In the Red with Selah Janel: Happy Endings

I have the unique opportunity to be the first stop on the 2nd leg of the “In the Red” blog tour with Selah Janel.  Let me start off by saying that not only is Selah one of my best friends but she’s also a fantastic writer with more creative ideas in her little toe than in my entire leg.  Well.. at least to the knee.  On today’s stop, she’ll be telling us about writing the perfect ending.  And I can tell you, kittens, In the Red has one of the best endings I’ve ever read…..

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Endings are funny things. Just when you think you’ve got everything wrapped up, just when you think you have a fabulous, punch-in-the-stomach ending that will have everyone on the edge of their seats and talking…things change.

I’ve kept mostly mum about the second half of In the Red on purpose. I don’t want to give everything away, after all! It’s more than that, though. In some ways the second half of the book is also based around a postscript to the fairy tale The Red Shoes, depending on the version you read. Like the first half, it definitely is more urban fantasy in style and takes it’s time. It’s the part of the book where I really began to realize just how much I liked my character Jeremiah Kensington, and just how much I could relate to him in some ways.

Ever since the plot was a short story, it was my instinct and intention to end it at the height of the action, where the first part of the book ends. I was all for it up until my first round of edits…and I just couldn’t do it. I’m not sure how it exactly happened, but I suddenly, instinctively knew that there was much more to Jeremiah, and much more to the story.

This was a very hard and very long section to write. Not only did I keep thinking up ideas, but they kept shifting, and it took a long while for me to make sense of everything. It also required a lot of research into places I was unfamiliar with. I think people forget that it isn’t just about the research – you still have to find a way to make sense of it all, relate it to your plot and characters, and make it make sense for the situation…otherwise it’s just showing off how many facts you’ve been able to find out. You have to relate it in a way that accents the story instead of overshadows it. Thankfully, I was able to tap into the more emotional side of things, because I also had an unholy fear of getting something wrong or out of context. Most of the time my life became a mix of work and writing, and even when I was away from my computer I was going over everything in my head repeatedly, trying to get things to make sense.

Jeremiah comes to grip with a lot in the second half of the book. Not only does he have to realize that his life is changed forever, but there are some very serious consequences to making a deal that seems too easy, especially when it’s with a dark force. He has to face up to his addictions, his desperate need for fame, and his use of the red boots as a crutch – a crutch that has dire consequences that he only realizes way too late in the game. It’s interesting to me that sometimes when we realize something is bad for us, we still depend on it. We still want it. We still long for it, and lash out at those that have our best interests at heart. I’ve done it at certain hard points in my life, and revisiting my own behavior and reactions was not an easy process, though I’d like to think that it made Jeremiah’s actions a little more believable. He starts out as a selfish person, he’s enabled to become an extremely selfish person, and now he suddenly has to decide whether he’s going to break or try to move forward.

It’s a hard fact of life that sometimes you’re dropped to your knees. Sometimes you have to face the music, so to speak, or at least deal with repercussions to actions you never thought would lead to any bad results. Sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it’s something stupid, but sometimes, sometimes you have to take a deep breath and realize that you’ve had moments where you’ve acted truly horrible. Jeremiah definitely has to deal with that, and at the same time he has to figure out what exactly is his reality, and what isn’t…or are all the strange things he’s seeing really withdrawal or is there more to his business deal than meets the eye? He has to learn that not everybody is going to like him or even want to understand him, but there are people who are in his corner, though they aren’t the people he initially wants there. He also has to learn that there are things that are harder to face than “evil” or “darkness.” At the end of the day, even if a person survives those encounters, they’ve still got to look in the mirror and decide how they feel about what they see there.

I also had a really tough decision to make with the ending…how much did I wrap up? Should I give it a clean, button-type epilogue that ties everything up in a nice and tidy bow? Do I answer every single question that people have? Do I make sure to overly explain it all so there’s no doubt as to what’s going on?

