ICE free until Wednesday

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My debut novella ICE will be free until Wednesday, January 18. Most reviewers agree that it is worth a read.

Download our free copy today to find out:

  1. What is The Minter and why do the people of Minterville hold it so dear?
  2. Which trusted and beloved community member is hiding a dark and deadly secret?
  3. Where are the women who are disappearing from different parts of town being taken?
  4. What will happen if the town doesn’t band together and act in time?
  5. How, in the aftermath of these dreadful events, will another tragedy that had befallen Minterville be resolved?

Here is a sample excerpt:

We passed the Old Recreation Center, which fell into disuse when the New Recreational Center opened. i remember swimming in the Old Rec’s Center large, pristine swimming pool as a kid. After five years of abandonment, the Old Rec Center had the creepy feel that many rundown buildings have. 

With a touch of alarm, I noticed that the door the to Old Rec Center was open. Who was going in there? Certainly no one was using it to work out….

At that moment, I remembered Mom’s comment about Natalia de los Santos, and felt a renewed and intensified sense of unease. I considered saying something to Uncle Andy, but given his mood that morning, I decided to wait until later.

To this day, I wonder how many lives could have been saved if i had said something to Uncle Andy at that moment. 

Please consider downloading your free copy of ICE today. I truly believe you will enjoy it.

Much love and happy Monday,

Jessica

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ICE is free July 7-11

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I am humbled and amazed by how well my first novella has been received. With 70+ reviews between Amazon and Goodreads, it has been a great joy to know that most readers have enjoyed ICE. Is it perfect? No, but the vast majority of readers have said that they enjoyed the small-town feel, the suspense, and the sense of community.

ICE tells the story of one fateful November morning when the the fictional town of Minterville, Georgia, is brutalized by vicious thugs. Twenty women are kidnapped and set in a death trap that can quite literally be described as cold. Time is ticking away as the rest of the town scrambles to come up with a viable rescue plan.

Here are what some reviewers have said about ICE:

“This book is a crazy (in a good way) mixture of supernatural, thriller, and mystery.” Emily Woodmansee, who gave it 4 stars.

“The twist this story takes left me caring more about ICE and it’s characters than any book I read recently.” Barbara Chioffi, who gave it 5 stars.

“This was an enjoyable read and the story was good…This being a great beginning to a writing career, there are some things that I personally feel could have made this story far better.” Tom Fallwell, who rated it 3.5 stars.

“A fast paced entertainment that sets the scene frot an uncertain future.” Mmcqu2005, who rated it 5 stars.

“Very interesting storyline…unique writing style.” Amanshay, who rated it 4 stars.

“The plot was excellent, the descriptive a done in a way that made the author’s research excellent.” Amazon Pygmy Reviews, who rated it 5 stars.

“This had an excellent plot that kept m reading to the end but it could have been so much more…[the author] is talented and I would read more…just need more development.” Loki, who rated it three stars.

ICE is also the precursor to my upcoming C.I.N. Dystopian trilogy. If you are interested, check it out free until the 11th. Thank you for your support of indie authors.

https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Jessica-Wren-ebook/product-reviews/B00O1CCAU6/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_hist_2?ie=UTF8&sortBy=recent&formatType=current_format&filterByStar=two_star&pageNumber=1

Author Spotlight-Phillip T. Stephens.

While studying Latin-American and Spanish literature, I became interested in the picaresque genre. Reading works such as Lazarillo de Tormes and Perriquillo Sarniento gave me a taste for the pícaro, a usually wisecracking antihero who recounts his misadventures. While reviewing indie works, I had the pleasure of coming across two authors who have successfully created a modern-day American pícaro. One is Phillip T. Stephens in his novel Cigrets, Guns, and Beer.

