Pandora’s Box cover and website!!

Pandora’s Box will be available on Amazon in a matter of DAYS!!! In the meantime, check out the cover and the website! On the website you can meet the characters, remind yourself what happened in Urban Legends, the first book in the Not Like Paradise trilogy, and get a few small clues about Pandora’s Box (no spoilers, though, promise)! If you read the individual character webpages, that is where you will find the best review of what happened in Urban Legends, because each page is told from that character’s own perspective. Have fun exploring, and check back, because I’ll update both the blog and the website when the book is available!!

Pandora’s Box website

pandora's box front cover

Pandora’s box cover

pandora's box back cover

Pandora’s box back cover

So you don’t have to try zooming in on the text, here is what the back cover says about the book:

Jansen has long resented her conceited parents, their money-and-social-standing-mean-everything attitudes, and the pretentious tennis-club and Hamptons-parties lifestyle they push on her. But after learning her mom, Scarlett, tried to murder Clint’s mom, Cindy, Jansen’s resentment turns to a hatred she has no idea how she’ll conceal.

As she, Clint, Jason, and Hersh reel in the wake of their discovery, everything feels surreal to Jansen. The inane love lives of her school friends, nights out at Red Sulfur, the dangerous need for a high that continuously requires more and more stimulation to attain, and even the sordid past of the Circles of Eight. It is only with the boys she feels like her true self, especially in the world she and Jason have created when it’s just the two of them, a mystical yet very real Paradise, their “best ever.”

But when a long-awaited revelation hits Jansen out of the blue, she snaps out of her foggy reverie and, along with Jason, throws herself deeper into uncovering the mysteries of the Circles of Eight. The trail leads away from her mom’s murder attempt fifteen years ago and takes Jansen and Jason back ten years earlier, to the childhood of Jason’s mom, Corinne.

Despite warnings they are opening a treacherous Pandora’s box, Jansen and Jason set out to connect the clues littered across Corinne’s and the Circles’ intertwining pasts. An old diary hidden in a bookshelf, a boy named Robert, a letter that can’t be found, an unknown object of dire importance, a forgotten summer house in Vermont. And, ultimately, questions Corinne seems determined to leave unanswered.

pandora's box author pic

Pandora’s box author pic

The above picture is me on the 1 train at South Ferry Terminal in NYC (along with the awesome @gypsythetravelingcatpurse). Watch for the scene in the book where Jansen and Jason ride the subway to this stop…it’s a good one. 😉

Stay tuned for several more pictures from NYC that will show you real places Jansen, Jason, Hersh, Clint, and others go in Urban Legends and Pandora’s Box!

Pandora’s Box excerpt!

Last summer I published Urban Legends, the first novel in the Not Like Paradise trilogy. The second novel, Pandora’s Box, will be coming in June! As promised, below is an excerpt. If you’ve read Urban Legends, it ended with Jansen and Jason leaving Cindy’s house in South Carolina and heading to the airport, not knowing where they would fly. Here’s a peek at what comes next… 😉

(If you haven’t read Urban Legends yet, check it out here.)

Pandora’s Box Sneak Peek!

Jansen and Jason flew to Paris.

It had long been Jansen’s favorite city besides New York. It was high fashion, dirty streets, astonishingly beautiful architecture, pretentious food, cafés on every corner, some of the best art in the world, centuries of tragic and triumphant history, and a haze of cigarette smoke. It was mysterious, intriguing, and impersonal…a bold, careless, beautiful face turned to the world, completely content with its identity and uninterested in the opinions of anyone. It was exactly where Jansen wanted to be…

***

…They got ready, left the hotel holding hands, and walked to the closest Métro station. They rode to the 4th arrondissement and walked along the old streets of Le Marais until they found a bookstore. They wandered in and browsed the titles, looking for anything that struck them as interesting or romantic or tragic or intrinsically Parisian…a book that captured some essence of this city they both loved.

Jason stopped to pull a book off a shelf, and Jansen let go of his hand and continued walking slowly down the aisle.

