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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So here we go! I'll admit to being both excited and nervous. It wasn't easy coming up with these questions for discussion. There are so many potential landmines for an author to trip over in talking about her own book with readers. It's easy to sound like you're saying "Oooh! Didn't you just love this part?" or "I sure hope this thing that this person did was okay..." In addition, I was afraid of coming off like a high school English teacher, which could get pretty annoying pretty quickly. And to be honest, I love to talk about my book. There it is, out in the open. I wrote it with a great deal of passion, and it makes me happy to see when that was conveyed to other people. But the downside is that I could easily get bogged down in minute details that are of no interest to you guys.

So I narrowed the first section of the book down to these eleven questions (there's no significance in that number, by the way) to start things out. I'd love to talk about other things - like the use of color and counting, the individual characters, behind-the-scenes stuff - if that would be of interest to you all, so please let me know if there's anything in particular that I didn't cover that you'd like to discuss. And if there are any questions, please ask away! I figured that we could start here and see where our discussion takes us. And big thanks to Kindle Boards for hosting this Klub!



1. We are introduced, via flashback, to Tess at the age of seven, yet we see an already damaged soul. As you read along, how much of seven-year-old Tess did you sense in the modern-day woman?

2. Tess’s initial reaction to reading about the murder in New Mills is to see it as a job opportunity, and thus a ticket out of her current situation. It was only later that she humanized the tragedy. Did this affect your feelings about her?

3. It’s immediately obvious what attracts Tess to Brian; he’s young, good-looking, and someone new. What did you attribute his equally obvious mutual attraction to, and did that impression change as the book went forward?

4. In the first few chapters, we see the dynamics of Tess’s relationship with her older brother and that of Brian with his younger sister. How do you think this affects their budding relationship with each other?

5. Tess’s views about money, possessions, and wealth are a little skewed to say the least. What do you make of this?

6. What did you determine about Rachel in her initial sparring with Tess? How did their relationship change later on?

7. The ostensible reason for the break up of Tess’s marriage with Jason had to do with her not wanting children. Yet the first time we seen Tess have a natural, even animated, conversation with another character is when she meets eight-year-old Cassidy Burke. What do you attribute this to and how do you think it affects her when she holds her newborn nephew a few days later?

8. In spite of their mutual attraction, Brian rejects Tess’s advances at first. Did this feel realistic to you?

9. The first impressions the reader gets about Tess’s ex-husband, Jason, are filtered through Tess’s feelings of rejection and hurt. Was there anything in the first section of the book that made you question her take on the demise of their relationship?

10. Tess is able to open up to Zeke almost immediately. Why do you think this is?

11. As this section comes to a close, Tess and Brian are about to - shall we say - kick start their relationship. What do you think they have going for and against them?
 

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Ok. Here are my initial comments.
Oh yeah, by the way, any author insights you want to share, just fire away. I am always interested in finding out what the author intended.

1. We are introduced, via flashback, to Tess at the age of seven, yet we see an already damaged soul. As you read along, how much of seven-year-old Tess did you sense in the modern-day woman?
I pretty much felt that much of Tess' tension came from her childhood. Loved the description of her favorite nun - I had one just like her (sister Robert who was young, pretty and smiled) - all of us kids loved her best. I truly believe that what happens to us young affects our lives.

2. Tess's initial reaction to reading about the murder in New Mills is to see it as a job opportunity, and thus a ticket out of her current situation. It was only later that she humanized the tragedy. Did this affect your feelings about her?
It was clear that she had been "scarred" and needed to get away. Survival first. I understood it.

3. It's immediately obvious what attracts Tess to Brian; he's young, good-looking, and someone new. What did you attribute his equally obvious mutual attraction to, and did that impression change as the book went forward?

4. In the first few chapters, we see the dynamics of Tess's relationship with her older brother and that of Brian with his younger sister. How do you think this affects their budding relationship with each other?

5. Tess's views about money, possessions, and wealth are a little skewed to say the least. What do you make of this?

6. What did you determine about Rachel in her initial sparring with Tess? How did their relationship change later on?

7. The ostensible reason for the break up of Tess's marriage with Jason had to do with her not wanting children. Yet the first time we seen Tess have a natural, even animated, conversation with another character is when she meets eight-year-old Cassidy Burke. What do you attribute this to and how do you think it affects her when she holds her newborn nephew a few days later?

8. In spite of their mutual attraction, Brian rejects Tess's advances at first. Did this feel realistic to you?

9. The first impressions the reader gets about Tess's ex-husband, Jason, are filtered through Tess's feelings of rejection and hurt. Was there anything in the first section of the book that made you question her take on the demise of their relationship?

10. Tess is able to open up to Zeke almost immediately. Why do you think this is?

11. As this section comes to a close, Tess and Brian are about to - shall we say - kick start their relationship. What do you think they have going for and against them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I pretty much felt that much of Tess' tension came from her childhood. Loved the description of her favorite nun - I had one just like her (sister Robert who was young, pretty and smiled) - all of us kids loved her best. I truly believe that what happens to us young affects our lives.
Absolutely! I have a friend who is a recovering addict, and she once told me that when you start using a substance to deal with or hide from your problems, your emotional growth stops at that age. I used that idea when writing Tess. She wasn't completely stuck at age seven, but I always kept her younger self in mind when writing her reaction to stress as an adult.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Along those lines, I was very careful to give each of the major characters at least one vice. Brian drinks too much, Rachel smokes pot, Tess...well, Tess does a lot of things. Even Jason smokes cigarettes. No matter how well-adjusted we are (and who among us are completely well-adjusted?) we all have something we use to cope.
 

