Dear Cindy

Today I contacted the local newspaper about a press release announcing my novel. The email exchange progressed like this:

Dear Ms. Ames,
I’m a local author. Included is a press release announcing the publication of my new novel. Thank you!
— Sara R. Jones

*
Dear Sara,
Do you have any book signings scheduled for the near future that we could include in the article?
— Cynthia G. Ames, editor

*
Dear Cynthia,
I have one scheduled:

Book Signing
Friday, December 4
Patrick Henry College, Barbara Hodel Center
Purcellville, Virginia
5:30-7:00 pm

There will be others, but they aren’t yet confirmed.
— Sara.

*
Dear Sara,
That’s fine! I’ll put you on the list to call you and set up a time to talk to you and get some pictures.
— Cindy

*
Dear Cindy,
Sounds great! Your new BFF,
— Sara.

*
Okay, no, I didn’t actually say that last part. But we did go from formal titles to casual nicknames within five emails. If we’d kept going, I might have been invited to the family Christmas dinner and possibly asked to be in her daughter’s wedding.

As mentioned, I am signing books tomorrow. Follow me on Facebook (Sara Roberts Jones Author) to keep up to date.

(Note: actual names and actual emails altered. Consider this a fictionalized version. It’s what I do.)

Launch Day!

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It’s November 13!

Launch Day!

Free-Book-Giveaway Day!

Probably-Get-a-Chocolate-Martini Day!

(I mean, I’ll get the martini. You can get the drink of your choice. We’ll toast each other.)

The Fellowship is officially available in print and Kindle format. Click on over to get your copy.

Already bought one? Leave me a review!

Want to know who won the free-book-giveaway?

I bet you do.

Well, one of you does.

The rest of you can stick around for more chances to win more books and/or other cool stuff. Because, you know, I do cool stuff. Even though I, like Bekah, am actually kind of a dork because I don’t know half of the pop culture references you make.

Anyway, the one person who really, really wants to know the winner of this giveaway is…

Gretchen! (despite the fact that she said my modest swimsuit was “star-spangled spanks”).

(Gretchen, I’ll also tag you on my author page)

I’m pretty happy to be giving a copy to her, actually. Not only is she a local friend, but she and I grew up in the same “Fellowship” culture. We didn’t meet one another until Facebook dawned and hundreds of us were able to compare notes and discover just how warped our shared culture was.

(If you’re curious about exactly what my personal story is, I’ll be posting that in the next few days. Meanwhile, read the novel so you know what I’m talking about. Ha! That was subtle.)

Thanks for hanging around. I love to hear from you, so feel free to comment or email.

Now, if you don’t mind, this published author has a chocolate martini waiting.

*****

Order your copy of The Fellowshipnow available.

Q&A

Cover - FlowersWith the official launch of my novel this Friday, I was glad to (pretend) to sit down to an (imaginary) interview with the good folks at SuperExcellent Book Interviews. SEBI is, of course, a totally fake entity; the link takes you to my Amazon page.

I wrote the interview and answered my own questions.

Seriously? Who even does that?

*glances over both shoulders* Um, me, apparently.

*****

We at SuperExcellent Book Interviews were super excited to have Sara Roberts Jones join us for a little chat about her novel, The Fellowship.

Q: Sara, your book will be released on Kindle this Friday, November 13. I understand it’s already available in print?
A: Yes. Thanks to the Amazon gods whose ways are very mysterious.

Q: Are you planning anything special for this week, in honor of the officially “all the way released” day?
A: Yes! I’ll be drawing names for a free book on Friday. Anyone who won my giveaways or commented on my swimsuit picture is eligible for the drawing. Meaning there’s still time to get your name in, if you click on the link and comment. Go on, it opens in another window so you can go ahead and do it and not even lose your place here.

Q: And is that the end of your fun posts-with-prizes?
A: Funny you should ask that! No, in fact, I’m lining up at least two more giveaways of pretty spectacular items, in time for Christmas shopping. For a glimpse of what they’ll involve, check out Red Pen Travel Notebooks and J.A.’s letter art.

Q: You’ve gotten some feedback from your first readers, with comments like,

“I identified with the main character in ways I can’t express.”

“The protagonists aren’t all good, and the villains aren’t all bad… There’s a surprising amount of humor throughout, subtle and otherwise.”

“I seriously took the morning off work to finish this book.”

“This book changed my life. I don’t even need a Bible anymore. My only regret is that I didn’t meet a brown-eyed country boy earlier in life.”

Q: Wait, are you sure these are all authentic reviews?
A: Well, most of them are.

Q: Although initial reactions to your novel have been favorable, some readers say that the work is triggering and difficult to read. Would you say that’s accurate?
A: Well, sure, it’s story of a young woman who lets herself be manipulated by her “authorities.” She submits to a system that says she’s flawed just because of who she is. It’s also the story of a young woman whose passion to help others and find God ends up inspiring a huge, shattering reaction in her church.

