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Behind the Scenes: The Riley Sisters Series

I can’t wait to tell you about my next project. But before I go gung-ho on that, I had an idea for another Riley sisters post before I put them to bed. Not that I will stop talking about them completely, because (hopefully next month) they will still make up three out of four books I have available. But I thought this would be a nice way to bring a little closure to them by sharing some behind-the-scenes factoids.

  • The Wind Could Blow a Bug was always called that. I tried to rename it, but I couldn’t find anything else that fit better. And I really loved how the title came from the story, and was really the essence of it. People often comment on it, which gives me a great opportunity to explain it.
  • When You Least Expect It was first known as Kiley’s Turn. I had never intended for Miley or Kiley to be more than background characters in Bug, but then I wrote the scene where they go to the mall with Jane, and that started me wondering what their future lives might look like.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For was originally called Miley’s Muddle. My son is very into Thomas the tank engine, and there was a story called Milkshake Muddle, which is where I got the alliteration from. Imagine if Miley had been covered with a milkshake in her story? Her and that movie star Mark got down doing some pretty funky things. Who knows, maybe she did!
  • US223, that is mentioned in Bug, really exists. It is the main road through Lenawee County, Michigan. I have traveled on it almost every day of my life. I could drive that road in my sleep. My mother had to travel on it to give birth to me!
Real road sign

Actual road sign

  • Dave from Expect is really my dog. She is an orange Lab/Chow mix with lots of personality. I love her to pieces and when a dog showed up in my story, it just happened to be her. Note that that book is also dedicated to her. How many crazy authors dedicate a book to their dog? Probably only me.
My Dave dog

My Dave dog

  • The worn orange counter at the convenience store really exists! I worked at a Mobil station while I was in college. I used to have to wipe down that counter every night. The store has gone through several ownership changes since then, but he counter remains. I am so happy that that store got to play such a big part in Expect.
  • Blake and Luke, workers for Travis’s catering company in Wish, were originally named Parker and Dave after my dogs. (I am really bad at coming up with names for characters.) I had already used them both previously, so they got renamed after popular country music singers, whose personalities fit the dialogue I had already written quite well.
  • The messenger bag I picture Jane carrying in Bug is the one that I had made to advertise my blog.
Official limited edition INSY messenger bag

Official limited edition INSY messenger bag

  • Alva University was named in part after my dead dad.
  • I specifically named Travis’s cafe Taste of Travis because I thought it sounded really dirty. 😛
  • There is no such place as Oakley, Alabama. I made it up. But it lives on in my heart.
My version of Oakley.

My version of Oakley.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

The Riley Sisters Mix

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Aw, don't the girls look so good all together?

Aw, don’t the girls look so good all together?

I started writing The Wind Could Blow a Bug with only one song in my head. But as I continued the series, I found country songs, both new and old, helped with my inspiration. While I was raised on country and have always had a fondness for it, I hadn’t listened to it in probably a decade or more. I think when Garth retired, maybe I did too. I don’t know if my country-based stories lead me to the music, or the music fueled the books. Either way, it happened. (By the way, seeing Garth live in concert was part of my reconnecting to country as well.)

Here is my playlist for The Riley Sisters Mix with annotations (some minor spoilers included), followed by the YouTube playlist. Most of these songs give me the good music neck tingle.*

Kick the Dust Up – Luke Bryan: This just makes me think of the Tucker boys romping around the dirt roads of Oakley. It sets the vibe. Plus, Luke seems like a good old boy, which is why a minor character by the name of Luke may appear in Book 3, as well as a character named Blake…

Boys Round Here – Blake Shelton: Take a little ride to the river? Does that make anyone else think about Wade taking Miley down to the pond for a little skinny dipping?

Speakers– Sam Hunt: This song is damn sexy. So is Sam Hunt. This makes me think of Wade and Jane parking on the night of her high school graduation.

Play It Again – Luke Bryan: This is the first song that began my country music resurgence. While it doesn’t correlate exactly to a scene in the book, it seems like an experience that could totally happen between Wade and Jane.

Got Me Wrong – Alice in Chains: You might think this song doesn’t fit with the rest, and maybe it doesn’t, but it fits Jane’s story. When she is getting over her depression in college and hears a song on the radio that just speaks to her heart? That is based off of real events, and this was the real-life song for me.

