Books, I Believe You

Coming Soon – “I See You” – Book 2 in the Majek Family Mysteries

Coming soon – book 2 of The Majek Family mysteries: I See You. I’m still waiting for my editor and beta readers to finish the draft but so far they seem to enjoy the story.

Here’s what Polly, one of the beta readers (first readers for reaction to plot, story, and characters) had to say:

Alright book loving friends. I have been working on an advanced read for a newer author that is not new to writing. Jeanne Grunet’s new book I See You is filled with colorful characters and suspenseful events that keep you turning pages. This story will never allow me to look at a water globe the same again. She is definitely an author to check out. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.

Polly, ADVANCED READER

I See You picks up three years after the events of I Believe You. Turquoise, the family’s quirky housekeeper, shops in an antique store for a Christmas present for her millionaire boss. She’s drawn to a water globe – a snow globe, one of those trinkets you shake and fake snow swirls around the scene. The antique snow globe, however, is more than just a toy. It is the key that unlocks a deadly mystery from Long Island’s Great Gatsby Era. David, Turquoise, Eddie, Josh, Joan, David’s executive assistant, must solve the case of a missing child or struggle with a vengeful spirit hell-bent on wreaking havoc with their lives.

When will the book be available? I was hoping by October, but it depends on my editor and her schedule. I will keep you updated here.

In the meantime, do check out my novellas, It Was Mine and The Last Run of the 6:01, both available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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I Believe You

Who’s Your Favorite Character- and What That Reveals About You

Yesterday after church, I was chatting with my friends Rose and Eni. Rose received a copy of my novel; Eni was an enthusiastic early reader. I am grateful to call Eni a friend. She is one of the kindest people I have ever met, with a heart of gold, and a deep, calm spirituality that grounds me.

She’s also one of my biggest fans…and it’s a nice ego boost to get both a hug and a few kind words from her!

She was telling Rose about my novel, and on the spur of the moment I asked Eni, “Who was your favorite character?” – in my new novel, “I Believe You.

I fully expected her to say Eddie. Eni, with a mother’s heart, would naturally want to care for and protect little Eddie. But much to my delight, she said immediately, “The grandfather! I loved him.”

She meant Tibor, of course. Dear, outlandish, bear-hugging, bow-tie wearing, doesn’t-give-a-shit what anyone thinks 90-year-old Tibor. I was absolutely delighted. He’s one of my favorite characters; not just in “I Believe You”, but one of my favorite all-time characters. Sometimes he surprises even me, that one.

Whenever I ask that question – “Who is your favorite character?” – I listen carefully to the response. Many people cite Eddie, and most like David very much. Only a few point to Tibor, and Eni is the only person who mentioned Victor, a minor character. I was surprised by that but especially because she pictured him very differently than I picture him.

Another friend loved the character of Josh. I was as surprised by that as I was by Eni’s appreciation of Victor. Like Victor, I consider Josh, David’s second son, to be a minor character. He was probably the most difficult person in the book for me to ‘get right’ since I do not know many 16-year-old boys! Fortunately, my friend Regina teaches high school and has three sons of her own, so she quickly set me straight on a few things, like the fact that teenage boys eat copious amounts of food and wouldn’t say or do a few things that I had Josh doing in earlier drafts.

Whenever I talk to friends who are willing to share this kind of feedback, I notice a few interesting tidbits about their favorite characters. First, they project much of what they would do or feel onto the characters. It’s almost always because they find something in that character that resonates strongly with them. It’s either a characteristic they wish they had or a feeling that the character reminds them strongly of someone they know.

Your favorite characters, I think, say more about you than about the storyteller’s art. They tell me more about your hopes, dreams, and heart than you probably realize!

As for me, I’m not sharing who my favorite character in the story is! That would be too much, I think. I will say that characters become so realistic to me that they actually start doing and saying things that I wouldn’t necessarily have them do or say. I’m currently working on a new novel, and one character swears – a lot. He swears like a longshoreman and I’m absolutely astonished by this since I hate swearing! But it’s him, it’s Paul, and that’s who he is, and so he must be who he is…

Characters to an author become astonishingly real. In character-driven fiction, such as I Believe You and my latest work in progress, Salt and Light, the characters do indeed take on a life of their own.