There’s no way to tell that story in a chick-lit pink kind of way. So yes, it’s frustrating and has a few disturbing moments. But a community like the Fellowship isn’t all bad. If you hesitate to get into the story, worried that it’s going to engulf you in despair and ugliness… it won’t. There’s laughter and warmth threaded throughout the story, and vindication in the end.

Q: Why is this novel timely for the Christian community?
A: There have always been, and always will be, authoritarian leaders who use and abuse their followers. But they always look so good on the outside. Many Christians admire these leaders, thinking that what they say is very solid and Biblical. But they just don’t know what really lurks behind that crisp, clean exterior.

The dark underbelly came painfully to light just this year on a national scale with the Duggar family scandals. This family (involved in the same cult I was in) believe in a heavily authoritarian, restrictive lifestyle. Their actions indicate that they believe it’s more important to protect the family name (and fortune) than to speak up for victims. We all know now that Josh Duggar cheated on his wife with random women, but Anna Duggar apparently has no plans to divorce him or leave the family. She can’t — women in systems like these have no real choice. No matter how much they smile.

My novel explores a world like that, sympathetically portraying the people who are trapped in that mindset. I really don’t think it could launch at a more fitting time.

Q: Would you say any scenes are inappropriate?
A: Sure, like entire passages of really sordid theology and injustice. Otherwise, nothing a reasonable adult would find uncomfortable.

Q: Who is your favorite Avenger?
A: Captain America. Hang on, what does that have to do with anything?
Q: Nothing. I just figured you’d enjoy thinking about Captain America.
A: I do, thanks.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about your novel before we close?
A: Go buy my book.
Q: Besides that.
A: It launches November 13.
Q: We’ve already said that, too.
A: There’s a shirtless guy on page 319.
Q: Yes, that’s definitely worth mentioning. Well, it’s time to wrap this up. Thank you for joining us and discussing your novel!
A: You’re so welcome. It’s like this whole interview was tailored for me.

*****

Click here to order (print version) or pre-order (Kindle version) of The Fellowship

The Inner Dialogue of an Indie Author

Me: There are errors in the novel.

InnerMe: Errors? Like what? You accidentally killed off somebody in Chapter 16? “Everything came to a screeching halt when, the next morning, Bekah woke up dead…”

Me: Aren’t you funny. No, the story’s solid. I mean formatting errors. And some typos.

InnerMe: You knew that would happen.

Me: But that doesn’t mean I wanted it to.

InnerMe: And you’re going to get them corrected.

Me: But there will still be copies floating around with errors!

InnerMe: But your whole story is about how you don’t have to be perfect!

Me: Well, yeah, but I’m not selling these copies to God. People are notoriously lax when it comes to extending grace toward novels.

InnerMe: Ahem. Like… you?

Me: What?

InnerMe: Let’s discuss the books you’ve verbally shredded over the years because they didn’t meet your exalted standards…

Me: Let’s don’t.

InnerMe: Twiiiiliiiight….

Me: Shut up! I said my story is solid! Twilight has some serious plot problems, like…

InnerMe: Forget I mentioned it. Please. All I’m saying is that you might be dreading a taste of your own medicine.

Me: That’s a cliche.

InnerMe: If the shoe fits…

Me: I can’t believe my inner voice speaks in cliches!

InnerMe: Seriously, are you just going to sit around stewing about some errors that you’re going to fix but can’t right at this moment?

Me: Well… I could stew about the fact that the house is a wreck too.

InnerMe: The house is always messy.

Me: I know, and I’m fine with that in general. But it’s reached a unacceptable level of messy.

InnerMe: We can fix that! Right now!

Me: Yes! You are totally right! CONQUER THE MESS!

InnerMe: And… sorry about the cliches.

Me: It’s okay. It’s the thought that counts. Oh my gosh, did I just…

InnerMe: Grab a scrubby. We really need to get to work.

Revealing (the) Outfit

My title made me laugh.

The pictures I posted in my previous post are — as many of you knew or guessed — a “modest” swimsuit. I suppose it would also work for an acrobat, Krisa. Tara, I would be delighted to get one for you for a hot anniversary celebration, if you want.

It’s very lightweight, and there are leg-loops and a bottom snap to keep the skirt from flying up. In more subdued colors, it might not even be such an assault on the eye. True, that is a knee-length skirt going on there, which just isn’t safe; but the swimsuit is pretty well-designed for its purpose.

It’s the purpose that I object to. I’m just fine with the fact that women have certain features that particularly appeal to men’s sexual appetites, and it’s a mark of respect to herself to cover them up for the general public. What I don’t like is the idea that a woman must obliterate the shape of her own body, or else she tempts men to lust and therefore sins.

