Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

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My good friend and fellow Alaskan Boone Brux tagged me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Thanks, Boone! So here goes. Ten questions about my current work in progress.

What is your working title of your book?

How to Tame a Wild Fireman

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is part of the Bachelor Fireman series, which involves a firehouse in California. Last summer, with all the terrible wildfires, I decided my next book should involve a wildland firefighter. He turned out to be a wild one, too -- hence the title.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s contemporary romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie
rendition?

I’d vote for Taylor Kitsch for the wild fireman who must be tamed. And the woman who does the job? Emma Stone.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a firefighter returns to his hometown to fight a wildfire, he stirs up family secrets and falls for the girl he never forgot.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be published by Avon Romance, as is the rest of the Bachelor Fireman series.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took about six weeks. I spent another week doing some revisions, and now it’s in the hands of beta readers. It’s due to the publisher on January 15, so wish me luck, please!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jo Davis also has a series about firefighters, so we have that in common. In tone, it’s a bit like Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series. It has a lot of laughs along with the heroic action. And lots of sexy fun!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The heroic firefighters in Colorado and Arizona inspired this particular book, but the series was inspired by a firehouse where I had dinner a few years ago. The guys were such good company, joking around, telling stories. But it was also very clear how seriously they took their jobs. I thought they’d make great romance heroes.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? 

I love writing hot, heroic firefighters with a secret soft side. The hero is nicknamed Psycho, so that tells you what sort of wild man he is. He’s a heli-rappeller, who jumps out of helicopters into the hottest part of the fire. But there’s a lot more to him than just the daredevil. He also knows sign language, since his brother is deaf. And he nearly completed a psychology degree at Princeton before dropping out when his family cut him off because … well, you’ll have to read the story. The heroine has an interesting story too. She’s a doctor volunteering at the wildfire. She has no idea her best friend’s brother is back in town, until they both end up in a helicopter together, about ready to push each other out.

So there’s a little bit about HOW TO TAME A WILD FIREMAN, tentatively set for publication in October 2013. Looking for more great books by wonderful authors? Erin Nicholas, Maxine Mansfield, Rhian Cahill, Kate Davies, and Skylar Kade, tag, you’re it!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Fireman for Christmas

The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel are getting into the holiday spirit early! The e-book version of
THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME is now available for a special low price of .99 on Kindle and the Nook. 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 
The Kindle price is part of the "Big Deal Holiday" promotion and will be available until December 24. To be perfectly honest, I don't know how long the Nook deal will last, so if you're a Nook user, don't delay.

Need more reasons to add an ebook of THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME to your shopping list? Here are a few.

Reasons Why Firemen Make Excellent Christmas Presents

1. No need to worry about your Christmas tree catching fire or the lights shorting out. Help is already there.

2. Firemen are used to dealing with malfunctioning chimneys, so if Santa gets stuck, again, help is there.

3. Fire engines are red. Red is one of the colors of Christmas. Coincidence? Who knows?

4. You'll have more fun unwrapping a fireman than any other gift.

5. Firemen are used to cooking for big groups; making Christmas dinner will be a lot more fun with him around.

6. Next best thing to a fireman -- a fun, sexy, romantic book about firemen.

So there you go, all sorts of great reasons to think "firemen" this holiday season. Enjoy!


Monday, November 19, 2012

5 Surprising Things to be Grateful For

My Thanksgiving confession: I haven't always been good at gratitude. The truth is, I didn't entirely understand the concept. I'd heard the phrase "attitude of gratitude" but it didn't mean much to me. I was thankful enough for the good things in my life; that part was easy. But what about all the rest? Was I supposed to be thanking someone for the breakups, the miserable jobs, the nonstop family drama?

Well, now that I'm older and (at least a little bit) wiser, I realize that the answer is yes. To me, gratitude is about appreciating everything we've been given, big, little, or seemingly unpleasant. I now try to remember that all the apparent "crap" is something to be thankful for. It's all part of this incredible gift of being alive. If things were always easy, how would you ever grow as a person? How would you ever know compassion? Empathy? Looking back, I owe so much to the rough times I've experienced, in life and in writing. I can honestly say I'm grateful for all of it.

So in that spirit, I'd like to offer thanks to those who have helped in my writing journey. But not just people like my beloved editor, agent, and critique partners, but also to ...

1. The agents who turned me down. You helped me focus my writing and my own "marketing" of my writing.

2. The editors who rejected my books. You taught me the value of working with someone who really loves my writing. You made me strive harder for what I wanted, and I thank you for it.

3. Reviewers and readers who were less than enchanted with my books. Sometimes you helped me see things I want to do differently. But you also relieved me of the impossible burden of trying to please everyone all the time.

4. Those who disdain the genre of romance. You made me think hard about why I love it as much as I do.

5. Authors who are so incredible you make me question what the hell I think I'm doing. On the bright side, you give me something to aspire to.

So there you have it. I'm not saying I enjoy the rough moments. They can still knock me offstride. But looking at the big picture, I'm truly grateful to them.

How about you? What are your thoughts about gratitude? What are you thankful for?



Sunday, November 11, 2012

You're Invited!

You and as many guests as you like are cordially invited to a Twitter Party!


Occasion: the release of ONE FINE FIREMAN
Date: Tuesday, November 13
Time: All day
Hashtag: #finefireman
Fun stuff: Fireman photos, fireman stories, prizes, and more!
Hosts: @Jen_Bernard, @AvonBooks

Have you ever gone to a Twitter party before? Twitter parties are great because you don't even have to leave your house. You can wear your PJ's, your ratty sweats, or nothing at all. You can attend a Twitter party while you're at work (not necessarily recommended), in between doing dishes, or while hiking the Appalachian Trail, as long as you can get online. Pop in and out whenever you like, search for the hashtag #finefireman, and see what's going on.

