Sunday, October 28, 2007

Access Denied: Excerpt 2

Access Denied is my first novel. It is part science fiction, part fantasy, part romance. It's available on Cerridwen Press. Leah Bradley is one of the residents of Sanctuary, a safe haven meant to give humanity a second chance to repopulate the earth after the effects of massive asteroid strike. The single residents of Sanctuary are paired up for three month trial assignments by the Committee. You only get ten tries and Leah has just received assignment number seven.

[From Chapter 3]

She held the mug in her hands, feeling the warmth seep into her skin. She sat down before the terminal in the common room of the NAE maidel house’s Gamma wing. This place had been her home for three months now. She had enjoyed it. It had been restful. She had known the pressures of the carousel-like assignments had been tiring but she had forgotten how lovely it was to only have to worry about pleasing one’s self. And she had this wing almost to herself. Only two others lived here and they did not share her work schedule. Today the common room was hers.

The blue envelope sat on the desk before her. She gingerly sipped at the coffee. The only thing she could honestly say she was looking forward to in this pending disaster was once again waking up to real coffee. The stuff dispensed in the maidel house kitchens barely qualified as coffee. Setting the cup down, she flicked on the terminal. She tore one end off the envelope and tipped out the contents. The new residence badge identified her new home as NAE quadrant, Section Red, Level 31, Quarters 26. The designation meant little but it did tell her something about her assignment. He spoke English. She had heard of some people being assigned outside their region as they tallied up more and more failures.

There was a good chance he was from the United Kingdom. Red section housing was usually designated for those who had come from that area and it could be a turbulent sector. Nationalists from several countries resented being lumped under the banner of UK, particularly the Irish who took great pains to point out repeatedly that they were not part of the UK.

A great many still clung stubbornly to national identities. Leah sighed, she really didn’t see what any of that mattered now. There was no England, no Ireland, no Scotland or Wales. There was no United States or Canada for that matter. Fighting that reality only led to stress and tension and it was a waste of energy. These were not words she’d have spoken out loud. To do so would have been unkind and argumentative. After all, perhaps it gave them something of normalcy to cling to, or perhaps it was just habit.

Sighing she picked up the blue disk and slipped it into the drive. She logged in and opened the folder. She glanced at the photo of the man and breathed a sigh of relief. This was no Paul, this was an average looking man. Perhaps he would respond better. She skimmed the information.

Name: James Edwards.
Age: 35.
Prior occupation: musician
Current work assignment: NAE Health Services.

Leah blinked and looked again. Exactly how did a musician get an assignment in the Health Services division? Had he been retrained? Was he a laborer assigned there to clean?

The remaining information was sparse. It had seemed odd to Leah at her first assignment to be given so little information, but when Karen explained it, it had made sense. If you learned everything up front you would have little to talk about at first. Besides, a complete profile would include very personal information. Information you might not wish to share with someone especially if you were not going to be acquainted for more than a brief assignment.

Marital Status: Married to Sarah Donaldson, seven years (deceased); Married to Nina Pruitt, one year (divorced)

She frowned. This one had been married twice. This wasn’t good. It would take a brave woman to take this one on. Maybe going in knowing it wasn’t going to be permanent wasn’t such a bad thing this time. She scanned the remaining information. He was born in Scotland but the Before Time residence was listed as London.

She took one last look at the face of the man she would be living with for the next three months. His eyes were light brown, almost amber in color and his hair raven black. The face was not unattractive she thought, but seemed to have an unusual sense of character about it. Overwhelmingly the expression, the look in the eyes and the twist of the mouth spoke of someone who was tired. Bored, reluctant and tired. Well, they’d have that in common if nothing else.

A small tapping sound skittering across the floor got her attention. She smiled down at the source. It still amazed her that this was allowed—well, allowed with special permission and a credit bond and the outrageous cost of purchase. Charlie. Charlie was a gift from one of her previous assignments. The only one she had ever thought had had a chance to succeed. To mark the second month of their assignment he had surprised her with Charlie. The small red dachshund had delighted her then and continued to delight her now. Maybe I’m not destined to find Prince Charming, she smiled down at the eyes that reminded her oddly of the man still rotating on her monitor. But I have Charlie. She reached down and scooped him up, holding him so her cheek pressed against him. She turned him to face the monitor.

