Category Archives: Behind the Book

5 Unique Life Lessons Can Create a Yin Yang You

What makes you unique? I was asked a variation of that very broad, daunting question as my prompt for a recent guest post. After much soul searching, I listed as many creative influences about my life as I could. Soon, I noticed a pattern, not only in my life, but in my personality. I’m quite the study in contracts. A delicate balance of Yin Yang, if you will. For my post, I chose to write about 5 unique life lessons among those that shaped me most.

Here’s the beginning…

Professional worrywart. Dedicated dreamer. Introvert. Adventurer. Stickler for details. Dancer to her own tune. Basically, if Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood had a love child, she’d be me.                               

5 Unique Life Lessons

5 unique life lessons
Playing Big Sis
  • Baby of the Family/First-Born:  I’m the baby girl in a family with five children, five-and-a-half years younger than my parents’ third child and the older of two youngest children by two-and-a-half years. In effect, I was bossed around and cared for by older siblings, while I alternately envied and ignored my little brother. The dynamics changed when I was twelve. With the older ones off at college, I grew into his responsible, caring older sister.
  • Loving Family/Mean Girls:  As the fourth kid in a large family surrounded by oodles of aunts, uncles, and cousins in a ten minute radius, I grew up with love and built-in friendships. Then there was my school life, a haven when my family encountered a rough patch. At other times, thirteen years in class with the same thirty kids could spell trouble…

There’s more to the story over on Eri Nelson’s blog. Hop on over to “What Makes Me Unique as an Author,” where you can read the article in its entirety. Then be sure to stop back here and tell me what you think.

What’s one life event you feel plays a significant role in what and how you (or others) may choose to create?

Release Week Fun Recap — Enter to Win!

Release week fun for Text Me, Maybe, my first romantic comedy with Entangled’s Lovestruck imprint, is chock-ful of teasers, excerpts, behind-the-book trivia, and cool giveaways. In case you’ve missed any of the exciting news, here’s a recap of the highlights.

Release Week Fun Recap

Text Me Maybe Release
One of my TMM #tuesdayteaser memes
  • Harlequin Junkies Spotlight & Giveaway — An acrostic poem using the title of my new release, TMM trivia, and an excerpt from the “Hot Yoga” scene that dared give me all that trouble during the drafting stage.
  •  Jaunty Quills Guest Author Post — I share my Ultimate Fan Experience and invite you to share yours. (So far, there appears to be a tie between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings fans. Just sayin.) There’s a giveaway, too, separate from the one listed just below.

Release Week Fun Giveaway…

Indiesage PR Blog Tour, August 8 – 26th — Enter my giveaway for a chance to win my NYC-themed gift package…souvenir pens, stationery, journal, bracelet, art, Broadway merchandise, an autographed paperback copy of Text Me, Maybe, Jolyse Barnett homemade lavender sugar scrub, and more!!!!!

Release Week Fun

And while you’re here…

why not hop over to my post, Pamplona Room, Fourth Book, & Summer of Love Giveaway, where all you have to do is comment to be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of Jeannie Moon’s UNTIL YOU, a Jeannie Moon canvas tote bag, and Jolyse Barnett swag, including my homemade lavender sugar scrub.

Remember to check back Monday, when I’ll be blogging about:

  • The Audubon House and Tropical Gardens of Key West (OMG, wait till you see all the flower photos!)
  • The winner of my Summer of Love Giveaway #3 (Will it be you??)
  • Details for entering my Summer of Love Giveaway #4 — featuring the fab Jennifer Gracen this go-round, a woman referred to as “a hot new voice…definitely one to watch!” by RT Book Reviews. So don’t miss out. Check back here Monday to learn more!

Until then…

Good, luck and hope you have a wonderful weekend doing whatever you love!  oxo Jolyse



Giveaway to Celebrate Holiday Book Promotion

In the mood for a giveaway? To kick off our special promotion of my holiday romance, Christmas Light, at 99 cents, my publisher featured me on their blog today!

Here’s a taste to whet your appetite:

Adirondack Christmas

I was born and raised in upstate New York, one of five children living with our hard-working, loving parents in a large clapboard house, painted white. Come December each year, our large yard, where we enjoyed Sunday summer picnics with our extended family, would be blanketed in snow. And there’d be a special magic in the air…

Most every house in my childhood Adirondack village decorated for the season, Christmas trees glowing bright through front windows and strands of lights outlining houses—from the farm homes on the country back roads to the houses huddled together in the center of our quaint little town.Christmas Light Promotion with Giveaway

An evergreen wreath with a velvet red bow on our front door welcomed friends and family into our home. Our freshly cut tree would be draped with strings of popcorn and cranberries, mounds of silvery tinsel, and treasured ornaments unpacked from brown boxes stored in the attic.

