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New Release - Beckoning Souls

I am pleased to announce that Beckoning Souls is now available for purchase in the Amazon store! 

Click here to purchase Beckoning Souls on Amazon!


Nathan Gallagher doesn’t believe in ghosts. As a fireman, he’s seen his share of dead people, but they never spoke to him before—until now. His marriage is great, and his relationship with his son is strong, but Nathan is sure that if he tells them that he’s seeing ghosts, it is a quick ticket to a padded room and a straightjacket. 

When the ghosts become violent and attack Nathan, his secret is revealed—except his wife doesn’t believe his claim about the supernatural. She demands he seek professional help. He knows he’s not crazy, but with no proof that the ghosts are real, he’s committed to a mental hospital against his will. The ghosts follow him, pushing him farther into a terrifying world he can’t find his way out of. 

With his marriage, his sanity, and even his very life at stake, Nathan needs to find out why the ghosts are haunting him before it’s too late. 

Review of A Forgotten Man




As I promised in a previous blog post, I am going to share books I've enjoyed with readers out there. I'm going to practice what I preach about how sharing a book is helpful for both readers and writers alike!

Yesterday I finished A Forgotten Man by J. Pepper Bryars. I picked this book up when it was free, but the normal list price is $2.99, and believe me, it's well worth it. It's not a book filled with action and adventure, but it's not needed - there is enough emotional anguish to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen to the Bosarge family. 


Below is my review of the book. I tried to keep spoilers out of it, so hopefully I didn't give too much away about it. 


This is a heartbreaking, gut wrenching read. What makes it so good is the fact that the things happening in this book are real! The book follows main character Jack through having a good job at an oyster company all the way to unemployment and desperation. I want to say more about what happens through the book, but I don't want to spoil it for people who are interested. If you are looking for a happy, feel good book, this isn't it, but it still is something I think everyone in America needs to read. It is eye opening and more times than not, I felt like someone was punching me in the stomach.


I really got attached to Jack and Donita. I felt like I was there with him at the gas plant as he sat and waited for his job interview. I was feeling the nerves he was probably feeling and hoping that finally, luck would be on their side with something. I kept thinking, this book has got to end on a happy note. Jack and Donita will find jobs and they can continue on with life the way it was before his other job got shut down. Instead, Jack is faced with tribulations and pain of not working. He is a man full of pride and doesn't want to take assistance. The book demonstrates how, that over time, it gets to where he stops caring what others think and knows his job is to make sure their little girl, Julia, is taken care of.

The relationship between Jack and Donita deteriorates just like you'd imagine when put under stress. Jack makes desperate decisions thinking it is helping his family, only to later learn that it really hurts them, but he's not a man to just sit around and wait. This book is a good example of how government can take something away, but then try to "help" you with their assistance after you are laid off and left with nothing.

I'd love to continue to gush about this book, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. If you want an honest, modern day Grapes of Wrath type story, get this book. It is unsettling to think that what happens in this book is happening right here in our backyards.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - and frankly, I'm glad it didn't have the cookie cutter happily ever after ending that so many books tend to have.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars. Kudos to J. pepper Bryars for writing a book that I'll share with any other bookworm out there! 


Happy Reading,

J.R. Tate 

Homemade Tomato Soup & Mozzarella Basil Grilled Cheese

To continue with the rainy weekend (see previous blog post about the pumpkin spiced lattes), I made homemade tomato soup in the crock pot, along with mozzarella, basil, and pesto grilled cheese sandwiches.

I found it to be a pretty simple recipe, though it didn't yield quite as much soup as I had hoped for. I like to make extra to take to work for lunches, and unfortunately, with two of us eating it, there wasn't quite enough to save for leftovers. That isn't a deal breaker. You could always double the recipe with no problem, as it's very easy with step by step instructions.

Prep starts the night before you plan to make the soup, with coring and deseeding of roman or plum tomatoes, cut them in half, and cut up two cloves of garlic to combine with them. As it sits, the tomatoes really absorb that flavor. I'll post the full recipe at the end of the post.

