Writing for the present

Hey everyone,

When I set out to write The Found Child, I wanted to make it current. As in 2020, as in the fall of 2020. I wanted Shelby’s story to come full circle, and wanted that moment to be in September and October of 2020.

The first version of this book on my computer is dated October 2018. And that’s just because I bought a new computer and moved everything over. I’m pretty sure I started it long before that, way back in the dark ages when I finished The Stork. That would have been in 2017! So it’s been a long haul.

One of the problems with making a book current is current events. For a story to be truly rooted in the present, the author has to deal with what’s going on in the world around her, whether that be an election cycle, current events, devastating weather, and/or a pandemic!

I thought the first draft of The Found Child was coming to a close back in March. In the beginning of the month, I was editing, rewriting, moving chunks around, rethinking some of the plot. Then, the pandemic hit. I was stumped. Should I rewrite the book, change the year, and place the story in 2019? It wouldn’t have been easy–there’s a lot in the book, subtle, but there, about Sheby’s age, from when she earned her P.I. license to when she moved her office to when she got married. And it’s not just her age, but the age of her spouse, her nieces and nephew, her brother, her mentor, and the adopted twins. It was complicated and had to fit with the previous two books in the series. So, after parsing it out, I decided it would be easier to add Covid in, rather than rework the timeframe.

At first, as I was trying to put into writing what I was seeing around me, I was stumped. Should Shelby and her intern Lucy wear masks in their office? How could I handle the pivotal scene at the beginning of the book, in the boxing gym? How to manage all the interactions that a professional running her own business would have on a daily basis? What about school for her nieces and nephew? Would Shelby go to a restaurant? Or get on a plane to Vegas? And what would it be like to move into a new place back in March, before we had an idea of how Covid would play out in our community?

As Covid wore on, I was able to relax into it and weave in masks and social distancing and hand sanitizer and family bubbles. I submitted the manuscript on August 10. Then, on August 16th, the CZU Lightning Complex Fire tore through our county, requiring another re-think. It was too late now to go back, and take out Covid, in order to change the timeframe. So I wove in the fire.

I created a complete timeline that laid out, down to the day, where Shelby would be. And I realized that because I’d started the book in the second week of September, 2020, I could keep it as it was. Shelby and her roommate, Erica, would have been forced to evacuate based on their location, but with a little creative license, I was able to keep using that location. Whew. Of course, I had to reclaim the book from the publisher and do another editing pass, planting references to the fire. I do hope that Covid and the fires will be distant memories at some point. And I hope it will be fun to read about them five years from now!

As an aside, my paperbacks and hardcover copies arrived today. My reward for all those edits.

Until next time,


Virtual Book Launch Party

Hi everyone,

You’re invited to a virtual book launch celebration for The Found Child on Saturday October 17th at 10:00 PST. I’ll be reading a few excerpts, talking about the process to getting this book finished (a saga in itself!), and chatting with you about writing in general. Hope you can join us!

Click here for more information. On the day of the event, that page will re-direct you to the Zoom gathering. And, check out the event on Facebook: The Found Child – Virtual Book Launch Celebration

Hope you see you there!


Pre-Publication Jitters

Hi everyone,

With the release of The Found Child scheduled for Thursday, pre-publication jitters are kicking in big time. I’m not losing sleep over it, but….questions such as “what will readers think of it?” and “wow, how did she come up with that idea?” And worse yet, “what will people think of me?”

I don’t know what other authors think pre-publication, but that last question does haunt me. What will people think of me after reading this book?! It’s the darkest of the three books, yes, but also a fitting conclusion to Shelby’s story. And the ending is a happy one. I originally had a not-so-hopeful ending, but given 2020 to date, I thought that a happy ending was a much, much better idea. But more importantly, it fits with Shelby and her life story.

To give you a better idea of what I mean by “dark,” here’s the book blurb:

Private Investigator Shelby McDougall is out for revenge.

Repeated miscarriages have caused Shelby’s marriage to disintegrate. Financial ruin lies ahead. A cheek swab sent to an online ancestry service turns up a surprise child: Shelby’s genetic offspring — found in the misty ether of the internet.

The only way Shelby can hang on to her shredding sanity is to take things into her own hands and, once and for all, locate and apprehend Helen Brannon — the woman responsible for hijacking her fertility … and her future.

As Shelby closes in on her target, the stakes get higher and higher. But when Shelby finds Helen Brannon … how far will she go?

In spite of my jitters, I’m excited for the launch and so looking forward to talking with readers about the book. Remember, it’s available for pre-order now. Click here to find out more.

And here’s a bit of fun advice that came from my publisher via the god of popsicle-stick wisdom:

Until next time!


Book Release: Goddess Rising

Hey everyone,

I wanted to let you know that Goddess Rising, the third book in Goddess Rising Trilogy  by Jay Hartlove is now available from Paper Angel Press. I read the first book in this series, Goddess Chosen, earlier this year and really enjoyed it. (Check out my review here.) I’m looking forward to reading this one, as the story carries over my favorite character, the psychiatrist Sanantha Mauwad.

Goddess Rising  is available for the first time in hardcover, trade paperback, and digital editions. Signed editions are also available.

And, for a limited time, get the digital editions of the first two books in the trilogy, Goddess Chosen and Goddess Daughter for only 99¢!

Jay will be hosting a virtual launch party for Goddess Rising on Saturday, April 11 at 2:00 pm PST via Facebook Events: https://www.facebook.com/events/206431417306587/.


Saved by a goddess … but only as a tool for revenge?

The nascent goddess Desiree meets the Egyptian archangel Joseph while ghost-busting the myth of Saint Patrick.

Aided by her psychiatrist, Sanantha Mauwad, Desiree discovers she is a pawn in a revenge quest that Isis has been planning for thousands of years.

Once again, gods and demons war on Earth with our heroes fighting not just for survival — but justice.

I hope you check it out! I plan to.

Until next time,