The Light is 99 cents for the next five days. If you haven’t read it, here is your chance to get it super cheap. If you have read it, here is your chance to tell all your friends to read it 😉 Here’s the link.
Have an awesome day!!
This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending my cousin’s wedding. Family from all over the country gathered in Missouri, where the cooler temperatures and lack of hurricane debris made for a lovely weekend escape. Seeing my extended family was, of course, the highlight, and it got me thinking about the value of family in general. We certainly have similarities, but we are all vastly different people. Some are outgoing center of attention kind of people, while some are introverts who are happy to let the others be that center of attention. Our differences range from our jobs to our level of formal education, religion, political views, parenting styles, sports teams we root for, foods we like, activities we enjoy or greatly dislike, you name it we are different.
My cousin’s wedding is a perfect example of our vast differences. My wedding was in a church, presided over by a priest. One of my cousins played a classical piano piece, others handed out programs, and others read from the bible. My cousin’s wedding was outside, kids were eating cookies and chips as the ceremony began. There was definitely no program, and it was officiated by a psychologist/musician/minister who started the ceremony with an electric guitar solo and later sang “let’s get it on” as part of the vows. Our weddings were very different just as we are very different, but both were beautiful and perfect for each of us.
I think that is just like families. We are all so beautifully unique, and that is a significant part of the value family brings. You get to choose your friends. You don’t get to choose your family, and there is innate value in that lack of choice. Because it helps us understand that a person can be loved and respected even if you disagree with them, and that we all hold equal value regardless of our beliefs, our societal contributions, or even our behaviors.
I think our nation needs a dose of this. I think we all need to remember that there is value in differences. We need to respect other people and their very different points of view. I have been a psychologist long enough to know that deep down we are all way more similar than we are different. So perhaps we need to look harder and love more. I don’t have a particularly Pollyanna view of the world – my fiction makes that clear, but I have to believe that love remains the answer to making the world a better, more peace filled place.
My newest release, Before the Silence, speaks to the political discord taking place before my fictional nation imploded and one man who was so desperately working for peace. Download your free copy here.
p.s. this picture is of my sister, my niece, and myself at my cousin’s wedding.
If you’ve read my bio you know that Psychology is my first professional love and Writing my second. So when I speak to groups, I often get the question “Are your characters based on your clients?” What’s funny (to me at least, maybe not to you) is that the answer is a resounding No. They also aren’t based on people I know (another really common question). They truly are unique creations. Now, I do draw from aspects of people I know to help shape the characters. For example, John Paul’s active personality is loosely based on my oldest son’s high activity level. When I was writing The Light, my younger son was the opposite of his brother, and I thought of him when I was shaping Quinn’s character. He has since grown out of his quiet stage, but that memory of him not acting like a Tasmanian devil will live on in Quinn!
There is one exception to all of this.
In Through The Ashes, I introduce you to a character that doesn’t speak. She is known only as The Girl and she is loosely based on a young girl I once worked with. This girl was not my client, but she taught me a great deal about selective mutism. If I were to do a psychological assessment on my character, she would meet criteria for Selective Mutism and a few other diagnoses. I tend to think about things like that when I write. I believe it helps me create those rich backstories that so many of you have commented on in your Amazon reviews – thanks for those by the way! I only worked with this girl for a few months, and I wasn’t her treating psychologist. There was a great deal I didn’t know about her, and almost all of what I did know I’ve since forgotten. But I remember her eyes. They would become wide and scared if ever I asked her even the most benign of questions and she never answered me. Perhaps this is the reason I still remember her and why she crept into my books. Now that The Girl is in the series, I want to tell you more about her. The problem is she isn’t ready to tell us. To get around this I wrote a short story about her life before she became silent. I will be publishing it in a few weeks, and it will be available as a free download. I will let you all know when it’s available. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Through The Ashes now would be a great time to do so and meet The Girl. I hope you are as intrigued by her as I am. Tap here to start reading.
I also wanted to announce that The Light is currently participating in a promo. You can enter to a win a kindle, a copy of The Light, and about 30 other books. You can click here to enter.
Have a great rest of August!
I was talking to a friend the other day. Like me, she is a psychologist and novelist. We were talking about the very broad genre of romance novels. This genre encompasses everything from my novels to 50 Shades of something or other and everything in between. What is interesting to both of us is the sheer number of romance novels, and even more interesting is the number of these novels with shirtless men on the cover. Time and time again I noticed the novels with the most risqué covers were published using pen names and often by authors who mention their cats, not their significant other in their bio. Cats are great, don’t get me wrong, but husbands are better. I am sure there are some who would disagree, but for the sake of this argument let’s assume I am right. The problem with having a husband though means having a real, living, breathing person with all their wonderful quirks and imperfections in your house and in your life.
We are all far from perfect. We all know this, and yet we frequently believe that we are perfect and everyone around us should be just like us. This creates intolerance and selfishness, because we believe others are there to benefit us and at times out right serve us. This is reinforced by cultures of pornography and erotica, and it makes sharing life with another human being really difficult. A fantasy can never match the real thing, and yet many people have reversed that. They have lived in a world of fantasy for so long that they have given up on having the real, true experiences. To be clear, I love romance novels. I write romance novels (with some twists), but at the end of the day, it is the relationships in my real life that matter most, not those I make up in my head. I need to be a mother, wife, and friend first and an author and reader second. And I need to be mindful of what I read and write to ensure it is not harming my real relationships and my real self. What I allow into my life will, inevitably, shape it. My hope is that my life is shaped into something beautiful and real, not a mirage of something beautiful and real. That is my hope for all those I care about. That is my hope for each of you.