The next morning, you combine the tomatoes and garlic with a can of vegetable broth and basil in your crock pot. I cooked it on low for 8 hours, but you can also cook it on high for 6.


Here is the starting product. 

I also found that the tomatoes softened and cooked quicker, and you don't necessarily have to go the full 8 hours if you're getting hungrier early in the day. The amazing aroma of the soup tormented me all day. The basil gave it a nice Italian feel, and I was ready to eat this by 3pm! 


This is right before the tomatoes were ready to be put in the blender to smooth. 


The tomatoes blended with the basil and garlic. It was chunkier than store bought tomato soup, but had a great texture. 

Next, I prepped the sandwiches to go along with the soup.


I spread jarred pesto on whole wheat bread, along with mozzarella slices, tomato, and basil leaves. The recipe said to do it on a panini press, but I just put them in a grill pan and it worked just as well.


When all is said and done, this is what your meal will look like. It was very flavorful, and the basil gave it just the right kick to add some great taste. Next time I might add more garlic, but the recipe is great as is. It also didn't make much, so next time I might double the recipe. It was very hearty and filling, not to mention healthy. 

Here is the full recipe:

3 lbs plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 can (14.5 oz) reduced sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup basil leaves, plus 15 large leaves for sandwiches
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
10 slices of whole grain bread
1 tbsp jarred basil pesto
8 oz fresh mozzarella
1 large tomato

-The night before cooking, core, halve and seed tomatoes. Thinly slice garlic and combine in a resalable bag with tomatoes. Refrigerate overnight.
-in the morning, combine tomatoes and garlic with broth and ¼ cup of the basil leaves in a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.
-Once soup is almost done, heat Panini press. Place 5 slices of the bread on work surface. Spread ½ tsp pesto on each slice. Cut mozzarella and tomatoes into 10 thin slices each. Place 2 slices of the mozzarella on bread. Add 3 basil leaves to each sandwich and top each with 2 slices tomato. Top with 5 remaining bread slices and coat both sides of sandwiches with nonstick cooking spray. Cook sandwiches in Panini press for 3 minutes until browned and cheese is melted.
-While sandwiches cook, ladle half of the tomato mixture into a blender. Blend until smooth. Add remaining tomato mixture to blender if there is space. Blend until smooth. Divide among 5 bowls. Serve with a sandwich. 





Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Latte

It  has been quite the rainy weekend here where I am, and with the cooler and cloudy weather, I've been perusing some recipes. The first one I tried this morning is Crock Pot Pumpkin Spiced Lattes.

I've always been a fan of Starbuck's version, but with the cost, it tends to turn people away. This recipe cost me about $10 total to make, and it made well over 4 servings. (I halved the recipe. The full recipe could easily serve 8, depending on the size mug you'll use.)

The recipe is very simple. You need strong coffee and milk. I will post the full recipe at the end of this post. Here are some pictures of the process:


This was the very beginning process before the crock pot heated up. 


The finished product, 2 hours after combining ingredients. The pumpkin, cinnamon, milk, and coffee blended well together. 



It was a very good mixture, and tasted better than Starbucks. Next time I do it, I will probably add a tad bit more coffee and pumpkin, and a little less cinnamon. 

Here is the complete recipe - I halved it and it still made quite a bit, but the full recipe might be a good amount for parties and larger crowds:

Ingredients
6 cups of milk 
4-6 cups of strongly brewed coffee
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
3 cinnamon sticks
Instructions
In your crock pot, combine the milk and coffee.
Whip together the pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon and pour into the crockpot.
Mix together well.
Toss in 3-4 cinnamon sticks.
Cover the crockpot, and cook on high for 2 hours.



Keywords - A Science

Hello readers! Long time, no blogging! I hope this finds you all well!

Since we spoke (typed, read) last, I have been trying to think up ways to get my books more exposed. New covers, new descriptions, new advertising.... the (boring) list goes on and on....

