“Streaks of Blue” is officially released today!

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First, I just want to thank everyone for their interest and support. This novel is my own little attempt to turn something horrific that happened on December 14, 2012, into something positive. The massacre left all of us feeling helpless. As a novelist, I turned to writing about this issue directly because what happened that day should NEVER be forgotten and we all need to do SOMETHING about it to prevent the next Newtown.

Based on early reviews from readers young and old, inside the USA and out, “Streaks of Blue” already has inspired a teen in Georgia (Russia) to reconnect with former friends, a mom in upstate New York to squeeze her young son much tighter and a teen in India to go mountain climbing. There are currently 10 reviews up on Amazon and about 16 on my Goodreads page if you want to get the full perspective. Not every review is 5 stars, but even the 3-star reviewers are impressed with main character Nicole Janicek. They all agree she is a rare gem of a female lead in the YA genre for her bravery and compassion along a difficult journey.

Again, I will be donating half of the proceeds from this book to the Newtown Memorial Fund. Below are numerous purchase links for the book, which is now available virtually everywhere online and at Amazon for the paperback version:

Amazon/Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Streaks-Blue-Angels-Newtown-Inspired/dp/1492175382/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379606152&sr=8-1&keywords=streaks+of+blue

Barnes & Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/streaks-of-blue-jack-chaucer/1116758449?ean=2940045223355

Apple:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/streaks-blue-how-angels-newtown/id691787532?mt=11

Kobo:

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/streaks-of-blue-how-the-angels-of-newtown-inspired-one-girl-to-save-her-school/CrFqSgJMmUaoeOGX8Dvxow

Smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/349327

 

Thanks!

Jack

 

 

 

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“Streaks of Blue” is officially released on Friday! Here’s Chapter 1 in its entirety as a little teaser …

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Streaks of Blue: How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School

 This novel is written in memory of the 20 children and six women who went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on December 14, 2012, and never came home. Half of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the Newtown Memorial Fund. For more information, visit http://newtownmemorialfund.org/

 

  CHAPTER 1: LAKES OF THE CLOUDS

 

Nicole Janicek beamed, her glowing face a lighthouse beacon for the sea of silent, stony summits surrounding her in the late summer twilight. Undistracted by the long, fine strands of light brown and dyed-blue hair whipping around her in the gusty mountain air, the teenager’s spritely blue eyes danced from peak to peak as they faded into silhouettes. The moment itself was a fully conceived poem, but Nicole was too consumed by the blackening White Mountains to bend down, reach into her pack and pull out her journal.

Then she heard her best friend’s boot steps traversing the rocks to her left.

“The hut is filling up,” Candace Cooper informed her as she approached, “but at least they have a decent bathroom. Wow, it’s getting dark fast up here.”

“And cold,” Nicole added. “Hug me already, girl.”

Candace leaped over both of their packs and landed on Nicole’s rocky perch. The soon-to-be high school seniors embraced warmly beside alpine flowers and a glassy blue pond — one of several tarns on the beautiful broad shoulder of Mount Washington. The Lakes of the Clouds, as they are known, sit at about 5,000 feet between the summits of Mount Monroe (5,200 feet) and Mount Washington, the highest peak in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range at 6,288 feet.

“Look,” Nicole said, pointing to the purple northeastern sky. “Venus.”

“Yes, the goddess of love,” Candace said, her long, auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail as the wind buffeted them again. “I saw a few young men in the hut who could help keep us warm tonight and perhaps Venus is our sign.”

Nicole gasped and pulled back from her slightly taller friend in semi-mock outrage.

“Don’t even think about chickening out on me now, Candace,” she said.

“They’re going to catch us, Nikki. You know the rules — no camping above the tree line. They can almost hit us with a stone from the hut,” Candace replied, her green eyes pleading for a wooden roof instead of a nylon tent at such an exposed position. Despite the mercifully clear and hospitable conditions on this 55-degree night, the wind made it feel much colder and the girls weren’t used to it after a long, hot summer.

“So what. I came here to sleep under the stars and that’s what I’m going to do,” Nicole said, her hands on her hips. “Are you with me or not?”

Candace gazed up and found more planets and stars shining back at her.

“God, they should call this place Lakes of the Cloudless tonight,” she finally said. “If it weren’t so damn clear, I wouldn’t, but …”

“Good, then let’s hunker down and very quietly start setting up the tent … like almost in slow motion,” Nicole said, bending down and reaching for the folded-up tent inside her navy blue pack. “Every minute that it gets darker and they don’t see us works in our favor.”

“OK, but I’m blaming it all on you if they catch us or a bear eats us,” Candace quipped.

“I can live with that,” Nicole said. “The bears live in the woods and we’re above them here. Besides, some things are worth taking a risk for.”

