Friday, April 29, 2011

The Perfect Way To Get To Know Someone

 Hey all,

It's Friday and you know what that means.  I have another great author for you to get to know.  Today's guest is Jessica Freely, a fellow Loose Id Author who writes some really great M/M books.  Here's a little about her...

Jessica Freely has been writing and publishing genre fiction under a variety of names for over fifteen years, but it wasn’t until she stumbled upon a stash of Jay and Silent Bob fanfiction that she found her true calling: male/male romance. She hasn’t looked back since.

With such great books such as Virgin, Instinct, The Ice Prince and the Eppie nominated Rust Belt, she delights her readers with hot, tender romance that always leaves you wishing for more. 

I've read several of her books and her characters are emotion driven and well rounded so you wind up living and breathing what they're going through.  Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good M/M romance, especially those who enjoy a little paranormal or fantasy with their reading.

So please help me in welcoming Jessica to CJ's Living Dreams...


Thanks for having me on your blog, CJ! And big thanks to CJ's readers for stopping by. Please feel free to ask me any questions you have.

When I started thinking about what to write for this, I was a little bit stumped. As an author and a writing instructor, there's not a lot I do in a day that doesn't involve writing somehow. Yet I really like the idea of this blog as a place for authors to share ourselves as people, beyond the next title we're marketing.

So to refresh my memory that I have a life beyond the written word, I started browsing through my photos file. I came across this picture and I thought, well, what better way to get to know someone than to meet their family?

The woman on the far left is my great-grandmother, Johanna Heysemann Marks. She was born in the mid-1800s in a little town near the Polish border called Flatow. There is very little left of Flatow now, after two world wars. Mostly fields and just a handful of houses.

Johanna was deaf and lived with her brother, a wealthy vintner -- until the brother got married and it was time for Johanna to move out of the house. A marriage was arranged for her overseas in America. As the family story goes, there were two brothers who were prospective husbands -- one was responsible and prosperous, the other was a gambler. Those acting on Johanna's behalf believed they had secured Wealthy and Prosperous for her, but when she arrived in Detroit, she discovered that there had been some sort of mix up, and she'd been saddled with Gambler instead.

They settled in the Gratiot Ave. area of Detroit, at that time heavily populated by German immigrants. When Gambler died, he left Johanna with four children and no money. Because she was deaf, she never learned to speak English.

So there she was, in a foreign land where she did not speak the language, with no income and four children to feed. She had to do something, so she took the children's wagon to a wholesaler's warehouse down the street. Since this was the Gratiot neighborhood, the people there spoke German. She told them that if they would let her take some of their goods -- soap, twine, sugar, flour, etc. -- and sell them out of her wagon, she would repay them their cost, plus a percentage, and keep the rest of the markup for herself.

They agreed, and Johanna went into business. She parlayed that wagon full of sundries into a brick and mortar general store with which she supported her family for years to come.

It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I learned from a cousin that Johanna was Jewish. There had always been a family story about how when my grandfather came to call on my grandmother, Johanna chased him down the street with a broom. The explanation given was that it was because he was a mechanic, which never made a lot of sense to me. However, if they were Jewish, and he was a Gentile, then it makes a lot more sense. Although really, just look at him. Would you want him around your daughter? He looks like a turn of the century James Bond. And by the way, neither of the women in that photo is my grandmother. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, Grandma converted to Lutheran when she married Grandpa, and my mother, who endured some appallingly anti-semitic remarks from college classmates at the University of Michigan during World War II, never told my father or us kids about her Jewish heritage. (Below are my mom and dad, just before their marriage.)

The great irony of it all is that they settled and raised us kids in Oak Park, a suburb of Detroit that was predominately Jewish up until very recently. As a kid during the late sixties and seventies, I was often the only Gentile among my friends -- except I wasn't. According to Hebrew tradition, which follows the female line, I'm Jewish.

It was hard on my mom when the word got out. She'd kept that secret for so long, she was certain everything would fall apart once people knew. Of course nothing of the kind took place, and eventually she saw that, and I'm grateful that before she passed away she had the opportunity to know that it was safe for her to be all of who she really was.

It's popular nowadays to think of ourselves purely as individuals -- sole captains of our destiny. But the truth is, the lives of our ancestors echo in everything we do. And I'm good with that.

Thanks for reading!


A great blog and it made me look back at my own family and the wonderful things I've gotten from them.  We've got a horse thief and a Native American shaman in my background along with a few others we don't talk about in polite company.   But Jessica is right.  They are a part of us and should be celebrated.  I know I smiled when I read her blog and it made me give my mama a call just to say hi.

Learn more about Jessica Freely by going to her website and blog at

I'll see you next week!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams


Phylis said...

When Jessica started that story of her past, I was thinking this sounds like a book. And hearing you both talk about your ancestors makes me remember a story about my father's side. According to a newspaper article they were involved in something risque. This side of the family had two brothers who went to Kansas instead of Nebraska. One of them sent for a bride of dubious repute ( I kid you not, that's how the article sounded!). They were sharing a bed...yes, the two brothers and the woman who was the wife of one of them. According to the article the husband woke up to activities of a sinful nature and when he objected, there was a gunshot and he ended up dead and she fled. Amazing huh? Thanks for the great blog!

Maryn Sinclair said...

What an interesting story. My grandmother came to this country in much the same way. My grandfather died at 42 and left my grandmother with 6 children in a foreign country. She, however, never renounced her Jewish roots. Our story is much like what was depicted in the movie Avalon.