Hooked on Guest Blogging

Stop on by JUNE 10 at: https://vickibatman.blogspot.com/2021/06/handbag-and-book-guest-author-janina.html
Remember, the link won’t be live ’til June 10!
Thank you, Vicki, for allowing me to Guest Blog in promotion of my latest release, LOVE IN THE FOREST!

I had always wondered what the appeal of guest blogging was. I didn’t understand it. It intimidated me. But then I read a few in support of fellow authors and thought that it would be fun. But I never saw an opportunity to guest blog.

And then I joined a promotion page and mailing list for romance authors. And here I am.

Handbags, Books, and Whatever is my third attempt at guest blogging. Well, fourth if you count two years ago when I blogged for my publisher Soul Mate Publishing.

It can be addicting. The authors who offer these opportunities provide questions or guidelines, then let you do your thing. They can be informative, and they provide a glimpse of who Janina Grey is behind the scenes.

If you haven’t seen the previous blogs I’ve done, check them out at:

CD Hersh gave me the April 7 spot, where I shared a recipe for a meal mentioned in TEN BUCKS AND A WISH.

Then, the Eclectic Writer featured me on April 30 and May 1 as I promoted the upcoming (and now) release of LOVE IN THE FOREST.

I’m currently securing two more Guest Blog dates, one in July and one in August. I’m excited to see what the focus is and how they present. So stay tuned for more of that.

In the meantime, please check out Vicki Bateman’s Blog, Handbags, Books, and Whatever. She has a quirky, fun energy and I think you will enjoy what she has to offer.

Happy Reading, everyone!

Janina

My Wild Week

I’m at a loss for adjectives to describe this past week. So many great things happened on so many levels. And the best part about it all was that the greatness is continuing.

My second romance novel with Soul Mate Publishing, LOVE IN THE FOREST, was released on June 2.

To celebrate, we offered my first novel, TEN BUCKS AND A WISH, for free on amazon.com. That jumped it’s rank up from being in the millions to making it to #209 as of this morning. WOW!!!! To think that many people were interested enough in downloading it just blows my mind. THANK YOU, Debbie Gilbert, for being an amazing Publisher and mentor.

It was fun checking the rankings throughout the week as they change hourly it seemed. And just went I thought the ride was over and sales would start dipping again, I’d make a new “high” rank and it would blow my mind all over again.

I don’t get paid for those downloads in $$$’s. The payment comes at this time in knowing MY WORK, MY CHARACTERS, MY STORIES are finally being shared by people I may never meet.

I shared posts through Facebook writing groups I belong to that connect me to readers and other writers. I sent a plea out to my fellow writers of CNYRW asking them to share the news of my new release. Their response was overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve been a member of CNYRW since 2004 or 2005 I think, with a short break when Life pulled me in other directions. But the support and knowledge I receive from these amazing authors is what keeps me going, even when they do not realize it.

Which brings me to another great experience that happened this past week.

Saturday, I sat in on an online workshop hosted by CNYRW, Growth Hacking a Best Seller with Liz Pelletier (Publisher of Entangled Publishing. I believe I felt a shift in my mindset, bringing me from a writer who is happy with writing to a writer who loves writing and wants more than just being happy with writing.

Then on Sunday, I sat in on a lecture by my new friend and fellow WitchLit author, Laura Parry, Deathwalking: Psychopomp Work in the Modern World. My current book, LOVE IN THE FOREST, features a character who has been nicknamed DeathWalker because she communicates with the dead. I never knew there was an actual “thing” called deathwalking. I thought I’d made it up. So thanks, Laura, for that very educational workshop.

Jumping back to the start of the weekend… we had an impromptu fire with a couple of friends we called last minute. Friday night marked the first fire of this year we’ve shared with friends. It felt good to hang out under the stars and just BE, without any major worries about possibly infecting and/or killing one another accidentally.