Regarde ça,” Jason said, his voice quiet.

Jansen heard the piqued interest in it. She turned.

Jason held a book out to her.

Jansen took one look at it and felt her heart race a little. “Oui. Ça y est.

Le Paradis Souterrain.

Paradise Underground, or The Underground Paradise, depending how you translated it. The picture was of an underground passageway littered with bones.

She and Jason shared a small grin, then hurried to the front, excited to get to a café and dive into their find…

***

…They had both heard vaguely of the Paris Catacombs before, but it wasn’t a place either of them had visited, and they knew little about it or its history. Jansen wondered if maybe people went there to worship the dead or something creepy, and that was how those dead had now become “revered.” It sounded really cool though…a tunnel under the city lined with remains of people who had been dead for centuries. It would be fun to go.

They turned the page to the next chapter, and that’s when they realized the first chapter had really been nothing more than a surface story, a necessary histoire before they got to the real content of the book…

The “underground paradise” named in the title had nothing to do with the remains of dead people found in the Ossuary…the couple kilometers of tunnel making up the Ossuary was literally only a fraction of the former quarries, or what Parisians considered les catacombes. The tunnels stretched for an estimated three hundred miles under Paris in an intricate maze. Many of the passageways contained nothing of interest, and some were flooded with water or blocked by cave-ins. The tunnels were described as illegal and dangerous, because you were as likely to encounter escaped criminals, who supposedly entered the tunnels from a secret passageway under La Santé Prison in the 14th arrondissement, as you were a member of the special division of Paris police who were responsible solely for patrolling the tunnels with their dogs.

But the tunnels were also described as alluring and irresistibly tempting, because tucked in the deepest recesses of the maze, if you knew where to look, were rumored meeting places of secret societies such as the Illuminati, former wartime hideouts, squatter villages with electricity and untraceable phone lines, and amphitheatres carved into the rock where people called cataphiles—those who frequented this underground otherworld—came to throw highly illegal and insanely outrageous multiple-day parties.

This was the Paradise. It had nothing to do with dead people at all, and everything to do with taking a risk to obtain an unparalleled reward. Sneaking away to give in to your fantasies or simply to escape to another realm where the laws of society didn’t exist.

The last few chapters claimed that while police were constantly blocking off newly discovered entrances into the Catacombs, secret access points existed all over Paris. They were ladders inside manholes or drain shafts, abandoned tunnels underneath Métro stations. You had to stumble across one, or you had to find somebody willing to take you. The author told of several specific ones he had heard of and tried, but every single one had been sealed…blocked off by police if it had ever been a way in.

The very last chapter, entitled “Une boîte de Pandore,” warned again about the dangers of going, including cave-ins, floods, drug dealers and addicts, escaped prisoners, and the possibility of getting lost or arrested, but said if one was going to try, the absolute essentials were boots, flashlights, and a map.

Jansen and Jason turned another page and found an estimated map, one that mirrored the streets of Old Paris, as it was rumored the streets had been aligned directly over the quarries and that street signs could even be found in the tunnels, labeling the city streets above. Based on all the research the author had done, his map even included the locations of some supposed secret rooms, but he was very clear that it was just an inference and shouldn’t be used as an actual guide.

Jansen closed the book and looked at Jason.

“There must be some kickass parties down there on New Year’s Eve,” Jason said with a wicked grin.

Jansen grinned back. “I’m not afraid of a little Pandora’s box.”

“Me either.”

“All we need is a map and a way in.”

***

…They had walked only a little way when Jansen spotted something down a cross tunnel they were passing.

“Oh my gosh, look,” she said, shining her flashlight to the right. She stepped into the passageway, her mouth falling open.

All over its walls were paintings of a woman with long reddish-brown hair. Jansen quickly realized the walls were a mural of Paris, with the woman at all the different landmarks. The Tuileries Gardens, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, a sidewalk café, a boat on the Seine, a street market, L’Arc de Triomphe, the Place de la Concorde. In each scene the lady was disproportionately large compared to the buildings and the other regular-sized people who interacted around her.

