Who Am I?

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.”

~ Alan Watts (British-American Philosopher)



Posted by Jean Foster Akin

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It looks like Julie’s left her wealthy husband for good. Cam’s spent too much time away, the couple’s been bickering, and Julie’s father just died–but could this be enough to make Julie leave? Detective Jack Deerfield thinks so, but Cam disagrees…until he finds romantic letters sent to Julie by a mysterious lover. While Cam deals with this betrayal and Deerfield discovers feelings for Julie’s African-American friend, Evanna, Julie is forced to endure a mentally unstable man bent on turning her into an obedient and loving companion. Will Cam, crushed by his wife’s apparent abandonment, fall under the spell of a seductive socialite determined to make him break his marriage vows? And, will Julie, alone and afraid, find the key to unlock her prison door before she’s subjected to her captor’s last and most dangerous form of control yet?

Head over to Amazon.com, pick up the thriller Cold as Winter Woods by J.F. Akin, and find the answers to those questions! Only $9.40 for the beautiful hefty Paperback! Only 99c for the Kindle eBook, or ZERO cents if you buy the eBook with your Prime membership!! If you get the thrill from the novel that my initial, pre-publication, readers have reported to me, I’d appreciate it very much if you’d go over to Amazon and give me some stars. It’s hard work writing a novel, as many of you know, and encouragement from fellow writers and faithful readers means a lot, so THANKS!!

posted by Jean Foster Akin

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Well, my friends, my newest novel, Cold as Winter Woods, was published last week, but problems were discovered inside the book and the book had to be removed from sale for a few days until the problems were fixed. Now, the NEW and UPDATED novel is once again available for sale on Amazon! You can pick up the nice thick Paperback for just $9.40. However, if you prefer to carry your library around in your Kindle, you can do that too: the Kindle eBook will set you back 99c (yeah, only 99 cents!), unless you’re part of Kindle Unlimited–then you’ll pay nothing! That’s nil, zilch, zero!


If you bought the PAPERBACK before Monday, August 13, 2018, you received the “problematic” version, but *I* will personally REPLACE it for FREE (obviously, for FREE!) with the corrected and updated paperback novel! Just contact me here and I’ll tell you where to send your original sales receipt. NOTE: If you have NOT bought the paperback yet, though, go on over to Amazon and order it. I am not selling my book–Amazon is–I can only send you a replacement Paperback for the “bad” copy you purchased before August 13, in exchange for your original sales receipt.

If you purchased the EBOOK before Monday, August 13, 2018, it is the “problematic” version. You can get the corrected and updated eBook by signing into your Amazon account, looking into your list of Kindle eBooks by clicking on your “Content & Devices,” and completely DELETING the eBook copy of Cold as Winter Woods that you bought before August 15. Deleting will allow you to re-order the updated eBook (NOTE: because of the types of corrections that were made to the eBook, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE AN AUTOMATIC UPDATE ALERT FOR THIS EBOOK ON YOUR KINDLE). Finally, order the eBook once more. Then you will have the new and updated eBook! And please feel free to contact me here and I will gladly reimburse you for the first 99c you paid, in exchange for your original sales receipt.


I spent many hours interviewing law enforcement in the writing of this novel. I wanted to get my facts straight and the men and women of the New York State patrol, undercover, and detective divisions were there to talk to me and to answer my innumerable questions. They gave up precious time helping me get police procedures straight as well as checking over specific sections of my manuscript for accuracy–long before I was able to finally type THE END.


If you’re like me, though, you’ll want to know what a book is about before you shell out any clams for it, so here’s the story, boiled down:

From the back cover: “It looks like Julie’s left her wealthy husband for good. Cam’s spent too much time away, the couple’s been bickering, and Julie’s father just died–but could this be enough to make Julie leave? Detective Jack Deerfield thinks so, but Cam disagrees…until he finds romantic letters sent to Julie by a mysterious lover. While Cam deals with this betrayal and Deerfield discovers feelings for Julie’s African-American friend, Evanna, Julie is forced to endure a mentally unstable man bent on turning her into an obedient and loving companion. Will Cam, crushed by his wife’s apparent abandonment, fall under the spell of a seductive socialite determined to make him break his marriage vows? And, will Julie, alone and afraid, find the key to unlock her prison door before she’s subjected to her captor’s last and most dangerous form of control yet?”

