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Monday, 12 October 2015

ℚ♫ Triangulating Bliss: The Mystique of Living [1] - Janelle Jalbert

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Triangulating Bliss (, Synchron8 Publishing, 339 pages) a Contemporary Paranormal Women’s Fiction novel, book one of The Mystique of Living series.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


Hello Janelle, welcome to BooksChatter and thank you for joining us today.

We love music; do you have a playlist that you used in Triangulating Bliss, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"I didn’t have a playlist for the novel beforehand.  I have one for Wing Dog: Soul Pup but didn’t think to do one for Bliss.  This [playlist below] isn’t some pre-fab list that kind of reflects the story or the characters.  I had a blast working to get songs together that directly related to the characters and circumstances in the novel.

It is quite eclectic, like the novel itself. Yes, you will find Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra alongside Van Halen, Carrie Underwood, and the Surfaris.  It does all work together to be a meaningful reflection of Triangulating Bliss.

I urge you to keep the list handy if you are currently reading it or grabbing your copy now.  If you’ve already read it, enjoy matching the songs to the novel.  I guarantee there are some laughs and some “aww” moments between the two, and please feel free to reach out and tell me what you think!"
Fantastic! So here is the list, as well as the songs to listen to.

Home – Michael Buble
     Greg – Opening
Crazy - Seal
     Greg Learns about Bliss/
     Mikel & Greg’s Disappearance

Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
     Greg – Entering Bliss

What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
     Lois Remembering
Everything She Does is Magic – The Police
     Lois Purpose FGM

Hotel Caifornia – the Eagles
     Jen backstory
Carolina – Eric Church
     Jen disappearance
Good Girl – Carrie Underwood
     Jen Lesson

Wipeout – The Surfaris
     Henri
Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
     Sara

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra
     Richard Backstory
Jump – Van Halen
     Richard Lesson

I Still Believe - Tim Cappello (Lost Boys)
     Greg meeting Mikel
Drink a Beer – Luke Bryan
     Hanging with Phil - Greg’s disappearance

Moonlight Serenade - Frank Sinatra
     Lois & Phil
When It's Love - Van Halen
     Greg & Jen
The Bliss Song - Tone Damli Aaberge
     Epilogue

What was the inspiration for Triangulating Bliss?
"I seriously had an “A-ha” moment leaving a restaurant one night.  After talking with my “Soul Sista” about how our lives seemed to have gotten off course, I held the door for her.  At that moment, the thought crossed my mind: What would it be like to walk out of a random door and walk into your perfect life?  Of course, the characters told me along the way that there was more to the Bliss Triangle than that, but what a journey it is!

Greg, the main character investigating the disappearances from Bliss, mirrored a lot about what was going on in my life at the time.  I had left my graduate studies months before that fateful night at the restaurant.  I had left my teaching position as well which was the “responsible” path that I had taken early in life when people countered my proclamation to be a writer with declarations about the need to do something practical.  I think that Greg’s circumstances were one reason it took nearly two years for him to completely tell me his story.  It wasn’t until a couple of months before the final proofread that I found out his special twists in the story, even after more than two dozen revisions.  I knew he was holding out on me, and I seriously sat down one day and said, “There’s something missing about you, and right now it’s making you look a bit like a wuss.  I know you’re not one, so spill it.”  He did.  Yes, I’m sure some people will laugh that I talk to my characters, but those who know about putting ‘book babies’ together understand that the author is often along for the ride as the readers are to see how it evolves."
Since I began hosting Q&As with authors I have discovered that seems to be the way with writers; I have read that very same statement about the characters telling you their stories on more occasions than I can recount :-)

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"It’s probably already apparent that there are touches of me in Triangulating Bliss.  Not only was Greg like my alter-ego as I navigated a re-route of my life but also the other characters have pieces of me in them as well.  I came to truly love Lois, and I see her as what I aspire to be when I reach my golden years.  She is wise, compassionate, fun-loving, and full of life despite life’s curveballs.