I did think long and hard about that one. I even asked some friends and people who just plain liked to read what their feelings were. Interestingly, their opinions were very similar to mine. There is no neat ending to a situation like this. There’s no reason to have a tidy little vignette where we see how everyone ends up and where they are in ten years or more. Life isn’t like that, and with everything Jeremiah goes through in the book, I couldn’t honestly say that life would be easy for him even a year down the line. People don’t have “they lived happily ever afters.” That’s unrealistic, and honestly I find it insulting to the readers. People do their best. They move forward. They stumble. They get stuck. They get out again. Sure, I have an idea of where Jeremiah ends up, but I didn’t feel that it was necessary to give that away. Instead, I wanted to leave it hopefully vague, in the spirit of the fairy tale that inspired me. I want people to have some sort of idea of where things are going, but do they honestly need to know the definitive ending? Do they need to know if he continues on the same path, makes a lot of money, or falters, regrets his decisions, or any of the rest of it? In this case, no. At the end point of the book, even Jeremiah isn’t looking that far ahead, so I think it’s unreasonable for everyone else to try to. Instead, I hope that people appreciate his journey, his battles, and his growth and become of fond of him as I have.

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Alright, here’s the deal– Selah’s giving away a pdf copy of In the Red.  If you want to enter, just comment on this post with a question for Selah… and don’t forget an email addy so you can get your prize!  If you aren’t comfy with putting your email on the post, just find me on Facebook (Alexandra Christian) and drop me a message!  Coming up later this week– MY review of In the Red and a new trailer for the book…

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Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.

 She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story ‘Mooner’ and the contemporary short ‘The Other Man’. Her work has also been included in ‘The MacGuffin’, ‘The Realm Beyond’, ‘Stories for Children Magazine’, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology ‘Bedtime Stories for Girls’. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

More about In the Red:

Live like a rock star. Dance ‘til you die. Are you in?

What kind of a rock star lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere and plays at weddings and funerals? That’s what Jeremiah Kensington is thinking after an unsuccessful bar gig one night. Then Jack Scratch comes into his life, ready to represent him and launch him to stardom. Jack can give him everything: a new band, a new name, a new life, a new look, and new boots…although they aren’t exactly new. They once belonged to The One, a rocker so legendary and so mysterious that it’s urban legend that he used black magic to gain success. But what does Jeremiah care about urban legend? And it’s probably just coincidence that the shoes make him dance better than anyone, even if it doesn’t always feel like he’s controlling his movements. It’s no big deal that he plunges into a world of excess and decadence as soon as he puts the shoes on his feet, right?

But what happens when they refuse to come off?

You can harass Selah around the web at these locales:

Bloghttp://www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

Fandom Scene Columnhttp://www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel

Facebook Author Pagehttp://www.facebook.com/authorSJ

Facebook Book Pagehttp://www.facebook.com/intherednovel

Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5622096.Selah_Janel

Amazon Author Pagehttp://www.amazon.com/Selah-Janel/e/B0074DKC9K/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1346815995&sr=1-2-ent

Twitterhttp://www.twitter.com/SelahJanel

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Wicked Little Wednesday #2: Selah Janel

Welcome to another edition of Wicked Little Wednesday!  This week, I’m spotlighting a really great friend and talented writer, Selah Janel.  I’ve known Selah for quite some time– from my old days of writing fan fiction even!  She’s always been talented, hilarious and fabulously twisted!  This month, she released her first book with No Boundaries Press, “Mooner.”  Its a period piece with lumberjacks and vampires– two of my favorite things.  So give her a warm welcome, some comments—- and then go buy her book!!

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Blurb:

Like many young men at the end of the 1800s Bill has signed on to work in a logging camp to earn a fast paycheck to start his life. Unfortunately his role model is Big John, the camp’s golden boy known for blowing his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and the lives of so many. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows, something that badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door or does someone have their own plans for his future?

Excerpt:

For a moment, Bill thought he was imagining things or was having a particularly bad reaction to the rot gut. Blinking a few times refocused his tired gaze and proved there was, indeed, a moving pile of…something at a table close to the other end of the bar.

Nancy shuffled back towards the bar, casting a wary look over her shoulder. “Red, he’s back,” she breathed as she scooped up another tray and fled to the other side of the room. Upon closer inspection, the youth realized it wasn’t a pile of something, but a figure draped in a patchwork of skins then cloaked with half-torn, moldy furs. Most who passed his way quickly avoided him, though whether it was because of his odd looks or his smell, it was hard to say.

Red hissed through his teeth and ran a sweating hand through his thick mane. “Tom Haskins,” he mumbled under his breath for the benefit of those crowded round him.