So head over to Amazon.com, pick up the thriller Cold as Winter Woods by J.F. Akin, and find the answers to those questions! Be sure to leave me a positive comment or some “stars” on Amazon if you like the story. Writing a novel is hard work, as many of you know, and encouragement from fellow writers and faithful readers means a lot! Thank you!

posted by Jean Foster Akin

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Author Quote: Taking Writing Advice

“Have humility. Older/more ­experienced/more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. ­Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else – they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you.”

AL Kennedy, Scottish novelist, writer of short stories and non-fiction. Academic. Stand-up comedian.

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Anthony Bourdain: The Magic


There’s a reason Bourdain’s death will rock many. He was a part of the original group of celebrity chefs and demonstrated why our obsession with food has so much more to do than with just food.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

by Jean Foster Akin

I did not know Anthony Bourdain personally, obviously, but, like so many of his fans, his death has struck me hard.

The first time I saw No Reservations, many years ago now, I was hooked. Not only by the fact that I could do some armchair traveling with the man to places I had never seen, but by the fact that I could do some armchair traveling to places I had never seen in the warm, beautiful, frightening, ugly, desperate, welcoming, REAL way that Anthony Bourdain showed them: he showed us a terrifying picture of Iran,  Myanmar, Lybya, Congo, Haiti, Iraqi Kurdistan, Beruit (the latter where the Israel-Lebanon war broke out during the filming of the episode, leaving the No Reservations crew trapped in their hotel with gunshots ringing in their ears and bombs exploding nearby).  Through Bourdain we saw the people of those places, the people who were trapped in war zones and maligned and/or targeted as people groups because of their nationality or religion or gender.  Tony showed us the heartache and the crime, the human rights violations, but he also showed the strength of the human spirit through it all, the simplicity as well as the magnitude in the act of feeding each other. 

He showed us the lights and the glitter of Tokyo and France, the emerald greens of Ireland, the patriotism of the American Southern states, the nightlife of American cities up North, the frozen desert of Antarctica, the sculpted images of gods in Punjab, the hot white sands of the Caribbean. Is there any place Anthony Bourdain didn’t go?

In 2016, NPR correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton shared breakfast with Anthony Bourdain at Marché Kermel in Dakar, Senegal.

Never a travel reporter with that cutesy, folksy, happy-go-lucky American-on-vacation style that is so common with travel show hosts, Bourdain’s straight-faced sarcasm, his quick (often self-deprecating) wit, was entertaining as well as endearing. His honesty was fresh and it was something mostly unseen in this world of political correctness. Yet, just as unfailing as his sharp-witted snark was Bourdain’s genuine gratitude to the people who shared their food with him–whether that food consisted of the finest seafood fished off crystal clear blue-watered islands, or the humblest offerings brought forth from forests surrounding the poorest villages. You could see it all over his face: a sincere thankfulness for the welcome, the hospitality, and the acceptance into their family, that the lowliest of hosts extended him.

Anthony Bourdain in Saudi Arabia. CNN

I remember the episode in which an Inuit family took Tony on a seal hunt in sub-zero temperatures, bundling his thin frame in multiple layers against the cold so that he ended up resembling the Pillsbury Doughboy. He let his viewers know that he didn’t want to receive angry letters excoriating him for going on a pleasure hunt for seals (of course, knowing full well that he would be inundated with such letters), because what he’d actually done was accompany an Inuit family across a frigid waterway to insure the family would eat that night. It was a journey the family made frequently, and so why not film for the audience this dangerous, even life-threatening, hunt for survival? Bourdain wanted to remind inhabitants of the First-World that way up on “top” of the Earth there isn’t a McDonald’s or a Whole Foods on every corner. Or on any corner. We got to see a world that belonged to someone else and appreciate the world that was our own.

