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    Back Forever

    The sequel to 'Bring Me Back', out now. “Poignant, bittersweet and satisfying, Back Forever sustains the plausible fantasy-to-reality charm of Bring Me Back.”-Manic Readers

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    Hiding in the Spotlight

    David got the chart topping success. His best friend got it all. “Hiding in the Spotlight is a fun, fast, and sexy read!”-Scandlicious Book Reviews

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    Bring Me Back

    Winner, Turquoise Morning Press Reader's Choice Award. "Fast-paced, sexy, and altogether irresistible. A flat-out fabulous read!"-NYTimes Bestselling Author Celia Rivenbark

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    Erotic Romance

    Published by Ellora's Cave.

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    Claire’s Diary

    The prequel to 'Bring Me Back'. Download the eBook for free!

johntaylor_0921Today’s RNRHS comes from Jennifer Gracen, romance author and all-around wonderful person. I first met Jen at the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York a few years ago, waiting in line with my critique partner, Karen Stivali, for the scariest thing an author can face–Pitch Slam. For those of you who don’t know about Pitch Slam, it’s a literary cattle drive involving long lines and a din of voices so loud you can’t remember the title of your own book, ending with you blurting out the fine details of the manuscript you’ve spent years perfecting for a leery and slightly bored literary agent. My fondest memories of that day involve a cowbell and copious sweating. Hanging out with Jen was an awesome distraction, as she’s friendly and easy to talk to. If only I hadn’t been so damned vague when I told her about the book I was pitching, which was Bring Me Back. I told her it was about a woman falling in love with the rock star she was obsessed with in high school. All true, but not particularly illuminating. I really should’ve specified that it was about an 80s, BRITISH rock star, and then gone on to explain that it was inspired by my own 80s teenage rock star crush, John Taylor. Then we would have discovered, in person, that we share one of the most powerful bonds two women can share–a mutual love of Duran Duran and of course, eternally hot JT. I’m sure there would have been much squealing.

Jennifer Gracen

Valley Stream South High School; Valley Stream, NY; Class of 1988, Currently: Mother, Writer, Copy Editor/Proofreader, & Social Media addict

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: Duran Duran. I could say “Nuff said” after that, but there are so many. I was OBSESSED with music in my teens (still am, really) but 80s New Wave/Pop music and culture was my life. So… anyone who played at Live Aid? I loved them. Especially if they were British.

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: My Duran Duran posters/records/pictures. I was a hardcore Duranie. John Taylor was my first consumingly huge crush. I’ve had a soft spot for bass players ever since. And JT is still hot as hell.

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: The hair metal bands. Sooo not my thing. There were a few songs that I liked, but I could count them on one hand. I was a New Wave/Pop princess.

Confession: I was a full-fledged Madonna wannabe for 2 months in 1984. Went to school dressed like her, the full nine. Ah, memories… *shudders and laughs*

Best show or concert you saw in high school: U2 at Madison Square Garden, 1987, Joshua Tree tour. Need I say anymore? It was close to a religious experience. Closely followed by Sting at Radio City Music Hall, 1985, the Blue Turtles tour. Power Station at Jones Beach, summer of ’85, was memorable too, for the teen girl screaming factor.

Optional bonus question: Best high school make-out song: Spandau Ballet, “True” OR Depeche Mode, “Stripped”. (I plead the 5th on both selections.)

WH CoverJennifer Gracen writes contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction. Her latest release is Winter Hopes, Book 2 in the Seasons of Love series. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere eBooks are sold. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books at jennifergracen.com.

 

My badge of honor will be a John Taylor button. Now to bedazzle him!

My badge of honor will be a John Taylor button. Now to bedazzle him!

With conference season in full-swing, I swear that every writer friend of mine has spent the last few months formulating pitches, cranking out synopses, and strategizing about which publishing house is best or which agent they think is the prettiest. They come home from a conference PUMPED, then they send out submissions and their inbox becomes their mortal enemy. Those of you playing at home can experience the misery, too. Just query a dozen agents and wait for the fun to begin. You’ll get a ride on a rickety roller coaster, the wooden kind that rocks from side to side and makes you regret that second corn dog like crazy. If you’re new at this, you get to go on the same ride, except you get to feel like you’re getting over the stomach flu. You need advice, you crave war stories. You want to know that there’s a teeny-tiny chance that this will be worthwhile.

