and it’s been a fantastic ride! So, why am I going Indie when things were going so well with a traditional publisher? Good question! Here are a few of my top reasons.
Traditional publishers have a lot at stake. Because of that, they need to control the content in the books they publish. The content must comply with their standards and opinions of what will be acceptable and salable to the public. They will only publish books that “fit” the categories that sell well. Ever Locked (and the whole Dunnavin Saga series) doesn’t fit in one specific category. The novel is a hybrid cross between New Adult, Romance and Women’s Fiction. It’s New Adult because the characters are young and hip and are trying to navigate this crazy world as adults. It’s romance because the two main characters have fallen in love, yet everything stands in their way. It’s Women’s Fiction because it tackles tough topics like abuse, one’s past, family drama, rape, emotional healing and forgiveness.
As a self-published Indie author, I don’t have to comply with the corporate mindset. My characters can be themselves. I can write their stories boldly, with freedom.
Although many publishers allow you to have a “say” in the final cover, they create the cover design. The designer gets to decide the overall look and feel of the book. He chooses what he wants the cover to portray, even though he hasn’t even read the book! The designer may do a wonderful job artistically, but more often than not, the cover is not an accurate reflection of the themes and heart of the book.
My cover designer worked closely with me and was able to perfectly capture the intense emotions of my main character and the self-sacrifice she makes to protect the man she loves. Ever Locked is a painful read at times, and I wanted the cover to reflect that. From the fonts to the image of Iris to the compelling color, my designer and I were able to make the cover so unique that it can easily be made into a series with similar covers for each book. I loved being a part of the process and having so much input in the cover design. Being able to look at the finished product and absolutely love it is so important to me as an author.
I’ve been a writer all my life, beginning with those tiny locked journals where I poured out my heart every single night as a young girl. Writing flows naturally from me, like breathing. I can’t not write. It’s just who I am. Before I wrote my first book, I was creating newsletters for every organization I joined, writing articles for magazines and faithfully journaling. I loved writing my first science book. It was a blast! I wrote another science book shortly after the first, just before I was traditionally published.
My publisher asked for a science series. So, I got to work. Well, guess what happens when you’re writing for a traditional publisher? Deadlines. Do or die. Yeah, it got hard and writing wasn’t quite as fun anymore. I didn’t want to write the books in the order I was given to write them. I had a passion to write a chemistry book, but I was told to write about animals. Not that I didn’t like animals; zoology just wasn’t what was on my heart. But it didn’t matter. I had to write the animal book. Sometimes it was like trudging through thick, soul-sucking mud. Not only that, my dad was dying, my husband was sick, my kids were young and needy and I was homeschooling. My life was a hot mess. But I had a job to do. Sadly, my passion became drudgery.
Writers are artists. As an artist, freedom of expression is essential for creating true works of art. Being an Indie author gives me this freedom.
I love Indie Publishing because I can write what I want, when I want, how I want and on my own time schedule. There is no pressure from a publisher. No deadlines. I can churn out what’s on my heart to write. It’s a passion more than a job. Writing is joy and heart, not tears and toil. And I’m so much more productive when I’m allowing what’s on my heart to hit the page.
In addition to writing the Dunnavin Saga, I’ve written a Young Adult Dystopian series that’s almost complete. At this point, I plan to put out three books in the Dunnavin Saga this year, then start putting out my Young Adult series. But, if I feel like I want to finish the Young Adult series first, I can. It’s my choice.
What’s really amazing about being an Indie author is that I can write at my own pace, without any pressure. Nevertheless, as soon as the book’s done . . . it’s in the reader’s hands. Almost instantly.
Need for Speed
One of my favorite aspects of self-publishing is the speed with which you can get your book from your head to the market. When you work with a traditional publisher, it can be like molasses to get your book out there. That’s because yours is not the only book in the cue. You are not the priority, even if you are the publisher’s best selling author. You have to wait for months to get the edits back. You have to wait even longer for the layout and cover designer to begin working. Then, when it’s all done, you still have to wait your turn for the printing. There are other books in front of yours. Essentially, when you finish the manuscript, it could be a year or longer before the book is available to the public.
