Holiday Longings… 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop!

12 Days Revision

 

Hi Friends and Happy Holidays once again. I’m so thankful to my RWA Chaptermates Alyssa Cole and Julia Kelly for inviting me to join this fun 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop where a bunch of us authors share original short holiday themed stories.

Today I’m doing something a little out of the norm for me and going back in time a bit to Christmas in the Roaring 20’s. I hope you enjoy …

 

Holiday Longings

 

December 1923

 

She could do this. She could and she would because she had to, Rosemary, thought as she stepped shakily onto the nightclub’s raised stage.

bigstock-Beautiful-lips-and-eyes-11827739 (3)Rose swallowed, then winced a bit as the harsh glare from the bright stage light pivoted and hit her eyes. In an instant, the deceptive, almost reserved class of the place disappeared and Rose chided herself for being momentarily sucked in by the superficial opulence of the underground club. The snowy white tablecloths, the glittering crystal chandeliers, even the surprising touches of the holiday season, the sprigs of holly, the pretty wreaths that lined the back mirror of the bar, they were all a façade. A rouse, designed to suck her and more importantly, those with money in, their pockets full until those pockets were good and empty.

But no, this was no homey Christmas wonderland. And as the bright light hit her eyes and brought an unwelcome chill down her spine, Rose was indeed reminded of just where she was and what type of place she was standing in. Paradise 57 was an underground speakeasy, albeit one with a better address than some, and above ground no less, out in the open for all to see, but a speakeasy all the same. In its official capacity it was a nightclub and a restaurant, but all in the know in New York knew it was run by the latest up and comer on the New York crime scene, Stone Donnelly. And those in the know also knew that Stone made his fortune taking over the illegal liquor trade for his late uncle, the notorious Shawn Donnelly.

At the thought of Stone, Rose felt the knot in her stomach tighten just a little more. She couldn’t believe she was actually standing in his club, coming to him for help, but life and the circumstances of the day would bring many to bend so why should she be an exception?

The spiral downward spiral started a month ago and seemed to pick up speed from there.  But unlike the never ending flow of liquor, Rosemary’s money had come to an end officially three days ago and she didn’t know how much longer she could hold, Mrs. Davis, her land lady off. The woman was all walking Christian kindness when there was a crowd gathered but as soon as she got her chance and caught Rose alone, coming back from her volunteering over at the mission, she quick as she could, pulled her aside and got in her face with that hot whiskey breath of hers going on about the rent being past due.

God fearing her ass. Rose inwardly winced once again, this time at the unkind thought. Her mother would be so ashamed of her. Her father, the late reverend, even more so. Be it a saint or a sinner, we were all were God’s children in the late Reverend and Mrs. Longings eyes. But Lord help her, in that moment, in that cold hallway, Rose had to step back from the stench and pray for her strength as she tried as politely as she could to pull her arm away from her landlady’s tight grasp and not haul off and give Mrs. Davis a what for right across her lip as she leered at Rose’s open collar and suggested she give up her time down at the mission for more lucrative time spent on her back.

“God does for those, that do for themselves dearie,” Mrs. Davis had said by way of a thinly veiled threat with a bit of scripture sprinkled on top to make the stench and the leering at Rose’s undone collar just that much more unseemly.

After finally pulling away and closing the door behind her to the now hollow feeling fifth floor walkup apartment, Rose let herself slide to the floor as the tears fell and the loneliness took over her. Frustrated, she wiped at her face. Maybe it wasn’t loneliness. Maybe she it was just hunger. She hadn’t had dinner at the mission that night as there was hardly enough to go around to the children. “Hell!” She clapped a hand over her mouth at the improper language then dropped it. “Dammit to hell!” She yelled. The old lush was probably right. It was time she stepped out and did for herself. Both mother and father were now gone. Taken by the illness that had stricken so many, them plus eight children at the mission this past month alone. And if truth be told, at times Rose wished the sickness had taken her too. But she couldn’t let that happen. She wouldn’t that that happen. That would be the worst sin of all. If she let herself slip off and die where would that leave the other children left behind?

 

“You ready miss?”

The kindly voice of the piano player brought Rosemary back to the here and now.  It was time to pull it together. She had to put the past behind her and live in the reality of the moment. And in this moment she was on stage, in a secondhand dress, showing too much below and way too much on top, but it was all part of the act. And act she would do. The time for sweet Rosemary Longings was no more. Today she had a role to play. One that Mama and Daddy may not be too proud of, but if they were looking down on her, it was one she would hope they would at least understand. It may not feel like Christmas, but still she prayed for a miracle all the same. If she could get a job here in his club maybe she could make enough money to continue to stay in her home and maybe, just maybe she could keep up the work at the mission that her father had started.