The Latest Reviews of I Believe You

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on October 31, 2016
Thoroughly enjoyable read! Well thought out characters. Easily engaged story. Just a hint of the supernatural. Kept me guessing to the end! Made the business aspects (the firm) of the storytelling understandable and not too heavy. Just enough to inform you for the story. Recommended read!
n October 30, 2016
While reading I Believe You I was totally engaged.
The ending left me wanting to read more about these characters.
If Jeanne writes more fiction, I’ll be buying every book.
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on October 26, 2016
An excellent story, engrossing and consistently interesting. The author was able to draw me into a family with whom I thought I had little in common, and made me care about them in a way I hadn’t thought possible. Well-written and thought out, the plight of the Majeck family will have you empathize with every heartbreak and crisis, realizing that we all are not so different when dealing with tragedy that affects us all.
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I Believe You

Say I Love You in ASL

From my book, I Believe You:

David thrust his backpack at him, handed him a $5 bill for lunch, and kissed Eddie on top of the head. He raised his hand, pinky finger and index finger pointed skyward, middle two fingers folded down, thumb out in the ILY gesture. I love you. Eddie flashed ILY back and headed out the back door. David stepped through the mudroom door to the back porch, watching as his youngest raced down the driveway, crooked tie flapping, jacket loose and unbuttoned.

One of the questions I’m asked a lot is, “Do you speak ASL?” ASL stands for American Sign Language. One of the main characters in my book, an eleven-year-old boy named Eddie, is deaf. Throughout the book, Eddie communicates solely through ASL; his deafness plays an important literal and symbolic part in the story.

Would it surprise you to learn that I don’t speak ASL? When I started writing the second draft of the book, I knew that Eddie was deaf, but I had no idea how to portray this. Should he lip read? That would be easier…but it didn’t feel right. ASL was the way to go, but what do you do when you don’t speak a language or have direct, personal insight into deaf culture, and you want to write about a deaf character?

I often say, sometimes jokingly and sometimes seriously, that God wanted this book to be written, and nothing reminds me of that more than how the ASL scenes in the book came together.

My original plan to write the dialogue was simply to do just that; write it out, and perhaps later, find someone fluent in ASL and hire them to edit the scenes. I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish this, but I felt that at least I’d get a good first draft down on paper and would figure out the details later on.

I also used a site called LifePrint to learn some basic ASL symbols; I’d watch their videos and then try to describe what the ASL speakers were doing. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but at this early stage, it didn’t have to be perfect, just written.

Then came Donna. Donna was my editor at a company called LoveToKnow.com, and even after we both left the company in 2011, we remained close friends. I contacted Donna to ask her about how to find a first-line reader, someone to help me with the development of the story, and she generously offered her time and talents. I would send her one chapter a week, she would critique it, and help me flesh out some of the scenes.

One of the huge surprises, however, was when I received the very first chapter back from Donna. She had fleshed out the ASL dialogue and added a note – “I have a friend who is deaf and I learned ASL to communicate with her. I can help you with the descriptions.”

Problem solved. In one month, I’d moved from the inspiration of having a deaf character to having an editor, and one of the best writing teachers I know, who happened to speak ASL, editing my book.

In honor of all those who speak in ASL, and as a heartfelt thank you to Donna, here is how Eddie and his dad would have exchanged signs during that scene.

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Long Island’s Gold Coast

The primary setting for my novel, I Believe You, is Long Island’s famous “Gold Coast.” The Majek family lives in Brookville, an elite, upscale town on the North Shore of Long Island. Although Tibor, David’s father and the patriarch of the family, still lives in Bellerose, I purposely chose Brookville for David. Here’s why.

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To me, Bellerose represents the immigrant families who were moving up in the world. My grandparents were such a family. My grandparents immigrated from Germany in the early 20th century and lived in a roach-infested tenement in the Bronx until my dad was a teenager.

Immigrants saved their pennies to move out of the tenements and into their own homes. My grandparents, especially my grandmother, cherished her little home in Bellerose. To her, it was everything she had dreamed of in America.

In the early 1940s, my grandparents finally achieved the American dream – a house! They purchased a Cape-style house on a tiny lot in Bellerose. Next door were immigrants; on the other side was a family whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower. They were proud of that fact. I remember it distinctly because they had a plaque in the living room to commemorate their ancestry.