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1. We are introduced, via flashback, to Tess at the age of seven, yet we see an already damaged soul. As you read along, how much of seven-year-old Tess did you sense in the modern-day woman?

This is either one of those "I don't get it" moments - or maybe I like Tess too much to judge her as "damaged."

2. Tess's initial reaction to reading about the murder in New Mills is to see it as a job opportunity, and thus a ticket out of her current situation. It was only later that she humanized the tragedy. Did this affect your feelings about her?

No. I thought it was ingenious.

3. It's immediately obvious what attracts Tess to Brian; he's young, good-looking, and someone new. What did you attribute his equally obvious mutual attraction to, and did that impression change as the book went forward?

He was attracted because she's stacked, new and willing. (We don't know if she's good looking.) At some point he decided that he wanted more than a one-night-stand.

4. In the first few chapters, we see the dynamics of Tess's relationship with her older brother and that of Brian with his younger sister. How do you think this affects their budding relationship with each other?

She can see her brother in Brian. I'm not sure if it has any affect on Brian.

5. Tess's views about money, possessions, and wealth are a little skewed to say the least. What do you make of this?

If you mean her refusal to take half the joint savings, it seems reasonable to me under the circumstances.

6. What did you determine about Rachel in her initial sparring with Tess? How did their relationship change later on?

Rachel initially seemed petulant and perhaps jealous, but by Chapter 9 she was beginning to soften.

7. The ostensible reason for the break up of Tess's marriage with Jason had to do with her not wanting children. Yet the first time we seen Tess have a natural, even animated, conversation with another character is when she meets eight-year-old Cassidy Burke. What do you attribute this to and how do you think it affects her when she holds her newborn nephew a few days later?

It seemed to me that Tess was very fond of children but afraid of the responsibility of parenthood.

8. In spite of their mutual attraction, Brian rejects Tess's advances at first. Did this feel realistic to you?

Not from what we know about them and what we know that they know about each other. But, I don't believe in love at first sight. Lust at first sight is another matter.

9. The first impressions the reader gets about Tess's ex-husband, Jason, are filtered through Tess's feelings of rejection and hurt. Was there anything in the first section of the book that made you question her take on the demise of their relationship?

If we assume that her Ex was at the hospital when Tess's nephew was born in the hope that Tess would reconsider, she's missed an opportunity to fix it. Or maybe she doesn't want to fix it.

10. Tess is able to open up to Zeke almost immediately. Why do you think this is?

He's no threat.

11. As this section comes to a close, Tess and Brian are about to - shall we say - kick start their relationship. What do you think they have going for and against them?

For: Mutual sexual attraction. Against: They're both wound too tight.

Note that I'm reading this for the second time and it's a bit difficult to remember how I first reacted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm having a hot toddy and then going to bed to see if I can put this bronchitis in its place, and will answer more thoroughly in the morning, but I couldn't turn in without saying that this made me laugh up my ginger ale:

"He was attracted because she's stacked..."
 

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RJ Keller said:
I'm having a hot toddy and then going to bed to see if I can put this bronchitis in its place, and will answer more thoroughly in the morning.
Get well soon.
RJ Keller said:
...but I couldn't turn in without saying that this made me laugh up my ginger ale:
"He was attracted because she's stacked..."
I couldn't very well use your description in a family-friendly forum, could I? Most young people won't know what it means anyway. ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jeff said:
1. We are introduced, via flashback, to Tess at the age of seven, yet we see an already damaged soul. As you read along, how much of seven-year-old Tess did you sense in the modern-day woman?

This is either one of those "I don't get it" moments - or maybe I like Tess too much to judge her as "damaged."
What I meant by "damaged" was how she saw herself. Hopefully most seven-year-olds don't think of their soul as 'hard ground'. That would be really depressing.

Jeff said:
2. Tess's initial reaction to reading about the murder in New Mills is to see it as a job opportunity, and thus a ticket out of her current situation. It was only later that she humanized the tragedy. Did this affect your feelings about her?

No. I thought it was ingenious.
Ha! Me too, actually.

Jeff said:
3. It's immediately obvious what attracts Tess to Brian; he's young, good-looking, and someone new. What did you attribute his equally obvious mutual attraction to, and did that impression change as the book went forward?

He was attracted because she's stacked, new and willing. (We don't know if she's good looking.) At some point he decided that he wanted more than a one-night-stand.
Brian and Tess's meeting was one of the last things I wrote, and to get a better handle on it I wrote it first from his POV. It was fun to see Tess through another character's eyes. It amused him that the first word out of her mouth was
sh!t
. Also, she's stacked. ;) But it's really cool to see this from a real-life guy's POV.

Jeff said:
5. Tess's views about money, possessions, and wealth are a little skewed to say the least. What do you make of this?

If you mean her refusal to take half the joint savings, it seems reasonable to me under the circumstances.
Partly that, but I was thinking more about her attitude toward the money her dad gave her, as well as her general lack of ambition. I definitely should have been more specific for that question.

Jeff said:
8. In spite of their mutual attraction, Brian rejects Tess's advances at first. Did this feel realistic to you?

Not from what we know about them and what we know that they know about each other. But, I don't believe in love at first sight. Lust at first sight is another matter.
I don't either, nor in soulmates. I tried writing against both concepts with this book. How unromantic of me.
Oddly enough, Brian later claims that he fell in love with Tess at their first meeting, but I'll talk about that later on.

Jeff said:
Note that I'm reading this for the second time and it's a bit difficult to remember how I first reacted.
Thanks for reading it through again! I truly appreciate it.

(edited so many times because I'm a BBC/HTML code dunce.)
 
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