My Twitter name is @Jen_Bernard, but you don't have to follow me to attend the party. All you need is the hashtag #finefireman. I hope to see you there!

(For more about ONE FINE FIREMAN, click on the cover photo.) 



Monday, November 5, 2012

Print, E-book or Both?

Are you someone who enjoys holding an actual printed book in your hand, turning pages the way they did in days of yore? I know I am. Nothing gives me quite the same sense of satisfaction as curling up in an armchair with a paperback, or reverently caressing the gorgeous cover of a hardback.

But -- I love reading on my iPhone too. I use the Kindle app for deals from Amazon, books I can't wait to get my hands on, and books you can't find anywhere else. I love the instant gratification. I love the knowledge that I have plenty to read right there on my phone. And I can read at night without bothering my husband. ;-)

So I have a foot in both worlds, and I'm happy that way. I wouldn't want to give up either method of reading books. As far as I'm concerned, the more ways to read, the better for everyone.

So I'm very happy that my upcoming e-novella, ONE FINE FIREMAN, will now also be available in print. (Many have asked me about this.) The e-release date is November 13, and the print version will be available on December 4. Keep in mind that it won't be in bookstores. It can only be ordered from Amazon or another online book retailer. I'll also hunt down those links, but for now, here's the Amazon link:

Print pre-order link

A smoking-hot prequel to Jennifer Bernard’s fabulous Bachelor Firemen series. If you love the novels of Rachel Gibson and Bella Andre, then this is for you!

Kirk, aka Thor, one of San Gabriel’s infamous Bachelor Firemen, certainly lives up to his nickname. He’s tall, handsome, and has a chiseled body worthy of any Viking god. But he’d give it all up for one glance from her.

Sweet, shy Maribel has no idea he’s been pining for her. There’s nothing he’d like better than to sweep her off her feet and show her just how exquisite their love could be. But Kirk has a secret and he won’t let anyone get close, least of all the sexiest woman he’s ever met.

Can a feisty little dog and an even feistier little boy help these star-crossed lovers to find the true love they both so richly deserve?

And let me mention again that a portion of the royalties will go to support the Firefighters Cancer Support Network.

So how do you prefer to read? Print, ebook, or both?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

When Firefighter Heroes Need Help


We all know the dangers firefighters face, but did you know that they also have a markedly higher risk of developing cancer? According to one source, their risk is up to 100% higher than that of the general population. I learned this stunning fact when researching ONE FINE FIREMAN. Around the same time, I also met Fire Chief Joe Nestor of the real San Gabriel fire department and learned that he is a cancer survivor and dedicated member of a group called the Firefighters Cancer Support Network, a peer support network for firefighters and their families. As a gesture of support for the firefighting community – and in gratitude for all the charity work they do -- I intend to donate a portion of my royalties from every copy of ONE FINE FIREMAN, for the lifetime of the book, to the network.

So what's the group all about? Chief Nestor was gracious enough to answer some questions. 

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to talk about this wonderful organization. My first question would be, why are firefighters at such high risk of developing cancer?
Firefighters are exposed to many cancer causing materials because of the nature of the job.  They are exposed to smoke and the products of combustion, along with hazardous chemicals that have spilled or been improperly mixed. Cancer can take years or decades to develop after just one exposure.  When I started in the fire service more than 40 years ago, breathing apparatus was not worn at all times during the fire, and almost never after the fire was out, when exposure can be at its worst.  Picture the World Trade Center, when firefighters were working around the smoking rubble without breathing apparatus.  That type of smoke can be the most toxic.  Over the years personal protective equipment (PPE) have improved, and firefighters have gotten much better at always wearing their breathing apparatus (masks).  As firefighters get better at wearing breathing apparatus at all times when in a smoky or chemical environment, we should see incidents of cancer go down. 
Do firefighters have any particular challenges when facing cancer? For instance, I would wonder if it’s difficult to ask for help when you’re used to relying on your physical strength and skill. Is that the case, or are there other challenges?
As you know, firefighters take pride in being strong, in body, mind, and soul.  You like to think that you are above getting cancer. It is very difficult for some firefighters to accept that they are not invincible.  Firefighters are used to taking care of people, not being taken care of.  It can be very difficult and isolating when a firefighter gets diagnosed with cancer.  The other challenge is getting back to the job of firefighting.  The number 1 goal is to get well, and number 2 is to get back to work.  I haven’t talked to a firefighter yet that didn’t want those 2 things.  And getting back to work is so important, because we want to leave the job on our terms not on cancer’s terms.  There are times when someone just can’t come back, where getting well has to be enough.  We let those folks know that they are still part of the family, and will always have our support.
What was the original inspiration for the founding of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network
The Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) was founded by Los Angeles County Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Dubron in 2005.  He was given a very poor prognosis when he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, however, he survived and his prognosis was changed to very good.  After his recovery, he realized that there was nowhere for a firefighter to turn, other than traditional organizations, when they are diagnosed with cancer.  As he puts it, no one knows firefighters like firefighters.  He also found that firefighters were much more prone to having cancer in their lifetime than the general population.  He founded the Firefighter Cancer Support Network to provide comfort, strength, and hope through our own experiences as firefighters in dealing with the devastating effects of cancer.
Does the special bond firefighters develop in the firehouse help them when they’re diagnosed with cancer?
Yes, that is the cornerstone of the organization.  When a firefighter is first diagnosed, we encourage them to contact FCSN.  Either that day or the next day, a large box is delivered to them.  The box has resource materials to help them and their families get educated about cancer.  We also get them connected to a “mentor”.  A mentor is another firefighter that has also been diagnosed with their type of cancer, or a closely related cancer.  The mentor initially provides comfort and connection, which is so important in those first few days.  The mentor also can help get them to appointments and be present for doctors meetings to help ask questions and take notes.  Each person is unique.  Some firefighters get a cancer diagnosis, and don’t mind telling everyone.  Some really want their privacy.  It is up to the mentor to respect the wishes of the individual.  A mentor is there to provide comfort and support, not to take over someone’s treatment and approach to their cancer diagnosis.

