Release Party Speech

For those of you who couldn't make it to the party, I'd like to share the short speech I gave that night:

 

People ask me two questions more than any others, so I thought I’d address those tonight.

Why science fiction? and Where did the idea for KEEPER OF THE WATCH come from? But to do that we’ll have to travel back in time...

When I was a little girl, I can remember watching Disney’s Escape to Witch Mountain. The children in the story have special powers and can move things with telekinesis. The idea fascinated me. I spent countless hours staring at things, trying to discover my own powers. Trying to move things with my mind alone. Small things, like pencils. Bigger things, like my toys. Even my sisters. As far as I know I was unsuccessful…

A few years later, my parents took my sisters and I to see a movie that changed my life. I was probably 10 or 11 at the time. That movie was E.T. And that’s when my love of science fiction truly grew. I went back to see the movie two more times in the theater. Other girls my age carried around dolls. I carried my faux leather ET doll around until the leather rubbed off. He was right up there with my talking stuffed Daggit from Battlestar Galactica. Yep. More sci-fi.

I was lucky enough to grow up with the original Star Wars. A New Hope. The Empire Strikes Back. Return of the Jedi. I think it’s fate that I was born on the officially declared Star Wars day… May the 4th be with you.

And through it all, I’ve always loved reading. If you think about it, lots of children’s books can fit into the science fiction/fantasy genre. Talking animals? Inanimate objects showing emotions? Imagination. A key component of science fiction.

As a teenager, my favorite author was Dean Koontz. If you’re not familiar with his writing, and you love science fiction like me, I highly recommend Watchers, Strangers, Lightning, Phantoms…I could go on. Another huge influence on my writing.

So I think that answers the question why science fiction. Now back to KEEPER OF THE WATCH. What gave you the idea to write it?

I have a driving need to know the time every minute of the day. It’s rare to find me not wearing a watch. I love time. And so did my dad who we lost 3 years ago. After he passed, I asked my mom for one thing. All I wanted was to have one of his watches.

And I started thinking. Wouldn’t a story about a watch that had some kind of special power be cool?

I thought about it for about a week, running different ideas through my head, and then I started writing.

Now I should back-track again.

I’d already tried my hand at writing in my thirties. I wrote a children’s book about my dogs. It didn’t get published, but my mom still has it in a drawer somewhere. It was my first attempt. At that time, all I wrote were children’s books. It makes sense, right? Preschool teacher. Children’s books. I love reading to my students. It’s my favorite time of the day.

After lots of research about what to do, I sent out this first book, and all I got were rejections. And it’s a lot of work. More work than most people realize to even get the book to the right people to consider it.

So I gave up. “I guess I’m not meant to be a writer.”

A few years passed. And the driving desire to write started calling again.

So I sat down and wrote JOCELYN’S BOX OF SOCKS and a few others. All children’s picture books.

Then I had an idea to write a story called SNOW DOG, and it seemed too in depth to be a children’s picture book. So it became my first chapter book. A middle-grade fiction novel.

Sent it out, rejected.

Then something amazing happened. I found a publisher who offered a contract for one of my children's picture books. JOCELYN’S BOX OF SOCKS is under construction right now. I saw the finished sketches 2 weeks ago, and the storyboard is getting ready to go to color. Very exciting. I can’t wait to meet Jocelyn in color very soon. And I can’t wait to share her with you.

In the midst of that, I focused on writing that story about a watch with powers.

The power to send the wearer to other places, or dimensions.

The power to connect with the watch so completely that your heart beats in rhythm with the clock.

A watch that becomes such a part of you that your blood pumping through it is the power source.

And here we are.

It’s taken years to get here, and I’m still learning more about this business of writing every day.

But I want all of you to know that if I can do it, then you can too. I’m no different than anyone here. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister. A teacher. Dog-mom. And I just happen to be a writer, too.

Your dream, whatever it is, is within reach. All you have to do is stretch to reach for it. And don’t give up. It won't be easy, and you'll have to work. Hard. But don't let giving up be an option. Take any rejection as a learning curve, and grow from it.

I’m wearing my dad’s watch tonight, and I’d like to think he’s here with me now. He and his watch were the true inspiration for this story.

So, I think I've answered those two questions rather thoroughly.

Now I'd like to share just a few 'Little-Known Facts' about the book.

*The town in the story is a fictional place called Dune Harbor. It's a small coastal town with a military base. Much like Cape May, NJ. That's the real-life place the town of Dune Harbor is (loosely) based on.

*As a young girl during vacation we would always eat at the same place for breakfast in Cape May. The restaurant had an ocean view, and I remember the first time we saw dolphins swimming parallel to the beach. It sparked a life-long love of dolphins. We've seen them lots of times since, and so I put the dolphins in the book in a key scene of the story since I associate them to that area.

*Chase was always intended to be the main character and hero of the book, and he is that. The character of Alyx emerged in the writing process, and I'm finding out that she has stolen the hearts of most of the people who I've talked to after reading the story. It's amazing how characters truly emerge and grow in the writing process. That's the beauty of writing fiction. Go Alyx!

*Chase was a name we talked about naming my youngest son, Jeremy. Since we didn't use it then and I like the name, it was a logical choice for my character. I guess maybe Chase is like my third son...

So that's it! I’ll conclude with reading a small passage from KEEPER OF THE WATCH. This is Chapter 1.

I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter One:

The first time Chase saw the watch, he thought it was junk. Just an old, broken thing to be tossed aside. With all the recent advances in technology, he had no need for an outdated watch like this one. As he continued sorting through his recently departed Uncle Charlie’s belongings he dismissed the wristwatch, having every intention of throwing it away.

While preparing to leave, Chase reached a hand toward the old timepiece and a sudden electrical charge filled the air. The entire room seemed to sizzle and shake as if an earthquake had struck, and he grabbed onto his uncle’s desk chair as the air around him hummed with an unknown power. When his fingers made contact with the watch, a jolt traveled from his fingertips to his toes, making the hair on his arms and legs stand on end. His blood came alive inside his body; pulsing, writhing, wanting ... and he felt a powerful magnetic pull toward the watch.

What the...? He jerked back abruptly, sucking his injured fingers, little pinpricks still racing inside their tips where they had touched the watch.

Stupid watch. Why had Uncle Charlie kept this old thing? In all the years of living with his uncle, Chase couldn’t recall ever seeing him wear it. And why had he kept it in the safe locked away with all of his valuables? It can’t be worth anything. It doesn’t even work.

It must have some sentimental value only known to Charlie. Chase would probably never know what made this watch special in the eyes of his crazy old uncle. But for some reason, unknown even to him, when he reached for the watch again, he found himself placing it safely inside his pocket instead of tossing it into the junk pile as he had intended. No magical or mysterious electricity filled the air on the second contact with the thing.

Must’ve been a static shock, probably caused by friction. With one decisive headshake, he flipped the lightswitch and turned to leave. His imagination was running away with him.

Again.

 

 

Kristen L. Jackson, Author of KEEPER OF THE WATCH

Available Now:

Black Rose Writing

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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