As an Indie author, my editors are fast. My cover designer is fast. We work as a team on the same schedule. And once the work is done, my novel can be out in a matter of days – not months, not years. It’s phenomenal and fun.
There are lots more reasons why I love Indie. If you’re considering it, I say . . . Go Indie!
About the Author and Ever Locked
EVER LOCKED IS EVER HOPEFUL
Published Author and Life Coach Turns to Indy Romance
ATLANTA, Ga. (January 6, 2015) -- There are more than 50 reasons why readers will enjoy Ever Locked, a captivating debut romance novel by Jeannie Kaye, published author, life coach and counselor. From the charismatic characters, suspenseful plot and refreshing PG rating to the elements of conflict and forgiveness, Ever Locked is winning readers’ hearts with its inspirational messages of hope and healing from abuse, neglect and abandonment (scroll down for story details; read an excerpt here; read reviews on GoodReads). The first in a gripping series, the novel will be released January 15 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others for $2.99.
Known as Jeannie Fulbright, Jeannie has enjoyed a long career as an award-winning science textbook author and public speaker. Her books are ever popular, with nearly 1,000,000 copies in circulation. Along with masters-level work in counseling, she is a certified life coach and has taught marriage classes with her husband. As a public speaker, Jeannie focuses on marriage, personal success, and emotional wellbeing. Under pseudonym Jeannie Kaye, she is committed to writing provocative romance stories that offer substance by dealing with real life issues and emotionally stable resolutions.
Ever Locked, told from the perspective of 23-year-old Iris Kent and 24-year-old Alonzo Locke, is a story about new adults striving to navigate tangled relationships, relevant issues and heart-throbbing romance. Many romance novels today include explicit sex – and often the story itself is a means to deliver sizzling scenes. Ever Locked strives to provide readers respite from gratuitous sex, and instead delivers a powerful story of forgiveness and love. (Even without explicit sex scenes, one reader labeled the book steamy but dreamy!) To keep hungry readers happy, Always Tripped, the second novel in the series, will follow Ever Locked later in 2015.
About Ever Locked
Ever Locked heroine Iris Kent, a dark haired beauty relatively inexperienced with the complicated issues of career, family and love, knows something isn’t right with her engagement to the charming Dallas billionaire, Trip Dunnavin. His distance and verbal abuse are escalating dramatically. Taking a break from it all, Iris escapes to Austin where she struggles to keep her sense of self. Iris’s life takes an unexpected turn when she meets a handsome stranger, Alonzo Locke.
Tortured, passionate and controlling antagonist, Trip Dunnavin, is from one of the oldest, wealthiest families in Dallas society. With his magnetic charm, he’s hailed as the most eligible bachelor in the city. But Trip is focused on one thing only – marrying the bride his mother has chosen for him, so he can retain his standing as the youngest billionaire in Texas and take over the family dynasty.
Protagonist Alonzo Locke is a copper-eyed fugitive wanted for crimes he didn’t commit, with plans to bring justice to the man responsible. He lives under the radar in Austin, loyally raising his young brother, diligently working as a gardener and studying pre-law at the University of Texas.
When Iris and Zo meet, the connection is instant. After weeks together, they forge a powerful bond. When Zo’s shadowy secrets are discovered, Iris finds herself locked out of love and trapped in a web of lies, greed and personal sacrifice to keep the man she loves safe. She returns to Trip in Dallas to do what’s best for Zo – even though it’s tearing her apart.
Jeannie currently lives in Georgia and is married to an attorney who has been romancing her daily since their meeting in 1991. She has four children – two teens and two new adults, who are her very favorite people on the planet. When Jeannie is not working, she can be found boating with her family, traveling, reading and writing. Always writing. Visit www.jeanniekaye.com.
EXCERPT - CHAPTER 13
Pulling out of the boutique parking lot, Mom tilted her head toward Iris. “Why don’t you take off that sweater, Sweet Pea? You must be burning hot.”