“So what do you think?” she asked.

He seemed to watch the twirling figure for a moment and then let out a low whine. “I know what you mean, my friend.” She stroked his ears, “I know what you mean.”

She retrieved the data disk and residence badge from the terminal and shut it down. She carried Charlie to the room that was hers. She had packed her things last night and now settled Charlie into a carrying crate. He and her belongings would be delivered to the residence by transport staff. Generally they arrived before she did because they took the service passages rather than the common areas.

Thirty minutes later she was being escorted through the Section Red corridors by a small thin man she had never met. He had arrived at maidel housing with the transport staff and had introduced himself as the man’s life guide. He had spoken little until they reached the level upon which the quarters were located. Then, a few doors down from number 26, he stopped and turned to her.

“Ms. Bradley, I know it is unusual for a life guide to provide escort for such a move but I wanted a chance to talk to you. Mr. Edwards can be a bit difficult at times,” the man began uncomfortably. “He is not unkind nor is he insensitive; it is simply that he is rather suspicious of people and well…”

“There is no need to explain,” Leah reassured him. “No one is at their best for these kinds of things. We all go into them with expectations and with shattered expectations. I make it a rule never to form an opinion in the first few minutes.”

“In James’ case, I’d ask you not to form an opinion in the first few days,” the man said wryly. He had relaxed considerably.

“You have a deal,” Leah smiled at him. “Besides, I’m not exactly new to this. Don’t worry.”


For more information or additional excerpts visit www.jacquelineroth.comAccess Denied is available from Cerridwen Press

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I love Halloween. It is actually may favorite holiday. When else do you get to pretend to be someone (or something) else and it's absolutely okay-- and fun. You can be as strange, scary, sexy, outrageous as you want to be and it's all good.

This year's Halloween party came early for us in the form of a murder mystery party. The Immortal's Ball. The idea of the game is that you are an immortal (or one of the few mortals) invited to the annual Immortal's Ball Costume Party. Since it's a costume party you character has to come in costume. There is however, a problem in the immortal world as the mortal watchers, the humans who help keep the immortals secret, are being murdered. But who would do such a thing?

The party was fun, even if the turn out made it a bit hard to play the game. I went dressed as a leopard while the SO donned the garb of a demon-- horns, wings and all for which the best costume award was received.

I miss the days of dressup. In so many schools now of days there are not Halloween parades or costume parties. In our neighborhood no one goes trick or treating. I can't help but feel that in addition to the this being a response to the tendency of our society to cater to the most vocal of opinions rather than the most commonly held, it is also a symptom of the fact that we are pushing our kids to grow up too soon.

There was no excitement this week in anticipation. I've heard no one talk about what they were going to be for Halloween. It's actually very sad.I know safety is an issue. I know many parents are concerned about the unhealthy aspect of so much candy. I know there are those who don't believe in celebrating the holiday. It just seems that with the death of this holiday we are losing more and more of our innocence and wonder as human beings.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's About Time...

I've had the good fortune to be featured on blogs by Amarinda Jones and Anny Cook, two author's I greatly admire. I have the good fortune of sharing the same editor with them and it's been such a wonderful experience. In reading Anny's review today, which you can find at : , I realized I've yet to post an excerpt on my own website. Duh!

So over the next couple of days I'll be posting some bits from Access Denied.

Excerpt 1 (General Audience)

“I can’t believe it’s been three months already.” He sat on the edge of the bed staring blankly at his hands. “Time is supposed to be such a constant thing, yet it has moved erratically for us, hasn’t it?”

“Yes,” she pressed the folded tunics down into the trunk then gently smiled at him. “At first you thought it couldn’t move fast enough.”

“Now I want to slow it down a bit. Just for a few more days,” he smiled at her sadly.