Later in that episode, a plastic sheet was laid on the kitchen floor, and the raw seal was cut up and eaten by the family and film crew.  The head of the family offered one of the seal’s treasured eyeballs to Bourdain, who admitted in voice-over that he wasn’t sure he could swallow such a goopy, disgusting organ. But knowing the generosity behind the host’s gesture, knowing every family member present would be delighted to eat the eye in his stead, Bourdain looked at the flesh-cup of gelatinous goo as the gift it was. He looked directly at his host, smiled an almost-shy smile, and suggested that he and his host share it. In that way he figured he might be able to get the thing down and, at the same time, avoid offending his host. It was Bourdain’s smile in that instant, no guile and no pretense behind it, which got me. It was the pure, naked smile of a man who saw the largesse of his host’s gesture and made sure his host knew he understood it, and that he wanted to offer something in return.

Anthony Bourdain was an amazing writer with a deep, dusky voice and an often salty vocabulary who gathered up the textures, scents, and feelings that food could elicit within a culture. He brought those elements to light, painting vibrant pictures with his well-chosen words and images.  He revealed the hands and hearts, the traditions and practices–the humanity–behind the foods in the  cultures he showcased. Bourdain sat down to sup with any number of scary folks (former Viet Cong soldiers come to mind), but he shed illumination on ordinary people living in countries all around us, too, just people trying to make ends meet, trying to live their lives as peacefully as possible, trying to raise their children to be capable and strong in a dangerous world, trying to build a better future for the next generation, and spending quite lot of time working for, paying for (or trading for), and preparing nourishing foods for their families and their friends. Just like the rest of us.  Bourdain showed us people, real people, and told us, “See? We are not that different at all. We have the same fears, the same dreams, the same hopes for our children.”

Bourdain in Hanoi. Photo: William Mebane for The New Yorker.

Bourdain went all over the world to see those places, to speak to those people, to sit at their tables, and to tell their stories in programs which revolved around the magic of food, the magic of community. Magic like our own magic. Magic we often believe has been reserved just for us. But it hasn’t. It’s a magic that envelops the people of the Earth. Anthony Bourdain brought knowledge of that common magic to many, revealing the life-giving, tradition-building, community-forging power of food shared.

For my part, I will miss his relaxed saunter, the eyes that took it all in, the sardonic smirk as well as the genuine empathy and warmth of a man I didn’t know, but who, I believe, opened all our eyes to the amazing possibilities that connectedness to other members of our species can bring. To the amazing possibilities inherent in dropping our defenses with other peoples and other tribes. To not being so sure we know every little thing about each other. And, mostly, to the gift of allowing others to be themselves and to be different from us without our feeling threatened by that knowledge.

Thank you, Anthony Bourdain, for igniting our curiosity. May you rest in peace.

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This 1 Thing Will Squelch Your Dreams of Authorship

New York City Skyscrapers aerialMaybe when all is said and done, the reason you aren’t published is not the hours a night you spend watching television, the hours you spend clicking “like” on all the foodie pics your friends post on Facebook, the lateness of your emergence from your bedroom every morning. Yes, it’s possible that these acts are those of a wanna-be writer with no talent whatsoever. But, maybe these fruitless activities are a sign that, even though you have the talent, you simply don’t take yourself seriously.

And what’s really amazing (because it happens so much) are all those people out there with LESS talent than you who work a LOT harder than you because they actually think they have a LOT of talent and that the whole world ought to know about it! They push their way into every opportunity, they MAKE opportunities for themselves. With full confidence, with trumpets blaring, they cry: “LOOK AT ME!!” And you know what? They sometimes do pretty well for themselves, while you (talented and insecure you) say things like: “I’m not good enough,” or “Who would want to read what I wrote?”