The dream of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network would be for it to become as relevant as the Breast Cancer Awareness effort has become.  I am amazed at what the folks involved in Breast Cancer Awareness have done.  I know that when a woman, or a man, are diagnosed with breast cancer, they know that they do not have to feel isolated, that there are people and organizations there for them.  They know that all they have to do is reach out and someone will be there.  That is what I want to see for the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.
You also work with family members of firefighters. What’s the most important thing people can do to support a loved one with cancer?
First and foremost to provide comfort and support.  Second, this is a battle.  When you hear that someone is “battling cancer”, that is exactly what they need to do.  They are in a fight for their lives.  You need to be up for the challenge, and help them in the battle.  You are one of their soldiers!  Get into the fight with them.  Do research.  Take them to appointments.  Be a second set of ears in the doctor’s office.  Don’t let them get isolated.  Challenge them to fight harder if they need to.  Help them to feel as normal as possible.  Never give up hope.  If they are firefighters, or part of a firefighter family, encourage them to contact the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.   
As a cancer survivor yourself, what would you say to someone facing a cancer diagnosis? What have you learned from the experience of fighting cancer?
First, I would tell them that I am an 11 year survivor.  Cancer is not a death sentence.  Next, you are still the same person.  Cancer does not define you, it is just a small part of you.  I would tell them their life is going to be different, and not necessarily for the worse.  I believe I am a better person because I have battled cancer.  For me, and this is not for everyone, I would have talked about it more.  It was just kind of my wife and I initially from 2001-2005.  In 2005 when I got involved with the Network, I talked about it to anyone that wanted to listen.  That really helped me.

My story is a little different.  When I was diagnosed in November 2001 with Bladder Cancer, I went in for surgery 2 days later.  In 3 weeks I was back at work as a Battalion Chief.  At the time I was with Pasadena Fire.  I was also at the beginning stages of competing for the Fire Chief job in San Gabriel.  I had my second surgery in February 2002, and also started chemo.  I only took 4 days off for that one.  I told my doctor at the time that I was competing for a Fire Chief’s job, and asked him if I should continue to pursue that.  This is where having the right doctors and people around you is so important.  He said, “What do you want to do?  Do what you want to do.  Don’t worry.  Life is too short to worry.  Do what you want, you are going to be fine.  We are going to take good care of you.”  So I continued with the process and became the Fire Chief for the City of San Gabriel.  I was cancer free until 2005, when it came back in a mild form.  One more surgery, and this time chemo with Interferon.  Cancer free ever since, 7 years and counting.   
That’s great news! Is there anything patients who are not connected with the firefighting community can learn from how your organization works? 
Yes, go to the website.  It has information and videos explaining how the Network works.  If you want to read about a firefighter’s experience, go to testimonials.  They will talk about their experience with their particular type of cancer.  At the end of each testimonial is an e-mail for the individual.  Send that individual an e-mail, and I know you will hear back.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the network?
The biggest challenge for us is getting the word out.  Most firefighters don’t even know that the Network exists, and is available to them.  Many times I go to funerals for firefighters, where the firefighter has died of cancer.  If I wasn’t aware of their cancer, I always wonder what their last few weeks and months were like.  Did they get everything that they needed?  Did they have people to talk to?  Did they get all the treatment they needed?  Did they get to the right doctors?  How about the families, are they getting everything they need (I will always ask)?

Firefighters are amazing, they will rally around the firefighter with cancer every time.  But many times it is just the department that the firefighter, or his/her family member, is part of.  My hope is that in the future, when a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer, one of the first calls will be to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.  


Chief Nestor, thank you so much for sharing your story, thoughts and inspiration.

If you’d like to know more about the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, click here

ONE FINE FIREMAN will be out on November 13. Click the "Books" page for more.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Adventures in Meditating

 If I have a superpower, it’s the ability to make anything more complicated that it needs to be. (Which, if you have a choice, is not one of the better superpowers.) Take meditating. It sounds simple enough, right? Basically, you sit. You can try to clear your mind, or focus on your breathing, or visualize something, but the essence is simply to stay in one place and … well, be. 

Yeah. Easier said than done. My friend Daisy and I have both had an ongoing interest in meditation, though actually doing it is another matter. Recently we got together at a café and had the brilliant idea to give it a shot, right there in the park across the street. We found ourselves a sunlit bench and settled in.

Simple, right? Of course not! First, we decided we needed an app for our meditation session. We both hauled out our iPhones and began scrolling through the app store looking for free meditation apps. Something with a timer, or maybe a bell to start us off. We spent the next fifteen minutes searching instead of meditating, which of course struck us as hilarious.

So, because of the times we’re living in, I had to Tweet about that. And post about it on Facebook. Because really, has anything actually happened unless you’ve talked about it on social media? Maybe, but why risk it?