Finally, last but not least and saving the best for my grand finale… I got to see my kids and my grand furbaby MISO. For the first time. All together. And we hugged. A LOT. We decided to start up a D&D adventure, as all of us were enjoying the game in other parts of our life. During COVID those games fell a part, so we thought, why not? it gives us a common thread and reason to come together, and fills a gap left with the absence of our other games. It’s easier for me to have family members in the house, all of whom are vaccinated, and we are keeping it under Ten as per the COVID guidelines.

OUR FIRST D&D SESSION IN PERSON and the first time I’ve gotten to see my kids together SINCE LAST SUMMER. L-R, David, our amazing DM, Anthony, Jolene, James, Brett, Allie, and THE MIGHTY MISO MY AMAZING GRANDFUR BABY at Allie’s Feet.

So, last week was fill with abundance and gratitude on so many levels.

David and I repeatedly state how blessed we are with our lives, and how blessed we are for all the people we share this journey with, whether in person or virtually.

Thank you, everyone, for making my life so magically wonderful on so many levels.

Janina

TEN BUCKS AND A WISH

Free Download ’til Sunday June 6

My publisher, Deborah Gilbert- Soul Mate Publishing- made TEN BUCKS AND A WISH a free download from June 4 to June 6.

I promoted it everywhere I could. At one point, Facebook threatened me because they said I was in possible violation of their Spam Rules.

But the work paid off. TEN BUCKS AND A WISH shot from 1,685,414 to 12,454 in overall sales.

TODAY, I’m ranked at 252 in Contemporary Romance sales.

It’s a dream I never imagined would become a reality. Enough people are reading my work to bring me to the 252 position of Contemporary Romance Sales on amazon.com.

Thank you, Debbie, for helping me achieve this goal.

Thank you, everyone, for buying and reading my book.

Today is the last day to grab my ebook free. Spread the word, please!

And thank you for being a part of my journey!

LOVE IN THE FOREST IS AVAILABLE!

available at amazon.com

LOVE IN THE FOREST is now available in ebook form from amazon.com! WOW!!!

The idea for this story was born from a Tarot card reading while on a writer’s retreat at Thistle Dew. I was in my room, had just finished the last of my “Release Day” posts for TEN BUCKS AND A WISH, and I had been mulling over my publisher’s challenge to write something new—another Contemporary Romance.

And, always up for a challenge, I did just that. I didn’t know where to start, so I pulled out my Tarot. And, using the concepts me and my friend and fellow author MJ Compton have shared with our co-CNYRW’ers, I read for my characters. I didn’t know their names yet, but I knew that in time it would come to me.

And it did (of course).

So, here is the spread I used to create Brooke Meadows. Unfortunately, I don’t have the image of the spread I did for Joshua Quinn, but it doesn’t matter, he’s a hunk who needs healing. What more do we need to know?

Brooke’s Spread

LOVE IN THE FOREST takes place just outside the village of Demilune, in the Adirondack Mountains. While Demilune is fictitious, it is named after the town I always wanted to live in, HalfMoon, New York.

There’s a great little drum shop (Beats and Things) in Demilune, and a jewelry shop called Nurtured by Nature Designs, and an awesome pub with a pool table (every pub needs a pool table, no?). And a sandwich shop with Boar’s Head cold cuts.

Brooke and Josh meet at the Earth & Sky retreat camp, where she works on the books as the camp photographer. And while it’s not in her job description, she fills in as crisis counselor when needed. And messenger. Of the Dead. Which is how she got her nickname, DeathWalker. (An endearing little tag, no?)

Weeks before Josh even knew he’d be attending Earth & Sky, Brooke began receiving messages from Josh’s dead wife, Rosalie. So naturally, when Josh arrives, it’s Brooke’s job to make sure Rosalie’s messages get to Josh.

But Josh, a hunk of a CEO of the world’s most popular dating app Quirkyflirt.com (don’t google it, I couldn’t afford to buy the domain) doesn’t believe in that sort of thing. But he does believe Earth & Sky are in cahoots with his board president to get him to retire early as part of a takeover plan.

