About J.K. Rock

J.K. Rock is the pseudonym for YA writers-and sisters in law- Joanne and Karen Rock. Their debut book, CAMP BOYFRIEND is the first in a three-book series from Spencer Hill Contemporary. Don't miss their free bonus novellas including CAMP KISS and CAMP CHRISTMAS, available for download at http://spencerhillcontemporary.com/Downloads.html

Behind the Scenes at RWA

Karen and I just returned from San Antonio, TX where we attended the Romance Writers of America Conference. We thought we’d share some of the highlights from the week so you could enjoy the fun with us. For writers, it’s always fun to share news and pictures from signings and reader events since it’s the most glamorous part of our work. Three hundred and fifty days of the year we are decidedly non-glamorous, parked on our couches and dreaming up scenes for our latest creations. To watch us work is not exciting! But when we meet with readers, it’s all good times.

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We had fun signing copies of our books for readers ruing the Literacy Autographing, where all the profits go toward literacy efforts. We were fortunate to find plenty of Young Adult readers in the crowd including these two awesome readers who snagged “I ❤ my Camp Boyfriend” tees.

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We were thrilled to be nominated for a Booksellers Best Award for Camp Boyfriend this year and got to attend a reception for the finalists. We spread the word about the new book in our series, Camp Payback, and hope we intrigued some new readers to try the series. But we also got to leave the conference hotel to explore San Antonio, which was really fun. I snapped a pic of Karen on our riverboat cruise along the Riverwalk:

20140722_204052I’d never been to the city and we were so impressed at how pretty it was. And the restaurants? Wow! We had some amazing meals. Friday night was a party night and we went out to dinner with friends and then on to publisher parties. 

jkpreHQ party

So yes… non stop fun for days! You can imagine it’s tricky to settle back down and start working again after all that excitement. I really liked going out to dinner every day. I didn’t cook or clean, I just had fun celebrating the accomplishments of another writing year. But if we want to attend this event again, we’ll need to settle down soon and write some books. Next year, I’m inviting you all to attend RWA with us so you can visit with other readers and writers. Next year’s conference is in New York City where we can spend mornings sightseeing, afternoons talking about books, and evenings indulging in much better food than we get at home. It’s a real treat, and even if it’s only for a brief time each year, it’s a really nice reward for all the hard work of the days in between. 

 

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I’ll Take Romance in My YA

CampForgetMeNot_FinalCover_2014It’s no secret that the writers behind the JK Rock books are also adult romance authors. I (Joanne) have been writing romance for many years and have written widely across romance subgenres. A little romantic suspense here, a lot of medieval historical there, and a great deal of contemporary steamy stories over all. So when I thought about writing Young Adult novels, there had to be some romance in them.

When my sister-in-law writing partner, Karen, talked to me about possibly writing some YA books, that was my only caveat. I was all in for YA (I love YA!) but if I was going to put my stamp on a story, there had to be a love interest. It didn’t have to be the whole story, but it’s the part of the story I’m always most interested in, both as a reader and as a writer. I want romance, baby!

Falling in love is my story. It’s the tale that is important to me. I love hearing couples’ “first meet” tales or listening to older couples reminisce about the first time they saw one another. It doesn’t matter how old a guy is when he talks about the first time he saw “The One.” He is transported to that moment. He sees his loved one all over again in that perfect, shining light, with the movie slow-motion effect. Ten years, twenty ye9780373608706 (2)ars or fifty years later, it’s still a magical moment.

In YA stories, we aren’t always dealing with “The One.” Not many people find their love of a lifetime as a teenager, although it certainly happens. But I like that the experience of the duds—the cheaters, the liars, the people who don’t like you as much as you like them—all combine to give a character the vision and understanding to recognize the right person when they come along. Dating can be equals part fun and frustrating, but it’s necessary work to help us figure out what qualities we really need or want in a romantic interest. What are your deal breakers? What quirks can you live with and even learn to love?

I guess I like romance in my YA for all the obvious reasons—the swoony moments, the great kisses and my_ladys_favorthe encounters that make my heart beat faster. But I also like it for some less obvious ones. Romance teaches us about love and in doing so, it teaches us about ourselves. Even better, reading romance can provide some of those insights without all the risk to our hearts! I really think that reading romance helped me to know what things I couldn’t accept in a relationship. By reading about a heroine who got her heart broke, I could be a little wiser about dating.

Nothing takes the place of the real thing. Of course. But give me a love story any ay of the week. It’s a story that never gets old for me.

BEA Time

 

It’s that time of year.