While I Tweeted and FB’ed, Daisy selected and downloaded an app. But then she started reading the small print. The app wanted us to set “meditation goals” by which we could judge our progress. Daily sessions, length of sessions, it all had to be logged in before we could start our meditation. As Daisy put it, “I don’t need an app to make me feel guilty. I can do that by myself.” Besides, isn’t the whole point of meditation to just “be,” not to be goal-oriented?  

But what do we know? Since we were running out of time, we ditched the app, set the timer, and soaked in the sunshine in silence for the next fifteen minutes. You might say that was meditation, and hopefully it was close.

Except I spent much of that time wondering if I could turn the whole experience into a blog post.

Clearly, I need to work on this being/meditating/simplifying concept a little more.  

Have you ever tried meditating? Any recommendations you can share?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Firefighters in Pink

So here we are in October, breast cancer awareness month, and I keep seeing photos like these:



Firefighters around the country are showing their support for the fight against breast cancer by donning the unmanly color pink. Some communities are even going so far as to turn their fire engines pink -- at least temporarily.


Dare I say, that pumper is adorable? I find something so endearing about this mass adoption of the cause, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. What is it that's so touching about firemen in pink? Is it that such a macho profession is standing up against a disease that primarily strikes women? Firefighters are touched by breast cancer, of course, though other cancers are more prevalent on the force. I like to think they're choosing to go pink to support the women in their lives -- mothers, sisters, grandmothers, daughters, female firefighters.

Firehouses know how to band together, whether it's to fight a fire or to make a statement to the world. A hunky fireman wearing pink is going to draw attention, which means media coverage, which means greater awareness. And just in case they're worried about this, the color pink doesn't take away from their manly appeal. Quite the opposite, in fact. A fireman donning his gear is just as droolworthy in a pink t-shirt.


Does it make a difference to those battling breast cancer? I can't imagine that it doesn't help to know all those brave men and women have your back.

A firefighter in Victoria, Texas, hugs his mother, a breast cancer sufferer.

So here's a big thank you to the firefighters around the country who are standing tall, rocking the pink, raising money and spreading awareness of breast cancer. I think I fell just a little bit more in love with these guys!


Have you seen other instances of your local fire department going pink this month? I'd love to hear about it!

Jennifer

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Firefighting Gone Wild

After having written three books and a novella about firefighters, I finally feel comfortable writing about structure fires and life at the firehouse. Not so comfortable that I don't consult with a professional, of course. I've mentioned my "fire guru" before (thank you, Rick!!)

But now, for my next fireman book, I'm off on a whole new tangent -- wildfires.  

Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado
One of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel is about to volunteer to help battle a massive wildfire threatening his hometown in Nevada. And that means I have to learn about a whole new kind of firefighting. I've seen so many news stories about forest fires, wilderness fires, brushfires -- you probably have too. It was a particularly brutal summer in Colorado, Utah and Arizona. You may even have had a close call with one. When I lived in LA, brushfire season brought some scary times. I remember ash particles coating my car, apocalyptic skies, twenty-four hour news coverage.

Battling the Trinity Ridge Fire in Boise National Forest
In recent years, wildfires have gotten bigger and more dangerous. One firefighter told me that fires are behaving in new ways -- the rate of spread isn't predictable anymore. Hotter temperatures and drier hillsides mean that fires will simply leap over the firefighters to the next hill. I'm learning about smoke-jumpers, hotshot crews, pilots and heli-rapellers. Wildland firefighting is fascinating, dangerous, and a source of endless storylines. But boy, do I have a lot to learn! These days, I'm all about the research.

Have you had a close encounter with a wildfire? I'd love to hear about it!

Have a great week -

Jennifer

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cover Reveal - SEX AND THE SINGLE FIREMAN

I've been waiting for this moment for a LONG time. Avon sent me this cover sometime over the summer. I went crazy over it and wanted to share it with the world. But I had to wait until the cover flats were out. Well, now they're out. I don't have to wait another minute to unveil this gorgeous cover.


In my opinion, the Avon art department is just amazing. I've been so happy with all the covers, but this one is extra-special. I love their expressions. Can't you just feel the heat and tenderness between them? (Maybe it's just me.)

Here's the cover copy for SEX AND THE SINGLE FIREMAN, which is Book 3 in the Bachelor Firemen series and comes out on January 29, 2013. The series does not need to be read in order.


There’s a hardnosed new training officer in town, and that’s bad news for the BACHELOR FIREMEN OF SAN GABRIEL … but great news for firefighter Sabina Jones … maybe.

The toughest captain on the East Coast, single father Rick Roman, has come thousands of miles to San Gabriel to put an end to the “Bachelor Firemen” media hype. But when a stunning woman he nearly hooked up with in Reno turns out to be a firefighter from his new station, Roman realizes it’s going to be tough keeping the tabloids at bay.

But there’s even more Sabina isn’t telling him. Before dedicating herself to battling blazes, Sabina led a very different life, one that made her famous. The last thing she wants is to have her secret exposed. The papers, bloggers and TV gossips will have a field day with thatespecially when they sense the obvious sexual heat beween Sabina and Chief Roman, who’s torn between firing her … and falling in love with her!

One last thing: if you'd like a signed cover flat, leave me a comment and email me your address at JenniferBernard.author@gmail.com.

Have a great week!

Jennifer

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ONE FINE FIREMAN Cover Reveal


It's been a crazy summer and I'm behind on everything. (Sorry!) But I have lots of news to share, starting with this luscious cover for ONE FINE FIREMAN.


ONE FINE FIREMAN is an e-novella that will release on November 13 from Avon Impulse. It's a prequel to the Bachelor Fireman series. Here's the back cover copy to give you a taste of the story. 