On Christmas morning, my younger brother and I always woke first and would tiptoe downstairs to find our tree overflowing with presents. We’d read the tags and giggle with excitement whenever we found one of our names, but we dared not touch. Against Dad’s rules. We also knew the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t in the gifts inside those wrapped boxes, but all around us in the love we shared and in God’s love and his Son he sent to save us…


To read the rest, get a recipe and the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card, hop on over to the Tule blog.

Happy reading and good luck!

oxo, Jolyse

Behind the Book: An Adirondack Village

Ben Stephens, my geek-turned-hottie hero from my Christmas romance, A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, knows what he’s talking about when it comes to his upstate New York hometown:

Winter comes early in the Adirondacks.

Three hours from our Long Island home, my family and I were in awe of the pristine beauty greeting us as we traveled north to visit relatives for the Thanksgiving holiday. Later that weekend, we strolled through one of the villages near my childhood home that inspired my fictional town of Starling. Of course, I took some pictures…just for you. Enjoy!

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The celebration of my debut novella release continues with another giveaway!! This one will be extra-special, at the Tule Publishing Christmas Party on Facebook tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd. I’ll be taking over with Patty Blount 9:00 – 9:30 PM EST, but there are going to be many incredible giveaways and so much holiday cheer I plan to attend as much of the party as humanly possible. You’re all invited…the more the merrier!

Giveaway FB Party Blue1Here’s a sneak peek at one of my giveaways, a large festive candle light with changing colors. It’s so adorable I had to buy one for myself too!

And the winner of last week’s giveaway, a $5 Amazon gift card, is…

CINDY JONES. Congratulations, Cindy! You’ve won the $5 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! Please contact me at with your email address within two weeks to receive your prize. (List Randomizer at was used to select the winner. Thanks to all readers who entered.)


Can you believe it? All four Christmas in New York romances in one beautiful paperback!





Behind the Book: Home For the Holidays

L. I. November Sky
L. I. November Sky

Welcome to this week’s Moment! There’s a definite nip in the air and festive anticipation here on Long Island as the late fall and winter holidays quickly approach. I haven’t begun my Christmas shopping, but the weather and calendar are reminding me I better make that list!

During these hectic days, I hope you get a chance to pause and enjoy the little yet important things–those family traditions, friendships, and indulgences you treasure.


One of my favorite holiday indulgences is reading Christmas romances. So when I was given the opportunity to write one for fellow romance readers like you, I jumped at the chance.

Since my most vivid memories of the holiday center around the small village in upstate New York from my childhood, it only felt right to set A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW there. Christmas, like other holidays, includes home and family. I haven’t always had the luxury of returning to the Adirondack region in snowy December, but I do whenever possible and I always miss it when I can’t be there in person.


My heroine Jade’s hometown of Starling, New York is very much a fictional setting, but contains this writer’s wonderful, happy holiday nostalgia all rolled into one. That’s not to say that life in Starling is perfect for Jade’s family or the rest of its residents. The characters in A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW were created to be like people we’d meet on the street, know at work,  and have in our families–all with their own adorable idiosyncrasies. But, in spite of their human imperfections, they care and look out for each other year-round.

And especially at Christmas.

If you’ve read A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, I truly hope you enjoyed it and that it left you “with a smile on (your) face and a warmth in (your) heart,” as an Amazon reviewer said it did for her.

If you haven’t read this Christmas novella yet, or if you have and you’d like to share the gift of reading with a friend, here’s your chance to win it!  All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter (I’ll never spam you or give your email to anyone, ever.) and share that you did that in the comment section below. All commenters’ names will be entered into a random drawing. One lucky entrant will win an e-book of A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, a Christmas in New York Series collectible bookmark, a festive Tule Publishing pen (green or red), and a few holiday treats. Winner will be announced Tuesday, November 25th. International readers welcome. 🙂


Giveaway LW 2

And the winner of last week’s giveaway is…

MARY LAWSON. Congratulations, you’re the winner of last week’s Release Celebration Giveaway–a $10 Amazon gift card and holiday ornament!! Mary, please contact me privately at with your email and home addresses within two weeks of this announcement. (List Randomizer at was used to select the winner. Thanks to all the readers who entered.)

