First review ever for “Streaks of Blue” (5 stars)

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I’m re-posting the first review ever for “Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl To Save Her School” … this was written by Christine Cheff, a blogger for the Books Unhinged website, who accessed my book via NetGalley. I’m blown away …

5 stars

Wow. After reading this book, I am truly at a loss for words right now. I have so many emotions running through me I’m not sure how to organize my thoughts into coherent sentences to get my point across and not sure I will. I am just not sure I can do the author justice. Knowing that there might have been references in this book to the Newtown, CT massacre had me indecisive about reading this book because of all the sadness and heartache which surrounded the event but I am glad I took the plunge.
This book is about two very disturbed boys Adam and Thomas, that are plotting the next big school massacre at their New Hampshire high school. A senior, Nicole, who knew Adam in elementary school, tries to reconnect with the damaged teen at the start of their senior year after having a “dream” or “premonition” of the shooting. She tries so very hard to pull him from the darkness into the light and is becoming successful. Or is she? I’m not sure if it is the constant reference to the shooting massacre in Newtown, CT or the fact that I have a little boy who will be attending kindergarten in 2 years but I was an absolute emotional wreck through this book. I felt like there was a vice squeezing my chest waiting for the horror to come as I read page after page. I was angst ridden during most of it. It was chilling and horrifying to hear the thoughts these two boys had and the lengths they went to, to complete their plan of massacre. Their lack of compassion for human life brought out the most emotion in me. Because these boys were from the “wrong side of the tracks” they had been stereotyped at an early age and had endured endless bullying in school. The effects of bullying know no limits. I’m not even going to get into my thoughts on bullying because they are so strong but after reading this book, it has opened my eyes even more on it. It is admirable for the heroine in this book to try to help Adam in this story but it also is made very clear that one person alone can not fix what is broken in a boy like him. This book casts light on the truth that even adults in higher positions in communities that are supposed to be trained to deal with these issues, can be blind to it. I felt such anger and rage towards these two boys but at the same time felt sad for them. There were many cries for help from these boys some blatant and some subtle, that were just passed right over. It brought back all the sadness and heartache I felt for the Newtown Massacre. As time goes on, you forget. You forget the rage and loss you felt when you watched the news that day. You forget how a community pulled together to grieve and move on. You forget the individual stories of the senseless lives lost. You forget how easily this can happen anywhere. I just can’t put into words how profoundly this book touched me. I am still trying to digest all of what I read. It has however, helped me be a lot more informed of bullying and the effects of it and signs to look for. I almost want to say that teens should read this book but as an adult even I wasn’t prepared for the emotions I felt reading it and the after effects of it. Kudos to the author for writing on such a sad topic, a sad event in history and the topic of bullying. I feel fortunate that I got to read this before it has actually been released. I am wondering how controversial this book will be when it comes out and how many emotions it will bring to the surface. I can only hope that if it only helps one person, it has done its job. I feel that a book like this when read can almost make people be better parents. It’s a reminder that children’s personalities are formed and shaped at such a young age. I’m going to go and try to pull myself together now and smother my little boy with hugs and kisses.

Chapter listing for Streaks of Blue …

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1. Lakes of the Clouds

2. 14th & Stardust

3. Bat-shit Crazy

4. Driving Mr. Brody

5. The Police

6. Three Words

7. Calling for Backup

8. Demons and Trail Angels

9. “We’re Going to be Friends”