Kirk, aka Thor, one of San Gabriel’s infamous Bachelor Firemen, certainly lives up to his nickname. He’s tall, handsome, and has a chiseled body worthy of any Viking god. But he’d give it all up for one glance from her.

Sweet, shy Maribel has no idea he’s been pining for her. There’s nothing he’d like better than to sweep her off her feet and show her just how exquisite their love could be. But Kirk has a secret and he won’t let anyone get close, least of all the sexiest woman he’s ever met.

Can a feisty little dog and an even feistier little boy help these star-crossed lovers to find the true love they both so richly deserve?
This novella not only tells Thor's story, but Stan the Dog's. For those who've read the books, you know the firehouse dog is a beleaguered beagle. This book explains how he wound up at San Gabriel's Station 1.

In other news, HOT FOR FIREMAN will be a Cosmo Magazine Red Hot Read for October! As soon as the issue is available, I'll let everyone in the world know. ;-) 

And finally, I've started my newsletter and FB giveaways with a bang. The first gift pack is going out this week and it's got some really cool goodies in it. So don't forget to either sign up for my mailing list or "like" me on Facebook.

I hope you enjoy the last days of summer and the first days of the new school year!
 



Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Postcard from Homer


Time for a postcard from beautiful Homer, Alaska, otherwise known as the "quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem." It's finally starting to warm up here and we've been inundated with RV's trundling through town. Homer is known as the "End of the Road," because, well, you can probably figure it out. Only one highway heads south from Anchorage -- we call it Highway 1 -- and it runs out of pavement when it gets to Homer. Tourists come for the halibut fishing, the stunning views of glaciers right across Kachemak Bay, and for glimpses of the Time Bandit, which you may know from The Deadliest Catch.

Many of the RV's wind up on the Homer Spit, a long finger of mud that stretches toward the majestic mountains across the bay. Here you can park your traveling home, camp, eat everything from pizza to king crab, and bask in the alpenglow. The Spit is kind of like the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Alaska style. Instead of fried clams, we have fried halibut. The Salty Dawg Saloon tends to be more popular than the ice cream shop, simply because there's often a knife-cold wind blowing in from the ocean. The "Better Sweater" shop is always busy. It's hard to foresee just how cold it's going to be when you're visiting from Nashville or Florida. A cruise ship docks in Homer every two weeks, spilling out passengers who hop onto shuttles when they want to venture into the rest of town. Homer goes out of its way to offer visitors a good experience. Even the extra-clean public bathrooms feature bald eagles scenically perched on the lampposts outside.

But just for you, here's a sight-seeing tip few tourists know: the best eagle viewing in town is at the dump. Best in terms of numbers, but maybe not photo ops. The same bird that looks so majestic soaring through the air can look pretty scraggly when its scoping out the landfill for food scraps. Our visiting cousins seemed to take this phenomenon very personally. Should the symbol of America really be poking around the dump competing with seagulls and crows? I guess a bird's got to do what a bird's got to do. In Alaska, no matter the season, it's all about survival.

Scavenger eagles aside, if you're looking from a respite from the sweltering heat in the rest of the country, you're welcome to bundle up, head into the wind, and bask in our twenty-hour a day, mildly warm sunshine. The days may not get very hot, but at least they last a long time. And make sure you stop by the dump on the way into town!

Have you been to Alaska? If not, is it on your bucket list?

Coming at you from the land of the midnight sun,

Jennifer

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wanted: Book Recs

Although I love to write contemporary romance, when I want to relax, I usually read historical. Maybe it's just different enough that I feel no obligation to analyze as I read. I can just sit back and be entertained, thank you very much. (Lazy? Moi? Perish the thought.) 

Lately I've been on a Mary Balogh kick. For some unfathomable reason I'd never read her until Eloisa James showed me an advance copy of her book "The Secret Mistress." I adore Eloisa James and really hope I can be reborn as her in a future lifetime. I figured, if Eloisa likes MB, I ought to give her a try.

Two series later, I'm in awe. First I tore through the "Slightly" series, which is all about the arrogant, wild Bedwyn family. "Slightly Sinful, Slightly Unforgettable," and so forth. There are five books in this series, and, since I do everything backwards, I just discovered the book that first introduced the family -- "A Summer to Remember." These books have intense characters, wonderful humor and delicious romance. They're sublime, from beginning to end. 

*Note: You will never find me saying a bad thing about a book. Not that all books are perfect (especially mine). But since I began writing, and know how difficult it is, I find I don't have it in me to be critical anymore. I leave the criticism to others, and I thank them for it. It needs to be done -- just not by me.

Related to the Slightly series is the Simply series, four books about the teachers at a girls school in Bath. I love that they're about women who aren't living the privileged life, but who are making their own way in a frequently treacherous world. The degree of emotion these stories inspire is amazing.

I know Mary Balogh is still writing stories linked to these series. I believe her next book is about the cousin of the heroine of "A Summer to Remember." Sometimes it's hard to keep all the relationships straight from one book to the next, but it doesn't matter unless you like keeping track of such things. So if you're looking for a wonderful author with a enormous backlist, who's still producing great books, give Mary Balogh a try.

So ... your turn. Do you have any recs for me? I'm looking for a historical series I can really lose myself in.

Thanks!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fun with Firemen

I had tons of fireman fun this past week in California. Can't you tell?

That's a fireman at a station in Los Angeles posing with both my books. And his coworker is apparently reading THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME ... or at least hiding behind it.



And look at this photo ... see that sign? Where it says "San Gabriel"? Yep, this is the actual, real-life, non-Bachelor San Gabriel station.