Dressed in a powder-blue fleece sweat shirt, black wind pants and sand-colored hiking boots with red laces, Nicole took the lead in setting up the green nylon tent and spreading out a foldable cushion inside it for added support. They made camp on a stony patch of ground because they didn’t want to risk getting in trouble for trampling the fragile alpine flowers. When Candace joined her friend inside the tent and stretched out her long, athletic body against the cushion, she immediately grimaced.

“Ouch, Nikki, this is most definitely gonna suck,” she said, causing them both to laugh. “I really do hope we get caught now.”

“Stop it,” Nicole protested, punching her friend playfully in the shoulder. “We’re roughing it for one night. That’s all. It’ll make you appreciate every other night when you have all the comforts of home.”

“I swear I’m gonna start howling like a she-wolf until they find us and make us sleep in the hut,” Candace threatened with a grin.

“Uh, no you won’t, C.C. I’ll tape your mouth shut.”

“With what?”

“Duct tape.”

“Duct tape? You brought duct tape?”

“Of course,” Nicole said, tossing Candace an energy bar from her pack as they now sat Indian style across from one another inside the tent. “I also brought this,” she added, grabbing a small headlamp and strapping the black band around her bi-colored hair so she could see as darkness descended on the ridge. “Cheryl used a headlamp just like it on her trek.”

“You and your Strayed,” Candace said.

“You should finish it,” Nicole advised, referring to Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” “And you know she’d break the rules and make camp right here.”

“I read enough of that book to know Cheryl would walk right over to that hut tonight and hook up with the first guy she met,” Candace said, her mischievous grin returning.

“You make a valid point,” Nicole said, nodding and taking a sip from her water bottle. “She was a real slut back in the day, but I do admire how honest she was about that in the book. I’m …”

A flashlight suddenly shining against the tent made both girls flinch and freeze in place. Then they heard boot steps against a nearby rock.

“Oh shit, Nikki, I told you,” Candace whispered, before smiling and adding, “I’m saved!” as she whimsically thanked a higher power with prayerful hands.

Nicole frowned, stuck her tongue out at Candace and then stuck her head out of the flap of the tent.

“Hello?” she said, squinting toward the flashlight.

“Hi, I’m Will from the hut crew,” a handsome young man in his early 20s said, squatting beside their tent with the flashlight on them.

Candace nudged Nicole aside and stuck her head out of the flap, too, causing Will to shuffle his legs, lose his footing momentarily and nearly fall into the tarn. Clearly, he wasn’t expecting to see two teenage girls camping in this spot. Nicole and Candace both managed to stifle their laughter.

“Sorry to disturb you, ladies,” Will said, quickly recovering and remembering why he was there. “But there’s no camping permitted above the tree line or anywhere within a quarter mile of Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Do your parents know you’re out here?”

“Yes,” Nicole replied, her blue eyes defiant. “We may be young, but we’re seasoned hikers. We’re practicing to do the whole Appalachian Trail, maybe even the Pacific Crest Trail. We’re not starting a fire and we’re not trampling the flowers.”

“Still, rules are rules,” Will said. “We have a couple of bunks not filled at the hut, so why don’t you join us there. It’s not far at all. “

Candace was attracted to the man and saw an opportunity to help her friend get “Strayed” in her way while possibly getting “Strayed” herself in an entirely different way.

“I’ll make you a deal, Will,” she said slyly. “I’ll join you at the hut if you’ll look the other way and let my friend Nikki here live out her dream of sleeping under the stars just this one time. How does that sound?”

The young man smiled and shook his head, but clearly he was entertaining the offer. When all of Candace emerged from the tent and she bent over to pull out her pack, Will just stared and had no words.

“You’d really do that for me?” Nicole asked Candace.

“Gladly,” she replied, pulling her hair out of its ponytail and flipping it around in the wind for full effect.

“No fires, no …,” Will said, finally regaining his voice, only to be cut off by Nicole.

“No trampling the flowers, got it,” she said with a smile. “Thanks, the both of you … I really mean that.”

“I’ll be back to check on you early, Nikki, or join us in the hut if you come to your senses. Otherwise, just call me if you need anything … we do have working cell phones up here at least,” Candace said.

“Anything else, Mom?” Nicole asked as they began walking away.

“Yes, don’t roll into the pond and drown,” Candace yelled back.

“You be careful, too,” Nicole shot back with a loaded smile that she hoped Candace saw in the glare of her headlamp.

When they were gone and it was certain she had been given the green light to camp under the stars 5,033 feet above sea level, Nicole climbed out of her tent and jumped for joy. She launched all 5-foot-6 of her toward the heavens and tried to grab a piece of the Milky Way as it cascaded above her. Though her boots crashed back onto the rocky ground, she felt her heart leap into space.

