I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Ashley Jones on Goodreads, because I just happened to see one of my GR friends fangirling over her new book. When I read the description I knew I had to pick it up, and then I did! It was great that I actually got to know the person behind the book as well–because she’s fabulous and modest! Her book hit the shelves, and it hit the ground running. It’s been in Amazon’s Top 100 Coming of Age books since it released! So how was the book? You’re about to find out, along with a great interview about not only the gal behind the book, but about the character’s in the book, too!
Promise Me This by Sarah Ashley Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Cover: I really love this cover, and I fell in love with it even more as I watched Sarah’s amazing YouTube video of it’s creation. As a writer and photographer, I really enjoyed how she wanted the book to really showcase her characters as she saw them. The best part–I saw them the same way, too.
The Book: This novel puts you right into Charlie’s world where she has learned that her brother has died, under not really mysterious circumstances. We are able to see some of those circumstances that are hinted at when we meet Jhett. I really enjoyed both of their characters, Charlie being the typical Southern Belle, and Jhett being a somewhat typical bad boy. What I mean by this is, I don’t really see him as a bad boy in anyway except his tattoos. When we see him playing guitar in a 50’s throwback, I just don’t get that rocker bad boy feel. I never felt he was a bad boy–he was just too sweet to be, and his, while cute, bicycle basically instantly took away from the bad boy feel for me. This isn’t a bad thing, for his character is still believable and loveable. The thing that struck me through out the book was the fact that it felt slightly like The Notebook, and even more so at the end of the book. I liked the tone of the book, and the characters were easy to fall in love with.
Things that Stuck Out To Me: First, these are my opinions and in no way am I saying this book wasn’t good, because it was. These things just stuck out to me.
-Charlie talks about painting, but you never really see her painting or understand her love for it, besides fighting her parents over it. This could be the painter in me…
-I don’t really know what kind of music Jhett played to make all his money, but it appears he made a boatload of it–and I don’t really understand how, because it’s never really said that he was famous, etc. Maybe my harping on this point has to do with my own insane obsession with music and being married to a musician who was once offered to be signed.
-Dueling POV happen in this book, and if you’ve read any of my other reviews you know I’m not a fan of this or 3rd POV in general. This novel is written from both Jhett and Charlie’s perspectives, but while I loved Jhett–I felt like the sections in his POV took away from the suspense of the novel. I must admit that I had figured out Jhett’s guilt trip at about 50% through the book. Being in his POV gave it away to me, but I felt like Sarah did a great job of showing Charlie noticing he seemed guilty. Thus, I could have done without his POV, especially because it was not prominent through out the book and Sarah did a great job showing it through Charlie’s eyes.
Overall, I really did like this book. It did progress in a way that had me skimming over certain things, but I became very invested in the characters. I cared about their lives and what was happening to them. As for what lots are calling a cliff hanger ending–I didn’t feel that way. I’d love to see more of Sarah’s writing and these characters, but I didn’t feel that with the way it ended I really needed it. I felt the Happily Ever After was there either way. I’m super excited to see what this author puts out next, and I look up to her!
Meet Sarah Ashley Jones: Goof-ball, Chapstick Hoarder, Amazing Writer
The Authorly Questions:
Cassie: When did you realize you wanted to be a published author?
Sarah: It was actually when I started off being a book blogger, and I had a random reader ask if I was an author as well. When I told her I wasn’t, but had thought about it, she said she would love to read anything I wrote just after only reading my About Me section. That kind of sparked the idea in my head, and then I started writing, and I had a few people read it, and everyone came back with a big KEEP GOING. That’s when I thought, maybe I can do this.
Cassie: What made you decide to go Indie?
Sarah: I actually never thought about any other route. I’m a person who loves instant gratification and the query process just didn’t seem like something I wanted to do. I knew what being an Indie was from some of the authors I had spoken to when I reviewed their books, and I began asking them for tips and how I should go about self-publishing. That sealed the deal, instant gratification AND I get to be in control of everything? That was it for me!
Cassie: What’s the best thing about being an Indie author?
Sarah: The camaraderie and family atmosphere that everyone embraces. No one is cut throat or unwilling to help you out. It’s the opposite: people tweeting things for you, guest posting for you, critiquing your work as you go, and essentially becoming some of your biggest fans. I think that still blows me away.
Cassie: What’s the hardest thing about being an Indie author? There’s a lot of us! And that’s not a bad thing, because that just means so many people are living their dreams. But sometimes, it does feel like you’re getting lost in the sea of fantastic books out there.
Cassie: What advice have you received that you couldn’t live without?
Sarah: I had two pieces of advice given to me in the very beginning. It was just keep writing, even when you think it’s terrible and you have no clue what you’re doing. And when you get to that point, send it someone who can be your cheerleader and tell you it doesn’t suck (and will hopefully give you some constructive criticism after, too).
Cassie:What are you working on besides the Promise Me This series?
Sarah: I am! I have a Fantasy series that I’ve been brewing for a few months that I’ve dubbed The Changer Series. It’s about a girl, Merrick, who is faced with the question: What would you do if you could change the unchangeable?
Cassie: How did you come up for the idea for the new novel?