The one I look forward to nearly as much as Christmas and far more than Untitled 0 00 32-12my birthday: The BookExpo of America at the Javits Center in New York City. Why do I love it so? From all over the world, readers, writers, bloggers, editors, agents, publishing and marketing staff come together for one purpose. To celebrate
books.

cpThe minute I enter the simmering bustle of the Javits Center, I feel electric. The excitement is palpable and infectious. All around me people are buzzing, but not about politics, work complaints, or the latest Justin Beiber scandal. No. They’re talking about literature. More than that, they’re bubbling over with enthusiasm about what is new and upcoming for established best-sellers and promising debut writers.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the major organ through which all books BookExpoAmerica1-e1394405038476flow. To join the streaming throng as I stroll down aisle after aisle of publishers. The fantastic book displays they’ve created do their job and I’m pulled in, time after time. Best of all, I can meet (if only for a minute) some of my favorite authors (fangirl!!) and snag the latest advanced reader copies from them. Score!

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Some of our cute new swag!

Most of all, I’m overwhelmed to meet fans, fellow authors, bloggers and editor friends whom I know so well online, yet only see once or twice a year! That is the ultimate treat. This year, I’ll be visiting with my Spencer Hill Press family and cheering on fellow authors as they sign their nalaovels. Additionally, my co-author Joanne Rock and I, will be autographing book #2 in our CAMP BOYFRIEND series, CAMP PAYBACK with the Romance Writers of America. I hope you’ll stop by and see us on Friday, May 30th from 9:00-10:00 a.m. at RWA booth #2551. Trust me. Seeing you will be the highlight of my conference 🙂

~Karen

Camp Payback Available Today!

cpIs it so tacky of us that we brought our own Release Day B’day Cake to the Scene 13 Blog today?? We couldn’t help it. We are sooo excited to see CAMP PAYBACK— Bcampcakeook #2 in the Camp Boyfriend series — available for sale!!

Can we interest anyone in a slice of chocolate s’more cake?? We’ve been toasting s’mores all night. Seriously, pull up a comfy log around the campfire and allow us to hit the highlights from our fun release week events.

First, we’ve got a Book Blitz going on. Huge cheers and thanks to the amazing book bloggers working with us through ATOMR book tours to spread the word about Camp Release-Event-JK-RockPayback for us. We’re so grateful. There’s a grand prize for this one that’s open to international readers and we’re giving away six YA contemporary romance titles including: Far from You by Tesse Sharpe, The Break-up Artist by Philip Siegel, Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale, What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, and The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry. Pretty awesome, right? ou can enter here and on lots of other blogs, too!

We’ve also been ordering new camp swag, which is always fun. Divas’ Den emery boards, cabin trading cards, new bookmarks… We could go crazy with those things, but we tried to rein ourselves in. Next, there was a Pinterest Contest during April where we cast the movie version of Camp Payback. Check out all the character pics on our board including Tyler Posey as Javier!

And then, there was the surprise fun note during all of it. While prepping for the release of Camp Payback, we got a message from the creative ladies at a new blog calleFluffy ReadsFluffy Reads. They were excited about the camp series and wanted to do a Read-a-thon of Camp Boyfriend. We thought it sounded like a great time to help readers get up to date on the series. It was so much more tan that!.

Sure there were interview and guest posts… Joanne wrote about why you can’t forget your summer love and Karen worked on the Q & A questions. (See how we always split the work 50/50?) We did the usual prep involved and couldn’t wait to be a part of the event.

But while we did our part, the Fluffy Reads hosts, Francine of Always Lost in BooksSandra of Sandra’s World of Books, and Valeria of A Touch of Book Madness were working twice as hard to make this week extra special for us and for their followers. They organized the read-a-long, coordinated a Twitter party and a hashtag to keep the conversation going (check out what we said using #ReadCampBoyfriend), and organized a super yummy Battle of the Book Boyfriends that will definitely make you smile.

We hope you’ll check out the Battle of Book Boyfriends, and while you’re there, take a walk down memory lane at some of the guys’ best lines from Camp BoyfriendVote for Seth or Matt as your fav and don’t forget Seth fans… he still has a story coming :-).

But now that the Boyfriend Battle has subsided a little, we can fall in love all over again with a new hero. We hope you’ll join us and see what Camp Payback is all about 🙂

Cure for the Winter Blues

Are you f-f-freezing yet? There are snow flurries in the air all the way down to the snowflake1-filteredFlorida Panhandle today!! We’re almost through January, but there’s more cold weather in store. Thinking we can’t be the only ones suffering from the Winter Blues, we cooked up some ideas to keep you warm and entertained with these cozy indoor activities.