 …

 Adam Upton roused his younger brother from a daze when he suddenly jerked the wheel to the right and drove the rumbling, red pickup truck into the empty parking lot at Lakeview Regional High School.

“What the hell are you doing?” Brody asked. “School doesn’t start until next week.”

Adam brought the truck to a screeching stop facing the large, open practice field on the left side of the sprawling brick school building.

“I’m about to give you your most important assignment for the school year,” said Adam, who at 17 seemed nearly double the size of his 13-year-old brother. “And you’re gonna do it when I tell you to do it because that’s what freshmen are supposed to do — kiss the asses of the upperclassmen.”

“That’s total bullshit,” Brody protested.

Adam punched his brother in the left arm and laughed. Brody grabbed his arm in pain and hung his head. He was tired of being ordered around, overpowered and pummeled by his Ultimate Fighting Championship-loving brother.

“Get used to it, son. Life is bullshit,” Adam said with a nasty edge to his husky voice.

“You ain’t my father,” Brody said hesitantly, not looking at him and fully expecting another punch at any moment. “And whenever you start calling me ‘son’ something bad is about to happen.”

Both boys had messy, wavy brown hair and brown eyes, but Adam was 6 feet tall, stocky and stubbly faced. Brody, whose growth spurt hadn’t started yet, was only 5-4, fairly thin and didn’t even sport peach fuzz on his cheeks yet.

“I’m the closest thing you got to a father, son, and you’re gonna pull a prank for me sometime very soon,” Adam said menacingly, his whole face boring into his brother, leaving no room for argument.

“OK, OK … what the hell do you want me to do?” Brody asked, practically whining for mercy.

“You’re gonna pull the school fire alarm for me,” Adam said flatly, shifting his weight back toward the steering wheel.

“Why?” Brody asked after pondering the assignment for a moment.

“You’ll see,” Adam replied, his eyes now focused on the grassy field in front of the truck. “And if you’re smart, you’ll hide in the bathroom after you pull it. You really don’t want to get caught up in a turkey shoot.”

“What?” Brody asked, utterly confused.

“It’s just a hunting expression, son,” Adam said.

“Oh.”

18-year-old book blogger Katie Topchishvili of Georgia (Russia) interviewed me today about “Streaks of Blue” …

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Katie:  Hello Jack! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, so how are you?
 
Jack Chaucer: Hello Katie. You’re very welcome and it feels great to be interviewed from half a world away. I’m doing very well.
 
K.: Nice to hear. My first question is, what are your expectations after the book is released on 27 September?
 
J.: I’m not sure what to expect, but I’ve been immersed in this dark subject matter since January and it feels refreshing to have completed that journey and to step into the light again. This was an extremely tough book to write. I live a fairly short drive from where the Newtown shootings took place last December and I have twin 2-year-olds of my own, so it was one of those events that makes your heart stop. Very crushing. I was thinking about a possible sequel to my last novel, “Queens are Wild,” but after what happened in Newtown, I knew I would either write nothing at all for quite a while or I would have to write about the subject of school shootings. Eventually, I decided to take it head on and go for it. “Streaks of Blue” is the result of grappling with that issue virtually every day for eight months. I’m proud of the way the book turned out. I wrote it from the heart and I wouldn’t change a thing.
My expectations are that the book will generate quite a bit of interest — it already has based on the 230-plus requests from all over the world for a pre-pub copy on NetGalley prior to its release. I also think it has the potential to stir up a lot of discussion, particularly with the first anniversary of Newtown coming up in December. Many requests for the book have come from high school, junior high school and college librarians.
As for sales, I have no idea. I’m basically an unknown indie author doing everything myself, so I would be blown away with any kind of significant sales. I’m very curious to see what happens. I hope it does really well, especially since I’m donating half of the proceeds to the Newtown Memorial Fund.
 
K.: I loved Nicole very much, and she inspired me to reconnect with my own classmates, Who, if it isn’t a secret, inspired you to write Nicole?
 
J.: I’m so glad Nicole inspired you to reconnect with your own classmates. That’s probably the best compliment an author could hope for when he or she creates a character. There is no real person who inspired Nicole. She is someone I just started with as an ordinary good person who enjoys hiking in the mountains and tries to do the right thing. She is strong, adventurous, optimistic and kind of a deep thinker about life. She is a little too trusting for her own good. And I would say her character continued to grow and deepen as she and I went through this pressure cooker of a plot line together.
 
K.: Who was your favourite character you wrote about?
 