John Deere Green – Joe Diffie: For the end of Book 1 and Wade’s wedding proposal to Jane; and of course Josh and Kiley and the water tower in Book 2. Oh God, I just teared up thinking about the water tower scene.

I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift: Josh’s song.

Ticks – Brad Paisley: This song is one long pick-up line that Josh would totally use on Kiley, if given the chance, and she would totally fall for it.

South Side of Heaven/What I Got – Mezcla featuring Michael Raymond-James: MRJ is the semi-inspiration for Josh Tucker. It only seemed right that since this was available on YouTube that his gravelly voice should be included in this collection.

Honey Bee – Blake Shelton: Sweet words I can picture Josh trying to woo Kiley with.

Love Me Like You Mean It – Kelsea Ballerini: I confess, this whole song is included just cuz I like where she says “Boy with your hat back, um I kinda like that.”

Red Dirt Road – Brooks & Dunn: Nothing specific, but provides an overall feel of growing up in the south that I hope my book captures some tiny 1/1000th of.

Raised On It – Sam Hunt: This is the song that sort of bridges my growing up in a farm town in Michigan with the Rileys and Tuckers growing up in Oakley, Alabama. I totally know about “sticky quarters”; I used them as the basis of a whole paper on Rites of Passage in college.

Ride to California – Paper Tongues: Miley, making her way out to Hollywood at all costs where she believes are all her dreams are just waiting to come true.

Celebrity Skin – Hole: Miley’s walk of shame the day after she meets movie star Mark.

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus: Fish out of water, or walking the Hollywood walk in the wrong shoes.

City of Angels – 30 Seconds to Mars: Oh God, I just love 30 Seconds to Mars and Jared Leto. This song is all about Hollywood being life-changing, for good and bad.

The River – Good Charlotte: Ya, I love Good Charlotte too; had to work them into here somehow. This song is all about how Los Angeles can eat you alive, as it does Miley.

Holy Toledo – Crystal Bowersox: This is Miley sitting on her couch back home depressed in her flannel cupcake pajamas and being a day overdue for a shower. A song about looking for redemption.

Blank Space – Taylor Swift: I actually think of this as being Mark’s point of view. What an a-hole 😉

Skr Boi – Avril Lavigne: Travis’s song. And I love Avril.

The Climb – Miley Cyrus: Miley Riley climbing back up out of the hole she found herself in upon returning to Oakley.

 

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It CLICK HERE TO WIN!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

Excerpt: Chapter 2 of Be Careful What You Wish For

It has been a while since I first gave you a taste of Be Careful What You Wish For, clear back in December. For Chapter 1, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/12/30/excerpt-chapter-1-of-be-careful-what-you-wish-for/

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jennifer Friess

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jennifer Friess

Below you will find Chapter 2. And if you like what you read, the book is now available on Amazon.com in paperback, eBook, and free for Kindle Unlimited members. Hope you enjoy!

 

2

It was all Miley could do to crawl out of bed and drag herself and her over-stuffed luggage downstairs to meet Kiley to leave for the airport. Neither Miley nor Kiley had ever been early risers. Growing up, their mother had sometimes resorted to using a plant mister to get them out of bed on Saturdays for long-distance cheerleading competitions. She wondered how Kiley had managed to get up so early. Kiley had already been on the road for two hours, driving up to Huntington from the farm she lived on with her boyfriend in Oakley. She must have been even more excited than Miley.

After all, it was Kiley’s book being turned into a movie. Or, to make it sound more important, her debut novel was being shot for a feature film. That is how Miley phrased it to all her friends.

Miley was quite jealous of this. Miley thought she was doing good owning (OK—co-owning) a highly successful party planning business. But somehow her baby sister had shown her up. Miley hungered to be famous. How other people desired wealth enough to drive themselves to the poor house buying lottery tickets was akin to the level of her entertainment obsession. She simply hadn’t had many chances in rural Alabama to fulfill her aspirations.

Kiley’s name now showed up once in a while in the very Hollywood entertainment magazines that Miley had fantasized of being in herself someday when she was a child. Of course, usually it was a tiny blurb under the pictures of the fresh-faced unknowns starring in the movie, with a caption such as “Bobby Patterson and Christy Stevens star in the film adaption of K. Riley’s best-selling book Don’t Judge a Boy by His Shoes.”