If you want to know what happens you’re going to have to wait until… OH WAIT!!! You don’t have to wait!

LOVE IN THE FOREST GOES LIVE JUNE 2! By the time you read this, you’ll already be able to order my second romance. You won’t have to wait! Hurry! Stop reading. Get your copy now.

I’ll make it easy for you. Just click on the link below (where it says “Happy Reading!”)

Happy reading! 🙂

Love, Janina

PS Check out The Wild Scavenger Hunt and start checking off items to win great prizes in September!
Good luck and have fun!

LOVE IN THE FOREST – Release Date: June 2

Love in the Forest available June 2 on Amazon.com

Step into the mystical and magical forests of Upstate New York, where Earth and Sky camp photographer Brooke Meadows has taken refuge from the demons of her past as she uses her ability to communicate with the dead to heal loved ones left behind.

Unable to cope with the loss of his wife and daughters three years prior, Josh Quinn, CEO of the number one dating site Quirkyflirt.com, is ordered by his board president to take a break from his Big Apple Headquarters. He finds himself at Earth and Sky Retreats, where confronting his grief has led him to experience a life-altering transformation and re-evaluation of reality.

Will Josh leave behind his fast-paced, high society life in the concrete mountains of New York City, for the magical, bewitching world Brooke reveals to him in the foothills of the Adirondacks?

Will Brooke acknowledge and accept her own journey of transformation and healing as she and Josh explore the winding paths and summits that lead them to find love in the forest?

A Gardening Agreement

My little side garden, about as cultivated as I get.

Many decades ago, a woman named Margaret Alfano changed my perception of gardening with a single sentence. I pointed to a purple flower growing in her lawn in pristine Mt. Sinai, Long Island, and said, “Even the weeds are pretty here.”

She shook her head in dismay, the wisdom etched in her wrinkles as she scrunched up her face in a look of pity. “Dear. Weeds are only flowers growing where people don’t want them.” She then went on to tell me the “weeds” I’d commented on were violets, and that she used to dig them up and replant them, but now she just let’s them be, as nature intended.

I never forgot that wisdom, or Mrs. Alfano. She was not only an activist for wildflowers, but a champion of her community, fighting a good civic fight whenever the people needed a voice. While visiting Long Island pre-Covid, I found her grave and gave thanks as she now rested beneath the earth she loved and nurtured.

Two lifetimes and 300 miles later, I look around my Mohawk Valley home where I’ve allowed Mrs. Alfano’s sage advice to guide me in the nurturing of my own property. Maple saplings grow where they will. Lavender bushes pop up occasionally here and there. An apple tree appeared out of no where a few years back. Forget me nots, phlox, peppermint and spearmint, scallions, coltsfoot, chicory, and other nameless herbs and wildflowers grow where they decide. And thanks to Mrs. Alfano, I leave them be, creating a magical, wild place of harmony where song birds and chipmunks, bunnies, deer, squirrel, beloved crows, woodchucks, turkey, and other mostly unseen creatures gather and commune.

Little Squirrel chomping on walnuts I offered so he’d leave the birdfeeder alone. He did. For a day.

A few years back, a small circle of daisies appeared in the back yard, presenting as magically as if the Fae themselves had planted them. I warned David of their existence, and he made sure to mow around them until I could contain them (ha!) within a circle of stones.

The following year they spread to around the outside of the stone circle. So I enlarged it. Lovingly, mind you.

The following year another daisy cluster popped up, about 20 feet to the west of the first patch of daisies.

And another appeared to the north the following year. And yet another to the east the year after that. So every year, for a good part of the summer, we have pockets of unmown lawn where the daisies decide to play.