Tonight I got to thinking about keywords. Keywords meaning phrases and search terms people type in at the top of the Amazon.com page to find the exact type of book they are wanting to read. As a writer, you'd think that this would come easy. Sure, think up 7 phrases that you MIGHT think a reader would put.... well, that's simple.... as a reader, what would I put? If you haven't already learned this about me, I'm not like the average person.... I usually like things that most people don't. If a critic likes a movie, I hate it... and vice versa. So, that tactic of thinking like other readers did not work.

Amazon gives you the option to put seven keywords when updating/uploading your books. Seven seems like a lot, seven seems like not much at all - it's all in the eye of the beholder. So, what do readers often search when looking for a book? Are they broad terms that will bring up tens of thousands of results? (Kindle books, romantic books, ebooks... These are more genre specific that would have tons of options falling under that umbrella.) Then you think of more specific terms. (Firefighter romantic suspense, drug addiction fiction, organized crime romance.) Being more specific is good, but also bad. How many people are going to search that exact term? The reason I ask is this - those more specific terms are geared toward the books that I have already published. The Firefighter Heroes Trilogy, Murphy's War, and Reformed are the three specifically tied to those keywords... The broader terms are also geared toward them, but how many other books will pop up as well?

I'm slowly learning that keywords are a science. What might work this week might not work next week. They change just like people change. It's a new challenge, but I'm actually having fun with it. Right now I have some specific keywords listed under my books -

-Firefighter Romance Ebooks
-Firefighter Romantic Suspense
-Drug Addiction Fiction
-Organized Crime Romance
-Crime Drama Romance

Of course, I get 7 keywords per book, so this isn't all of them, but it gives an example of some of the things I've put to try out. If they don't work, I'll try something new. That's all I can do!

 I know as readers, most don't care, but next time you go to Amazon in search of a book, keep in mind that keywords can and are a big deal to writers. It's not the sole way to get a book exposed, but lately, it's a way to get it on the first or second page of the search result after you type in your phrase. Next time I'm looking for a specific book, I'll think about this as well.

--Happy Reading!
J.R.

Bad Games - 5 out of 5 Stars


I've been thinking about things to blog about and dang it, I'm gonna practice what I preach. I've said many times, word of mouth is one of the BEST ways to help an author out. If you enjoyed a book that you've read, talk about it! Tell other readers about it! Leave a review. If the author leaves contact information, contact them! We love to hear from readers and writers.... even if you didn't enjoy what you had read. We want to improve, so constructive feedback is always useful too!

Anyway, to get to the point - I'm going to start blogging about books that I've read and enjoyed. I kick off the first entry with Bad Games by Jeff Menapace. 

Click here to go to the book in the Amazon Store

I gave it 5 stars out of 5 - it really was quite a thrilling read. I'll post my review from Amazon on here:

THERE IS A SPOILER IN THIS REVIEW, SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.... 
This was definitely a dark psychological thriller, as the title says. The Lambert family goes on a quick getaway to Crescent Lake to escape their hectic city life. After ample warnings, they decide to chalk it up to circumstance and stay there. They don't want two men ruining their plans. Little do they know, they're about to take part in a game where they have to participate.

Bad Games was very thrilling. I did get frustrated at the main characters for not taking note to all of the warnings - the creepy guy at the grocery store, the creepy man who talked Penn State to them and took their daughter's doll. If Patrick would have listened to Amy, they would've high tailed it out of there the first day and been home safe, but then again, if that would've happened, I guess there wouldn't have been an entertaining book to read.

There were a few spots that were somewhat drawn out, but I still feel this book deserves 5 stars. I'm definitely a fan of psychology, and this book displayed good knowledge of the evil in this world. Without giving too much away, **spoiler alert** -----

I loved the scene when Patrick and Amy go to Arty's hospital room at the end of the book and put him through his own torture, even if it isn't physical. Mentioning how he was likely adopted and how he also fit the "crazy mold" really played well against him and gave them good revenge on a man whose intention was to kill both of them.

I recommend this read. It is rough and gritty, but for thriller lovers!


----


Just a word of caution - Some language was harsh at times.... if you have a tender heart or get offended easily, tread lightly. It generally doesn't bug me if it goes with the story, and in this case, it did. There is also quite a bit of violence, so if this is not your thing, go on to the next book.