1. Read- being snowed in is the perfect excuse to make a dent in your ‘To Read’ pile! Snuggle under a blanket and get caught up in your favorite story. Join us at Goodreads or set up an account if you aren’t a member already. They are great at recognizing your tastes based on your fav books and can recommend lots of wonderful new-to-you authors.

fireplace-tea-books2. Cozy up by a fire- Whether you have a gas or wood fireplace, there’s something soothing about a crackling fire! Bring your hot chocolate with you. And a blanket.

3. Make winter-themed crafts- Cut out paper snowflake garlands, recycle old greeting fireplacecard covers into bookmarks, create winter centerpieces using nature like birch bark, pine cones, and evergreen branches, knit warm garments like scarves, sweaters, mittens and hats. If you’re NOT as crafty as that, try hanging out at Pinterest and finding some easy to do crafts or just make a board of pics you love! 

4. Contact a friend- this a great time to reconnect with someone you’ve been missing. Write a letter, email, Skype or phone… the chance to talk will sweep away the weather blues 🙂 We spent an hour on the phone today and feel the happier for it!!

5. Shop- Okay… technically you aren’t in your house, but you’re are still indoors, and finding all kinds of sales! What a great way to get moving and around people than to visit the local mall and check out some new styles.

***How are you fighting the Winter Blues this week? And have you found any great books we should be reading as we huddle closer to the fire??

Behind the Scenes: Camp Christmas

Happy Holidays, friends!! Welcome to our last blog of 2013. It seems funny to say that 8403262-poinsettia-floweron “Scene 13,” a blog full of authors with debut releases in 2013. When we first heard about this group, we couldn’t wait to be a part of it and share our first YA stories with readers. Now, at the end of 2013, we’ve been fortunate enough to have two novellas and a novel out this year in our new “Camp Boyfriend” series. We’re calling the year a huge success, but even better… it’s been a lot of fun.

Camp Xmas cover 2Our new novella, Camp Christmas, released a week and a half ago. If you haven’t grabbed the FREE download at the Spencer Hill Contemporary website, we hope you’ll go snag a copy now! We had such fun writing a snowy holiday adventure for some of the Camp Juniper Point characters. We thought, just this once, it might be fun to follow the characters away from camp and see what their lives are like back home over Winter Break.

Today, we thought we’d give you some background on the setting for Camp Christmas whiteface02and share our personal ties to the geographic area where it’s set. Karen and I live near the Adirondack region where the story is set on Whiteface Mountain. The characters attend a private boarding school near the mountain and are taking a ski club trip.  It’s been awhile since I’ve skied Whiteface personally, but for several years, I’ve driven one or two of my sons to the mountain on winter weekends to ski or snowboard “the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies.”

whiteface1There is a lot to do at the mountain. I’m partial to sipping hot chocolate by a fire in the lodge, but most people prefer to hit the slopes, the slides or the terrain park for a day of adventure and fun. My sons like to scare me by texting photos from the top of the mountain, especially when the conditions are iffy. They didn’t nickname the mountain “Iceface” for nothing. The snow can turn icy at the end of the day or when the temperature shifts from warm to cold.

During Camp Christmas, the characters get into some trouble because they don’t follow Telemarker on Cloudspinthe park rules and they ski a section of the mountain that is closed to the public. My sons would never do this—truly, it’s dangerous—but plenty of people have attempted to do so on this mountain and others in the area. Conditions can change fast when snow storms roll in or the temperature takes a bit dip. Even a warming trend can be dangerous because it causes a mist off the snow and makes visibility difficult. See why I prefer the cocoa in the lodge?

Although, if I had a cute guy to ski with, I suppose I could be enticed to step out into the snow. Our characters sure had a good time.

***How do you like to spend a cold, snowy day? Chat with us on the boards today and we’ll send one random poster an I ❤ my Camp Boyfriend tee, Camp Boyfriend mini flashlight and friendship bracelets!

To Pasta- With Love by Karen Rock/JK Rock

I celebrated jkrock3 tree picmy birthday last week doing what I love the most: spending time with my family.  It was a low key affair with maximum meaning. My husband, daughter and I shared a quiet day with a meal out, cake, presents, and a trip to see Richard Curtis’ (writer/director of Love Actually) latest film About Time. I’ve always loved his films, such as Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral, for their emotional intelligence and sensitivity. Yet About Time offered more than a beautiful love story and intriguing characters. It contained a message that stayed with me past the end credits. To quote the main character, Tim, “Live life as if there are no second chances.”