This year our mower broke down, and after borrowing a good friend’s trailer, we trekked our 19 year old riding mower to the local hardware store, where after a week we were told we had to retire the old guy. So we borrowed Wayne’s trailer again, put him out by the road with a “FREE” sign and he was gone by the next evening (the riding mower, not Wayne).

We finally picked up a new riding mower and FINALLY got the chance to mow our foot and a half high lawn. (Sorry, NEIGHBORS!)

So while David mowed, he did some hefty maneuvering around our little Daisy Pods. It looks a little funny, but I don’t have the heart to cut them down. And thankfully, neither does he. Best guy ever.

It was then I realized I don’t garden my property. I guard-en it. And all the wild things let me know where they want to live, and I let them.

After all, they were here first. We are just guests.

In the foreground is this years new Daisy residents. In the background you can see previous years’ Daisy crops that return each year.

Music of the Rising Sun

Listen to the actual song of the Sun at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kgEvmIZ4vw

*Music of the Rising Sun*

In the early morning silence,
rising sun casts crystalline shadows
over shimmering snow.
Silence
permeates wooden floors,
frosted windows,
aging walls.
I sip coffee, reading,
subconsciously listening
to the Music of the Rising Sun.
It weaves around me,
a rhythmic beating
mingled with the rhythmic breathing
of my sleeping cats,
keeping time with Mom’s old clock
clicking, ticking minutes away.
It beckons me softly,
on invisible waves
of sound.
Ebbing and flowing.
Ebbing and flowing.
Rising and falling.
Cascading softly.
When I finally notice…
I crook my head and listen.
Silence.
Refocused on my reading,
my heart listens again.
The music pulses
like strains of violins
In the far off distance.
It builds and lulls,
builds and lulls.
I struggle not to notice,
enraptured by its beauty.
My subconscious
sings along
in the early morning silence.

Janine Phillips

2/15/2016

After I wrote this poem this morning, I decided to research a bit to see if there were sounds recorded in the Universe that might match what I heard. I listened to a number of NASA recordings of the planets, some similar. Some not. Then I thought… does the Sun make sound?

And what I found most closely represents what I heard this morning as the Sun was rising.

So in essence, I heard an early morning Sun Symphony. I also read that Sun sounds sound like a heart beat. And that is what this tone was doing.

I am humbled and awe inspired at the same time.

This recording is the closest sound I could get to what I heard. The steady tone in the background, not the Om sound, but the more musical sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kg…

Blessed be all that is and all that shall be in the Universe.

Ommmmmmmmmmm.             Namaste.

Reminiscing and Repurposing

I could be a hoarder if I did not have people around me supporting me with lots of TLC, annnnnd if the spirit of my mother did not haunt me regularly telling me to get rid of things. But those very things I hang on to, those chachkah’s that she always complained were dust collectors, are usually linked to a memory of her, or my children when they were young. Or my sister. Or cousin. or close friend, or happy times.

Oy. You see what I’m dealing with?

Don’t get me wrong. The downstairs of my house is clean and kept and organized. It’s ready for company. However, the upstairs is a bit different. For the last year, it’s been like those files in the back of your brain where everything you can’t let go of but don’t have the energy to process goes hidden and unchecked.

All four bedrooms on my second floor have become an extension of the attic, an extension of my life, the file cabinet of memories sometimes too tender to process.

Our downstairs bedroom before we decided we were staying down there.

My husband and I moved downstairs to the library in the front of the house after my last surgery, last January, since I could not climb stairs for a while. We liked it so much we made it our permanent bedroom. Bright and sunny, big windows, an entrance to the front porch (and you know how I love my front porch!). So our upstairs master bedroom became the room for the garage sale that never was and the Good Will collection site.

My daughter’s room held her things left behind when she went to college, and then moved into her own apartment. My son’s room held most of his memorabilia from his youth, then furniture from my mom after she passed.

The guest bedroom is the entrance to the attic, and so of course that held all our seasonal stuff that didn’t make it to the attic because, well, I wanted to go through it and weed out the stuff we didn’t use anymore. What is that saying about good intentions?