Yes, there was no way Miley was going to miss out on this trip. She couldn’t wait to get to Tinseltown. To visit the mythical, magical Hollywoodland…

“Wake up, dork. We are at the airport. And you owe me seventy dollars for long-term parking,” Kiley grumbled.

“You are the one with the major motion picture. Why should I have to chip in?” Miley stifled a yawn. The car was now parked on some level of a massive parking garage.

“You are the successful business owner. And you know I invested most of the money I made from the sale of the rights to JT and Associates Development.”

“That is only a fancy way to say you gave several grand to your fiancé.”

“Josh is not my fiancé!” Kiley argued.

“Oh, it is only a matter of time.”

“Possibly. But that time hasn’t arrived yet. And I am fine with that.” They both got out of the car and gathered their luggage. The headlights flashed and the car’s horn echoed against the concrete walls, signaling Kiley had locked it, as they began to head for the terminal.

“Do you know how much it sucks to be twenty-five years old and have no husband and no marriage prospects? No, of course you don’t. Let me tell you, it sucks big balls.” Their suitcases rolled behind them, a steady drone of plastic wheels being worn down by the abrasive floor.

“What happened to Sandy?” Kiley asked.

“My on-again, off-again boyfriend? He is off-again. Most likely forever. He actually moved out this time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. We are heading to California! Where I am going to find me a new man. A rich man. Maybe a star…,” Miley pondered, slipping on her sunglasses, despite the fact that it was still pre-dawn, and taking the lead ahead of Kiley.

“Mile, could you be any more shallow?” Kiley asked her sister.

“Mmm,” Miley pretended to think about it. “Probably not.”

Miley was very disappointed by the appearance of the other passengers on the airplane. She had made sure to nurture the perfect tan as preparation for her vacation. Her home manicure still looked fresh, having applied it shortly before the wedding. She also had freshened up the highlights in her long dark blond hair. It now came halfway down her back. It was wavy now, because she had left the house while it was still wet. But she had made sure she brought her flat iron as well. Was straight still the go-to look in Hollywood? Man, she hated trying to cultivate glamorous style on a tight budget.

All the other passengers simply looked like the everyday Joes she would pass at the pharmacy or the mall. She couldn’t say grocery store, because she never went there unless it was a special occasion, like if she was planning a picnic or something. Miley didn’t understand how people could take their whole family, towing grandparents and a gaggle of children, and spend hours at such an establishment. She was the kind that did all her weekly shopping in fifteen minutes at the chain pharmacy on the corner. She could walk the whole store in less than one minute. They had makeup, toilet paper, the bare necessities of food, such as granola bars. What else did a person need?

Other people painted pictures or assembled model battleships as hobbies. Miley’s hobby had always been following Hollywood. No matter what she was going through or how bad her day had been, the celebrities within her movie magazines were always smiling back at her. Her favorite movie never deviated from the same course of action, no matter how unlikely the actors in the romantic pairing or their circumstance.

Miley sometimes day-dreamed that a good-looking, famous actor would find himself in Huntington and have a need for some party-planning. Or sometimes, she would fanaticize about simply running into a celebrity on the street or in the coffee shop. Then they would have a brief courtship, where he would buy her lots of expensive gifts. Then, well, he would sweep her off her feet and out to Los Angeles to live with him happily ever after. It would be like a romantic comedy, except it would leave out the usual misunderstanding that drives the two lovers apart before they are reunited again in the final act. Miley fell asleep every night with these scenarios running through her head. She could recast a new hunk when it was convenient. She wondered if that is how everyone put themselves to sleep at night.

In her mind’s eye, she had envisioned a plane full of movie stars and models. But she guessed that was unrealistic, since she was on a Huntington to Los Angeles flight. If it had been a NYC to LA flight, maybe that would have been different. Maybe a flight like that would carry a guy who would try to flirt with her. Then she could blow him off. Then he would reveal that he was a talent agent and he had just “discovered” her. People got discovered in odd places all the time. Pamela Anderson had been discovered when she appeared on the JumboTron at a football game, wearing the right shirt. Not that Miley wanted to follow Pam’s same path to fame, but she wasn’t against using anything she had to her advantage. Miley sighed.

