Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Family History

So with Thanksgiving coming up, my historical thoughts are turning closer to home. Every family has a history, and often it's every bit as interesting as what's in a history book. In fact, I've spoken with more than a few authors whose own family history has inspired aspects of their novels, even if their book is purely fiction.

My husband is really into genealogy. The history of his family in the New World goes back pretty far, as he had ancestors chasing the Mayflower across the Atlantic. They landed at Plymouth Mass about 2 or 3 years after the Pilgrims. Which I suppose showed good judgment on their part - they missed that really bad first winter. And then proceeded to criss-cross the US in the following centuries. There's even one great-great-etc-grandmother who knew Abraham Lincoln when she was a girl, and traveled from Illinois to Oregon in a covered wagon as a teenager. He's got ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, and in the Civil War, on both the North and South sides.

So how did he find all this out? Some of it came from a scrapbook of obituaries kept by his grandmother and great-grandmother. Which sounds macabre, I know, but in genealogical terms, a scrapbook of obits is pure gold. The rest he searched out online on various genealogical websites.

Lately he's been expanding his family history back to Europe. is a fantastic ancestry website that allows you to search a gazillion documents, and hook up with other people searching out their family histories. Some of these people turned out to be my husband's distant cousins! So when they all hooked up their family trees, my husband was able to trace his ancestors back to 1600s England and--surprise!--Holland. Really cool. Maybe someday when we're retired we'll go to England and dig some more. All the way back to 1066? Who knows :-)

Compared to my dear husband, my own ancestry in America is a babe-in-the-woods. Both my maternal grandparents, and my paternal grandfather and my father, emigrated from Italy in the first quarter of the 20th century. I know my mother's family were farmers from Calabria, and my father's family stone masons from Molise, but don't know any names of any ancestors past the late 1800s.

But it's been fun searching their record on the Ellis Island website ( and on the 1920 and 1930 census records on On, I've found the original ships manifests for my ancestors' voyages to America, and can read where they came from, where they were going, how tall they were and how much money they had in their pockets. The census records show where they lived, who was in the household, and who their neighbors were.

So...Happy Thanksgiving, with a special thanks to all the people who came before us.

Anyone else out there have some family history to share?


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» Monday, November 17, 2008

Author Interview – Jeff Rivera

I recently met an author I’d love to introduce to you. His name is Jeff Rivera, and his debut novel, Forever My Lady, was just released by Grand Central Publishing. The excerpt on his website hooked me right in, and I can’t wait to read it!

Here’s a bit about Forever My Lady, and a short interview with Jeff. Enjoy!

Forever My Lady

Urban Romance

Grand Central Publishing (October 28, 2008)

ISBN 0446545562 $6.99

Dio "Playboy" Rodríguez grew up with a drunk single mother in gritty Las Vegas, and fell into gang life at 13. Now 17, Dio’s softer side--known only to his childhood sweetheart, Jennifer—hides beneath a fierce exterior. But when a drive-by leaves Jennifer wounded and sends Dio to prison boot camp, their relationship is put to the test.

In prison, a scowling Dio resists the authority of his drill instructor and clashes with fellow inmates, but he pours out his heart in letters to Jennifer. He promises he'll turn his life around, if only she'll promise to wait for him.

But when Dio's finally released from prison, it’s to find Jennifer on the verge of marrying another man.

And now....drum's Jeff!

Joy: Jeff, how and why did you write Forever My Lady?

Jeff: The story came about because I had a friend who had come out of a gang and was trying to turn his life around for his lady. I then added many things I've been through personally to the story.

I wrote Forever My Lady as a screenplay when I was about 19 years old--so that's over 10 years it's taken for it come this far! I believed in the story even after people kept rejecting it. To me it was something that needed to be told—I couldn’t give up on it. And eventually, the story found its way to an editor who loved it. That's what I would advise people: if you really believe in something, stick with it.

Dreams really do come true and that's a theme of Forever MyLady because it’s the dream of Dio, the main character, to really become someone. Most people in his life have given up on him, even his own mother. But there's one special girl who believes in him and encourages him when everyone else says he's a lost cause. Jennifer and Dio are soul mates who met in middle school and are there for each other throughout the years. When Dio gets himself into some trouble and lands in prison boot camp, he promises Jennifer he'll turn his life around and marry her when he gets out. But then he’s finally released, he discovers she's planning on marrying someone else.

Joy: How did you come up with the characters in Forever My Lady?

Jeff: Every single one of my characters in the novel is based on myself and or someone I know. Usually they were family members or close friends but I'm always on the look out for characters so if you ever pass me on the street you very well might be in my mind for a future character. You better watch out! That's what the first graders used to say to me when I was 6-years old and writing stories about everyone. They'd say "You better watch out or he might write a story about you!"

Joy: What was a typical writing day like?

Jeff: My day consisted of working my day job in the morning, then sitting my butt down to write even when I didn't feel like it, even when I wanted to give up. I would walk the beach in Hull, Mass. and I would think and visualize and feel the response readers would have to reading Forever My Lady and picture myself being published. I would visualize so much and it took me out of the misery I was in.

Joy: When you hear that people just don't read books anymore, does that make you worry?

Jeff: Not at all, Joy because I am a firm believer that there's more than enough for everyone. not only that I believe that people are reading now more than ever, it's just in a different form, a different format. Besides, it's just like when people say there's an economic crisis, the money didn't disappear, it still exists. It's just that it may feel like it's frozen like the ice caps at the North Pole at times. (note from Joy: Forever My Lady is available as an instant Kindle download on!)

Joy: You've been through some personal tough times. How did you keep inspired when life around you was falling apart, and you were homeless and struggling just to make ends meet?

Jeff: Through it all, I could never imagine a world without writing. It's very much a part of who I am. I've always told stories in my head. I've always desired to do it. I learned to stop desiring and start doing, that's what kept me going. Writing is very therapeutic for me actually, it helps me work out things in my head and what I might be going through emotionally.

Joy: Where can we get Forever My Lady?

Jeff: At most any local bookstore, or online at amazon, Borders, Barnes&Noble and other online retailers. You can also read an excerpt at

Joy: Thanks, Jeff!

All the best...


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» Monday, November 10, 2008

Introducing The Chatelaines!

Come on over to a fun new blog, hosted by seven wild, crazy, and historically obsessed authors!

Bonnie Vanak, C.L. Wilson, Cindy Holby, Emily Bryan, Gerri Russell, Jennifer Ashley, and Joy Nash are THE CHATELAINES. (whew, did I spell that right??)

We'll be blogging about history, life, and writing at The Chatelaines

Come and check us out!!


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