My fictional San Gabriel is somewhere in the desert "Inland Empire" of California, but the real one is in the greater Los Angeles area, and I got to pay it a visit. I dropped off a box of books, which are presumably making their way into the hands of various wives and girlfriends. I met the Fire Chief, who is an extremely gracious man. He gave me a tour of the station, including the drool-worthy, state-of-the-art kitchen the crew built with their own hands.




Wow. Falling in love yet? He also showed me San Gabriel's lovely 9/11 memorial, which is especially meaningful considering the history of my hero in Book 3 (more to come on that.)



Last, but not least, I stopped by the Los Angeles station where my "fire consultant" works. Here he is, my favorite real-life Fire Captain! It was so great to meet him in person. And his crew had a lot of fun with the books. (See the photos above.)




Once again, I was blown away by how nice, humble, and down-to-earth these courageous real-life heroes are. Thanks to all for the lovely time in California.

Jennifer

Monday, June 4, 2012

Visit to Sunshine Books


It's me and the palm trees this week. I've been reunited with the Los Angeles smog, the crazy traffic, and the lovely jasmine-draped patio of my friend. I'm here for a variety of reasons, but while I'm in town I'm planning to visit a few bookstores. If you happen to live in the Southern California area, I hope you'll consider joining me at Sunshine Books in Cypress California on Tuesday, June 5 at 1:30. Here's the address:

Sunshine Books
4931 Lincoln Avenue
Cypress CA 90630

It's a wonderful, very romance-friendly bookstore and I can't wait to spend some time there. As an extra incentive, I'm bringing cupcakes!

I even rented a GPS so I don't get lost cruising around SoCal searching for bookstores. So far, so good. If I weren't already married, I'd be proposing to that thing.

Hoping to see you there!

Jennifer 


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

HOT FOR FIREMAN Release Day


HOT FOR FIREMAN has officially been released into the big wide world! My sweet baby, which started as a kernel of an idea during a long drive from Anchorage to Homer, has blossomed into a full-grown book and flown the nest.

Seriously, I'm not one of those people who think of my books as babies -- it's just a metaphor. But when you consider how much goes into developing an idea into a book, it fits. Creating the characters, devising a plot, fleshing it all out with side characters and fun scenes and sizzling scenes and bit and pieces of imagination and observation and inspiration. Then other people take a crack at it -- critiquers and agents and editors and copy editors and proofreaders. Cover artists work their magic. The publisher machine cranks into action. It takes a medium-sized town to produce a book! Thanks to everyone who has participated in the creation of HOT FOR FIREMAN: Liz, Rick, Maxine, Alexandra, Tessa, Scott, and many more whose names I don't even know!

Here's a little bit about the story, which is the second book in the Bachelor Fireman series, but can be read as a standalone:
 
Katie Dane knows better than to mix business and pleasure, but her new bartender, Ryan Blake, is simply irresistible... and besides, she doesn't plan on working there much longer. That's if things go according to plan. But they never do, do they?
Ryan, the sexy heartbreaker of Station 1, is determined to rejoin the force. Tending bar in the meantime seems like the perfect idea, especially when it means he can spend his nights working next to his sultry new boss... if only the bar didn't keep catching fire.
Throw in a grizzled career criminal, a luscious-bodied barfly, a Bachelor Fireman bachelorette party, a flash-fire romance, and a million-dollar money pot, and suddenly playing with fire never seemed so much like falling in love.

And here's a review from Romantic Times Magazine, which gave it 4 1/2 Stars and made it a Top Pick.

"Bernard thrills again with her fast-talking women and smooth-talking men. The second in her Bachelor Firemen series is a fast-paced, laugh-a-minute ride that will have readers turning the pages at lightning speed. With a series of fires pushing the characters together and a cast of characters that should be headed to the big screen, this is a great read."

You can read the first chapter of HOT FOR FIREMAN on the "Books" page. Or you can just .... 

CLICK TO PURCHASE

ENJOY!!!!

xoxoxox
Jennifer

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cover Secrets

When Avon decided to release the first two Bachelor Fireman books back to back, I was incredibly excited because, as a reader, I don't like having to wait for the next book in a series. I want it now! I want to know what happens next. I want to see my favorite characters again. Instant gratification, how I love thee.

I knew back-to-back releases would be a lot of work, but I didn't mind that. I jumped at the chance. I wrote my little fingers off, met my deadlines, and eagerly welcomed the dates of April 24 and May 29. What I didn't expect (because I didn't know anything) was that I'd have a double whammy dose of the jitters. HOT FOR FIREMAN is coming out in a little over a week, and I've still got release day nerves for THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME. But not to worry, those jitters are a good thing -- it's excitement, anticipation, the fluttery-belly breathlessness before you take a step into the unknown.

Here's a little piece of trivia about the covers of the first two Bachelor Fireman books. HOT FOR FIREMAN originally featured the image on the current THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME cover -- and vice versa.

The first cover I ever saw was this one, with the bare-chested hottie in the kitchen with the girl with the cute skirt. It had the title THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME. I absolutely adored it. But when they switched the two covers, so Mr. Hottie now graces the HOT FOR FIREMAN cover, I adored it even more. Because that cover is hot. (In my humble opinion.)

The other cover has a sweeter feel, which perfectly suits the title THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME (although both books are equally hot, content-wise.)