I on the other hand, enjoyed it very much! I like a good, thrilling. psychological read. If you're like me, you won't be disappointed in this one! 


(Another) Revamp!

Long time no see, readers! Here's a small update in the world of J.R. I was talking with another writing friend and we were trying to brainstorm some ideas on why I can't get my Troubled Heroes Series to sell. I've changed descriptions, prices, and covers several times. My friend was gracious enough to do some experimenting on her own, and she came up with 3 fantastic covers that I have changed those books over to. Here they are:




So my next concern was, how would I let people know that these books were about a firefighter? More brainstorming commenced, and we came up with a name change to the series. So, what was once known as The Troubled Heroes Series is now know as the Firefighter Heroes Trilogy.

I'm really loving these new covers - I'm trying hard to get eyes on this series and I'm hoping that they catch someone's eye. Again, special thanks to M.P. McDonald, fellow author and friend, for her ideas and wisdom on this!

As always, if you enjoyed one of my books, please spread the word! Word of mouth is one of the best promotional tools we can have! Happy reading!

J.R.

J.R.'s Books - Now Available For Nook and Apple!

It occurred to me this evening that I have not officially announced that my books are now available on Barnes & Noble and in the Apple store. About a week ago I took all of my books about of Kindle Select so I could make them more available for those who might not have a Kindle. So, here in this blog post you can find the links needed to get the books for your Nook or iPad!

I've had several ask why they weren't available before - I tried out KDP Select because of the ability to make my books free at any time, as well as allowing Kindle readers to "borrow" the books too. Well, I gave it a try - needless to say, it wasn't a successful marketing plan so I'm going to move on to trying something else and expanding the availability for other people.

To make a long story short, here are the links for those who are interested in purchasing them from Apple and Barnes & Noble, or for those who want to pass the word along to others! Word of mouth is the best way to help tell others about books you have enjoyed!













                                     Click Here for Dance With the Devil on Barnes & Noble


Happy Reading!






Murphy's War - Now Available!



Murphy's war went live last weekend, but here is an update for those who might have missed the announcement!

Sean Murphy knows all about the dark side of growing up in a violent Irish family deep into gang activity. What he doesn't know about is love, but he wants to learn when he meets Gracie. She's the light to his darkness, but how can he have her when violence threatens his every action? Can he risk dragging the only woman he ever cared for into the middle of his dangerous life? He longs to leave the gang, but his only option out is in a body bag. Will his love for Gracie trump his allegiance to his family? As an all out war with a rival Italian gang rages, he is thrust into the thick of the battle, unable to see an escape from the way of life he's come to loathe.


Available at these links:


Murphy's War Teaser



Murphy's War is in the final stages of being edited with a release date coming very soon! Here is a small preview of what is to come in the book! 

          "If the cops catch you, you know nothing."
          It was a common phrase heard in the Murphy household growing up. Uncles, cousins, siblings - they were all too aware of it and of course, what was implied within it. You know nothing, which translated to, "If you rat on anyone or what you were doing, you're in for a beating." It didn't matter that you were family. It didn't matter that you shared the Murphy last name with everyone else. It meant you were a rat, never to be trusted again. No chance of redeeming yourself. Pushed to the curb and dead to everyone. That was if you were lucky. So many before had been killed or disappeared, never to be found again. And this was with family. Hard to imagine what they were capable of doing to those who didn't share the same blood.
         