It wasn’t until I was in the various rounds of revisions that I saw how much of my dad was in the character of Phil.  Originally, I modelled his eyes on my dad and the rest of his appearance on a friend of mine, so I didn’t fully recognize it at first.  It’s a bittersweet realization.  My dad was the one who gave me the love of words, both reading and writing, which fuels me.  The idea for Triangulating Bliss came a month before he was diagnosed with multiple advanced cancers.  Though the weeks I shared with him during the initial drafting will always be close to my heart, it is difficult even now to know that he didn’t get to read the novel.  So, Phil is the guardian of the Bliss Triangle in the novel as well as an ongoing connection to my dad."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for Triangulating Bliss - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I absolutely love how Robin Ludwig took my general ideas about Triangulating Bliss and built an amazing cover that captured it all!  My original idea was that I wanted to incorporate a door – for obvious reasons, since the door at Bliss is a character of sorts – and a representation of Greg who is trying to make sense of his life.  It was important to capture the magical element as well, and I didn’t want to pigeon-hole Greg with a single face to be associated with him.  The description I had of him was late 20s/30s, former military while now looking ‘professorly’, dark hair, light eyes.  When Robin shared the picture of Greg wading into the water, I was hooked.  In fact, the scene where Greg is in the water during his disappearance was the direct result of that picture, even though the novel had been drafted for over a year."
Why should we read Triangulating Bliss and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"Triangulating Bliss, and the Mystique of Living Series, is a celebration of this crazy thing that we call life.  Ultimately, the stories are about the rewards that come through perservance.  Let’s face it.  Life can seem cruel at times and at other times it can be pure magic, and we all struggle with the fact it is constantly changing on us.  I would hazard a guess to say that we all want to find “Bliss” in whatever form that takes for each person.  Before we can achieve that idyllic notion of bliss in our lives, we have to do some legwork.  We have to understand ourselves and what we truly want.  We have to make sense of our circumstances and learn life lessons and that also includes our relationship with abundance.  We have to open ourselves to love, both for ourselves and others.  All of that folds back into bliss, both in life and in the Mystique of Living Series.

It was that concept that helped me understand the nature of the series when it was born nearly two years after Triangulating Bliss was created.  Originally, Triangulating Bliss was a one-off, stand-alone story.  Then Phil began to nag me, and I wanted to learn more about his story as the guardian of the Bliss Triangle.  At the same time, my beta readers began asking about the other characters too.

Like the Bliss Triangle itself, the series has its unique characteristics.  The second instalment, Triangulating Self, is Phil’s story, but I don’t call it a sequel or a prequel.  It’s kind of a tandem story alongside Triangulating Bliss.  Both are stand-alone, yet they complement each other.  Triangulating Wisdom is Mikel and his brother Dee’s story, where the life lessons are quite dramatic.  Triangulating Love returns us to Henri and Sara as they come to understand the nature of helping ourselves as well as others.  The final instalment is Triangulating Abundance where Richard’s tale of redemption proves that no one is ever a truly lost cause."
Can you tell us something quirky about Triangulating Bliss, its story and characters?
"The Bliss Triangle seemed to be in play even as the novel was being created.  I based Bliss very loosely on a place called Gus’s in South Pasadena, California.  That was the place and the doorway where the idea hit me, so it seemed fitting.  Of course, Bliss is a fictional composite, but if you are ever in South Pasadena for a visit to Gus’s, you’ll see some familiar elements (like, yes, there is still a soda fountain just down the street).

While I was writing, I decided to place Bliss in Pasadena rather than South Pasadena, and I named the place Smitty’s to start with (before Phil and Lois open their business “Our Place”).  It wasn’t until my friend was reading the first chapters that she told me that there is actually a Smitty’s in Pasadena, and she swore that I had described it nearly to a T.  The funny thing is that I had no idea it existed and, in fact, have never been there.  So, Smitty’s became Stu’s in the novel instead.

That wasn’t the end of it.  Another reader pointed out that there was a place called “R Place” in Pasadena as well.  I had no idea, and I’ve lived in the area for decades.  I haven’t been there either, but I have driven by since.  While it is also a bar, it’s nothing like the one in Bliss, so I’m happy to leave “Our Place” to Lois and Phil’s blissful history."
Who would you recommend Triangulating Bliss to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I wanted this novel to work for both male and female readers.  It was easy to see it as women’s fiction, but from the start I wanted it to be more universal.  I think that’s why Greg is the main character in Triangulating Bliss.  My early readers were all females, so I held my breath as the first male readers weighed in.  I was delighted when they reported back that they got lost in the story.

Early drafts of Triangulating Bliss had a bit more of an edge in places.  Richard’s jailhouse disappearance was a bit more graphic, and Greg and Jen had an expanded love scene.  When the idea for the Bliss Challenge came about, I decided to tone it down because of the cause while I still worked to keep the story authentic.

As a result, I believe the story can touch readers from teen to seniors.  I love the fact that Lois and Phil represent the breadth of life that comes with the golden years.  Sara’s and Jen’s stories reflect how mistakes in your teens and twenties don’t have to result in a life of less than.  Richard’s story shows that even as adults, people often have to regroup and reorganize their lives.  The truth is that Triangulating Bliss is a story for anyone who enjoys a bit of mystery and romance with a touch of the magical and supernatural wrapped into a quest or coming-of-age tale at any age. "
Since you mentioned it, what is the Bliss Challenge?
"As Triangulating Bliss was being finalized, I had another one of those moments.  In the novel, Lois talks about how she never really believed in fairy tales with damsels being saved by handsome strangers and the happily ever after.  Still, she loved the idea of a fairy godmother helping to make people’s wishes come true.   Like I said before, I came to love Lois, and that gave me the idea of helping wishes come true.  As a result, the Bliss Challenge was created. 10% of the proceeds from the novel and 100% of the proceeds from the companion guide, The Backdoor to Bliss, are going to the Bliss Challenge and Make-A-Wish to help fund the wishes of children facing medical challenges.  It seemed extra fitting given the fact that I also lost my sister who had health problems while Triangulating Bliss was being readied for the world.