Reverend Clancy, who’d taken over, was all well and good, but sadly he didn’t seem to have the same passion for the children’s well being her parents did. She could already see where his efforts were being directed elsewhere and she feared the children would soon be phased out. Besides, she’d sung on street corners plenty of times before, asking for donations and such. How was singing here so very different? Rosemary blinked against the glare of the light and let out a breath. This may be a far cry from a Harlem street corner and these would not be hymns she’d be singing, but still she’d sing them all the same and in the end she’d sing them for the Lord.  She bit at her lip. Well, in a way.

Rosemary looked down at the sparkling black and white checkered dance floor as the piano player begin to tune. Her heart skipping with every odd note. It was probably for the best that Stone wasn’t there for her audition. On the one hand with him she’d get the humiliation over with quick and easy. And with him there would be no hiding who and what she was as a mulatto. She knew this club was whites only and only hired Negroes as servers and kitchen help. Sure she was stepping way over the line auditioning to be a performer, but the fact was the performers here made more than a server could ever dream of and her desperation had her dreaming big right now. Besides, it wasn’t her fault that the big beefy guy at the back door took only a quick glance at her pale skin, mostly the parts below her face, and assumed she was white. Normally she would correct him but right now she was hungry. Hungry and desperate. Now if she could only make it past the manager, Mr. Bonner maybe by the time she got to running into Stone, if she ever did, she be fully hired and working and he wouldn’t kick her out on her ear for breaking his club’s rules.

The piano player coughed at the same time as the club’s manager, Mr. Bonner spoke up sharply, bringing her out of her thoughts. “You going to blow or not, girlie cause I ain’t got all day and there are plenty of other chippies just waiting their turn?”

Rose’s chin came up at his tone and she felt her nostrils flare. But she paused at the unnerving sight of his leering gaze, the slight narrowing of his eyes. Something in that hard stare made her skin go all prickly. Rose knew that look. This would not go well.

A tall dark skinned waiter came and whispered something in Bonner’s ear and he nodded then laughed while still giving Rose that glare. His eyes narrowing further, he leaned back and licked his thin lips. Though she was fully clothed, Rose suddenly felt naked and exposed and her stomach churned disgustingly. He saw through her and she knew it. If this was just a waste of time and she should head uptown. She’d heard about a new club up there that was looking for girls like her. The pay wasn’t as good but she could give it a try.

Just when she was considering grabbing her coat, the piano player again this time with the first strains of the popular standard that she told him she could audition to but suddenly the words escaped her. That was it. It was a sign that she had no business being here in this den of inequity and needed to turn tail and run.  Apologizing and running off the stage was on the tip of her tongue when the manager shook his head beating her to it.

“Just stop. It doesn’t matter anyway, Girlie. I can’t believe you’re wasting my time. Where the hell is Tony at?” He yelled now pushing up from his chair. “It’s not like we’re gonna start hiring ne—,” suddenly he was quieted when a hand came to rest easily on his shoulder.

“Let her sing.”

“But Stone,” the manager started.

“I said let her sing.”

Rose was paralyzed by the deep voice that was soft, but so strong that it traveled clear and easy across the room. It was dark and commanding and had a slight Irish lilt that she had come to know from her time spent working with her father when he would do his once weekly missionary afternoons down by the docks. But there was more. This voice was one she knew all too well. This was the voice from her past whisperings and her never ending late night dreams. But it had changed. Oh my, how it had changed. Gone was any hint of the playful mischievousness that would coax a laugh out of her at the most inappropriate times, causing her father to send a stern glance their way and her mother to take on a worried expression. No, this voice was all shadows and smoke and if she imagined its taste she’d think it tasted of the illegal liquor he was rumored to be the king of smuggling into the New York underworld.

When Bonner didn’t protest any further, but instead took his seat, the hand smoothly lifted from the manager’s shoulder and the rest of him moved into the light.

Stone stepped from the shadows like the beacon of the hope she had been longing for, but despite it something made Rose take a take a step back at the same time her body seemed to tensed up and lock tight.

She knew in that moment that she had indeed made a huge mistake. This wasn’t the boy she knew. This was a man who could break her with the slightest touch.

His eyes held her transfixed as he started to glide forward. And a voice in her head told her to run while her heart thudded in her chest stealing her breath making the task impossible.

Run. That’s what they were supposed to do. At least that’s what he’d told her on that snowy afternoon so many years ago when he’d kissed her goodbye and stolen her heart along with her grandmother’s gold cross after he’d been nursed back to health at the mission run by her father and taken care of by her and her mother. Nothing had been said of his mysterious appearance at the back door far after closing time. Nothing said of the police who came looking for him, but where not told of the young man still passed out from the apparent bullet to the shoulder in the storeroom behind the Reverend’s office.