Using dry wit and sardonic humor throughout, the novel recounts the story of Dodd Dodd Dodd (no joke-that’s his full legal name), a recent parolee who, having earned his law degree in prison, is headed to Santa Fe for a prospective job. Unfortunately, he finds himself broke down in, of all places, the same town where his ex-cellmate’s brother lives. Sweet Water Falls, Texas is no one-horse town; that would be implying there was a horse and thus, SOMETHING to do besides, as one character bluntly put it, “mattress surf.”  You can literally visualize the tumbleweeds rolling down the road amidst the tiny dust swirls. While waiting for his car to get fixed, Dodd pops into a local store and interrupts an attempted armed robbery by a punk kid. Giving in to a moment of compassion, Dodd takes the kid (who he knows would be fresh meat in the penitentiary) under his wing and tries to help him turn his life around. This is the first of many things that put him at odds with Mal Rafferty and Joe Bob and Ralph Meeker, who hold the titles of mayor, sheriff, justice of the peace, and just about every other official title. Thus begins the adventures of Dodd, whom Sweet Water Fall’s grand oligarchy has reason to believe was involved in a botched robbery many years before (and evidently, some scandal involving a flying saucer) and uses several (sometimes laughable) stall tactics to keep him in town long enough to get to the bottom of the issue.

Rafferty and the Meekers are almost cartoonish in their buffoonery. If you imagine Texas hillbilly versions of the Three Stooges with greedy streaks and incompetent criminal minds, you have these three jokers. They can’t cooperate or get a plan together, even when their life literally depends on it. It’s so easy to confuse them and pit them against each other. Dodd quickly figures this out and uses it to his advantage every chance he gets, and in no time at all, a comedy of errors ensues.

I found Dodd to be an extremely likeable character. He’s calm, cool, and collected, and seems determined to remain on the straight and narrow. Depending on your viewpoint, Cigrets is either misogynist or pro-feminist. In the two weeks we get with Dodd, almost every woman in town comes onto him, and he never turns down the chance for a piece of action. The sex scenes, while highly erotic, are not pornographic.

I would classify Cigrets as a “comedy thriller” (proof that contrasting genres can successfully be blended). Overall, I highly recommend it.

To read: http://www.amazon.com/Cigerets-Guns-Beer-Phillip-Stephens-ebook/dp/B00QLI1Q3K/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1430790783&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=cigrets+beer+and+guns

Author Spotlight-Jeff Mariotte

“Empty Rooms by Jeff Mariotte gripped me from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go. I am a huge fan of crime fiction, and this dark tale of kidnapping, pedophilia, despair, and poverty has made me an offical fan of Mariotte. Richie Krebbs, a recently fired police officer working in an unsatisfying job as a security guard, becomes increasingly fascinated with the abandoned Morton house. Thirteen years ago, a young girl named Angela Morton disappeared without a trace, and Richie finds it suspicious that her parents seemed detached and even unconcerned about their daughter’s disappearance. Richie becomes obsessed with solving the case, and enlists the help of Detective Frank Robey. Together, they embark on a cross-country search of Angela Morton and her parents.
His “good guys” are not perfect, and his “bad guys” are not totally evil. In this way, Mariotte humanizes his characters and the reader feels empathy towards all of them. Richie has a questionable work ethic and comes across as extremely self-absorbed. Likewise, Mariotte delves deep in the mind of a sick pedophile and gives a very objective account of his life-long struggle, and eventual acceptance, of his tendencies. I give Mariotte an A+ for character development.
There were a few plot points that I feel were slightly underdeveloped and even somewhat questionable. The author implies that the pedophile had an incestous relationship with his mother, but there is a part at the end that, if this is true, would disturb readers. (I don’t want to spoil the ending, so I won’t go further than that). And some important characters (such as Sheriff Kate) were cut off at the end. Mariotte had to take a few fictional liberties to make the plot work (an extremely understanding wife who allows him to quit his job although the budget is stretched to the limit to pursue this case, a trusting detective who essentially gives Richie a blank check to finance the pursuit, and a few others) but I think all writers have to do that (myself included). Although I understand that Mariotte was trying to portray the darker side of human nature,  I feel that Mariotte was a little heavy-handed in the theme of domestic violence (basically portraying every man he encounters on the case as a wife-beater and every married woman as afraid to talk to him). The subplot of Wil Fowler and his family is not completely satisfied, so I would love it if Mariotte wrote a follow-up novel that centers around him and his situation.
Mariotte’s use of language is impeccable. He uses a combination of serious narration, manly sarcasm, and local/cultural dialect to tell a vivid tale. His use of wording is anything but cliched. He also expertly uses several symbols and motifs to drive his plot (Superman, angels, the Morton House, and especially the literal and figurative use of “empty rooms”). Mariotte is clearly not afraid to take on some extremely controversial issues, something I highly respect in a writer. I am a new fan and will definitely be reading more of Mariotte’s work.”
To read: http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Rooms-Krebbs-Robey-Casefiles-ebook/dp/B00SLPQLGS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1425832173&sr=1-1&keywords=Empty+Rooms