“Look,” Jason said from back in the entryway. He was looking at something above his head.

Jansen went back to see what it was, and she realized there was actually a small arch formed in the entrance.

Le paradis de Pandore,” she read aloud. Her heart skipped a beat. “Pandora’s Paradise?!”

Jason had moved inside. “Look,” he said again. “All the people in the pictures are fighting.”

Jansen looked closer, and it was immediately apparent. Their faces were angry, their arms raised or crossed as they yelled at one another, their mouths open in frozen shouts whose words would never be heard. At Place de la Concorde, a man was bent over the guillotine, its blade raised and ready to strike.

But one face wasn’t angry. In every depiction of Pandora, she was smiling…a small, delighted curl of her lips.

“It’s her Paradise because she set all the bad things free,” Jansen said. “Hate, and anger, and vengeance.” It was just like the myth, in which Pandora had opened the jar that released everything bad and evil into the world.

“I wonder who painted this,” Jason said. “And if the author of that book knew about it. The first one we read, in Le Marais? He didn’t mention it, but the title had the word paradise in it, and he called that one chapter ‘Pandora’s Box.’ ”

“He implied that to come down here would be to open a Pandora’s box.” Jansen looked at Jason. “And that’s why it’s her Paradise. People get lost, or arrested, or run into prisoners or floods or…whatever.”

Jason nodded. “Exactly.”

Jansen looked around at the painting again, slightly horrified and immensely more intrigued.

“She looks like you,” Jason said.

“What?”

“All these pictures of Pandora. She has your hair color, and she’s young. And beautiful.”

Jansen looked at Jason, but he wasn’t even looking at her. He hadn’t been trying to be sweet; he’d just said it matter-of-factly. Her heart melted, and she smiled in his direction.

Then she looked back to the nearest painting of Pandora. “She looks like my mom too.” Jansen wrinkled her nose. “How fucking ironic, ‘cause my mom’s like the modern-day Pandora. Everything evil in the world is here because of her.”

“Except you,” Jason said, finally looking at her.

“What?”

“You’re here ‘cause of her. And you’re not evil. No matter what all your mom’s done, I’m still glad she was born, and that she moved to New York and married your dad. ‘Cause otherwise I wouldn’t have you.”

Jansen’s heart melted again, and she felt tears well up in the corners of her eyes. She ran to Jason and threw her arms around his neck.

He hugged her back tightly. “It’s just the truth,” he said.

“I’m so glad I have you too. You’re my Paradise. I really am happiest when we’re together. I really am only truly happy when we’re together.”

They kissed.

“I’m really glad we came here,” Jason said.

“To Paris, or the Catacombs?”

“Both.”

“Me too.” Suddenly something else on the wall caught Jansen’s eye, and she stepped out of Jason’s arms and walked over to it. It was cursive writing etched through the middle of the mural.

La plus belle femme du monde dans la plus belle ville du monde,” she read aloud. “The most beautiful woman in the world in the most beautiful city in the world.”

“Pandora was supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world?” Jason asked. He had come up beside her to read the writing too.

“Yeah.” Jansen looked back at her picture. “And she is a lot like Paris. She’s considered the most beautiful, but she doesn’t care what people think of her. She’s bold and her reputation speaks for itself, but not a lot of people know the real her. She’s…devious. She has secrets.”

“That’s kinda like you too,” Jason said.

Jansen looked at him in surprise. “Yeah, I guess it is.” She smiled. “And it’s everything I love about Paris too.”

“Well,” Jason said, “the most beautiful girl and the most beautiful city should have a few things in common, don’t you think?” He looked away, shrugging and making his face aloof. “I think they should.”

Jansen laughed and hit him in the shoulder. “Yeah,” she said. “I guess they should.”