          Sean Murphy walked down the street, hugging his leather coat around his midsection. The package he was carrying wasn't obvious to just anyone, but the feel of the weight in his pocket made him all too aware that he was carrying something that could possibly put him in prison for life. Police presence in the city seemed to always pick up when he was on a job. Nodding toward one of the men in uniform, he continued at normal pace, so used to the situation that he could do it while sleep walking. He recognized their faces, just as he assumed they knew who he was. It was no mystery that he was part of the Irish gang in the neighborhood. They were like celebrities in the area, and unfortunately for Sean, a mark of notoriety that he wished he could scrub off in the shower. He didn't like the lifestyle. He wanted out. Until he found a way, he had to play along and continue working for his uncle. It was the only way to ensure that he stayed alive.
          After a few blocks, he ducked into a bar that the locals knew as Pat's. To him it meant unloading the pound of cocaine he had strapped on his body. Only a pound, but it was like a ton of bricks lifted off of his shoulders as he scooted it across the table in the back office, making direct eye contact with the man in the chair.
          "You Murphy's work quick. I just requested a pound this morning."
          Sean nodded, but didn't speak. He had learned in his thirty six years to say a lot with body language and leave the talking to the ones who died young.
          "Every time you come here, you hardly say two words. You a mute?"
          He shook his head and swallowed, glancing around at the other men who served as body guards. "No. Just nothing to say."
          "You know who I am, right?"
          Cyril Sullivan, a cousin to the Murphy's and one of the dealers hired on to distribute product. "Yes, I know who you are."
          "We're cousins, yet you act like I'm some stranger. Have a seat. We got some good Irish whiskey. Might as well enjoy some of this product you helped bring over."
          Sean sat down, looking at each of the men, hesitating. "I need to get back soon with the money. Jack will be waiting."
          "Jack Murphy, our notorious uncle. God bless that man. He can wait thirty damn minutes, yes? You're a trusted guy. You've been doing this since you were biting ankles. It's established you're not gonna run off with this stuff."
          Sean watched as one of the men poured the amber liquid in a tumbler next to him, sliding it to his reach. The last thing Sean wanted to do was get drunk with them, but it would tarnish his reputation even more if he bailed on an invite to sip down some of the alcohol. It was smooth - a normal drink among everyone and something he had developed a great tolerance to. A few drinks wouldn't hurt too much. Savoring the burn, he tapped the rim of the glass, requesting more.
          "How is it?" Cyril asked.
          "It's good."
          "Still a man of few words." Cyril laughed, downing his third glass full. "Picked it up in Ireland last time I was there." He threw a band of money on the desk. "Better get that back to Jack."

          Sean finished his drink and grabbed the money. "Pleasure doing business with you." Shoving through the door, he avoided all eye contact with the bar tenders and patrons. Looking down, he was caught off guard when he ran right into one of the cops he had seen before dropping off the package. His heart skipped a beat, but he tried to keep his face neutral. This wouldn't be his first run-in with them, nor his last.

Check my Facebook author page here for updates. I will post there first when it is available. You can also follow me on Twitter @JTateAuthor! Happy reading! 


Cover Revamp!

Today I took some time to revamp my Troubled Heroes Series covers. Through Smoke, Backfire, as well as the Trilogy box set all got a makeover, and here are the covers for you to take a look at!


 

 
 
 


 
 
The books were overdue for a facelift, so here they are! I hope you all like them, and as always, HAPPY READING!
 
Kindly,
J.R. 

 

Murphy's War Cover Reveal!

I am about 3/4 of the way through with my new book, Murphy's War! I don't have a book blurb on it yet, but here's a sneak peak of what it's about:

It is about an Irish American family in a big city (not specified, I'll let your imagination think up the city) who is involved in a family gang that has been active for many years. Sean Murphy is the main character who is struggling with his way of life and whether or not he wants to leave the gang and stray away from his family. There is a romance that blossoms between him and a non gang member by the name of Gracie Collins. I'm not going to say much else in fear of revealing too much, but it will be categorized in the Thriller/Romance genre.

And.... (drum roll)....

Here is the cover reveal for Murphy's War:

 
I am hoping to have the rough draft complete within a few weeks (depending on how productive I am in the coming days). The muse is really flowing with this one! Let me know what you think of the cover and happy reading!

Kindly,
J.R.

Ryan Shay's Story


If anyone has taken a gander at my author page recently, they probably have realized that Fight for Absolution is no longer there. Rest assured, it IS still available, just under a new name and has a new cover. In a previous blog post, I mention that the book is my red headed step child, that it has sort of been in the shadow of my Troubled Heroes Series , and that I want to get Ryan Shay's story out there and heard.