Readers can help decide where the Bliss Challenge funds are directed.  By visiting www.TriangulatingBliss.com/BlissChallenge people can vote for their favorite characters based on the areas associated with them.  Lois is linked with Chicago.  A vote for Jen ties to North Carolina as does Greg and Mikel for Los Angeles, Richard for New York and so forth.  It’s a fun way to help Make-A-Wish programs throughout the United States."
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"When it comes to my fiction writing, I like to highlight the magic of everyday life.  That includes the serendipity and synchronicity involved in the daily grind and sometimes displays elements of the supernatural or paranormal.  I have been interested in Magical Realism since I studied the topic for my master’s thesis, so I tend to write along similar lines.

I have also worked as a copy writer, ghost writer, and reporter, so overall my writing is quite diverse.  I served as a motorsports reporter and photographer and have written on all kinds of crazy topics for people and businesses all over the world.  The fact that I read just about anything and everything comes in handy there.  I have to admit though, that given a choice of what to curl up with before falling asleep, I tend to prefer a good H.E.A. story."
What is your writing process?
"I tend to get a rough idea of the basics.  You know the 5 Ws: who, what, when, where, and why.  I don’t do full outlines, but I’ll have a makeshift plot board or collection of notes to direct things in the broadest manner.  From there, I jump in.  I love when the characters begin to tell me their own tales.  (I’m sure you got that idea earlier.)  The best part of writing is when the characters take over and shape the story in ways that I could not have anticipated.  When it’s all working the way it should, the story ends up being something far more amazing than I could have planned or predicted.

The downside of that is when it comes to revising and editing.  It means there’s a lot more work to do on the backend to make sure the loose ends are properly tied up and addressed.  Often, I have to take notes on my own story after the initial draft to make sure that everything remains coherent.  Yes, plotting more would make the editing process easier, but I wouldn’t trade an easier editing process for the surprises and delights as the stories unfold."
What is in store next?
"The immediate next steps are finishing the draft of Phil’s story in Triangulating Self to continue the Mystique of Living Series.  We pick up Phil’s side of things at the moment he dies and learn about the nature of living and dying as we find out why the Bliss Triangle exists in the first place.  Phil shares his life as well as his experiences with Bliss.  Triangulating Self is scheduled for release in mid-2016, but there are bound to be sneak peeks along the way, so stay tuned as it all unfolds.

Even as Triangulating Self is coming together, my next release is wrapping up for the revision process.  While Triangulating Bliss was two years in the making, Wing Dog: Soul Pup has been evolving for five years.  I call it my “Magical Mutt Memoir” chronicling one of the most amazing pups that I was privileged to share my life with.  If you enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain, Marley & Me, or A Dog’s Purpose, Wing Dog: Soul Pup is one not to be missed.  It is due to be released in the spring of 2016, so be sure to touch base with me through social media, email or my newsletter at TriangulatingBliss.com to get the latest news."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Of course my pups are important to me.  I can’t deny that, but anyone who knows me knows that.  Plus, my next release will let my quirky dog whisperer side out to the world.  I’ve found a way to work my pups and loved ones into my writing.  In Triangulating Bliss, Milty makes his appearance as none other than “Milty”, Jen’s dog.  What can I say?  They have me wrapped around their tails.

For something a little more quirky about me, I’ll admit to a life-long preoccupation.   I’m a rock hound.  (Did you notice the dog reference even there?)  From the time that I could walk, I have constantly collected all kinds of rocks.  Some are amazing.  Others appear ordinary.  Even when I travel, I make it a point to collect a rock that is symbolic of the trip.  In fact, the rock associated with my sister was a find on the beach near Hearst Castle.  I took a trip to catch up on my journaling after her death.  Her favorite color was blue-green and a stone with jade coloring and in the shape of a heart ended up at my side as I wrote with my feet in the sand.  I carry it with me all the time.  It’s just another example of the magic of everyday living."
That's quite funny - I also always come back home with little bags full of coloured rocks... and not just from the beach... I'd love to see the stone you described.  And your pooches are lovely - the look on the little one!

Thank you very much for joining us today, Janelle.   We wish you all the best with the Bliss Challenge.

Triangulating Bliss - available NOW!

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from Amazon.com purchase from Barnes & Noble purchase from Kobo

5 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for letting me share my Bliss. You have an amazing site here! I thoroughly enjoy it.

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  2. Really great post, I loved the playlist. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I loved the interview and enjoyed the playlist. Thank you.

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