So I'm not sure who came up with the idea of switching the covers, but I'm very grateful. I think it worked out perfectly. 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The "Love Mother"

The little girl who calls me "mother" isn't related to me by blood. And my path to becoming her "mother" wasn't an easy one. It took several years of trying desperately to have my "own" child, one born from my own body. It took facing the possibility that it might never happen. It took a huge decision to leave the city and job I'd gotten used to. It took meeting and falling in love with a new man -- who just happened to be a single father of two children. It took the gracious and patient work of my husband and his ex to create an amicable relationship for the sake of that little girl. 

Although some steps on that path seemed mortally painful at the time, I'm so grateful for every one of them. That lovely little girl lives with us half of the week. She knows that technically I'm her "stepmother," but she's read enough fairy tales to reject the term since it usually has the word "evil" attached. Occasionally she calls me "Mama," but that's too confusing because that's what she calls her actual, blood mother, whom she loves like crazy. So she came up with her own term for me.

I'm her "love mother."

Being her love mother means more to me than I can ever express. The desire to love and take care of a child is so basic, but it can be expressed in a million different ways. Here's to everyone who offers love, time, protection, and attention to a child. Mothers, stepmothers, foster mothers, aunts, grandmothers, the list goes on. In the end, we're all "love mothers."

Happy "Love Mother" Day!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Things I Didn't Know about Firemen



When I first started writing about firemen, I didn't know a lot about their daily lives on the job. I've done lots of research since then and learned quite a few things. I've used almost all of these items in my books and love how they add some real fireman flavor. So here goes ...

10 Things I've Learned about Firemen 

  1. When a fireman does something for the first time (for instance, breaks down an oxygen tank during inventory), he owes the rest of the crew ice cream. Rookies end up buying a lot of ice cream.

  1. Speaking of rookies, it’s their job to make the coffee in the morning.

  1. You can’t gamble in a firehouse. Instead the firefighters bet each other sodas. 

  1. The shift starts with something called “lineup,” when everyone gathers in the kitchen and they go over the next nine days of scheduling, etcetera.

  1. A certain number of firefighters are adrenaline junkies. When they’re off-shift, you might them on a motorcycle, a snowboard, or a fast car.

  1. When a firefighter arrives at the station, the first thing he (or she) does is take the previous shiftmember’s gear out of the engine and replace it with his (or her) own jacket. That way if a fire breaks out in the next minute, he’s ready.

  1. Firefighters love nicknames. My fire advisor’s nickname is Captain Go-Go. Another fireman is called Psycho, though no one’s sure why.

  1. Most firefighters are also trained paramedics; they respond to quite a few medical calls.
           
  1. Firefighters love to play pranks on each other. It’s a way to relieve the tension and also the tedium of waiting for a call. Go on any firefighter online forum and you’ll hear some great stories.

  1.  On September 11, firehouses across the country honor the 343 firemen and paramedics who lost their lives in the Twin Towers attacks.


I also learned that firefighters have a great sense of humor that helps them cope with the terrible risks they take. It’s in that spirit that I made my Bachelor Firemen books light-hearted, sexy and romantic.

Do any of these items surprise you? I, for one, didn't know the extent of how much 9/11 is still with our firefighting forces. You'll be hearing more about that in Book 3, SEX AND THE SINGLE FIREMAN! 

Yes, I'm almost finished!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Bachelor Firemen and Brenda Novak's Online Auction




I'm thrilled to offer up a Bachelor Fireman Gift Basket as part of Brenda Novak's online auction to fund diabetes research. I've been assembling fun stuff for the past month -- including some extras that aren't even in the description! Many, many wonderful authors are contributing some wonderful items. Please consider bidding -- diabetes is a terrible disease that affects an astounding number of people. 

Thank you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Release Week on Rewind


It's been an incredible week. I think this photo, from a Target in California, says it all. THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME has been spotted at Walmart, Target, and Barnes & Noble (where I personally moved copies from the bottom shelf to the alphabetically incorrect eye-level shelf.) At this particular Target it was nested between Susan Elizabeth Phillips' latest book and Kristan Higgins'.

I've spoken many times about how much I revere Susan Elizabeth Phillips. One of the first romances I ever read was Fancy Pants, which completely captivated me. Like all great writers, she expanded the boundaries of what was possible in the genre. Kristan Higgins is a more recent discovery for me, but I'm now a rabid fan of hers as well. To see my book shelved between the two of them is simply incredible. It's almost surreal, to be honest.

In the days since my book came out, I've been at the mercy of a dizzying kaleidoscope of emotions. It's a little like my wedding -- joy mixed with a generous dollop of stress. The wedding passed in a blur so fast I immediately wanted to rewind and experience it all over again. That's how I feel about this release. I'm never going to have a "debut release" again, but worries about sales and reviews and so forth distract from the pure pleasure of this moment.

I love this photo because it brings me back to the wonder of it all. I wrote a novel that's on a shelf between books by two of my romance writing idols. How amazingly, incredibly cool is that?

Deep breath. Much gratitude. Savor the moment. Then get back to work.

Have a wonderful week!

Jennifer


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Champagne's on Me


The official release date of THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME is April 24, which is this coming Tuesday. However, I've heard reports that it's already available in some bookstores.


So ... I'm not waiting for Tuesday. I'm officially popping the champagne corks now! Please, have a glass on me.

,

As you may know, THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME is my first book. It's hard to believe this day has finally come, a day I've been dreaming about and working towards for so many years. I'm sending my baby off into the big world, hoping it finds some fun people to hang out with.

Since the champagne is flowing, I'd like to offer a toast to my Alaska critique group, to Alexandra my agent, Tessa my editor, to Rick my fire guru, Brody and Melissa, my hero and heroine that I adore, to my family, and to everyone who feels inspired to read THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME. My deepest gratitude to all ... Enjoy!