“No you don’t,” she closed the lid on the silver, metal chest. “You just hate when things change. You hate not knowing what will happen next.”

His grin turned rueful. “How is it you know me so well?”

She moved over and sat next to him on the bed. “Because you let me.”

He slipped his arm around her shoulder and hugged her tightly. “I’m going to miss you, Leah. I’m going to miss you terribly.”

She nudged at him with her shoulder, “Only until your next assignment. Once you get it you’ll barely remember my name.”

“She won’t be you,” he said sadly.

“Which is a good thing for you,” she laughed. “Imagine that horrific scenario. At least you know whoever they send you will be better than me.”

His face sobered. “Not really. She may be beautiful, Leah but she won’t be better than you.”

“If she’s beautiful she’ll be better in the ways that count,” her voice whispered softly. “It’s only your third assignment, Paul. You’ve plenty of time. You’ll find her. Look how well the committee matched us for personality. Now you just have to wait for them to get it right in the looks department.”

“You make me sound so shallow,” he turned his head away from her.

She reached across him and placed her hand over his, “Not shallow, just human.” She stood, keeping hold of his hand. “We’d better go. We’ll be late for the appointments with our life guides if we don’t get moving.”

“Leah, what if I said I changed my mind…”

She stopped him with a raised hand. “Paul you know you haven’t. You’re just afraid of change, of being alone. You won’t have to be alone for long. Ask to go back into the pool immediately. You could have a new assignment by next week.”

“But I can’t see you again for three months,” he pouted.

“No, you can’t. Those are the rules and you know why they exist. They keep people who can’t accept their rejection from bothering the former assignment when the decision wasn’t mutual.” She patted his cheek. “Once the ban is lifted, however, you owe me a beer.”

He hugged her to him wishing for all he was worth that he felt something more than the brotherly affection for her. But he didn’t and they both knew it. Had both known it would be this way from the moment she stepped into his residence rooms for the first time. No, even before that. He had known the minute he had been given her dossier. The minute he had seen her.

Keeping hold of his hand she led them out of the second bedroom she had occupied during the three month assignment. The metal door to the residence slid open and they stepped out into the corridor.


Sitting in the office of her life guide she smiled at the woman across from her. Karen was a dear but a bit self deluded. “You’re sure you wouldn’t like to beat this one to the punch? Go on record as rejecting him?”

Leah shook her head. “Paul was a darling. A bit high-maintenance but a darling.”

Karen now shook her head and watched her computer screen. The chiming indicated the arrival of a message and she touched the screen. A sad, resigned smile curled her lips. “It’s from Paul’s guide.”

“It’s official then,” Leah looked down at her hands. She was surprised by the sadness that suddenly settled over her. She had known from the first day she met Paul that it would come to this. At the end of their three month assignment, she would be rejected. Just as she had been five times before.

“I’m sorry, Leah,” Karen whispered unhappily.

“I’m not,” she admitted. Despite the sadness and the weight that came with yet another rejection, she wasn’t sorry. Now Paul would have a chance to meet someone who was perfect for him, someone with whom all the pieces fit.

“Was there never a chance with this one?” Karen looked searchingly into her eyes.

“No,” Leah admitted. “No. We were well matched as friends but that’s it. Perhaps if he had been farther into the process, if he had been misassigned more often we might have reached some compromise. But Paul is still looking for his princess and has every right to chase that dream as long as he can.”

“So he rejected you right from the start?” Karen sighed.

Leah nodded. “From the moment he saw my file. From that moment he knew there was no way this was going to work.”

“He didn’t even give it a chance,” bitterness crept into her life guide’s voice.
“Don’t fault him, Karen. He was only ever honest, polite and kind. It’s the system that’s at fault. How could you ever have expected someone like him to accept assignment to someone like me?” Her green eyes looked down at her hands, where they lay in her lap.

“Because appearances aren’t everything,” Karen snapped. “Why can’t these men see that?”

Leah shook her head, “Be fair, it’s not only men. How many women come through here rejecting their assignment because he isn’t attractive to them?”

“More than I’d care to admit,” the other woman admitted grudgingly.