I was given some advice from a fellow writer friend who suggested that a more catchy cover might grab some attention. Also, Fight for Absolution was sort of a mouthful, and as I thought about it, I started to agree with her about it. So, after a revamp, what was previously known as Fight for Absolution is now going to be known as Reformed. It is the same exact book as before - this is just a marketing attempt to try to get it some exposure that it desperately is needing.

Here is the book blurb for those that aren't familiar with it -

Ryan Shay wants to forget his past.  Memories of an abusive childhood, betrayal from his family, and failure to trust anyone have held him captive his whole life. Afraid to confront his demons, it's a miracle he hasn't wound up a statistic in the war on drugs. Having no real purpose or reason to get better, he has failed several rehab stints and has always gone back to the one thing he finds comfort in - drugs and alcohol.  After being accused of stealing from a local dealer, suffering from an overdose, and learning he might have a son, Ryan finds a strong reason to break the chains of his addictive past and end the cycle of his shameful ways.  He is determined to become clean, despite the constant negativity sent his way from his friends and society.  His success is not only for himself, but for someone who desperately needs him.  What could be viewed as a careless mistake to many is possibly the one thing that might save Ryan Shay's life.

I have also posted a note on the book -

Forgiveness won't change the past - but can do a lot for a future. This book was an idea I have thought about for several years.  I am fascinated with the human mind, from addictions, to deep rooted psychology - it is a topic I'm always thinking about.  This story poured out and I wrote it faster than any book I've ever mused about. I was a bit worried about the subject matter at first, which is why it took me so long to actually give the idea a second thought, but now that it is published, I am thankful I did it. It became a journey far more exciting, emotional, and thrilling than I ever imagined it could be. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


I really hope changing it around isn't murder for the book, but really, the sales have been quite dismal on it since it's been published, so the few who have purchased it probably won't realize it anyway. I'm really hoping more people will get to know Ryan and his story - it's not a pleasant one, but his struggle might lend some inspiration to everyone out there.

Happy reading!

Kindly,
J.R.

Island of Misfit Ideas

Recently, I've been going through some book ideas that I have worked on in the past. I have a couple of books that I've started on and sadly, the idea, for whatever reason, has fallen flat. I had an apocalyptic story revolving around fierce storms that I was deep into back in 2012 that I just sort of stopped writing on. Actually, now that I think about it, I remember exactly why I stopped writing on that one.... That year was a year that seemed like whatever I wrote in the story seemed to come true in storm systems across my area. Coincidence? Oh, I'm almost sure of it, but it was still enough for me to get a little wigged out about it. That year on April 29th, a tornadic storm ripped through my neighborhood, tearing up my car and my house. (I live in an active tornado area, but it was enough to hit that close to home to make me shy away.) I think that was the final straw in putting that story on hold, and sadly, I never went back to it. Now, almost two years later, I've dusted off that old file and have done some looking around on it. If I do a thorough read through on it, I think maybe the muse could come back and maybe I could complete it. Of course, storm season is right around the corner and gearing up, so should I? Hmmm, yeah, why the heck not?? Apocalyptic stories seem to do pretty well.

The story is titled "The Roaring Silence" and here is the probable cover that I was thinking about using. Keep in mind that this is just the preview and not the purchased background that I would use, hence the watermark over the middle of it. The final picture will not have that:


Another book on my mind is the very first self published book I ever wrote called Modern Day Drifter. I took that book down due to it needing some mega re-writes. What can I say? It was my first book and I was so na├»ve going into it all. I had EVERY intention of making it available again and gosh, I want to say it's been well over four years since I took it down off of the Amazon website. It was basically a general romance about an ex convict who found his way to a small town and began working on a ranch. He becomes a rodeo prodigy and finds something he is great at. It doesn't have as complex of a plot as my Troubled Heroes Series does, but it was good for a quick, romantic read. Maybe this summer I can do those re-writes and get it back out there as well.