Plot Holes?

Have you ever read The Hunger Games? If so, consider this: why would Panem, a nation that seems to purposefully keep its populace living in concentration-camp-like conditions, provide what appears to be a marvelous education (complete with extracurricular activities and music lessons)to its youth? Notice the question word: why?

Within a suspiciously short time, I got nearly identical reviews on Ice that asked why was the pool never drained? Why did the drug lord wait so long to act? Why would a person with no history of violence act out such a complex plan of revenge?

I’m not complaining. I’ll take any reviews I can get. I also respect all readers right to their opinions and I think asking why is healthy. But it did get me thinking: where do we draw the line between plot holes and taking fictional liberties?

Plot holes are a lack of continuity within a story, either in a novel or between series. Here is an example from one of my favorite writers, Mrs. Isabel Allende. In Daughter of Fortune, one of the characters, Pauline del Valle, was pregnant with her fourth child towards the end of the novel. In its sequel, A Portrait in Sepia, thirty years later Pauline only has three children and it specifically states that she had been pregnant three times. What happened to the fourth child? A plot hole can also occur when a writer slacks off and creates a situation that is completely unbelievable; that is, something that cannot be explained at all. Even though they may not be continuity errors, they smack of lazy writing. To use The Hunger Games again, Cato and Clove, who are both consistently portrayed as ruthless killers who never leave a victim breathing, let not one but two victims get away. Cato gives Peeta a leg wound and then walks away, after he is shown to let his temper cloud his judgment.  Clove (who is literally a back-stabbing bitch) wastes a lot of time taunting Katniss, which led to her own demise. Of course, Mrs. Collins wanted to show that Katniss and Peeta had close encounters with the Careers and lived through it, but my thought was that in these two cases, she took the easy way out. One could argue that cato wanted Peeta to suffer a slow death, but this just does not match the characterization that Collins gives him. And another thing: Thresh lets Katniss live because he feels he “owes” her after the compassion she showed Rue. In the arena, there is no “owing.” You either kill or be killed. Now once again, one could argue that for Thresh, it didn’t matter. Whether he let Katniss live or not, he was eventually going to have to go head-to head with Cato. But Katniss’ explanation that “if he won, he would have to face a district that broke its rules to thank me” doesn’t make sense because Thresh had no way of knowing about the bread gift. Once again, I think Collins could have handled this in a more plausible manner.