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p.s. I took the picture in a park in China. I believe it meant don’t pick the flowers, but I like their phrasing much better.
I remember dating in high school and college and I can’t recall there being any sacrifice, irritation yes, but sacrifice no. It was for the most part all about short-term fun. Then (many years later) I became a mom and my life was suddenly filled with sacrifice, but something curious happened. With that sacrifice came an almost exponential growth in my ability to love. I now understand that sacrifice and love go hand in hand and that has made me a better mom, wife, friend, and general human being.
I also think it’s one of the reasons The Light series came to me when it did. In the trailer for Through the Ashes, you’ll see the crown of thorns, the ultimate example of sacrificial love, juxtaposed with the antagonist of that book. This character embodies the belief that love and life should not be about sacrifice. He believes others should be useful to him and if they aren’t, then there is no reason for them to exist. You may think he is extreme in his beliefs, and perhaps he is, but many others (in the world he lives in and in the world we live in) believe the same.
As a mom, there are times when I’m so focused on the sacrifice (laundry, cooking, picking up socks, dishes, homework, driving kids around to something they want to do while they are screaming and fighting and making me wish for a sound barrier between the front and back seats) that I forget how blessed I am to have two beautiful boys to sacrifice for. Now, on Mother’s Day I am hoping to eat at least one meal without getting up 5 times to refill a child’s plate or cup or telling two children 15,000 times each (not an exaggeration) to sit down and finish their food. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s okay, because love, real love, is worth the sacrifice. Plus, my kids are really cute. I’m not sure how the whole sacrificing thing is going to go when they are more smelly and less adorable. Totally kidding – well mostly kidding.
Here is the trailer for Through the Ashes, and Happy Mother’s Day!!
I wanted to let you all know that The Light has a new cover! Hope you like it!
Have a Blessed Good Friday and Beautiful Easter! ~ Jacqueline
I recently reviewed a report that detailed the tragic death of a young girl in foster care. What struck me most about the girl’s life was the degree that she was unwanted and was made to feel like a burden. We don’t like to think about children being devalued in this way, or at least not physically and cognitively healthy children. Based on the report, her young life was laden with physical and emotional scars. Her father was not in her life, and the girl’s mother eventually told the state she didn’t want her and would not allow her back in her home. Ultimately, the mother was one of the many people using a social media platform to call for the girl’s death by suicide. It makes you cringe doesn’t it. It is hard to even write those words that contrast so abruptly with the sounds of my oldest son playing chess with my husband in the next room.
How could any child be that unwanted? And yet millions are. Don’t believe me? Look at the foster care systems across the globe. Look at the orphanages in China (where my sons started their lives). Some children enter these systems because they are physically or mentally broken, while millions of others are aborted. Either way the message is clear – they are unwanted and if they are unwanted they shouldn’t be here.
In the months surrounding this girl’s death, the foster care agency was doing a lot of things right. Those in the agency seemed to be trying hard to show her she was wanted and worthy. They were hopeful of her future and she was looking forward to college. Ultimately, based solely on the information contained in the report, I would surmise it was the extreme feelings of being unwanted on the night of her death, and throughout her young life, combined with a long history of complex trauma (meaning trauma originating in the family system) that led her to end her life.
Early on, her interactions with the state agency were less than stellar. Opportunities for intervention and prevention were lost. They seemed to be checking boxes and looking the other way to some pretty egregious stuff, but they weren’t the only ones. Many were not valuing this child, not seeing her worthy of love and safety. But can we really expect those working for the foster care agency or those in the courts to value her? You might say of course that is their job, and I would wholly agree with you. But at the end of the day, these are all just human beings who live in the same world that I live in, and when I look around, I clearly see the message that we are not all equally valued.
I saw it in the eyes of a sales clerk in China, my beloved son, whom I would lay down my life for without hesitation, did not hold value in her mind. The memory still brings tears to my eyes, the thought of him ever being looked at that way is too much for me, even years later. And yet this girl was the same in the eyes of so many, a burden, unvalued, and unwanted. How would my intelligent, sensitive, emotionally astute son see himself if he lived in a world that didn’t want him? Would he value his life when no one else did? Or would he internalize the messages, as this girl had done, and give the world what it seemed to want?
Her death is a tragedy, but not one that could’ve been easily prevented by the foster care agency. Certainly, her suicide that night could have been stopped if they realized what was happening, but the guilt doesn’t rest on her case manager, therapist, or foster parent. It rests on all of us, because we are all guilty of assigning value based on what someone does for us, not simply because they are here on the planet with us.
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25: 40
Over 1100 people downloaded The Light during the free download weekend. This is thanks to each of you who shared my social media posts, shared the blog post, told your friends and family about The Light or reviewed The Light on Amazon or Goodreads. Thank you so much for helping to spread the word! Have a wonderful first day of spring!