Well, my friend, at last count, there were 7.6 BILLION people in this world, so guess what? There is SOMEONE out there who would LOVE to read what you write! More than just a “someone”–many “someones”.

And I’ll tell you something else: your fear, your thought that “no one would want to read what I write,” comes from a fear of criticism. No one gets anywhere worrying about criticism of their work. If criticism scares you–and it scares the hell out of me, quite honestly, and most people I know–then you have to put it aside and go BIG, go for THE GUSTO…or you gotta go home.

Don’t go home.


There will always be someone who writes a useless critique of your work on Amazon–someone without the courage and/or the talent to write a novel-length manuscript as you have done, but who has the “talent” to make other people feel bad about themselves. Useless critiques might look like this: “I red this book an it sucked!” Other critiques might be more useful: “I didn’t feel connected to the characters.” The latter critique could indicate something you can work on in your next novel, or perhaps the critique indicates the reviewer’s particular issue with the work. If your pre-publication readers were an honest bunch and offered a lot of helpful feedback (which you heard, without throwing up defenses, and acted upon), it might just be the reviewer’s particular issue. Be honest with yourself, but also know that every critique is not worth ruining your day over, and that you cannot expect EVERYONE to like your writing. Remember? Over SEVEN BILLION people in the world. At least a couple of them won’t like you work. At least a couple.


Then there are the people who will love your book, but they won’t say so. Frustrating? You bet. In my own life, I received phone calls, letters, Facebook private messages, and, even years later, people approached me with compliments over my first published book (THE FILIGREE SLIPPERS), but you won’t see all those people taking the time to give me stars on Amazon. Even with me suggesting they do so. Even with me trying hard not to sound like I was begging them to do so. They were not “bad” people, they were just people: reading novels they enjoyed and then going on to the next one without a backward glance. Does that mean I should not be preparing for the publication of my next novel, this one for adults, entitled COLD AS WINTER WOODS?  No. And you should be moving forward too.


Some critics you will know personally. Those might be the scariest for you, actually. Those are the people who have never liked the thought of you succeeding at anything, those who have never tried for anything special in their own lives and hate the thought of you having anything special in yours. It’s also common for writers to actually be nervous about how their NON-reading social circle (whether it be family, friends, co-workers) will respond to their book. Why? Will the non-readers ferret out every place you could have used a better word, or will they disapprove of the genre into which your novel falls? Remember, they don’t READ, so, you know, who cares? You think your favorite authors weren’t afraid their family and friends might HATE their newest novel? Really?? Well, they published anyway.


There are reasons not to write a story, and there are reasons to wait to tell a story. Frank McCourt wrote ANGELA’S ASHES long before he would submit the manuscript to an agent in the hopes of publication. He wrote about an impoverished childhood in Ireland, what his mother had to do in order to feed her children. Had McCourt found a publisher for the novel before his mother died, she would have been deeply ashamed by his revealing what she was forced to do, things over which she had no control. But, if you are not in the position where you must wait to tell your story, then,  my writing friend, write, write, write. Edit, edit, edit. Submit your work to agents or figure out how to self-publish. Give it your all and don’t fall under the spell of critics.

Even if the critic is YOU.



written and posted by Jean Foster Akin

“Big City” Photo cred: Unsplash.com

Cold as Winter Woods photo cred: Amazon.com

Posted in Encouragement, Letting Go, Problems Faced by the Serious Writer | 2 Comments

A Writer’s Disappointments and Struggles

Jean F. Akin.

My newest novel for an adult audience, entitled COLD AS WINTER WOODS, is soon to be published under the name J.F. Akin. It’s a thriller about the victim of a kidnapping, and how she fares when misunderstandings lead investigators to dangerously incorrect conclusions. It’s about unrequited love that isn’t love at all. It’s about little white lies, false allegiances, one woman’s fight for survival, one man’s insanity, and another man’s fight to stay sane. And, when all is said and done, COLD AS WINTER WOODS is about the tenacity, the strength, the sorrows, and the “hiccups” of love.