In this time-traveler tale, Tim, along with the other males in his family, can go back in time to correct their mistakes.  Yet this beautiful story of unconditional love showed thaabout timet some things cannot be changed, however much we might wish it so. I completely identified with Tim’s longing to see a deceased relative. There are many moments in my life I wish I had a second chance to relive. Times when I let every day stresses and worries keep me from fully enjoying my life and those I loved.

If I could pick one day to revisit, it would be the day my nonna taught me how to make homemade pasta. As her health was failing, the need to learn our family’s Italian recipes became urgent. I’d already learned how to make her gravy (sauce as it is normally called), focaccia bread, eggplant parmesan and other recipes. Yet, as a busy college student, I hadn’t found the time needed to learn how to make pasta from scratch. I phoned my grandmother and planned a Columbus Day weekend visit. NonnaHowever, when the time neared, I regretted making that commitment. My boyfriend was acting strange and distant, I had a paper due, and my roommates hadn’t chipped in to pay the electric bill. When I called to cancel, my Aunt Pam lectured me. She said Nonna had been preparing all week for my visit and had spoken of little else in her excitement. Nonna had insisted, despite her arthritis, on scrubbing her entire apartment and having my aunt take her grocery shopping so that she could personally pick out the ingredients. It would crush her if I didn’t follow through. Resigned and resentful, I agreed to make the trip.

Nonna wasn’t one to show affection. She dished out her love through her food. When I arrived, she handed me a plate of my favorite cookies, her almond biscotti. It was her way of saying, “I’m glad you came, and I love you.” Yet I was too upset about my troubles back in Albany to notice. I listened with half and ear as she prattled in her broken English. Whenever she was excited, her speech was mostly in Italian, and I didn’t try translating it this time. Instead, I let the words wash over me as I thought about my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, Michael. I went to bed early, knowing she’d wake me up as she always did- at five am- by poking me with a broom’s bristles, followed by her booming belly laugh. But my restless night made me cranky in the morning. Instead of giving in and getting up, I refused to leave my bed until seven. When I finally showered and dressed, she’d been sitting at the kitchen table, ingredients at the ready, for almost two hours. Ungrateful person that I was, I barely apologized and we set to work, my hands following hers as we went through the steps and set the pasta out to dry.

orecchietteAlthough I went through the motions of making Orecchiette (pasta sometimes called ‘little ears’), my heart wasn’t in it. Nonna grew quieter as the day went on, sensing, I’m sure, my lack of enthusiasm. I spent the evening arguing on the phone with my boyfriend instead of watching television with her. In the past, we’d always poked fun at game show contestants, ranted about the evils of the world while watching the news, or clucked in sympathy with talk show guests. But this time, she sat alone, hunched on the sofa, silent, as I had what I thought was a crucial exchange with Michael. The next morning, I did get up at five a.m. But my early rise was motivated by my need to leave quickly. I wanted to get home and continue my fight with Michael, finish my paper, and round up my roommates’ share of the electric bill.

Well, I did get the money for the electric bill, I earned an A on the paper, and Michael and I made up- for the time being. Yet all of that pales in comparison to what I’d lost: the chance to fully appreciate the last time I’d see Nonna alive.  She died a month later, and all I have from our last day together is a hastily scrawled recipe. I would give anything to have a second chance to redo that time. To linger over coffee and almond biscotti with her, to pay close attention to what she said, to jump out of bed and help her set up for pasta-making, to patiently learn our family recipe rather than rushing through it, to sit beside her as we watched TV, her hand slapping my knee as she laughed, my head on her shoulder as I inhaled her favorite scent- gardenia.

italian thanksgivingAbout Time was a great reminder that life doesn’t give us do-overs. We shouldn’t let the stresses and worries of our everyday lives keep us from appreciating those we love and the wonderful blessings we’ve been given. The message couldn’t come at a better time given the Thanksgiving Season. Being thankful isn’t enough. It’s important to take action as well- to be engaged- to pay attention to the things that matter most. The normal moments I take for granted are the ones I will want back someday. Better to appreciate them now, than wish I had another chance to enjoy them. So my wish for this Thanksgiving is for us all to be thankful and to be giving. To commit our hearts and minds to those we love instead of allowing other, less important things, to steal that time from us.

campcoverwithquoteIf you could have a second chance, and go back in time, which moment would you relive? I’d love hear your thoughts! Answer in the comment section below, and be entered to win a copy of Camp Boyfriend, print/Kindle/Nook version- your choice. I will announce the winner on http://www.facebook.com/jkrockwriters tomorrow. Thank you so much for commenting! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, laughter, and unconditional love. Oh- and pasta too 🙂