But that’s everyday life for Bekah and her friends in the Fellowship. Their swimwear covers their bodies from neck to knees… but they still swim in a separate area from where the boys swim. You can’t be too careful.

Inspiring lust isn’t something that Bekah herself worries about much; she doesn’t see herself as especially beautiful. But her friend Meghan has all the right curves no matter how modestly she dresses. And as the story unfolds… that proves to be a real problem.

All of you who commented are entered into a drawing for the novel once it’s launched — congratulations!

Her Clothing is Spandex and Old Glory

The post title is taken from Proverbs 31:22. It’s the Modern American Version.

I was recently given this outfit by a friend who snickered a lot as I opened the box. I squeezed into the star-spangled suit — I think I need a size up — and we beheld my modest self with wonder.

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It would be much admired in the Fellowship, especially if a woman is a high enough level of virtuous womanhood to make it herself. Note how it smooths out most of those pesky female curves that are such a trial to men.

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But a woman can never be too guarded against immodesty. It lurks under every hem.

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Do you know what the outfit is?

Comment below (whether you know or not) and be entered into a drawing for a free copy of The Fellowship, which actually mentions one of these in passing.

Answers, in Novel Form

Why would you read this book?

Well, besides the fact that it’s a good story, it’s got realistic characters, and some pretty funny lines (if I may say so myself)?

Right, besides that. The novel isn’t just entertainment, nor is it revenge for the hurts of my past. I wrote it to answer some of the questions that all of us from this background encounter all too often.

It was already in the final stages of editing when Josh Duggar from “19 Kids and Counting” turned up as having serious sexual issues underneath the respectable clothes and boyish face. Those of us who knew how he grew up weren’t really surprised, but a lot of others were. And we started hearing those questions from a much wider audience.

They run along these lines:

  • Why do people get involved in cults?
  • Why do people stay once they realize something is wrong?
  • What’s wrong with a woman wanting to be “just” a wife and mother? Look at [fill in blank of wife of patriarchal figure]. She’s obviously happy!
  • Why won’t a woman in a system like that leave her cheating or abusive husband?
  • Why can’t they move on from the spiritual abuse? Can’t they “eat the meat and spit out the bones”? Why do they always try to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

The Fellowship attempts to answer these questions. The story shows the effect that an authoritarian culture has on its members — and how the system is designed to protect itself at the expense of anything (or anyone) else.

Of course, one novel can’t fully answer all these questions. My own experience is far too limited to do them justice. I chose to illuminate what it’s like to be part of an almost-normal cult. No dark rituals or demonic encounters. Just your basic selfish, abusive humans. Just an angry, distant deity ready to punish you if you step out of line.

So if you’ve ever asked any of those questions, or ever tried to answer them… well, there you go. That’s why you’d read this book.

And there are some good lines in it, too.

******

The Fellowship will be released on November 13. Click on the title to preorder your copy!

Coming Soon: The Fellowship

This past Friday, I lived and breathed one thought: Is that the UPS guy with my book?

It wasn’t, about 976 times throughout the day. But finally, on the 977th glance out the window, I saw the truck.

I restrained myself from tossing rose petals at the guy as he lugged my boxes into my house.

After three years of staring at a screen, I finally got to hold my novel in my hands

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For the record, self-publishing is not an easy way out. I’ve had to do everything from writing the book, to paying for an editor, to coming up with the cover art concept, to arranging the interior formatting, to writing the back blurb. Over and over, I’ve done the emotional equivalent of flinging myself over the edge and hoping I was right about the soft landing at the bottom.

But I am pleased with the end result. It’s not flawless, but it will let me hand over my story to the world.

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The Fellowship will be officially launched on November 13.

It will be available on ebook through Amazon, Nook, and a host of other sites that I’m still reading up on. Amazon also offers Print-On-Demand, allowing you to buy a physical copy which they will print, bind, and ship to you. (For anyone who ever looked at self-publishing in the 80s and 90s, when you had to order a run of 500 books or else, you know that this is practically magic.)

Meanwhile, I have copies on hand. I can autograph these, or inscribe them with something snarky or something inspirational. (I’m better at snarky.) I’m saving some for local book parties, but I’ll be giving interested readers chances at some copies. It’ll be fun! For me, at least.

53 days until launch, when you can step into the Fellowship — a community where nobody knows who Paul McCartney is, but can sing all nineteen verses of “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” from memory; where nobody swears, except by referencing obscure Bible verses; and where everybody knows all the right answers — even if they’re actually wrong.

And you’ll meet Bekah, whose courage, integrity, and… well, obstinacy… and okay, a tendency to take dramatic stands… turns the church upside down.

It’s a good story. I can’t wait to share it with you.