When he was healed and back to his sly talking, slow charming self, he said he’d take her, his Sweet Rose as he called her. Take her and run away with her to a place where they could be together and not be judged as her parents were for their mixed love. He left with her gold cross and promises to return for her, but once he was gone he was just gone.

And now here she was standing before him literally ready sing for her supper.

Well, she couldn’t do it. Her pride wouldn’t let her.

Rose took another step back and  hit the edge of the piano just as he made it to the stage and with his long legs took a wide step up to stand in front of her. His blue almost grey gaze hitting her like an iceberg and freezing her heart.

Breaking away from her gaze for a moment he gave the piano player a curt nod and a now haunting melody swept over Rose as he looked into her eyes once again.

“You going to sing me a tune like you used to my Sweet Rose?”

“My name is Rosemary Longings and I was never yours.”

He smiled at that and Rose sucked in a breath as the swift memory of first love and stolen kisses never forgotten rushed to her mind.

“If you say so Miss Longings but in my heart I know the truth.”

Her eyes narrowed as a surge of hot anger happily replaced the chill running through her body. “Your heart can burn in hell, sir.”

His laugh was loud and surprising. “No doubt it will, my dear, but that doesn’t change the moment at hand. Will you sing or have you lost your voice?”

He raised a brow and Rose wanted nothing more than to tell him where he could take his audition. But something in his eyes wouldn’t let her. She looked around and saw Bonner looking so smug, half expecting Rose to do just want she wanted, turn tail and run. No way, she wouldn’t do it.

She looked back up at Stone. His eyes so icy and clear that she felt for a moment as if she could walk through them and enter into forever. She shook her head and saw the corner of his lip quirk up. Knew in then and there that forever was long gone and all they had was this moment.

With that thought, Rose tilted her chin, opened her mouth and filled the room with a melody of lost loves, times forgotten and memories that can never be relived again.

When the song ended she was spent and Stone was silent. Yes, Stone was silent. Bonner was silent. The whole room was hushed.

Unnerved, Rosemary finally turned away and went to reach for her coat on the piano when Stone reached out, his hand touching her elbow with a gentle caress. She looked up at him. It was warmer than she expected giving the chill of his eyes. He then took her hand and placed something in her palm. She opened it and looked down shocked to see her grandmother’s old cross now cradled in her palm.

“Welcome to Paradise, Sweet Rose. Merry Christmas.”

 

All the best,

KMJ

 

 

Freedom!

I don’t know why, but I’ve got George Michael on the brain today so thought I’d pass it on and share a little Freedom Flashback with you.

I hope you enjoy.

Oh and I finally ordered new canvases from Easy Canvas Prints  with my new self pubbed Creative Hearts Covers and they came in so I updated my wall of Almost Famous (please excuse the glare). I hope your Wednesday has been wonderful!

20141210_194738 (2)

 

 

 

All the best,

KMJ

Holly Hopping!

Happy Holidays! I hope you all are having a wonderful start to the holiday season. I’m hopping into it with bells on with a bunch of my favorite writer friends by participating in not 1 but 2 holiday blog hops! And of course I’m reluctantly pulling Jack along for the ride.

20141128_121240

 20141202_171155

The 1st will be a fabulous Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop from December 8-19 (My day is Dec 12th) where me and other fabulous authors will be sharing original holiday themed short stories. How fun! Look out for tweets and notifications from me and be sure to stop by all the author’s blogs for a new story every day!

12 Days Revision

The next is a blog hop with the fabulous Smutketeers! This hop runs from December 9th -21st and I’ll be up on their blog on the 18th where you’ll see my greeting and can enter for a chance to win a 20.00 Amazon gift card! Stop by to see all the authors and enter every day and you’ll be eligible for a chance to win their big grand prize worth 300.00!

12 Days 2014 Banner_600x900

Whew, that’s a lot of hopping. I’m sure by the end you and me both will be ready for a spot under the tree with Jack.

Jack under tree

 

Have a wonderful week and see you back here during the Holidays!

 

All the best,

KMJ

Welcome December

Didn’t these holidays just sneak on up on us?

Oh, well nothing we can do about it now but to do it. Welcome December. Let’s do this thing.

 

instaquote-30-11-2014-19-40-50 (2)

 

(This is me showing off the fact that my tree is already up. Quite sneaky smug huh?)

