A Little Ditty ’bout Joe and Ava

Today sees the release of SHOOTING STAR! This is a dark and intense romance, one unconnected to any other of my books or series.

See, what happened is this. I wrote this book starting in July of 2015. Arguably, however, I’ve been working on this idea for almost fourteen years, since autumn of 2004. I know this because that’s when I saw this magazine cover.

I was on travel for my day job as an environmental consultant – as I often was in those days – and hustling through an airport, when I saw a newsstand plastered with this magazine. For those of you lacking historical context, this was the same year that Mean Girls released. But that was a bit of a sleeper and hadn’t made much of a splash. Far more present in our minds was the Freaky Friday remake, where Lohan starred with Jamie Lee Curtis and did an amazing acting job of body switches. Five years earlier, Lohan played both twins in the Parent Trap remake – and did so brilliantly – but her role as a teen with her Type A mother inside her body blew us all away. She was a charming, smart, vivacious and tremendously talented teenage actress.

But in the autumn of 2004, Lohan turned eighteen – and was immediately splashed in sexy poses in a men’s magazine. I stood there flipping through it, stunned and flabbergasted. They had her posing on a bed in her underwear. In those days, I wrote mainly essays, and published many of them in magazines. So I knew the lead times, which usually were four to six months. That meant they’d done this very sexy photo shoot with a seventeen-year-old girl, one filming a movie where she plays a high school student.

I stood there, wondering how the hell this happened. 

Of course, we know more now – about her mother and various other factors. And we can guess the rest, all of which contributed to a spiral she still hasn’t broken out of. I wrote an essay about it back then, about protecting our young women. I could never sell that one. Nobody was interested.

But her sad story sat in the back of my mind. Fast forward to July of 2015, when I attended the RWA National Convention in Times Square in New York City. My room looked out on the flashing stories-tall digital screens, advertising all manner of things, usually with beautiful women involved. I decided to fictionalize the story, to tell the tale of a child star of tween movies and shows, but who grew up to continue as a pop star. More of a Miley Cyrus career arc. 

Ava was born. And when I looked around for the man to save her from herself, Joe Ivanchan walked in and insisted. I really hadn’t planned to write about an Army vet who’d suffered terribly and had a service dog to keep him on the steady – but sometimes I don’t get to decide these things.

I wrote the book. My agent took it on submission. And we couldn’t sell it.

I revised it, and we took it on submission again. No luck.

I revised it yet again, my new agent took it on submission. And still no luck. One house told me they loved the book, but hadn’t had any luck selling “issue-driven fiction.”

So, I finally decided to publish it myself. In many ways, more than any other book I’ve self-published, this one is a labor of love. I’ve been mulling this story for so many years and it’s finally out there.

That’s enough for me. 

 

 

Not all desires are shiny and sweet—and the dark ones might change you forever…

It’s not the kind of obsession a tough Army guy can admit to—a jones for Ava, the pretty-princess pop star. Not just her body, the perfect product that sells all those magazines. Her music.

The critics call her human lip gloss, all style and no substance. To Joe Ivanchan, Ava is the exact blend of reality and fantasy that he can tolerate, the closest he’s willing to get to giving his heart after the injury and breakdown that got him out of the service.

But Ava is real. She’s a flesh and blood woman with a publicity machine and an album deadline, along with a whole team of handlers paid to shellac a pristine sheen over a damaged, desperate soul. A woman with fears, with secrets, with desires.

When Joe finds himself in an interview to join her security team as her driver, his instinct is to get away. But the woman behind Ava’s carefully focus-grouped image is even harder to walk away from. The angry needs tormenting her speak to something within Joe. Something empathetic, protective—and primal…

Besides, even a falling star can light up the darkest night.

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4 Replies to “A Little Ditty ’bout Joe and Ava”

  1. No luck selling ‘issue-drive fiction’. Well, if that doesn’t sum up so many of this world’s problems. If we can’t even talk about these things in fiction, what chance is there of resolving them in real life? So glad you self-published this book. It was a beautiful read.

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