“Building a family unit takes a strong coupling. We all know that. The man and woman must be strong as a couple before they can be strong as a family. That means a relationship that is mutually satisfying on all levels, emotional, spiritual, psychological and physical.”

Karen’s eyes narrowed. “That was low, Leah. Using my own words against me.”

The small, full lipped mouth smiled. “Well, I’ve heard it often enough. Five times now? I just thought I’d save you the trouble of having to say it a sixth time.”

Karen started to chuckle. “So you’ve come away with one more friend.” Leah nodded. “Well, what do you say we get you back into the pool again right away?”

Leah sighed. “I’d rather not. I’d prefer a pass if possible. I’ve never used one and I’d like to sit out this next round if you don’t mind.”

Karen looked at her thoughtfully. “We don’t have any residences available at the moment so you’d have to go back into maidel housing.”

“That’s fine. The North American/European maidel housing is near the education section anyway. It’s convenient.”

“So you want to play the old maid school teacher for a while, eh?” Karen’s voice was not unkind but she definitely did not approve.

“Just one cycle, please Karen. I just need a bit of time to rest from it all. I’ve been a good girl and have been through five assignments in the past fifteen months. I need a bit of time to recharge that positive attitude you keep harping about.” Leah said soberly.

“Right,” the guide conceded. She touched a few more boxes on her screen and then looked back up at the woman before her. “The reception desk will have your paperwork. Three months assignment to the NAE maidel house. Then you come back here and we try again.”

The round face brightened just a bit. “Thank you, Karen. I really thought I was going to have to fight you on this.”

“Just promise me you won’t spend the time moping, getting all negative on me,” the guide said sternly.

“I promise. I’ll be back in three months to get my next assignment, rested and down right perky.”

Karen smiled, “Well don’t go overboard on me.”
For more excerpts and information check out

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Did We Really Need to Know?

This may be a delicate and controversial topic for a blog but the most interesting thing to appear on my radar in days is the announcement by J.K. Rowling that Dumbledore is gay. Or rather the lack of response to this announcement that came Friday at a large speaking engagement Rowling held at the beginning of a U.S. tour. I would have expected to have heard about it before late Sunday morning.

It makes some wonder in the usual cynical way of things, if she really planned it this way from the start or if this came about as an idea later. Oh, I don’t know, say about the time she decided to do the encyclopedia and began to wonder just how much more she had to tell us that she hadn’t already revealed in the podcasts and interviews following Deathly Hallows. If so, I must admit she has my interest. Rowling never gives away the biggest piece of dirt, she’s a clever one in that way. So if "Dumbledore is gay, actually,” isn’t the biggest piece of news she has to offer, what is?

We all know who Harry marries, how many kids and what their names are. Same for Ron and Hermione. We know what happens to Neville Longbottom, who he marries and his career choice. We know all about the fact that Dean Thomas’ dad is actually a wizard who left the family to protect them from the first round of Voldemort inspired purges. We know Snape harbored an everlasting love for dear Lily Potter and that he, not James, was that dreadful boy Petunia hated. We know Dudley will probably make a fair to middlin’ human being. So what is the big news?

But maybe not. As one who writes stories as well, I can tell you that yes, a writer knows things about their characters that never make it into the books. Think about it. Think about your favorite character in literature. Wouldn’t you love to be able to prod the writer for more details? Find out more about them? Or just have the writer explain something you don’t quite understand? I know I have a whole host of questions for some of my favorite writers.

Jane Austen: What did ever happen to Margaret Dashwood? That seems like one heck of a story left untold.

Sherrilyn Kenyon: Exactly why would Fury Katalakis seek out his father’s family and stay as part of the pack for so many years if he didn’t intend to let anyone know who he was or was he waiting for the old man to die?

Mo Willems: Does the pigeon ever get to drive the bus?