So anyway, something monumental recently happened in my personal life, and afterwards it was like I woke up from a coma. These past two weeks I’ve purged and cleaned out our laundry room, started purging furniture I don’t need anymore, bought a new vacuum (a Dyson!), and cleaned out my son’s room, making it my office. I wish I’d taken a “before” picture of it, but I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to post it.

One of those panorama pics that never come out good but there it is PRE-RENOVATION

I’m in the middle of painting the trim of the office and painting the desk from my younger years and I got caught up in memories of my mom and my childhood and it was paralyzing. The pain of my mom being gone collided with her spirit voice urging me on as she has been the last few days and I needed to take a break. So here I am.

My mom never stopped. Except when she was struggling with depression or physical ailments. She was always wallpapering, painting, cleaning . . . or, okay, yeah napping or enjoying her front porch. I used to be just like her, until a few months before COVID hit. Devastating news hit my family and just as I was straightening up from that blow, we were quarantined and the world as I knew it turned upside down.

But this past week, the light grew brighter, the emotional storms settled down, and life started to right itself. And the old me woke up, with my mom prodding me to get my act together and get my house in order. That meant purging and wallpapering ’til midnight, stopping only to cook dinner and eat.

So here is my desk, before and during the renovation. I was going to strip it down and keep the wood finish, but Jeana pointed out that painting it white would brighten it up. Thanks, Beana! She was right.

In my youth, this desk held pens and paper, crayons and pencils, blank paper, magazines, cool things like rocks and shells, and anything else a ten year old thought was important to treasure. I’d forgotten about it until I opened a drawer, then it all materialized in my memory as if the drawers were full again.

During my teen years it held make-up, brushes and combs and clips and things, and and note cards, magazines, love letters from my boyfriend in the Navy, and secret-notes-folded-up-into-triangles-from-my-best-girlfriends. To prove my hoarding testimony, I found those notes recently in a box in the attic. Some are actually blog-worthy.

The desk went on to be used by my son, Anthony, and it held similar things like paper and crayons, coloring books, rocks and stuff, and action figures.

My daughter, Allie Rose, took it over at one point and kept similar items minus the action figures. It then was donated to Herkimer High School as a prop in Allie’s junior year. And I forgot about that old desk after that.

She reclaimed it and brought it to her dad’s house sometime between graduation and college and it took on a life of its own there, any claim I held to it gone forever. Or so I thought.

Last year it came to my attention that my old desk needed a home, and like a stray puppy or kitten, it found its way back into my life in time for the holidays.

This most recent January it became the altar for my mother in law, who passed away from COVID.

Memorial for David’s mom, Lauretta Ruth Babcock.

Now, with me moving my work office upstairs, I needed a desk for my Janina Grey office downstairs. We were ready to shop when I remembered my old childhood friend turned altar for mom-in-law.

And this is where we are at today.

The resurrection of my childhood desk.
The stories these drawers could tell!

So now, with first and second coats on the old desk, I’m up in the attic painting trim and listening to Zeppelin, as my mom scolds me for not putting newspaper down to catch paint splatters. She’s also correcting me to paint in one direction and use a smaller brush in certain areas.

My response, “Thanks, Mom. For teaching me how to paint, wallpaper, and repurpose.”

Not only does it keep me close to mom, but it brings new life to old memories. And it’s a great form of therapy as well.

I’ve got to get back to painting! Look for pics of the new office once the trim is done!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Happy Mother’s Day

To all the women out there who birthed babies, who adopted babies, who married babies, who raised other mom’s babies, who had and lost their mom or still has a living mom today, who didn’t want babies but still is a loving, compassionate, nurturing person, and is no doubt playing mom to someone.

To all the moms of furbabies, especially my daughter Allie Rose who is now mom to my Sweet Meade; Jo, who is mom to her and my son’s furbaby (my granddog) Miso, and Holly, who is the adoptive mom to my Loki, who we had to give away due to health issues I incurred.