10. Sugar Cubes

11. The Acid Den

12. Inside Information

13. The Punch Heard ‘Round Lakeview

14. Talking About Trips

15. 9/11

16. The Unexpected Diagnosis

17. Bucket Lists

18. A Date at Chili’s

19. A Shot in the Dark

20. The Aftermath

21. The Wounded Poet

22. AC 360

23. Kearsarge North

The Smashwords interview with Jack Chaucer …

John cropped good one

Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A: I grew up on Chaucer Drive in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, so it must be fate that I became a writer. I enjoyed Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” in high school, too. As a result, I picked Chaucer for part of my pen name.
My family moved to Chaucer Drive when I was 6. By age 7, I was already the leading force in creating a neighborhood newspaper with other kids on the block. We’d pass the handwritten paper around at the end-of-summer block party and all the adults would get a good laugh.
Writing novels and raising twins may be my day job, but I’m still in the newspaper business at night. I edit and design pages at the Republican-American in Waterbury, Conn. I’ve been in the journalism business for 22 years now at four different papers in three states.
Q: What’s the story behind your latest book?
A: My latest book is “Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School.” I know. The title is quite long — kind of like Pearl Jam’s song “Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town” or a Fiona Apple CD title. The subject matter of this book, however, is no laughing matter. When 20 first-graders and 6 women were gunned down at an elementary school on Dec. 14, 2012 — and not all that far from where I live with my wife and kids — the whole world seemed to stop and pay attention. How could gun violence in our schools and country get any lower than an entire class of first-graders being wiped out 11 days before Christmas? But, of course, the world goes on about its business eventually.
Not for me. In fact, this was the only topic I could think about as I considered what to write about next. My new book, which will be published on Sept. 27, is the culmination of eight months of wrestling with this brutal but extremely relevant plague on our society.
The protagonist, Nicole, receives a warning in a dream that one of her classmates — a boy she once knew in elementary school — is plotting the next big school massacre at her high school in New Hampshire. The story follows her attempt to reconnect with and befriend the boy before it’s too late.
It was an extremely hard story to write, but I’m very proud of how it turned out and I look forward to sharing it with the world very soon. I’ve dedicated the book to the Newtown victims and have pledged to donate half of the proceeds to the Newtown Memorial Fund, whose motto is “Hitch Your Wagon to A Star.”
Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: I think it has become cool to be an indie author, so much so that even Big Six authors are going off on their own and e-pubbing directly to readers now. It’s an exciting time for writers. It’s such a bold and empowering challenge to try to become an author and publisher in my own right that I simply could not resist. I’ve cranked out four novels in four years and continue to learn a lot every day, mostly through trial and error. It’s already been a fascinating journey through this creative/marketing process. Though I’m still basically an unknown author, I have this gut feeling that my new book “Streaks of Blue” will put me on the map. It’s an exciting time and, much like a reader of a page-turning thriller, I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Q: How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
A: Smashwords is amazing. It gives you the ability to create something special and then distribute that creation to the entire world FOR FREE. It gives you the financial freedom to hire quality editors (Bill Bernardi and Dave Krechevsky, you both rock!) and amazing cover designers (Damon Za and Ida Jansson, you both rock!) to polish your novel before e-shipping it out to every corner of the planet. In short, if Mark Coker ran for president, I would vote for him.
Q: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
A: Do you remember the 1980s show “The A Team?” I think it was the Hannibal character who always said “I love it when a plan comes together.” Then the music would kick in.
Well, I love it when you start with this one great idea and you keep developing it until it spawns more great ideas and, eventually, the whole plan comes together, resulting it a great book.
It’s like putting a giant puzzle together, but all you get to start with is one completely blank page.
Q: What do your fans mean to you?
A: So far I only have a few, so every one is precious! Their positive feedback is a huge boost!
Q: What are you working on next?
A: After four novels in four years, I need a bit of a mental break following “Streaks of Blue.” But my next goal is to attempt to write a trilogy. So far I’m toying with the name “Mammyth,” but it’s all very nebulous at this point.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: George R.R. Martin is a big one. I’m a huge fan of the “Game of Thrones” series. I would love to find a way to world-build 1/100th as well as him!
Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A: My twin son and daughter. I’m not sure “inspire” is the right word though. They’re both 2, so it’s more like they demand that I get out of bed each day.
Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
A: Working, raising twin toddlers, cutting a lot of grass (we have a pretty big yard) and, very soon, preparing for my league’s fantasy football league draft!
Q: What is your writing process?
A: I actually hand write the first draft. I can’t sit at the computer for that phase of the project. It takes too long to come up with all of my ideas. When I do get a good idea, I never have writer’s block. The first draft takes me about 3 months. Then it’s rewriting, overhauling and editing for another 3-5 months. The cover concept took a lot longer to finalize for “Streaks of Blue” than for “Queens are Wild.”

Published 2013-08-24.

“Streaks of Blue” will be published on Sept. 27th

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I have set a release date of Sept. 27 for “Streaks of Blue.” I plan to publish both the e-book and the paperback in time for that early fall release date. 
More details here ……

Half of the proceeds will go to the Newtown Memorial Fund. More info on that cause here:

“Wild” time at Main Street Marketplace


Thanks to all who visited me at the Torrington Library tent last night at Main Street Marketplace. I met a lot of great people, played some fun card games and even sold a bunch of autographed copies of “Queens are Wild.” The jazz band was fantastic, too. Special thanks to Jess and the library crew, as well as my new readers: Dave, Brianna, Katie, David, Debra, Jon and Aubrey! Brianna gets a special shout-out for actually reading “Queens” while she was walking around at the event. “I love it. I’m on Chapter 3 already!” she reported.

I’m already looking forward to returning to the Marketplace on Aug. 22 at the Republican-American tent with fellow authors Michael Dooling, Tracey O’Shaughnessy, Alan Bisbort and Bill Dunn. Also, thanks to colleague Jim Shannon for snapping the above photo.