 

All the best,

KMJ

With a grateful heart…

My heart is full and I’m feeling so very grateful this Thanksgiving. Though the places and faces may be a different, the love never changes.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. And to show my thanks you can pick up Seduction’s Canvas for Free on Amazon for the next 2 days. Enjoy!

 

Seduction free ad 1b

 

All the best and with love from me and the Jackster,

Jack a

KMJ

Looking Through…

I can’t believe we’re already into the new week and talking about the holidays. I’m so not ready and right now I’ve got warm sand and the tropics on my mind as I try hard to get my current WIP finished. As a matter of fact I’ve made a vow to myself (that I’m already half breaking by writing this) that is it’s all new writing on my WIP this week. But no matter I had to pop by to let you all know about my big Kindle Countdown Deal sale on Through The Lens this week. For one week only you can pick up Through The Lens for only .99 cents!

 

Here is a short excerpt from Through The Lens:

Through The Lens sale

 

She sucked in her stomach along with her breath and leaned back against the tree trunk closing her eyes. The slight pricks from the worn bark on her bare skin a welcome distraction to her anxiety. She listened to the sound of her own slightly too loud breathing and hoped Ale couldn’t hear it, too. But all too quickly it was replaced by the click, click, click of Ale’s shutter advancing. Fast. So fast. Mika’s eyes shot open. And there he was. Moving around her with the grace of a panther.

“My God, Mika.” He said her name like a prayer. Like she was a revelation to him. He shot the pictures as if they were an extension of his own breathing—and to him maybe it was.

She didn’t dare move. She just watched him, her eyes wide, her lips trembling.

His long finger moved quickly. Click, click click. She thought she could see his pulse jump beneath the beautiful muscle of his neck. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered practically to himself.

“No, I’m not, but thank you,” she said softly.

At the sound of her voice Ale stopped shooting as if coming out of a trance. “Yes, you are. So very beautiful.”

She watched, heart skittering, as he put the camera down at his feet and came toward her.

This kiss wasn’t punishing and it wasn’t wet and it wasn’t to shut her up. And this time Mika welcomed the whimper that escaped her lips.

 

 

You can pick up Through The Lens HERE

 

All the best,

KMJ

All Day Err’re day…

This for sure.

No, I’m not doing NanoWrimo but I need to do my own form of some sort of marathon/ get it together writing sprint.

BIC

 

You see I’ve been in a fog and a funk, but it’s time I clawed my way back to the light before the hole sinks too deep for me to come out of. My lists of potential projects is starting to feel like it’s getting bigger then my actual potential so instead of dreaming about new ideas I’d better get to actually finishing up some of the old ones. If I don’t, this rambling mind of mine won’t get a bit of peace and right now that’s what I need most.

Peace.

Wishing you all a wonderful and productive week.

 

All the best,

KMJ

 

image from tumblr

There is Seduction to be had…

Please join me tonight, 11/12 at 9PM est for a Seduction’s Canvas Book Chat over on the private FB Team KMJ fan group. Just click on over and ask for an invite to join. We’d love to have you!

seduction chat 

 

All the best,

KMJ

 

A thank you & Some of that Sweet Jazz… an interview with author Ursula Renee

 

 

Hello friends!

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to all why participated and helped me with honoring my Nana by sharing yesterday on the #WeNeedDiverseRomance hashtag on twitter. I was so thrilled with how it took off and can only hope that the powers that be in the industry were listening. Whenever the mood strikes please keep it going. I know I sure will as long as it takes and as long as still #WeNeedDiverseRomance. You can check out lots of the tweets here on Storify.  It was my 1st time on Storify so I hope they were all collected. And as for the header? Not sure how Sorify picked that.

 

Now,  speaking of diverse romance I love it when I can bring a new writer to ye old blog and today I’m super excited to have my friend and RWA NYC chapter mate Ursula Renee here on Ye Old Blog to discuss her fantastic historical debut novel Sweet Jazz. Thanks so much for being here today Ursula.

perf5.000x8.000.indd

First off can you tell us a bit about your current work?

Sweet Jazz is an interracial romance that takes place in Harlem, New York in 1938.

The Big House’s “Coloreds Only” policy makes the club popular with Harlem residents. The same policy makes it harder for the owners to find and retain musicians. After four weeks of listening to saxophonists with bigger dreams than talent, the owners are ready to hire the first person who walks in and plays “one good note.” Their words come back to haunt them when Randy Jones auditions.

Many of the employees are not thrilled when Randy breaks the color barrier. He does find an ally in Cass, the club’s sassy singer, who goes out of her way to welcome him. Offstage, Cass Porter looks like a teenager, but when she sings she’s all woman. Inside, she’s been hurt badly and has determined never to love again.