“I’m fine, Mom.” Iris turned the AC vents in her direction and visualized the ugly cocktail dress Natasha had sent her to wear tomorrow night. She’d need a shawl or something to cover her bruised arms. She clamped her teeth together and fisted her hands. A shawl in the middle of a hot Texas summer. Lovely.
Arriving home, Iris stepped into the foyer and halted. Really? Again? Every surface was covered with—of course—flowers. Hundreds of irises filled the entryway in the same pattern as before. Was she really that foolish? How could she have given into Trip so easily? She felt manipulated. Tricked. Trapped. No matter how much she tried to forget, his hateful words echoed in her brain: You’re barely pretty.
Her mother squealed, read the card, and clasped her hands to her face. “Oh, Sweetie! You are marrying the most amazing, thoughtful man in Dallas. You’re on top of the world!”
Iris huffed. More like a cliff.
Mom pointed a chiding finger at her. “You should be more grateful for what you have.”
Grateful. Iris resisted an eye roll.
Mom turned in circles, all smiles. “I have to call Natasha. Wait. Let’s take pictures. She’ll be so proud of that darling boy she raised.”
The darling demon she spawned.
Iris attempted a smile—a smile that most likely looked like an angry cat in a full-out hiss. She wrestled with her expression while Mom pulled out her phone and recorded the deluded moment. The truth pressed down like an eyeless oracle whispering taunts of future misfortune. Flowers, flowers everywhere. Fear and flowers. Bruises and baby’s breath. Peonies and punishment.
A melody of memories filtered through her mind of one who nurtured flowers to life—made them blossom and fill the world with beauty—a man who took care of fragile things. She pictured herself on Zo’s back, their playful banter sending gales of laughter into the air. What was he doing now? Oh yeah. Ella the beautiful had him.
Her mother beamed with radiant joy. “Oh, Sweet Pea! I’m so excited about all the things ahead of us. Natasha and I are planning the most elaborate centerpieces for the reception. And she’s been such a help to me at the Junior League. I don’t know if I could survive without her. It’s as if our two families have merged into one. And it’s because of you! We’re so proud of you, of the woman you’ve become. I knew you’d do great things with your life, but I never dreamed all this would happen.”
She sighed with a happy contentment that struck Iris in the heart. “And did I tell you we’re planning Christmas in Italy with the Dunnavins? We’ve reserved an enormous house in Verona. Our own home in the city of Romeo and Juliet. Isn’t that romantic?”
Yeah. Just like Shakespeare. Maybe she’d take a dagger and plunge it into her heart right where Juliet had died. Blowing out a breath, she turned toward the staircase. “I have to get changed.”
In her room at last, Iris tore off the sweltering sweater and fell on her bed. What could she do? She’d promised to give Trip a chance. She couldn’t break up with him now. But if not now, then when? A breakup would cause a rift in the ground on which they stood. Maybe even a fracture. But if she waited she’d meet an earthquake.
Her purse jangled, and Iris reached for her phone. Oh great. The Dallas Morning News. Probably that nasty Sue Tyler. Why had they assigned that woman to the Dunnavin wedding? Everyone knew Sue hated Iris. The reporter had worn a smug grin when she pushed the Natasha assignment onto Iris. Then she practically spat in her face and called her a gold digger when she heard Natasha had set Iris up with Trip. As if the whole thing had been Iris’s plan all along. Ridiculous.
“Iris Kent,” she answered with no enthusiasm.
“Back in town, I see.” Sue’s voice bled crimson animosity.
“News travels fast.” Probably Natasha’s doing—the publicity-stunt specialist.
“For whatever reason, they want an article about you . . . again. Give me something interesting.”
Oh, right. So that Sue could pen some condescending article with thinly veiled insults scattered throughout? “Sorry, Sue. I got nothing.”
“Come on, Iris. Anything to get them off my back. Unless you want me to make up something.”
Oh, please! Iris slammed her fist into the bed. “Fine. Trip just loaded my entire foyer with flowers to welcome me home.” Sue would likely twist it into something sinister. Whatever.
“That’ll do. I’ll send a photographer over.” She clicked off.