For more information and insanity visit
Access Denied by Jacquéline Roth is available now at Cerridwen Press

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I firmly believe it is important to know your limitations. A friend of mine has as his signature: " 90% of being smart is knowing what you're dumb at." This is a very smart man, my friends. By knowing what you don't do well, you can avoid some of those lovely little moments in life when you end up looking like a complete idiot. Some not all. There will always be those that sneak up on you, but wouldn't be nice to be able to reduce the number?

A woman writer I know blogged today about the idea of identity theft and how could we possibly protect ourselves from this. Now Kelly Kirch has an incredibly inventive mind. If you've not read her blog or been following the epic saga she has been writing with Anny Cook and Amarinda Jones, you have missed some of the most outrageously creative work I've ever seen.

But back to my point. She included in her blog the idea that this would make an excellent plot for a story. It would. A wonderful plot. For someone else, not me. Such a story would by its very nature be a mystery. I suck at mysteries. Yep, I do. I can write action. I can write science fiction and fantasy, I can write romance and erotica. But not mystery. It's sad really, because I love mysteries. I used to devour The Mrs. Murphy Mysteries by Rita Mae Brown (until the last one that seemed like an excuse to use her new hobby of growing grapes as the plot for a book that was dull as dirt) and Lillian Jackson Braun's Koko was one brilliant cat until that series too, jumped the shark. Agatha Christie, Patricia Cornwell, Robin Cook, I love crime books with deeply logical plots and a good dab of science and fun.

But I can't write them. One of my works in progress is a fantasy piece that involves the stoic Captain of the Queen's Guard. In one chapter there is a bit of a mystery. A man the captain knows is accused of murder and it is neatly and quickly resolved. Despite this, my intrepid reviewers and workshop partners managed to rip holes in the chapter that made me want to cry.

I may one day have to write a fanfiction mystery. Yes, fanfiction. It is one of the best ways to learn elements of writing. I use it with my students. But that is a topic for another blog, and another day.

For excerpts, cool links and more information about Jacqueline Roth, visit

Please remember to check out Access Denied Now available from Cerridwen Press.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Release Day at last

Finally the day I’d waited for most of my life came. It was last Thursday. The day that my first novel was released to the public. Access Denied became my first attempt to convince the world that I am really and truly a writer. Available on Cerridwen Press, Access Denied is the story of two people trying to wade through the pressures of survivor’s guilt, finding love, building new lives and all under the watchful eye and control of the Committee.

Of course in the true manner in which my life usually works, I developed bronchitis the day of the release and haven’t been able to blog or do anything to promote it. So now, from the confines of the sick bed:

Official Blurb:

In Sanctuary the Committee controls everything, food, healthcare, housing, information and even love. The Committee’s life guides match the single residents for three-month compatibility assignments. Everyone gets ten changes to find true love or at least an acceptable partnership.

There is something special about Leah Bradley. She has the unique ability to reach out and really connect with the people in her life, but if she’s so special why is she facing her seventh assignment? From the moment she meets James he makes it clear he grants no one access to his life or, especially, his heart. Brooding and sad, he carries a darkness inside him that swallows another part of him every day. What’s worse, he seems to want it this way. Leah slowly loses her hope and her heart. But just when James begins to see Leah the way she truly is, he’s forced to ask himself one question: Does the Committee really have happily-ever-after in mind?

Excerpts in the days to come or go to to find excerpts for this and other titles.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Book Review: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Good In Bed
Jennifer Weiner
Washington Square Press
Available Here

Admittedly this is an older book and many people may already have read it, but I stumbled across it a couple of weeks ago and finally got around to picking it up. Being a “larger woman” I was intrigued by the premise of Weiner’s first book. And besides, one of the most wonderful things about books is that they have no expiration date. They will sit on a shelf forever waiting for us to have time to delve into them.

Cannie Shapiro is a twenty-eight year old woman who is happy with her life, her friends, her job and her dog. She’s even feeling pretty good about her size sixteen body. The only thing Cannie wasn’t happy with was her boyfriend who seemed to have no direction, no ambition and just pretty much no oomph. So Cannie decides they should take a break. She didn’t count on that break including his getting a job as a columnist in a national woman’s magazine where his first column exposes his trials and tribulations while “Loving a Larger Woman”. This starts a cycle confrontations and decisions that forever change Cannie’s life…just maybe for the better.