As their relationship develops, life at the club for Randy becomes complicated when he has to fight both Cass’s fear of opening her heart and those who want to keep them apart.

 

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I discovered the joys of writing after I wrote my first story when I was eight. Though I continued writing short stories, poems, and fan fiction, I did not considering pursung a career as an author until I started working on Sweet Jazz.

 

What characteristics are essential in a hero for you? And how about a heroine?

I like my heroes to be handsome, strong and confident. However, they also have to be willing to work with others and not insist on charging in to save the day alone.

A heroine should be strong, independent and smart. She should think before rushing into a situation that could potentially cause harm to her or others.

 

Tell us a bit about your writing schedule. Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

I write during my hour long commute in the mornings and evenings. I also try to schedule one weekend a month in which I focus entirely on my manuscript.

I think of myself as both a pantser and plotter. As soon as an idea pops into my mind, I have to get it down on paper. Once I have completed the first draft, I create an outline. I used this during the editing process to ensure that each plot point moves the story forward and the characters appear and act as I originally envisioned.

 

What advice would you give other aspiring writers?

Do not give up.

There may be times when you feel as if everyone is against you – family and friends may laugh at you; editors tell you the manuscript does not work; or the words will not come to you. In either case, stop, take a deep breath and remember that success does not come to those who quit.

 

That is perfect advice. Thanks so much! What can readers expect next from you?

I am working on an interracial romance set in 1957, between a first generation Italian-American and a Filipino/African-American.

 

Fantastic! And now friends an excerpt from Sweet Jazz:

Cass rolled her eyes as she slid a sheet of paper across the table. He glanced down at the sketch of an older woman standing next to a piano. She wore an evening gown, and her hair was pulled back in a bun, with a feather ornament holding the style in place.

“The Big House is proud to feature Cass, with music by The Big House Band,” Randy read. He

glanced from the paper to her, then back at the paper. He recognized the similarities in the facial features, but it couldn’t be possible. “You can’t be the same Cass.”

“No other Cass here.”

“Your momma lets you work here?” Randy asked as he handed back the flyer.

He knew some parents did not care what their children did as long as they were out of the way.

However, allowing a young girl to work in a club was beyond neglectful.

“My momma doesn’t have much say in the matter, seeing as how she’s down south,” Cass said, placing the paper on the table.

“Down south?

“That’s where she lives.”

“What about your relatives?”

“They’re down there, too.”

Randy lowered his foot to the floor and straddled the chair. He needed to sit down. There was no way she was up there by herself.

“Don’t you have someone lookin’ after you?”

“I’ve been looking after myself for six years.”

“Six years? Girl, you jokin’? You can’t be no older than…what…sixteen? seventeen?”

“I’m twenty-two.”

Twenty-two? It explained why she got away with arguing with Junior, but, still… Randy slowly glanced from the ankle socks and canvas shoes on her feet to her two braids. She looked as if she should be playing with dolls or jumping rope, not singing in a club.

 

Thanks so much for being here today. It’s been a real pleasure.

ursularenee

 

Ursula can be found on the web at:

http://www.ursularenee.com

http://blog.ursularenee.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ursularenee.author

And you can buy Sweet Jazz here:

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

All the best,

KMJ

 

P.S. Sidebar: I’ll be appearing at Between The Covers in Riverdale NY on Monday 11/17 from 7-9 reading an excerpt from BOUNCE (I’ll try and find a spicy scene) And I’ll have some copies to sign! So if you are in upper Manhattan come on out! Details are here.

Bounce 1400 A

 

Never Can Say…

A week and a half ago I said goodbye to a big part of my heart. No, that’s not true. I don’t think I’ve said goodbye yet and don’t know when I will. All I know (and a part of me doesn’t even grasp that) is that she left. Gone. She was with us and things were fine or at least they seemed so, but on that Wednesday morning, after strangely waking up to answer an early phone call, she went back to sleep and didn’t wake up again. Nana went the way she always said she wanted. Not long and drawn out and without lots of fanfare.

Little did she know—though what do I know, maybe she knows now—there is much fanfare to be had. As a woman who has touched so many could never leave this earth on a mere whisper.

The loud, pounding, fierce, sweet, tart, savory, full, joyous, loving, yet somehow still peaceful beat that was her life could never go quietly or be fully silenced. It will go on in all who she touched. Forever loud, shouting, fierce, sweet, tart, savory, full, joyous, loving, hopefully peaceful & yes, still writing.

Never to be forgotten. Never to say goodbye. 

She was my biggest cheerleader and now I must learn to cheer for myself. Thank you for schooling me Nana. Rah Rah!

Nana & Jack 4

With all my love,

KMJ