Now, remember… for a chance at winning this week’s giveaway, sign up for my newsletter (scroll to the bottom and there it is!) and let me know in the comments section. For extra fun (optional), share your favorite place to celebrate the holiday and give a reason why.

Behind the Book: Jade and Ben’s Playlist

Music is the soundtrack of our lives. We all have songs we associate with certain memories–good and bad and in-between. As a writer, the right music can immerse me further into the mood or setting of a particular scene. When I wrote a novel set in Key West, Trop Rock ruled.  Reggae helped me switch creative gears when I dove into a Jamaican-set romance, and, of course, this past summer was all about the Christmas carol when I crafted A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW.

Although a number of holiday  tunes show up in Jade and Ben’s love story, two pop songs defined my heroine’s and hero’s emotions they  wrangled with throughout their journey to happily-ever-after.

Jade’s internal struggle…

After a traumatic experience in middle school, Jade became a people-pleaser. Denying her true self had a devastating ripple effect until, years later, she is confused and frustrated with her path, barely recognizing the young woman she sees in the mirror. She makes a bold move, quitting a lucrative yet unfulfilling career, stops dating men who don’t know the woman beneath the clothes and make-up, and returns home to her Adirondack hometown to recharge and refocus.

While in Starling, Jade’s former best friend, Ben, and the miracle of Christmas help her see what really matters…being true to herself. Only then is she able to move forward with her life and find her happily-ever-after.


Ben’s unspoken wish…

I’m a huge Justin Timberlake fan. One of JT’s recent hits reflects the frustration my hero, Ben, feels toward Jade at the beginning of their love story. She still views him as Benji, the little-boy-next-door she played with in the dirt and the geek who mooned after her during their high school years. She sees him as part of her past–one that included more its share of growing pains she’d prefer to forget. Worse, she’s afraid he’s become a man like so many she’s known before, one she cannot afford to trust.

Ben is a confident, successful producer of educational videos. He knows himself and he knows what he wants. He’s not going to beg Jade to love him, but he’s determined to show her all they could be…if she just gives their relationship a chance to grow.

In celebration of A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW’S release, along with its sister books in the Christmas in New York series, one lucky commenter on this post will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. If the winner resides in the US or Canada, s/he will also receive this beautiful Christmas ornament:

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

What’s one of your favorite songs?

Remember to leave a comment below if you wish to be entered into the gift card and ornament giveaway! The winner will be announced Tuesday, November 18th.



Love Under the Covers

Will you rub my tummy?
Will you rub my tummy?

Welcome to your Margarita Moment! I’m excited to be back here with you, savoring the little moments in life that make it worthwhile.

Life is so busy, yet we can all take a lesson from our pets, who seem to understand the importance of lots of rest, lots of play, no holding grudges, and yeah, lots of belly rubs. Hope you have a wonderful week doing what you love.

The winner from last week’s Musical Beginnings and Celebrations is …

Shari Drehs Bartholomew! Congratulations, Shari. Thanks for visiting, playing my little game, and for your kind wishes. Enjoy your Amazon gift card. Thanks to everyone else who commented. There will be plenty more opportunities to win giveaways in future weeks and months.

By the way, all comments last week happened to be posted on FB and Twitter. (I even emailed my web designer and asked them if my Comments link was working!) That’s fine. I realize now my instructions were vague. (I’ll learn. LOL) But seriously, please don’t hesitate to leave your comments! It’s still just little ol’ me here and your email address is absolutely safe. I would never, ever spam you or share your private information with third parties.

And now, the story I’ve been dying to share with you…the love story behind the cover of my upcoming Christmas romance…

A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW is set to release in two weeks!  Many of you’ve commented on social media how much you like the cover and I promised to share the cool story behind it as soon as I had a free moment. So, here it is. I have a hunch you may get a kick out of it like I did.

One of the many wonderful aspects about working for a small publisher such as Tule Publishing is that we authors are encouraged to participate in the selection of the book cover photo(s). I enjoyed pouring through stock photo sites and found many pretty pictures, but I kept going back to one I’d located through Pinterest.

I was especially drawn in by the love and peace radiating from the young woman’s face as she leaned in close to the man.  It seemed real.

My intuition was right. The adorable couple in the photo with Christmas lights draped over them wasn’t a pair of models, but an honest-to-goodness couple. Their photographer was Melissa McCrotty of Melissa McCrotty Photography, and she specializes in weddings and High School Senior photos. When I tracked down the article that contained my favorite photo of hers from Pinterest, I was happily surprised to learn the story behind it, and it became even more perfect  a choice for my debut love story’s cover.