(Note: my purpose of this post is not to trash Mrs. Collins or The Hunger Games. I loved the book and devoured the entire series in two days. I’m just using it as an example because nowadays, I only read indie authors-due to time constraints-and The Hunger Games is the only mainstream novel I have read lately. I never, under any circumstances, criticize an indie author in this blog). Moving forward:

Fictional Liberties are “boosts” that an author uses to move the plot along. In the cases in Ice I have given above, these boosts were essential to the plot: if the pool had been drained, there would be no plot, at least not as I described it. As to the other two things, I explained those in the book, so either the reader wasn’t paying attention or deliberately ignored them. Once again, I will use The Hunger Games to clarify the difference between a plot hole and a fictional liberty. There are many examples I can give since the novel is chock-full of wild coincidences. The best way to tell them apart is if you have to ask why? As in: why would President Snow, who was apparently completely aware that Katniss routinely violated the law every Sunday by hunting in the woods, be so hesitant to punish her? In fact, Snow missed a great opportunity to hold her up as an example that even victors aren’t immune from the law. Because without Katniss, the story would be over. Period. She is necessary to the plot.  And why exactly is Katniss’ trick wit the berries an act of rebellion, when in 74 years, people have certainly pulled more desperate stunts to survive the arena. And speaking of this: why did Haymitch’s so-called act of rebellion result in the murder of his family but Katniss’ act did not? The answer to that may seem simple-Prim was Snow’s only leverage to force Katniss into prostitution in the Capitol-but why am I getting the impression that Finnick (and possibly Cashmere) were the only victors who actually served as prostitutes. And it says that clients paid Snow for the pleasure of a one-night stand with Finnick, so why would they owe him anything at all, least of all potentially seditious Capitol secrets?

So are you ready for Jessica’s ever-wise recommendations for both readers and writers? (Disclaimer: my opinion only. Not professional advice)

To writers: it is your story and you are free to write it how you choose. Fictional liberties (kept within the bounds of some believability) are fine. In fact, attempting to explain every single little thing will bog down your story. This is why it is called fiction. By definition, fiction is a product of writers’ imagination and not based on fact.

To readers: You are free to rate a work however you see fit; that is absolutely your right. However, if you are overthinking things, you are probably putting more effort into a review than is required for a work of fiction. I would say that if you hated a work, just get it off your chest and say you hated it (although for the life of me, I can’t figure out why a reader would even finish a book that he/she hated so much). I would much rather a reader tell me “I hate this story, I can’t get into it, and I can’t finish it” than to expect me to explain away anything that might deviate from reality a tad or is not written how they would have written it. I mean it. You have the right to tell me you simply hate my story, with no explanation. You are under no obligation to look for a reason to hate it (although I definitely still welcome and appreciate constructive criticism). I have more respect for a reviewer who simply tells me they didn’t like the story than one who tries to impose his or her version of MY story on me.

To answer the question as to why the pool never got drained? Because no one ever thought, “You know, this pool might be used against us one day in an elaborate revenge plan aimed at our beloved mayor. Let’s buy an expensive pump and get this sucker drained right this second.” Anyone who has read Ice knows that the Mints, spoiled into complacency by their peaceful existence, don’t have the same sense of urgency that most normal people have. For this same reason, they don’t bother to prepare for emergencies (like forest fires or errant gunmen).

A very nice review of Ice. Thanks to Ms. Janis Cramlett

http://authorsandangels.blogspot.com/2015/01/review-ice-by-jessica-wren.html

Review

Writing is like fishing. You toss out your line (i.e. your book) hopping to hook a fish(i.e. a reader). They say as well that if you don’t hook your reader within the first few lines then it’s over. That person will probably not continue reading your book. Well luckily Mrs. Wren is a great fisherman for she hooks you within the first few lines with her tantalizing use of words. She writes with a mystery that begs you to read more to find out the meaning behind her setting of words.

Jessica Wren’s book “Ice” takes you on a dramatic, jolting ride. There is a mystery brewing in the small town of Minterville, Georgia. First two mysterious families have moved into the small town of Minterville, which has also brought on an eerie physical gloom of clouds that hang over the town. The clouds just hang there like a cover of gloom giving no rain. Next the Minter stopped. The Minter is this little secret mental communication board some of the towns folks have in Minterville. The big problem with it stopping is that it only stops when there is an evil presence around.