The first novel I wrote is Bring Me Back. That book is and will always be my baby. It is Karen on a plate. I went through months and months of querying and submitting. I did my first in-person pitches with that book, which scared the crap out of me, even though it was so exciting to have an agent say to my FACE, “I’d like to see the full.” My final tally was 89 agent rejections, or non-answers, which are the worst–you always wonder if they ever got your submission in the first place. Note to agents: YOU WILL SAVE YOURSELF AND AUTHORS A LOT OF MISERY IF YOU USE AUTOREPLY. Thank you. I had an additional 5 publisher rejections and 1 acceptance, from Turquoise Morning Press, who went on to publish the book and its sequel, as well as (insert shameless plug here) my latest book, Hiding in the Spotlight.

Most authors have an awesome rejection story (which tells you what masochists we all are). A personalized rejection that said to you, “Oh my God. I’m on to something here.” Sure, it was a “no”, but it was an amazing “no” brimming with wonderful words about your writing. Followed by a “no”. I had two of those on Bring Me Back, the most memorable of which was from an agent who stayed up all night reading my book. She said she couldn’t put it down. It was by far her favorite slush-pile submission of the year, perfectly polished, with characters that stuck with her. BUT, she didn’t think she could sell it. It was too cross-genre, I was an unproven writer, and worst of all, Mercury was in retrograde. That was that.

I thanked her in the acknowledgments of my book, because even when I felt like quitting, that rejection told me to keep going.

167672_2735329581548_496512_nIt’s always awesome to have authors do a Rock ‘n’ Roll High School post on release day, but this one is doubly perfect since my guest is Lori Majewski and her book, Mad World, which was co-authored by Jonathan Bernstein, is a veritable smorgasbord of 80s music yumminess. Featuring a foreword penned by Nick Rhodes and an afterword by Moby, Mad World is an oral history that celebrates new wave through all-new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period, alongside a parade of vintage photographs. Mixtape suggestions and fashion sidebars help fill out the fun. Participants include: Duran Duran, New Order, Tears for Fears, Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, INXS, Simple Minds, Soft Cell, Yaz, A-ha, Berlin, Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, ABC, Echo and the Bunnymen, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Waitresses, and more!

Plus, in Mad World, you’ll learn about the near-death experience that inspired Gary Numan’s “Cars”, the classic novel and pop-star crush behind Spandau Ballet’s “True”, Morrissey’s belief that the other Smiths were embarrassed by his lyrics for “How Soon is Now?”…and much more! I can’t wait to read it!

Lori Majewski, co-author of Mad World: An Oral History of the New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s 

Weehawken High School, Weehawken, NJ, Class of ’89, Currently: Author/Journalist/Media Consultant

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds. It’s partly because of The Breakfast Club, obviously, but it’s also because the words are so melancholy.”Will you recognize me? Call my name or walk on by?” You spend four years in tight quarters with the same people and then you all head off in different directions. Graduation was difficult for me — I’d gone to school with many of the same kids since Kindergarten. But there were a few I’d certainly outgrown as well. Oh, teenage angst!

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: A piece of Simon Le Bon’s t-shirt. At the end of one of Duran Duran’s Madison Square Garden concerts — June 23, 1987! — he tossed it into the crowd and a pack of wolves — I mean, a bunch of us teenagers — ripped it to shreds so we could each take home a momento. I kept it in a plastic baggie to preserve his sweat.

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: Bon Jovi. It was New Jersey, and they were MEGA. I knew a few Duranies who were suddenly all about Bon Jovi, and I was like, “Gross!” And if you look at their mid-80s photos now, they WERE gross. Whereas, you look at the Durans’ 80s photos now and they were BEAUTIFUL. But if we’re talking about music, Bon Jovi were okay. I just would never have admitted it back then.

Teenage Lori and Nick Rhodes!

Best show or concert you saw in high school: Duran Duran at the Beacon Theater, NYC, on Aug. 31, 1987, and Depeche Mode at the Meadowlands, then called the Brendan Byrne Arena, June 1, 1988. At Duran, I was fifth row, JT’s side; Lou Reed and Nile Rodgers joined them onstage for the encore; and, earlier in the day, I talked to Nick Rhodes and Simon LeBon for the first time. At Depeche, I had front row, it was Alan Wilder’s birthday, and it was close to a religious experience.

Best high school make-out song: “If You Leave” by OMD. I’d like to say that I’d made out to it, like Andie and Blaine did, but I can’t say for sure!

A veteran magazine editor and writer, Lori Majewski was a cofounder and editor in chief of Teen People, and an executive editor of Entertainment Weekly and Us Weekly. She is co-author of Mad World: An Oral History of the New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s. It’s out TODAY! Buy it now!

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