You see, the young man in the photo–the one my readers will view as Ben–proposed to that young lady–the one my readers will view as Jade–at the end of that photo shoot. Wow.

Could it get any more romantic than that?

I think not–especially since she said ‘yes.’ (Pssst, I also have it on good authority they are still living happily-ever-after three years later.)

Visit Melissa McCrotty’s blog to read all the details about the proposal and view the rest of her photos from that eventful day back in December 2011. But first, I’d love to know:

What do you think is the most romantic kind of proposal? Or, share your own proposal story…


Behind the Book: The Sagamore Resort

Resort located in Lake George, New York
Resort located in Lake George, N.Y.

Welcome to my first “Behind the Book” blog post where I share the inspiration for my stories’ characters, settings, plots–and all that fascinating literary stuff.

Today’s escape takes us to The Sagamore Resort in Lake George, New York, featured in Chapter Fourteen of my debut novella, A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, releasing 11.11.14 as part of Tule’s “Christmas in New York” series.

As part of my research, I spent a day with my Honey four hours north of our Long Island home one day this summer and we immersed ourselves in the resort life.

The Sagamore Resort
The Sagamore Resort
The Mohican on Lake George
The Mohican on Lake George

As we enjoyed a leisurely lunch of lobster roll and a good bottle of wine on La Bella Vita’s open-air balcony, I people-watched. Tourists and convention attendees were scattered across the grounds. Children tossed footballs, played tag, and roamed between the beach and hotel, enjoying their freedom and the gorgeous weather. Adults read in cozy Adirondack chairs, lounged near the water, or sipped cold beverages at one of the lakeside bar restaurants.

View from La Bella Vita
View from La Bella Vita

After the meal, we walked the grounds, talking to staff, taking in the lake sights, and snapping a few photos.

Sagamore Resort Beach
Sagamore Resort Beach
Lobby Elevators
Lobby Elevators

Then we trekked indoors. We sat in the lobby and I inhaled the fragrant flowers while I listened to heels echo off the parquet flooring. I gazed at the grand piano and imagined someone playing for the room. I could almost see Jade, my heroine from A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, stepping out of the elevator and glancing upward at the chandeliers hanging from the high ceilings before she made her way to the carpeted stairs leading to La Bella Vita for dinner.

Sagamore Resort Lobby
Sagamore Resort Lobby

After a few hours of exploration and relaxation, we noticed the wind had begun to pick up and the clouds were rolling in. A late afternoon storm was headed our way. We reached the car as the first raindrops fell then drove through the village packed with tourists in spite of the downpour. At one point I swore I glimpsed Jade and Ben shopping there, strolling hand in hand.

Or maybe it was just my imagination.

At the Sagamore
At the Sagamore

That Lake George chapter practically wrote itself the following day. My fingers flew over the keyboard and hours passed by in the blink of an eye as I wove memories from our adventure into Jade and Ben’s journey to happily-ever-after.

A Light in The Window  What’s one of your favorite day trips from this summer?

Christmas in July

Life has been good yet busy, between pursuing the writing career and day job demands. I always enjoy chatting with so many of you on Facebook and Twitter, but am excited to be back here on the blogosphere. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer so far–happy and healthy.

Christmas in July?

Yes, it is in my little world. Three of my closest writer girl friends and I proposed a holiday series to TULE Publishing. I’m so excited to share that we’ve signed our contracts for the four-book series called Christmas in New York.

An Adirondack Christmas
An Adirondack Christmas

Here’s the line-up:

Four life-long best friends find love through unexpected reunions at Christmas time in New York…

Single mom Sabrina, who never left her coastal Long Island hometown, reunites with her son’s father–the hockey player who broke her heart. THIS CHRISTMAS by Jeannie Moon, author of The Temporary Wife and the upcoming Second-Chance Hero (Intermix).

Adirondack girl-in-transition Jade returns home to her lakeside village to discover the boy next door is all grown up. A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW by Jolyse Barnett, author of the upcoming One More Sunset (Entangled).

New York City academic Cassandra finds magic once again with an Irish musician–the first love she never forgot. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Gracen, author of Autumn Getaway and the just-released Winter Hopes (Booktrope).

Restless Elena reconnects with the kind-hearted stranger who gave her a glimmer of light during her darkest days. GOODNESS AND LIGHT by Patty Blount, author of young adult novels Send and the upcoming Some Boys (Sourcebooks Fire).

Christmas is July is pretty cool. I’m having so much fun writing this book, and having three plotting pals to share the journey is all the better.

I can’t wait for our readers to unwrap our stories 11.11.14!