Without conscious thought, Iris opened her photo app and scrolled through her recent pictures. She pinched the screen to zoom in on the smile that could blind the sun. A hint of a dimple punctuated Zo’s left cheek. If they had children, one of them would have dimples. Maybe all of them.
Iris’s heart clenched with pain. That could never happen. She studied Zo’s mouth then closed her eyes and pictured his kiss in the hospital—the kiss that defied time and space.
Her eyes flew open. How could she be so unfaithful in her thoughts? So weak-willed? She thrust her hands over her face. Somehow, everything she believed about herself teetered on the brink of death. What had she become? How had Zo so easily punctured a hole in her armor of virtue?
Yet, what if Zo really was the one? Her destiny, as he called it. If she refused him, would she live her whole life in misery—longing for what could have been?
Maybe that’s what Zo meant when he said she wouldn’t live up to her full potential. How can you become your best if you’re always looking in the rearview mirror? But then again, maybe Zo was a smooth talker. A chick magnet, full of wise and winsome words to lure girls into his trap. Maybe it was all in her head. The whole thing.
Well, if Zo captured Ella’s heart too, then what Iris felt clearly wasn’t destiny. He’d be a different sort of charmer than the one whose ring she wore.
I have to know. If Zo and Ella were developing a romantic thing for each other, she would release him from her daydreams—once and for all. She punched Ella’s number.
Ella answered immediately. “Iripalooza!”
A hole opened up in Iris’s heart. Entirely too chipper. Why? The obvious truth stabbed her. “Hey, Ella.”
Ella’s tone changed. “Iris? Is everything okay?”
Iris took a deep, quivering breath and brushed an unbidden tear off her cheek. “I’m fine. I was just . . . sorry, I was just calling to see how things are going.”
“You don’t sound okay. What happened? What did that scum bucket do this time?”
“Nothing. I was distracted. What’s going on? Are you having fun? How’s everyone doing?” Specifically Zo.
“Oh my goodness, Iris! It’s been great. I went to work with Zo today and helped him landscape. Can you believe that?”
Two tears cascaded down Iris’s cheek while she listened to the details of Ella’s day. Her friend’s chatter was punctuated by descriptions of Zo’s intelligence, his gentleness, and how he told Ella she was pretty.
Of course he did. Iris forced out an empty laugh. “I’m sure he’s got you falling madly in love with him.” Resentment tasted bitter.
Ella’s voice drew closer to the phone, as if she were cupping it so no one could hear. “Truth is, this boy’s been pining like a madman over one particular girl that stole his heart.”
Hope burst through Iris’s soul, only to be dashed by clouds of confusion. Trip, no matter how messed up, did not deserve an unfaithful wife. As far as Iris knew, Trip was faithful to her. How could she be so unfaithful in her thoughts? It was wrong.
Ella spoke to someone, her hand covering the mouthpiece. “I gotta run. We’re taking Buddy to get a dog. See ya, Sweetie! Take pics of the party!” She clicked off.
Iris stared at the dead phone as if it had just cut her.
The doorbell rang. Surely, the photographers weren’t that fast. When Trip’s voice echoed from below, a groan burst from her. His footsteps grew louder as they approached her room. The sound of doom. She pulled in a deep breath and resolved herself to her mission. She would see this through. For better or for worse. She sat up and watched wordlessly as he entered her room.
Eyes darting to her arms, Trip’s face contorted. He spoke in a roughened voice. “Did your mom see those?”
Plucking the sweater off the bed, she shook her head.
Trip fell to his knees in front of her. “I brought you something.” He slid a light-blue box tied with a big, white, silky bow onto her lap. Tiffany’s. With a limp half-smile, she stared down at the box on her lap.
He untied the bow then opened the lid to reveal a shiny, blue jewelry box. A hopeful, boyish look covered his face. Everything reminded her of the last time. She didn’t budge or move toward the gift. He popped it open. Inside lay a gold necklace with a diamond-encrusted heart pendant housing a small keyhole in the middle.
A lock. How fitting. She looked up into his eyes and sighed.
His eyes filled with worry. “I need to know you forgive me.”
“I do, Trip.” But she couldn’t forget.