“What are you grinning about, you goofball?”

Kiley’s comment snapped Miley out of her daydream.

“Nothing. I was just thinking of all the different ways I have envisioned this trip in my head.”

“And let me guess. It probably involves a guy.”

Miley shrugged. “I plead the fifth.”

Miley knew that her identical twin sister Kiley thought of her as selfish. Kiley had made no secret of that since they had turned fourteen and their personalities had diverged. Kiley always told it that they both changed. Miley believed only Kiley had. Kiley had begun to make fun of the things that they had always both loved. Miley still felt an undeniable connection with her twin. But she had never forgiven Kiley for this, what Miley viewed as a betrayal.

Not only did Kiley’s tastes change at that time, but her appearance as well. Kiley cut her hair and dyed it black. She began listening to alternative music and dressing goth. At college, her clothing had gone from goth to grunge, but whatever. Miley guessed people at college must have all the style sucked out of them. She wouldn’t know. She had skipped college and worked on building a business instead.

Up until recently, Kiley had still worn her hair dyed jet black, cut into a bob with severely straight bangs. In the last year or so, she had finally grown out the bangs and let it go back to its natural light brown. It now came down to almost her shoulders, so that she could actually get it into a ponytail on occasion.

Jenny Jones, who already was running the business quite well on her own, was kind enough to take Miley on as an apprentice when she had expressed an interest. Jenny worked full-time as the librarian in Oakley, the tiny town where Miley had grown up. Jenny also had a new husband and they were trying to start a family, even though she was getting on in years. All this helped to convince Jenny that she should then take Miley on as a full partner. Miley showed such a knack for marketing and networking that soon she was probably doing more work than Jenny was. But Miley wasn’t bitter about that. Much. Miley did realize it would have taken her years to start her own company and build it up to where Jenny had hers when Miley was hired. Jenny had done all the hard start-up work and reputation-building. All Miley had to do was tweak the existing processes, spread the word about their great services to anyone who would listen, and make sure their ideas didn’t get stale.

Want to accumulate some good karma and help me get the word out about my new release? Then join my Thunderclap.

Don’t know what that is? You just sign up to post the message I created to all your social media websites that you want to participate with. It is easy and only takes a minute. It is a great way for me to spread my message from a few hundred people to a few hundred THOUSAND people!

The power of social media is awesome. Click here to help a sister out!

Go Check Out What Is on Strong Novels

STRONG NOVELS-kristi header

I am honored today to be featured on Kristi Strong’s blog Strong Novels.Click here: http://strongnovels.blogspot.com/2016/02/winter-showcase-jennifer-friess.html

It is so great that Kristi is sharing her webspace to promote up and coming authors like me. The post features my new release Be Careful What You Wish For. You can also get to know me a little better as well.

Stop on over and check out today’s post and a few others. And if you are so inclined, her books can be found at: http://strongnovels.blogspot.com/p/products.html

Teaser for Miley's story

Teaser for Miley’s story

Want to accumulate some good karma and help me get the word out about my new release? Then join my Thunderclap.

Don’t know what that is? You just sign up to post the message I created to all your social media websites that you want to participate with. It is easy and only takes a minute. It is a great way for me to spread my message from a few hundred people to a few hundred THOUSAND people!

The power of social media is awesome. Click here to help a sister out!

A Goodreads Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of my third book, Be Careful What You Wish For, I am doing a giveaway!

Of my second book, When You Least Expect!

I swears, in overworked, overtired, self-published author mom brain, this makes sense. More visibility and reviews for Kiley’s farm boy romance can only be a good thing for Miley’s naughty Hollywood escapades.

Please, get a copy of my book for free. Enter now at: http://ow.ly/Y1Dqm

Feel free to share with your friends. All my stories can be read as stand-alone books.

When You Least Expect It by Jennifer Friess

When You Least Expect It by Jennifer Friess

Want to accumulate some good karma and help me get the word out about my new release? Then join my Thunderclap.

Don’t know what that is? You just sign up to post the message I created to all your social media websites that you want to participate with. It is easy and only takes a minute. It is a great way for me to spread my message from a few hundred people to a few hundred THOUSAND people!

The power of social media is awesome. Click here to help a sister out!

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