If that is not of enough worry for the residents of Minterville, the women of Minterville start disappearing…

Jessica Wren then takes the floor out from under you as the story takes a shockingly, wicked turn. To remind you this book is title “ICE

 ” there is a reason for that. I enjoyed how the Mrs. Wren weaved the title of her book into the story itself. There is a reason this book is entitled “ICE”. It is not pretty either.

Written in parts, with different narratives by certain towns folks of Minterville was an interesting narrative choice. It worked too. It gave the book a feel of finding an old town newspaper, or town history book. This worked with the overall tone of the story too.

Overall I enjoyed “ICE”. The book was not what I thought it would be. Jessica Wren sets up a nice cozy setting then all of a sudden it takes an enthralling unexpected turn that does not disappoint you.

There were a lot of characters and people being related to this person and that in the book. It kind of confused me a bit, but that is just me. Genealogy confuses me sometime with your brother being your uncles monkey or something like that. In the end good read. This innocently titled book will shock you.

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Need a favor.

Please Join my Facebook group Jessica Wren Fiction. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1397640247199145/

It would be most helpful if you would invite your friends. There will be a $10 (minimum) drawing for an Amazon gift card every week starting February 1st, for which all members will be entered. Trying to get this book to take off, and some of the methods that worked in 2013 don’t work today. (simple supply and demand at work).

Author Spotlight-A.S Aramiru

As writing goes more indie, I am getting the pleasure of reading many more blended genre books. Authors are no longer pigeonholed into a single genre. The novel I just finished, A.S. Aramiru’s Black Halo: The Witch and The Guardian is an expertly blended book that is equal parts young-adult, dystopian, and fantasy. And like a perfectly mixed drink, Black Halo gives you a satisfying buzz without leaving you with a hangover. 
Out of nowhere, a mysterious light appears out of the sky. The world descends into chaos, violence, and confusion,and world leaders blame the mayhem on the “gifteds,” a group of mostly adolescents with supernatural abilities, such as telepathy, teleportation, clairvoyance, and element-bending. It is rumored that the gifteds got their powers from the Light, which created The Witch.
The theme of friendship and loyalty is prevalent throughout.  The Witch and Kalin (her guardian) are completely devoted to protecting and supporting each other, which gives the story a heartwarming feel. As for the other characters, the reader is left wondering whom to trust, as it is difficult to tell friend from foe amidst the chaos and everyone seems to have his or her own personal agenda. Other very important themes are acceptance vs. stereotyping and intolerance.  Aramiru also contemplates the role that free will has on our destinies, and to what extent our destinies are pre-determined. 
Is The Witch really as evil as the media claims she is? What power does she have to change the world? What will she have to sacrifice in order to fulfill her destiny? This page-turner will keep you reading just to find out the answers to these questions.”
To read:  http://www.amazon.com/Black-Halo-Guardian-S-Aramiru-ebook/dp/B00PGFI8HQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1421713813&sr=1-3&keywords=Black+Halo

Revenge really IS a best served cold…

The way twenty women are brutally punished over one person’s long-ago mistake will leave you chilled to the bone. How many women will survive the vicious attack? Who will survive, and who is receiving secret help? Find out when you read Ice today

http://www.amazon.com/Ice-Jessica-Wren-ebook/dp/B00O1CCAU6/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1420224775&sr=1-9&keywords=ice

Elenita was kidnapped 17 years ago. What really happened to her?

In the otherwise crime-free town of Minterville, Georgia, little Elenita Velasquez disappeared without a trace in 1994. it was one of only two crimes that had ever occurred in the town’s history. Elenita has not been seen or heard from since, and her diappearance has never been solved.

But what really happened to her? Who took her? The answers to these questions will shock you to the very core. Check out Ice and find out what happened to little Elenita.

http://www.amazon.com/Ice-Jessica-Wren-ebook/dp/B00O1CCAU6/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1420224775&sr=1-9&keywords=ice