Weiner leads her reader on a witty, intelligent, loving and sometimes heartbreaking journey as Cannie finally puts her life in perspective, clears away the fear, anger and self-recriminations that have been hiding the reflection of a remarkable woman. The characterization is realistic and well drawn for Cannie, but secondary characters (particularly Cannie’s mother and her partner) often degenerate into caricatures. It seems as if Weiner wasn’t willing to devote the time to creating lesbian characters that went beyond the chain-smoking, softball playing, vegetarian stereotype. Attemps to redeem this at the end of the story sit fairly shallow.

Over all this was a good read and Weiner’s writing voice pulls you through. Cannie’s anger at the father who abandoned her, her embarrassment at her mother’s new found lesbianism, her own personal struggles with self all make this a story you don’t want to miss.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Her First Ebook

My sixty year old mother called me today to tell me she just read her first ebook. Seems she went to the link I sent her when my first novel came up on the "coming soon" page at Cerridwen Press and saw a book on there that interested her. So she had my stepfather download it for her and she read it.

I come from a family of readers. If you knew us, that would seriously surprise you. My family is loud, boisterous, obnoxious and mostly insane. The nightly entertainment agenda usually includes professional wrestling, NASCAR, demolition derbies and any television show whose humor is geared toward 12 year old boys with lots of bathroom and bodily function humor. Of our older generation, only myself and one of my sisters graduated high school. I'm the only one to go to college. I'm thrilled to say that has changed as my siblings push their children through high school, and in the case of my niece, on to college.

You would expect a family who has no volume switch and among which only one or two of us even know what a filter is, let alone use one to keep the thoughts in our head from flying out of our mouths like gumballs from a gumball machine, to focus their reading on hunting, car and sports magazines along with the occasional "gentleman's" magazine.

But the truth is that books and reading have always been apart of life for most of us. My great grandmother, who I was blessed to have in my life until she was 100 years old, was a reader. She loved her paperback romances as long as "there wasn't too much of that sexy stuff in them." Her saddest moment, I think, wasn't when she had to surrender her driver's license, but when her arthritic hands became too painful to hold the books. I wish Harlequin had made books on tape. She'd have been the first in line.

My grandmother was a bit more risque, reading the top of the trashy best-sellers list. I think she may have owned every Jackie Collins book that was published before her death at 87. The table next to her chair in the living room always had a book with it's bookmark hanging out. And she bought books for her grandchildren. She and my grandfather, who though he wasn't a reader himself --he could barely read at all, were always bringing home books from the store or from garage sales.

My grandfather was the one who told me a long time ago that I could be anything I wanted to be. He brought home books on space exploration in the late sixties and early seventies because he was sure one of his grandchildren was going to be an astronaut. (He got one who is a pilot, but no astronauts yet.) He brought home books on history and the constitution because he was sure one of his grandchildren was going to be a lawyer. (He got one who earned a political science degree and then went off to teach middle school.) He gave me my first copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, my first copy of Charlotte's Web, Ann of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess and a dozen other books that filled my head with dreams.

My mother, who dropped out of high school at 16 is a reader. Now she is exploring the world of ebooks, because her daughter is about to be epublished, but she has always read. My sister, who also left school at 16 to raise a family, is a reader. She is a devoted follower of Danielle Steel, V.C. Andrews and others who write about the struggle of families and women. Her son has followed in her foot steps and always has a dog-eared paperback nearby.

My brother is a reader. Stephen King and John Grisham fill his bookshelf and his four children have more books then they could possibly read between momma, daddy, auntie who is a teacher and a writer, auntie who is a librarian, grandma and other aunties who are avid readers. When their van was destroyed in a crash, one of the biggest traumas for the kids was the loss of their copy of the now out of print "Do Your Ears Hang Low."

So we are readers. All of us. And now we are moving into the 21st century and exploring the new world of ebooks. You know, an ereader might make a good Christmas gift for some of the folks on my list.