To all the men out there who sometimes have to play mom because they are raising kids as a single dad. Who had a mom and lost her, or who have a mom still living today.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I’d like to think of this day as a celebration of Mother Energy.

My Mom, Joanne Jones.

The mother I’d most like to recognize and honor is my mom, Joanne Jones, who passed away in 2012. She taught me how to be nurturing, yet strong; respectful yet assertive; loving of others, but of myself as well. She taught me what it meant to sacrifice as a mom, and what it meant to celebrate as a mom.

Most of all, she loved me unconditionally. And I miss her. Very much.

My Grandma, Evaughn Jones

My grandma, Evaughn Jones, turns 96 next month, and she is everything I want to be at that age. She’s funny, and untiring, and doesn’t give up for nothing. She is resilient and loving and I see where my mom got her energy from.

My Mom-in-Law, Lauretta Phillips

My husband, David, lost his mom in January, to COVID, so we will celebrate her memory tomorrow, along with my own mom. She must have been a great mom, because she raised an amazing son. I wish I’d had a chance to know her when she was younger and healthy.

So here is to Joanne Jones (my mom) and Lauretta Ruth Babcock Phillips (my mother in law) and my Grandma, Evaughn Jones, who I’m thankful for having in my life after all these years.

Strong, loving women, who I hold close in my heart. Thank you for all the love your brought into the world.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Celebrating Bealtaine!

Pre-Order LOVE IN THE FOREST TODAY!

Blessed Bealtaine to all!

Many people celebrate Beltane on May Day (The First of May). But today, May 5, is the actual cross-quarter day also known as Bealtaine (Pronounced: beh-yowl-thin-eh). This day is the halfway mark between the Spring Equinox (March 20) and Summer Solstice (June 20).

It’s also a significant day for two characters who have come to life in the second Earth and Sky Series book, LIFE IS FOR LIVING: Barefoot Dan and Lilac Locks.

But… in order to get to know Dan and Jayde (Lilac Locks) you first have to meet Brooke and Josh, which you can do by pre-ordering LOVE IN THE FOREST, set for a release date of June 2.

As a big THANK YOU to you when you PRE-ORDER LOVE IN THE FOREST, I will send you an exclusive, hot and steamy, behind the scenes SNEAK PEEK at how Dan and Jayde first met. This is only available through me and will not be offered anywhere else.

Also, as part of the promotion of my latest SOUL MATE PUBLISHING romance novel, LOVE IN THE FOREST, I’m holding a Scavenger Hunt contest to run from Bealtaine through Mabon, when the print copies of LOVE IN THE FOREST will be available.

One of the items you will need to complete The Wild (Scavenger) Hunt is a copy of your Pre-Order Purchase of LOVE IN THE FOREST. Once you pre-order LOVE IN THE FOREST, email me your proof of purchase to janinagreycontests@gmail.com and I will enter you into the drawing.

More details to follow on the The Wild Hunt to be released later today!

So PRE-ORDER your copy of LOVE IN THE FOREST today. You’ll be introduced to Barefoot Dan, AND be the first to be entered into the scavenger hunt drawing to be held at Mabon (The Autumnal Equinox).

Celebrating Mabon and the abundance life brings in 2014, Pagan Pride Day, Long Branch Park, NY.

I can’t wait for you to read LOVE IN THE FOREST. You are going to absolutely adore Brooke and Josh as they guide each other along their unexpected journey of healing and growth. You’ll meet all the other Earth and Sky staffers and campers as they journey together embracing transformation, healing, and love.

If you being outdoors, love the Adirondacks or always wanted to visit them, love drumming, camping, the Full Moon, and everything else witchy and magical, pre-order your copy of LOVE IN THE FOREST today!

Blessed Bealtaine!

Me and my lover celebrating our First Beltane together, with our May Pole in the background.