Long story short - I need to start producing more stories at a quicker pace. With two half written books sitting on my shelf, the potential to produce more than a book a year is there... I just have to get the muse back for both of them. With storm season rolling in soon, maybe The Roaring Silence can really take off and I can have that out soon. I need to stop letting things fall flat and buckle down and finish!

Fight for Absolution - My Red Headed Step Child

Click here to see this book in the Amazon store
 
I have decided to put Fight for Absolution free today. In the midst of Fire Escape, the third took in my Troubled Heroes Series going live, it seems that my books not included in this series have been somewhat neglected... I guess you could say that they have become the red headed step children in my library. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled at the fact that the launch of the third book in my Mikey series has done so well, but I need to give some TLC to my other babies as well.

For those who are not too familiar with the book, here is the description:

Ryan Shay wants to forget his past.  Memories of an abusive childhood, betrayal from his family, and failure to trust anyone have held him captive his whole life. Afraid to confront his demons, it's a miracle he hasn't wound up a statistic in the war on drugs. Having no real purpose or reason to get better, he has failed several rehab stints and has always gone back to the one thing he finds comfort in - drugs and alcohol.  After being accused of stealing from a local dealer, suffering from an overdose, and learning he might have a son, Ryan finds a strong reason to break the chains of his addictive past and end the cycle of his shameful ways.  He is determined to become clean, despite the constant negativity sent his way from his friends and society.  His success is not only for himself, but for someone who desperately needs him.  What could be viewed as a careless mistake to many is possibly the one thing that might save Ryan Shay's life.

I also have included a note from the author, and if you're interested, here is what I had to say about the process of writing this particular book and why I chose to do something so dark:

A note from J.R. -
-Reader discretion advised -- this book contains some graphic content.
Forgiveness won't change the past - but can do a lot for a future. This book was an idea I have thought about for several years.  I am fascinated with the human mind, from addictions, to deep rooted psychology - it is a topic I'm always thinking about.  This story poured out and I wrote it faster than any book I've ever mused about. I was a bit worried about the subject matter at first, which is why it took me so long to actually give the idea a second thought, but now that it is published, I am thankful I did it. It became a journey far more exciting, emotional, and thrilling than I ever imagined it could be. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
 
I hope that it doesn't scare readers away. In general, the book is quite dark at times, but sadly, is realistic to what many people go through in life. It isn't fantasy, it isn't something so far out there that it's unbelievable - people live with addictions and demons everyday, and I wanted to share Ryan Shay's story to those who were interested to give hope, faith, and a reason for others to try and take that huge step out to save their own lives.
 
Please help spread the word.... My Troubled Heroes Series is doing well and I would love for Fight for Absolution and Ryan's story to come out of the shadows and stand right along side Mikey and his story. I love both of these characters.
 
Happy reading! Spring is almost here!!!
 
Respectfully,
J.R.


Fitness Followup - One Month in to 2014!


As I sat down to write this blog today, I came to terms with myself that there are probably thousands of blogs geared toward weight loss, working out, and keeping inspiration going. It is now February 1st - a whole month has passed since about 90% of the population makes resolutions to eat right, work out, and stay on track. My question to you is, are you still sticking to your resolution? As stated, a month has progressed.... 4 weeks.... Take a second to think about what you told yourself at the turn of the new year.

That brings me to my next point -

"Dedication is doing what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has passed."

This means that you have to stick with working out like you told yourself on December 31st. The "I'm too tired" excuses need to be kicked out of the window. Some people choose to workout early before they go to work, others do it in the evenings and on weekends. I personally do it after work and hit it hard on the weekends.... Am I tired after I get home from work? YOU BET.

Personally, I don't ever set a New Year's Resolution. May 10, 2014 will be my year anniversary of working out regularly, and by regularly I mean 4-5 days a week for 30+ minutes. Of course I had a few off weeks in the mix, but I didn't let those set me back for my over all work out plan. Why do you need January 1st to make a lifestyle change? Hell, if we're going to get down to it, why even wait for a Monday? I hear so many people say "My diet starts Monday..." Why? Why not today? Why not now? There's no rule saying you have to start on a certain day.