Here are a few links to sites where THE FIREMAN WHO LOVED ME is available (or will be on Tuesday!)

Paperback:
 

E-book:
 

Have a wonderful week! If you drink too much champagne, please, call a cab.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Favorite Fireman Movies

If firemen make good heroes in books, it stands to reason the same would be true on the big screen. I watch movies about firemen whenever I come across them. The three that stand out in my mind are all excellent, but one looms far above the others -- and I bet my top choice will surprise you! Let's kick things off with:

BACKDRAFT, released in 1991.



Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as two Chicago firefighters battling a dangerous arsonist. I'd guess this is the most famous fireman movie of all. Ron Howard directed and he did a great job with the personal drama (the two brothers don't get along) and the fire scenes. Did anyone except firefighters know what a backdraft was before this movie came out? I doubt it. This movie achieved iconic status and really put firemen on the map. I mean, look at Kurt Russell here. Sigh.



Then there's LADDER 49, released in 2004. Joachim Phoenix plays a rookie fireman to John Travolta's veteran Captain. The film tells the story of his career in flashbacks while he's trapped inside a collapsing building. It shows how tough it is to be married to a firefighter and constantly worrying about the risks. Fair warning: this movie does not have a happy ending, but it's gripping and intense and well worth watching.




And now for my favorite fireman movie of all time:

ROXANNE, from 1987.



Surprised? Steve Martin plays the Fire Chief of a tiny little Colorado town. But that's not his most outstanding feature. No, that would be his nose. And his quick, witty sense of humor. (It's a retelling of the play, Cyrano de Bergerac.)  He falls in love with an astronomer played by Darryl Hannah, but she likes the cute, normal-nosed visiting fireman. A touching, comical series of events follows from there.

 
The film focuses on the romantic comedy, while the fire station provides an endearing, occasionally goofy backdrop. (I'll never forget the scene in which the crew learns to haul a hose to the tune of a waltz.)

Maybe that's why I love this movie the most -- because I write romance, not gritty reality. I want to see characters falling in love, learning to see the true beauty in each other, allowing themselves to surrender to the magic. Hot firemen are a bonus.

So there you have it ... my favorite fireman movie of all time. What's yours? What have I left out? Any other other recommendations? 


Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Fire Guru

While I write about firemen, I am not one. Nor am I married to or related to one. This could pose a problem when I'm trying to evoke a firehouse or describe a structure fire -- if not for my secret weapon: A very generous Captain from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Whenever I have a technical question or anything related to fire station operations, I email him or we talk on the phone. I've never met him in person, but in my imagination he looks something like this:


I'm sure he'd be chuckling over that. He has a great sense of humor, but he takes his job very seriously and wants to help get the details right. While I appreciate this greatly, it can be inconvenient. I had to rewrite one hero's entire storyline because he informed me that fire captains don't make lateral moves from one department to another. The hero of my third book, Captain Roman, is now a Battalion Chief-level Training Officer transferring from New York, which actually makes him even more interesting.

What dumb mistake might someone make at a hazmat scene? He can tell me. What exactly happens during "lineup," the gathering of firefighters at the start of a shift? He knows. How many feet high does an "aerial" go? Sometimes I wonder why I'm writing the books, not him, but I know the answer to that. His book would be a very fact-based non-fiction account of firefighting procedures, while my books are light-hearted, fun, sexy rides in which a major theme is how darn hot firemen are.

No matter what my Fire Guru looks like, I know he's hot -- because he's such a good guy. He never gets impatient with my questions, he's always gracious and good-humored, he's extremely knowledgeable. Best of all, he's very excited for the books to come out.

I, on the other hand, am very nervous for him to read them! No matter how carefully he vetted certain details and passages, I'm sure some errors slipped through. In my dedication, I made sure to say that any mistakes are mine, not his. Completely true.

I hope my Fire Guru can enjoy the books for what they are: love letters to a profession I admire deeply (and think is hot.)


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Christmas in April

Here in Alaska we know how to celebrate April Fool's Day. We started with a hailstorm, phased into some serious snow flurries, then decided to go all out and have ourselves a blizzard. I'd take a picture for you, but what would be the point? It would look more or less like this:





Yep. White space.

I keep scrunching my eyes shut and muttering, "April Fool's, right?" But no. It's a white, white world out there now matter how much I picture Mother Nature getting into the spirit of our human-invented holidays.

On top of that, my husband and 7-year-old are both sick with fever, which had better not be an April Fool's joke because it would be the least funny one ever. Well - it's kind of funny when you picture me, still recovering from knee surgery, stumping through the snow on my crutch to fetch them more tea or find the Children's Tylenol. (Our kitchen is in a separate building.)

I keep scrunching my eyes shut while they take their temperatures, but no ... it's still not an April Fool's joke, poor things. Neither is the game my little girl is currently playing, in which she slurps out her tongue really fast, twice in a row, then makes me guess which time was faster. Or the game in which she whistles snot in and out of her nose and asks if she sounds more like a cat or a coffee maker. Or the crazy game called "how many chapters of Harry Potter can I read before my voice gives out?" (Hey, whatever keeps the kid entertained.)

It's a tradition in our family that when my little girl is sick, she gets to watch a movie. We could have gone with her favorites, Ella Enchanted or Princess Mononoke, but I think we picked the right one considering the weather: The Santa Clause.

That's how April Fool's Day is going here. A blizzard, two fevers, a gimpy knee, and a Christmas movie. No joke.

So ... Happy April Fool's, AKA Christmas in April! May it be a merry one. 


How about you? Any good April Fool's Day jokes? How do you pass the time when your kids are sick?