J.:  I would say it’s a tie between Candace and Caleb. Candace is another very strong person who kind of gets sucked into some very tough situations because of her friendship with Nikki. It was interesting to write how she dealt with those situations — keeping her mouth shut on the tense hike with Adam and Nikki even though she wanted to say plenty … instead she wears a shirt that says “You Can’t Handle This” across her chest; texting Nikki from the bathroom during the fire alarm; getting into a fistfight with Valerie; dealing with the school administrators; pounding the steering wheel outside the police station and driving away. 
Caleb has a minor role but an important role in the story. His disability (cerebral palsy) and the way he gets mocked in the cafeteria kind of sets the whole detention/suspension plot in motion. I also loved writing the scene with his parents telling him he didn’t have to get up for school the day after everything went down. It just showed how an average good sophomore kid, who had enough struggles of his own, got blindsided by the ripple effect of gun violence. He had just become friends with Nikki, sat with her at the football game and suddenly there was a chance she could be taken away in the blink of an eye. It’s a scary world right now.
I would add that I also enjoyed writing Anderson Cooper into this book. I liked having him interview Nikki on live TV. Their conversation was one of my favorite scenes to write in the entire book.
 
K.: What do you think, is it easier to write about a good or a bad character and why?
 
J.: For me, no character is easy to write. Bad or good, it’s very challenging to create a fictional person and make he or she seem real. It has taken me three or four novels to finally get to the point where I feel my characters truly seem unique, deep and authentic.
 
K.: I guess this is the question I’m most afraid and excited to ask, Why Blue Streaks? Why not red or purple?
 
J.: It was always blue. The mountain climbing theme was always running through my approach with this book. I used to climb the White Mountains of New Hampshire when I was kid with my father and his friend Vin. The blue streaks of paint on the trees and rocks are real. They really do mark the trails up there. So Nikki having blue streaks of hair and being a trailblazer in her own right just made great thematic sense. I also pictured blue streaks of mascara … tears for Newtown and every other school shooting we’ve had. We are very much in a streak of blue, a streak of sadness right now with all of the lives that have been lost. I also think Nikki’s poem “Streaks of Blue” in the story captures the soul of the book.
 
K.: Are you going to write another such great novel soon?  I myself am really excited to read your other works.
 
J: I don’t have anything definite in the works at the moment. My goal is to attempt to write a trilogy, but I don’t really know what direction I’m going with it yet. After writing four novels in four years, my brain is a bit fried. I need some time to read, relax and get inspired again. My previous three novels are all out there and available. “Rocco & the Russian Mountains” and “Freeway & the Vin Numbers” are both young adult stories that can be read for free on Booksie.com. Just do a search for Jack Chaucer and you’ll find them. “Queens are Wild” is an adult sci-fi thriller with a 17-year-old female protagonist named Margeaux Quigley. She gets sucked into a real, time-warp chess match that transports her from her high school classroom in 1984 to a place called Area 52 in 2036. There is an attempt to overthrow the U.S. government and the first female president that year, and Margeaux is tasked with helping checkmate a bad guy named Robert “Balls” Ballentine. “Queens are Wild” is available in paperback ($11.99) on Amazon and in e-book form ($2.99) at just about every online retailer. It truly is a wild, unique and unpredictable story that has drawn dozens of rave reviews. But, because it has a largely unknown author, “Queens are Wild” remains unknown to most of the world. Perhaps “Streaks of Blue” and this fun interview will change that!
 
K.: I hope it will, and Thank you Again for the interview. Good luck with everything! 
 
J.: Thanks for the interview Katie!
 
K.: Today we had an interview with new indie author – Jack Chaucer, who is the writer of the new, breathtaking, upcoming novel: Streaks of Blue. Don’t miss it! Out on September 27th. Pre-order your copy now! 

If you use Kobo or Barnes & Noble, you can pre-order “Streaks of Blue” e-book for $2.99 starting now …

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Here’s a link to the first pre-order page I’ve seen pop up for “Streaks of Blue.” It’s with the e-book retailer Kobo.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/streaks-of-blue-how-the-angels-of-newtown-inspired-one-girl-to-save-her-school

 

 

 

Update: The Barnes & Noble pre-order page is up, too! Here’s the link for that:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/streaks-of-blue-jack-chaucer/1116758449?ean=2940045223355

Apple also has a pre-order page set up for “Streaks of Blue,” but on my non-Apple computer screen it doesn’t seem active yet. Perhaps on an Apple device, the pre-order button is active. Here’s the link just in case …
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/streaks-blue-how-angels-newtown/id691787532?mt=11

You don’t get charged for a pre-order until the book comes out on Sept. 27th, but it allows orders to accumulate and hopefully gives the book a big pop right out of the gate.

Stay tuned for Amazon paperback and Kindle links coming soon.

And remember, no matter how or where you buy “Streaks of Blue,” I’ll be donating half of the proceeds to the Newtown Memorial Fund. So here’s a chance to read my best novel yet AND help a worthy cause all at the same time!