When I needed to place Tibor and indeed, the entire Majek family, in their home, my thoughts strayed to my grandmother’s neighborhood in Bellerose. I couldn’t image more of a melting pot and a place where Tibor, who may have exaggerated just a little bit, who had grown up with a dirt floor in his native Czech Republic, would feel he had finally “arrived” at the American dream.

But David? Not David. Contrast Tibor’s modest house with David’s “Gold Coast” Tudor home. “Your house is too big,” little Elizabeth says to him in the book. “It’s like a castle.” I wanted to imply Gold Coast mansion, even though I think David’s house falls slightly short of mansion status.

Marrying into an aristocratic North Shore family, as the Tarleton family surely were, meant he had to provide Cathy a home worthy of her heritage. For all of Cathy’s generosity, she was a bit spoiled. She took for granted that she would always have the best around her, and David provided that with the home in Brookville.

When I was a child, my dad would pile us all into the car on a crisp autumn Sunday afternoon for a drive into “the country.” That meant a drive along Northern Boulevard and through the curving, tree-lined lanes of Brookville and Old Brookville. Later on as a college student, I rode horses at fancy stable frequented by the super wealthy in Brookville. Much later, in my 20s, I worked in the area. I grew very familiar with the families, the mansions, the whole “North Shore” and “Gold Coast” mindset which I imagine that Cathy and David, to some degree, had as part of their surroundings.

Setting in novels is critical for their realism. It can also hint at deeper meanings. Tibor’s immigrant roots, David’s Brookville home…each bears with it a shade of meaning in I Believe You.

For more about the setting in I Believe You:

What Readers Are Saying

Amazon reviews posted this week:

on October 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
A gripping story that was very well written. I couldn’t put it down – very entertaining.
on October 7, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a thoughtful, well-written story. I especially enjoyed how well the deaf child was portrayed, and the honesty of the family dynamics.
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I Believe You on Amazon – Kindle and Paperback
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I Believe You

Just for Fun – Eddie’s Kolacky Recipe

In my novel, I Believe You, Eddie plays an important part in the story. Eddie is an 11-year old deaf boy, and the youngest son of the protagonist, David. At the end of the book, Eddie and his new friend Turquoise make a plate of kolachy, a special treat, from an old family recipe. They decide to take the cookies to Tibor, the patriarch of the family, which sets in motion the book’s finale.

I thought it might be fun to share a collection of kolachy recipes from around the web!

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Photo licensed from J Durham/Morguefile.com

 

  • Czech kolachy – probably the closest recipe to what Eddie would have found in his mom’s cookbook.
  • Czech Pastry – oh boy. This one would be found in grandpa’s house at Christmas, purchased from a Manhattan specialty bakery, I am sure!
  • Cream Cheese Kolacky – not sure his grandma would have made the dough with cream cheese, but it is supposed to be exceptional.

Did you know? From Wikipedia –

Enjoy the recipes and if you make some, let me know!

Purchase the book…..

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I Believe You

“I Believe You” Is Now Available

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Kindle version

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Paperback version

 

I’m thrilled to announce that my new novel, I Believe You, is now available! Reader response has been swift and overwhelmingly positive to my latest fiction. You can grab your copies on Amazon. Paperback and Kindle versions are both available.

The book follows the story of the Majek family as they struggle to cope with the loss of Cathy, David Majek’s wife. Cathy was killed in November in an unsolved hit and run accident, and now, almost six months after, strange things have started to happen. A stranger lurks under the street lamp one night. David finds $100,000 missing from his bank account. The same music haunts him, a repetition of the opening bars of Chopin’s F# minor Polonaise…

 

As David struggles to solve the mysteries surrounding his wife’s death, he also struggles with single parenting his 11-year old, deaf son Eddie, his teenager Josh, and his eldest, Alex, and coping with being widowed. It’s a story you won’t soon forget and one that keeps the pages turning while immersing you in the realistic world of Long Island’s famous, wealthy “Gold Coast” and its business giants.

I hope you enjoy it. If you’d like to read what others are saying, check out the first reviews on Amazon and order your copy today.

 

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