On the eve of publishing this novel for adults (just as when my book for middle readers, THE FILIGREE SLIPPERS, was published), I could write pages and pages about a writer’s disappointments and struggles. I know that many of you wordsmiths out there could write those pages with me.


I mean, once we get beyond the months–often the years–of developing back stories for our characters, researching technology or professions, planning our stories’ trajectories, writing down the stories and conversations of our characters’ lives, there is the waiting for agents to get back to us about our submissions. But, first, there is the rigmarole we must go through in just supplying an agent with the appropriate package so she won’t end up tossing our work in the circular file* before she even reads it! And even when we give an agent all she asks for, we might find she never contacts us about it at all. Ever.

Disappointment. Struggle.

Of course, there’s always  self-publishing–no going through the watchdogs of the literary world in order to have our voices heard there. Once considered taboo in the industry, self-publishing is now accepted as legitimate in more circles than you’d expect. I’ve got editing clients whose novels have won self-publishing awards through Writer’s Digest Magazine–once the bastion of anti-self-publishing snobbery.

Still, either way we go, traditional publishing or self-publishing, we’ll experience disappointment and struggle.

But we continue to write the next thing. We’re always writing the next thing or editing the last thing. What else can we do? We’re writers, and we must write.



I’ve completed three novel-length manuscripts and four partial manuscripts in the last few years. The actual newest one is a mystery which I finished in mid-2017, but the mystery’s final editing has taken a backseat to the manuscript I am calling my “newest”–COLD AS WINTER WOODS. I actually finished writing COLD AS WINTER WOODS in 2002, but I put it away at the time of my mother’s death not long after. Then I took more college courses; my husband and I spent a lot of time fixing up a terribly neglected 1840 Colonial; we sold the Colonial and moved–a few times–and, finally, we settled in New England in 2016. THE FILIGREE SLIPPERS (written under the name Jean Foster Akin), was published in the midst of all that in 2011.

Then, my laptop was stolen in 2014. It housed all my novel-length and all my partial manuscripts that were just waiting for me to get back to them. Crazy disappointment. Crazy struggle.

The thought of rewriting all those manuscripts was beyond daunting.

I would have to re-write characters and plots based on the backstories I’d written for all of them in black and white notebooks. The bones were there in those notebooks, yes, but nothing anywhere near the sinews and flesh of those stories, nothing anywhere near the beating heart of those stories. As for COLD AS WINTER WOODS, I had interviewed detectives, patrol, and undercover cops–both male and female–over a 24-month period  in the early 2000s. As the years went by, I always knew that if I wanted to see that novel  published, an update on technology and investigative/police practices would be necessary. But the manuscript was now gone. Lost forever with the rest. All I could do was mourn its loss.


Imagine my shock when my husband found the entire novel again in 2017–ALL my pre-2014 unpublished novels, in fact–on a forgotten thumb drive! Disappointment. Struggle.  And, in this case, sheer disbelief in my good fortune.

I’ve spent months, from late 2017 to early 2018, editing and rewriting, and bringing the 2002 technology and police procedures in COLD AS WINTER WOODS up to 2018 standards. It’s finally finished.  And right in time for Spring.

When COLD AS WINTER WOODS is published in the next few weeks, I’ll give you a shout out. I want to ensure the first many copies from Amazon are FREE for you early-birds.

And I hope you’ll find COLD AS WINTER WOODS a thrill to read!



*an author/agent term for the agent’s trash can 😛

Photos of “Wintry Trees” and “Potted Plant on Windowsill” by Jean Foster Akin

Other photos: Unsplash.

Posted in Announcements, Encouragement, Problems Faced by the Serious Writer | 5 Comments