“I thought he lived on the edge of town,” Jack replied as he glared down the length of the bar.

“He tried to start a dry goods store, and it didn’t go over too well. He had it in his mind he could make up his loss with fur, though he ain’t no trapper. He moved out to the woods weeks ago and comes into town every so often to hang round and get his fix. Just when I think he’s finally died out there, he comes round again.” Not once did the saloon proprietor take his eyes off the body hunched over a table. Every breath made Tom’s ragtag cloak shudder, and every moldy hair on him quivered.

“You want me to kick him out?” Jack offered, already shifting his weight across the room.

“Nah, let him warm up at least. He doesn’t do much; just pesters everyone for drink now that he can’t afford it for himself. Give him time, and he’ll be up to his tricks.”

Bill couldn’t stop looking away. The pile of sloughed animals slumped as the man’s head rose. His skin was a cold grey and stretched taught across his face and hands. His hair had all but fallen out, but what was still left of it hung in clumps of long, ragtag strands that were paler than dried straw. His thin-lipped mouth was open and he sucked in air in painful, erratic pants.

“Look at ‘im! Actin’ like a piglet pulled away from its ma’s teat!” Big John sneered. “I bet his clothes are fulla maggots!”

“It’s too cold for maggots,” Ben snorted. “His clothes are thin. Wonder how the hell he stands bein’ out in the woods in weather like this.” “We do it,” Bill muttered. The recluse’s head jerked at the sound of his voice; the young man immediately snapped his mouth shut.

“Yeah, but we’re used to it! And younger’n he ever was!” John’s voice was purposefully loud and carried the haughty tone that won him admiration from the other loggers. “He’s durn crazy, that’s why he don’t notice.” He cocked his head Tom’s way with a sneer. “All that time on your own turn you yaps, man?”

Tom’s head very slowly shifted towards them, and Bill shuddered. There were days he’d survived the logging camp and the extreme conditions by will power and prayer alone, all the while wondering in the back of his head what it would be like if he didn’t have even that. Looking at the vagrant, he knew.

Ben was cursing behind them. “I saw him not more than a month ago and he didn’t look like that. Solitary life don’t turn a man in that short a’ time! Maybe he’s got rabies or fever n’ ague.”

Tom’s eyes sat so far back in his skull, it was impossible to tell what color they were, though they harbored a steady, unsettling gleam. They roved over the huddled group, searching hungrily for an easy mark. Bill’s heart plummeted to his boots when the hollow glitter locked onto him. He was suddenly as cold as he was when a seventh-year blizzard hit. All the frustrations and hell he’d endured since joining the logging team, all his good intentions and reasons, all he was trying to move forward to, swelled and jumbled together in a brief, howling wind of thought. The two distant stars in Tom’s eyes were the only thing that pegged him as a stable man in his otherwise rotting and dozy appearance.

All around the little group, the saloon’s weekend life went on. The distant sound of swearing and dice clattering across the floor mixed with discordant harmonies and a half-hearted mouth organ. But in the area by the bar, all was muffled and still. It was like the snows had come without warning over the forest, smothering everything in their path with chilled silence. Bill shuddered, and out of the corner of his eye, noticed Red do the same.

“You want I should knock his ears down, Red?” John’s bravado was the sudden yell that knocked the snow from the treetops, for better or ill. He had the relaxed look of a man who’d been in his cup just enough to throw caution to the wind. “I’ll toss him out and give ‘im a pat on the lip he won’t forget!”

“Leave be, John,” the barkeep muttered. His hand never stopped wiping down the bar. Though his head was tilted down towards his task, his eyes were set on their target across the room.

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that that thing, that man, had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy, and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.

“Pardon?”

“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word. Otherwise, it was hard to even say how he’d made it into the saloon; he looked more than a little dim.

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So there you have it… more talent than you can shake a stick at.  Now here’s the links to buy and contact Selah:

No Boundaries Press – http://noboundariespressstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=19&products_id=16

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Mooner-ebook/dp/B007144ZZO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1328404648&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mooner-selah-janel/1108368128

Bookstrand – http://www.bookstrand.com/mooner

All Romance ebooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-mooner-673945-241.html

www.facebook.com/authorSJ

www.twitter.com/selahjanel

www.selahjanel.wordpress.com

www.fandomfestblog.com/blogs/selah-janel