“I called a counselor today,” he said as he pulled the necklace from the box. “I made an appointment.”
She nodded, blinking slowly as he unclasped the necklace. Then his blue eyes—which had once dazzled her and made her feel special—gazed up at her, reminding her of how swept away she’d been when she fell for him.
“Iris . . .” His voice whispered with desperation. “Do you still love me?”
She studied him with new eyes, trying to see the truth behind the exterior. When had Trip ever told Iris that he loved her? She’d told him once, but he never returned the words. Hurt, she’d decided he was uncomfortable with those three words. Some people didn’t grow up in families as alive with affection and affirmation as hers.
As always, she made excuses for him. How could she be so blind? Trip Dunnavin didn’t love her. Why then was he so determined to marry her? Nothing made sense.
“Tell me, Iris. Tell me you still love me.”
Adjusting her focus, Iris brought herself back to his question. Love. Did she love Trip? That irresistible pull of attraction escaped when his words grew harsh and bitter. Deep tenderness had left after that night in the alley. The giddy thrill of his undivided attention—gone.
What remained? Only a steadfast loyalty, along with a long history of always doing the right thing. No, Iris didn’t give up on people. She followed through on her commitments. But what if she made the wrong commitment? Surely, there was room for error and course correction in doing the right thing.
Whispered memories drifted across her mind: Zo’s calloused fingers gently pointing out the purpose of a flower; his strong arms rolling down the window; and his kind hands brushing the tears off her face. Memories of tenderness, attraction, and the giddy thrill of his attention flooded her thoughts.
Iris hung her head and willed her mind to overpower her heart. She hated her desperate need for affirmation and affection. What she’d had with Zo was just a crush. Infatuation. Zo didn’t love her. He was just a charming guy who had almost lured her away from her future with Trip. Would her future with Trip be perfect? No. But that wasn’t the point. She’d made a promise. Trip needed her. He would change, and everything would be better. Everything would be great.
A forlorn smile that seemed to contain a note of understanding passed over Trip’s features. “It’s okay, Iris. We’ll make it work. Love isn’t the most important thing in a marriage.” He stood, put the locket around her neck, and clasped it from behind. “Compatibility is what counts.”
Fingering the lock around her neck, Iris narrowed her eyes. Compatibility? Was that an admission? Did he not love her? Could she follow through on a marriage where she would spend her life unloved? She pushed herself to her feet and pierced him with a challenging stare. “What about you, Trip? Do you love me?”
He startled then curled his upper lip as if she were asking him if he liked rancid milk. “Of course.”
She stared at him, willing the truth from him until his gaze dropped to the floor. A lengthy exhale like resignation escaped him. “I’d like to take you to dinner.”
“First, answer my question. Do you love me or not?”
“I already answered. I said I do. I have reservations at the French Room in half an hour.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “You hate the French Room.”
“See? I’ve changed. I’ve never taken anyone to that dark, dreary place with strange food before, but I’m willing to do this to make you happy.”
Well, it was a start. She pushed him toward the hallway. “Let me get ready.”
Hesitating at the door, he fished something out of his pocket. “Here. Use this. It’ll hide the bruises.” He dropped a small tube in her hand.
She looked up at him, confused. “Tattoo concealer? Where’d you get this?”
“My mom suggested it.”
He’d told his mom? “She has a tattoo?”
Trip swallowed. “Uh, no. She uses it to cover flaws and stuff.”
A strange thought niggled at Iris’s mind. No. Surely not. She pushed the ridiculous idea away. The Dunnavins were the most respectable people in the city. No way.
To her relief, the cream worked perfectly. She wore a jeweled, Sherry Hill strapless cocktail dress and sandaled wedges. After putting her hair half up in a twist, she slipped on the earrings Trip had bought in Spain and the bracelets he’d purchased in Paris. Sweet memories. Perhaps she’d get the old Trip back, after all.
When she walked down the stairs, Trip gazed at her with a wistful gleam in his eye, the way he used to look at her. Mom smiled warmly at the two of them, as if she beheld the happiest couple on earth. Could they ever be that again? Could they really make a new start? He couldn’t even utter three simple words.