Sarah: One of the characters, Kota, actually came to me first before anything else (this happened to me with Charlie, as well). He’s such a sweet, heart-of-gold guy, with a fire burning inside him to prove himself as something other than the “good guy.” From there it kind of fleshed out into a Fantasy theme, where what you think you know, you don’t. I’m super excited for it!
The Bookie Questions:
Cassie: How did you come up with the characters of Jhett and Charlie?
Sarah: Like I said before, Charlie came to me first. I could actually feel her grief and insecurities deep inside me. Her pain was my pain and I wanted to create a story where she broke free of that. Jhett happened to come along at a later time, where he proved to be a giant teddy bear with tattoos, but he also had a journey of his own that Charlie helped him get through, so in reality, they both needed each other. Ying & Yang so-to-speak.
Cassie: Who was your favorite character in the book?
Sarah: Oh Gosh. I think maybe Hannah. She’s Charlie’s best friend and is seriously NUTS. She always has some witty comeback and is just carefree and a breath of fresh air for me. She has just the right amount of sass without being obnoxious.
Cassie: What was the hardest thing about writing these characters?
Sarah: They don’t do what I want them to do! Seriously, half the time I’m writing and I’m just like NO! I didn’t plan for this. Sometimes it’s for the better and sometimes it’s for the worse. Gracie plays a big hand in the plot, and her scene towards the end was NOT planned at all. It kind of all just happened! And sometimes, it’s hard for me to remember that not everyone knows them like I do. I know their pasts and why they tick, but I forget sometimes my readers do not.
Cassie: This is a New Adult novel, how did you handle writing the sex scenes? Did you worry about your family reading them?
Sarah: Oh gosh. I’m a terrible sex scene writer. It’s funny, because I love reading them. I can read and enjoy smut all day long. But WRITE them? It took me 12 hours, a full bottle of wine, and Eyes on Fire on repeat the write that first scene and I’ve still been told mine are very “tasteful,” but I’m okay with that! I never worried about my family, because I was raised in a very liberal environment, and nothing was secret with us!
Cassie: You had Beta readers for your novel, how did you find them?
Sarah: My Beta’s are amazing. I’ll just say that. Two of them were actually friends of mine that are avid readers and I knew I could trust to give me proper feedback and not sugar coat things for me. The others were some lovely ladies of mine that we actually Beta read for another author as a group. We all got together in a group Facebook chat and had been talking for months, and when I mentioned I was writing a book, they all were so supportive and welcoming and lent me their Beta eyes!
Cassie: When your Beta readers asked for a sequel did you struggle with what to put in the second novel?
Sarah: At first, I did. When they first brought up the idea, I was excited, just because it meant that I didn’t have to say goodbye to my characters. But then I wondered if I had enough story to fill a whole book. Within the week, Charlie and Jhett’s story boomed out of control in my head. Apparently, they knew they weren’t done, too.
Cassie:How is the second novel going, and when will you bless your readers with it?
Sarah: It’s going really good. Right now, everyone is kind of going through an emotional wringer, with each character dealing with a different issue. But, there’s so much more left to write, I’m excited to share it with you in Winter 2013!
Cassie: Charlie is from the South, are you from the South? If not, where did you get the idea for Charlie’s background?
Sarah: I am and I’m not. I was born in North Carolina, but grew up in San Diego (sounds familiar, right?). I moved to Tennessee to be with my husband, and fell in love with the South. Charlie’s family is that one some I have encountered in my stay here, so are real people to me!
Cassie: Jhett was in a band that he made a pretty chunk of change touring with, what kind of band was this? Can you tell us more about this band?
Sarah: He was in Rockabilly band for quite some time, and most of his money came from wise investments with what he made. He likes to make sure all his ducks are in a row when it comes to money. As for the band, I based their sound and looks off a local band here, Hillbilly Casino. I always enjoyed them live, so I pictured them in my head when I was writing them. You will get more of them in the second book as well.
Cassie: Jhett plays guitar? Can he play any other instruments?
Sarah: He can! He can play the ukulele and the piano, although we have yet to see him with either of those, yet.
Cassie: Does Charlie have any secret musical talents?
Sarah: She’s pretty challenged when it comes to the instrumental side of music. Jhett tries to teach her some chords on the guitar, and she fails kind of miserably. She can sing, although she chooses to do so in the privacy of the shower!
Cassie: The novel says that Charlie is an artist, but you don’t talk about her painting or drawing in book One, will we learn more about Charlie’s interest in art in the second novel?
Sarah: There’s actually a huge scene I cut out of the book because it didn’t flow very well where Charlie paints something pretty epic. It will cross-over into book two, however, because I loved it so much. Painting seemed to be her one outlet where she could actually be herself without any judgement from family, because it was art, and not a direct reflection of herself.
Cassie: The book is written in two POV, is there a reason you chose to do this? Was it difficult?
Sarah: It wasn’t difficult for me at all, and I actually enjoyed writing from Jhett’s POV more than Charlie’s. I always knew it would be a dual POV book, and it helped me break up scenes when I began to struggle with where the scene was going. I could easily pop into the other’s head and continue on from there, often shedding a new light on the scene. I personally really enjoy books with dual POV’s, so I guess I never thought about writing it otherwise.