There is an office competition going on at work that started after the new year. It is a "Biggest Loser" contest where participants weigh in every Thursday and the nutritionist in our office takes a percentage of total body weight loss. She tallies it up by that, and the top three will win a cash prize. I'm not taking part in the contest. Many have asked me why, seeing as I've developed an excellent workout routine I've been on since May. My answer is simply this - I do NOT believe in stepping on the scale. Before I get too far into why, let me just clarify a myth that I hear so many people saying.... Muscle does NOT weight more than fat - a pound is a pound whether it's feathers or bricks.... It is just a lot more dense and does not take up near as much space.... Which in turn means if you're working out, you're toning muscle and replacing fat cells. Some people's weight does not change, and in some cases, even goes up, yet it is quite obvious that they are not as "big" as they used to be. Don't even get me started on how much I disagree with the BMI chart.... that's a blog for another day! Long story short, it makes athletes look obese when it is quite obvious they're not even close to it!


Here is a good picture of the comparison, so I'll let you come to your own conclusions. Anyway, going back to the contest at work... I hear so many grumblings and disappointment on Thursday mornings after people weigh in. Some are discouraged by the fact that their weight hasn't changed or gone up. I ask them if they've been working out - most say yes. Hmm... call me crazy, but I think my hatred of the scale is justified - these people who haven't changed in weight (but have obviously lost some inches) claim they just want to give up. Why? We are 4 weeks into the contest.... It didn't take 4 weeks (in most cases) to gain the weight... why the heck would it only take 4 weeks to start losing inches?? If it were that easy, I wouldn't be sitting here today typing about people bailing on their weight loss and workout resolutions.... everyone would do it without breaking a sweat!

If you want a great way to track your progress, measure yourself. Do NOT get on the scale. Another good judge is how your clothes are fitting. Go by that. The scale does NOT define you or your progress.

Why go on this rant of the horrible scale you might have tucked somewhere in your bathroom? It stems back to new years resolutions and how people are so quick to give up. A lot of it can be blamed on people getting on that scale and not liking the number that pops up. Throw the damn thing away! I dread Thursday mornings when so many people get down on themselves. We are only 4 weeks in. I think maybe they should go by inches lost and not even worry about the scale.

I've made great progress on my workout journey. I'd state how many pounds are gone, but like I said, I won't step on the scale. It'll totally make the sky fall on me and I'm not going to do that to myself. All I know is this - when I first started, I couldn't run a complete mile. I would tell myself 30 minutes or 2 miles (with walking added in), whichever comes first.... Now I look down at my watch and am well over 2 miles when I hit the thirty minute mark.... and I don't stop there. I consider 2 miles a very short distance and most days, use it as a warm up before I pick the intensity up. If I could do it.... you can too!

One last thing before I go... and keep this in mind on days where you feel like a busted tube of biscuits -


Give it more than 12 weeks. A year from now you'll wish you started today! Back to the first sentence of this blog - I'm totally aware of how many blogs are out there pertaining to this - Do I care? Not that there's already a ton - I'll care more if this could reach at least one person and give them that boost.


New Release - Fire Escape - Book Three: Troubled Heroes Series


After taking much longer than I had anticipated, Fire Escape - Book Three: Troubled Heroes Series is now available! Here is the book blurb:


Saturday night when I was editing, it was perfect. Right when I went to the KDP website to begin uploading the manuscript, I received an email from a reader stating how much they loved the book (Through Smoke, Book one in this series) and how they understand how important character development is. I have been in a feedback drought lately, and was thrilled to hear from someone. She went on to state that she would be reading the sequel, Backfire. I just had to let her know that her timing was perfect, and that the third book would soon be available in literally a matter of hours.
I apologize for the delay in finishing - I have put reasons (excuses) toward the end of the book in a special note to all of you.
Happy reading! Stay warm out there - spring will (hopefully) be here soon! And as always, I'd love to hear from you all! Hate the book or love it, sending me a quick email, tweet, or comment on Facebook will help me improve!
Kindly,
J.R.