“every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser”

Life is full of choices. People spend a lot of time worrying about whether they’re making the right ones. I’ve spent hours trying to make decisions by writing about the different possibilities, talking about them with friends and family, making pro and con lists, and so on. My characters do this too. In Wrong All Along, Lorylyn panics over breaking up with Brady because even though their relationship can’t go on as it is, she knows letting him go now could mean losing him long-term, and she still loves him. In Love Means Zero, Hilton has to choose whether to pursue her dream life and career of traveling and taking pictures at the expense of her dream relationship with Luke.

Choices almost always involve a risk…letting go of one thing for the hope of something else. So you wonder, what if it doesn’t turn out like I want? Then I will have made the wrong choice and gotten nothing. And maybe lost out on something pretty big.

But I believe that a lot of the time, there’s not really a right or a wrong choice. It’s not the situations you put yourself in that cause happiness or unhappiness; it’s your thoughts and actions regarding those situations. If you make a choice but are consumed by doubt about it, you probably won’t do your best to live it out to the fullest. You have lingering what ifs bogging you down. And that leads you to believe you made the wrong choice…and even to doubt your future choices. In this case, you did make the wrong choice…about not having confidence in your original choice!

I heard a quote last summer by Earl Reum, a motivational speaker and great advocate for student leadership. He said, “Make a decision, and then make it the right one.” What he meant was, when you make choices, you need to put your all into them and get everything you can out of them. No doubts, no regrets.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. The title of this post is a line from the song. “Every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.” It’s true…in poker. A hand without even a pair can be a winner. If you choose to bluff and do it well enough to scare off the player with a flush, you will take the pot. And if you’re the player with the great hand who just got scared and folded…well, that just proves every hand can be a loser too.

And isn’t it also true in life? Take Lorylyn. If she stays with Brady, she’ll be winning in that she won’t have to let go of him and can try to improve their relationship. Or, she’ll be losing in that she could continue to feel their relationship is a compromise because it doesn’t match her idea of love. If she breaks up with him, she’ll be winning because she won’t be compromising, and maybe she’ll meet someone else. But she’ll be losing him, possibly for good, and she’s really not ready to even think about meeting anyone else.

“The Gambler” offers a further bit of wisdom, telling us “every gambler knows / the secret to surviving / is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”

Since, of course, every hand can be both a winner and a loser.

So how the hell do you know which hands to throw away and which to keep? Which hand to pick as your winner?

Well, if you go back to making a decision and then making it the right one, I think you find the answer in realizing what you’ll have to do to make that hand a winner. How hard will you have to work, and is it worth your time and effort? For Lorylyn, how can she improve her relationship with Brady? Is it worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? Or, if she breaks up with him, how can she go about finding a better relationship? Is that worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? And which scenario feels like the real win?

Or, maybe you’ll find the answer in what could make that hand a loser. What can you absolutely not stand to lose? For Hilton, can she imagine her life traveling the world and taking pictures…but without Luke? Or can she imagine herself in an amazing relationship with the guy she considers the love of her life…but lacking professional and creative satisfaction?

I recently got to hear a Mount Everest climber named John Beede speak about the experiences that led to his successful summit. He had a college professor who assigned students to write down 100 goals for their lives, which is what started him on his quest. He encouraged those of us listening to do the same…write down our goals. So I did. I didn’t get all the way to 100, but I got down some good, specific ones.

So now I have a choice. And the ironic thing is, whichever hand I pick as my winner will probably move me toward one of my biggest goals and farther away from one of my others. So I have to think, which choice can I make that will still allow me to meet the other goal, just maybe in a different fashion? And ultimately…which one is worth the risk it involves? Which one am I willing to give 100% unyielding effort to, once I’ve chosen it, to make it a winning hand?

Whichever one I choose, it’ll become my next postcard, one piece of the story of my life, the moment I’m living in that I would die for. (Go here for my theory on postcards: https://authordaisyjordan.wordpress.com/2013/06/09/the-crazy-thing-about-postcards/.)  So I’m pretty excited to make my choice, and then to make the most of it. 🙂