Looking for a good rock n roll read?

Louder Than Love

Louder Than Love, my debut novel, releases 9/17/13!

Coming September 17, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Imprint: Berkley/InterMix

ISBN: 9781101634790

In this powerful debut novel, a young librarian grieves the loss of her husband…and discovers a love that defies classification.

It’s been over three years since a train accident made a widow of Katrina Lewis, sending her and her young daughter Abbey back to the suburban town of her youth…the only place that still makes sense. Lauder Lake is the perfect place to hide and heal.

Recluse rocker Adrian “Digger” Graves survived the implosion of his music career, but his muse has long lain dormant. Until Kat hires him to play at her library—not on the basis of his hard rock credentials but rather, because of the obscure kids’ TV jingle he wrote years ago. In a case of mistaken identity, Adrian stumbles into the lives of Kat and her comically lovable daughter.

Using tattoos as a timeline, Adrian unfurls his life for Kat. But as the courtship intensifies, it’s unclear whose past looms larger: the widow’s or the rocker’s. Will their demons ever rest, or will they break these soul mates apart?

LOUDER THAN LOVE e-book can be pre-ordered from:




Google Books

Louder Than Love


To Headbang or Not to Headbang

That is the ITP question.

September marks ITP Awareness Month, and today, September 28, is Sport Purple for Platelets Day.

Jonathan Davis Korn

Think this guy will be sporting purple today?

In my research into the subject of this bizarre roller coaster of a disease, I recently learned that Jonathan Davis from the band Korn had a bout with ITP during his 2006 European Tour, landing in the hospital with a platelet count of 5K. To quote Davis: “If I continued to headbang on stage I could have had a brain hemorrhage and dropped dead on the spot. This has been one of the scariest times in my life.”
I know how he feels. In 2005, I was 4th row center at a Judas Priest concert. Rob Halford had just re-joined the band after being away for over a decade; how could I not be there front and center to cheer, yell and headbang? I remember trying to lift my arms to fist pump, and I couldn’t. I just wanted to curl up on my chair and go to sleep.

I wound up in the hospital the next day with my first platelet crash since my ITP diagnosis the month before. I was at 12K. If the show had been general admission, if I had been, as Anthrax would say, “caught in a mosh”, that could have been the end of me. It was scary indeed.

Our stories are just 2 of the stories out there representing the 200,000 Americans suffering from ITP. Many have chosen to share their stories on the PDSA Personal Stories web page. Yesterday I posted a story about running a 5K mud race with a platelet count of 39K on my new site that some of my followers may not have found yet. It was another exhilarating dip on my roller coaster of ITP and I hope you will take a peek at it, as well as sport PURPLE today! Thanks.

Blogging on the Brink

Short public service announcement for you lovely souls who follow I’ll Blog When I’m Dead – change is in the air!

I’ve got a cool new web site launching, and my blog will have a new home there. You can find me at jesstopper.com or jessicatopper.com, so pop on by and say hello! I’m honored to have you pay the first visit.

Along with a new address, my blog will have a new name: BLOGGING ON THE BRINK.

Because aren’t we all on the brink of something? Some days it might feel like the verge of madness and other days, genius. I enjoy and embrace the delicious possibilities, and the ups and downs of managing a fledgling writing career, running a chaotic, happy household and juggling the rock and roll of my day job.

While all my old blog content will migrate, my followers (you, my friend) will have to re-subscribe through the new site. So please consider this your All Access invitation to re-join the party over at jesstopper.com/blog!  (We’ll be speaking English over there real soon.)

I hope you will join me there on my journey to the brink and beyond, and continue to enjoy my posts.

(School) Supply and Demand

There’s a nip in the air come nightfall, and the leaves are performing their annual drop-and-clog ritual into the swimming pool. Halloween candy is already in the supermarkets, so school must be right around the corner!

As a kid, this was truly my favorite time of year. I loved pulling out cozy warmer clothes and deciding what to wear that first day of school. (Um, which concert jersey? And do I wear the Jordache with the white stitching, or the pair with the gold embroidered horse on the tiny extra front pocket only large enough to accommodate an emergency quarter for calling my parents from the payphone in the arcade at the bowling alley?  Ah, memories of the good ol’ obsolete days!)

And I absolutely loved buying school supplies. Back in those days, teachers didn’t give a list. There were no big-box stores devoting aisles and aisles to folders with pockets and prongs, or folders with center brads and no pockets. (Say what?) I would walk into Rite Aid, pick out my couple of pens, pencils, and my superawesomewickedcool Trapper Keeper and be done with it.

The writer already instilled within Young Me LOVED the prospect of page after page of blank filler paper and a pen with all its ink. The possibilities were endless.

Akin to a child’s joy of playing in an empty cardboard box and to hell with whatever cool item came packaged inside, I loved decorating my textbook covers. The school would supply plainish covers to mask their pocked and scarred property, and we would all go to work drafting every cool band logo we could think of. Some of the worthy ones of the day included:

AC DC logo

Def Leppard logo

Van Halen logo

the Who logo

If you could replicate all four mysterious Led Zeppelin symbols, you were legendary:

Led Zeppelin symbols

WCMF, the rock radio station in my hometown, also gave away nice book covers: glossy black with their logo and red graffiti-splattered “LONG LIVE ROCK AND ROLL” embossing them. In 1983, that was the ultimate statement.

Do kids even get textbooks anymore? Or does all that text live online or in a virtual cloud somewhere? (And our kids might ask: What’s a radio station?)

On a hot night in July, shortly after being backstage at an Iron Maiden concert, I threw myself into the most dangerous of moshpits; i.e. the Target school supply section. In there, it’s Soccer Mom vs. Dance Mom. A Labradoodle-eat-Lhasa-Poo world of supply and demand. I kept my wits about me, armed with my school-supplied list of rations (every year it includes multiple boxes of tissues, Zip Locs and Purell, which makes me slightly nervous. Is this for a classroom or an episode of Dexter?).

I emerged triumphant and five lbs leaner, having spent roughly the GNP of a Third World country on stuff…and I only have one child. Forget saving for college – if you have three kids, you invest in Mead!

Shiver me timbers and lighten Blackbeard’s wallet – it’s me back-to-school booty!

After surviving that came the Herculean task of labeling each and every crayon, pencil and folder. Maybe this could be categorized under Helicopter Mom, but there’s no way my 10-year old is going to legibly Sharpie her name on a .25in #2 pencil twenty times. I will take one for the team and get high on the Sharpie fumes myself.

I wonder if obsessive labeling will still be required in high school? I hope by that time, my daughter has the patience, stamina and hand-dexterity to complete such a task. But for now, I get to revel in the newness of her school supplies. All that blank paper, the endless possibilities…

Like Father, Like Son – a Mother-Daughter Adventure

I took my ten year old to her first metal show last week. Yes, I subjected her 100+ decibels and 10,000+ rowdy, sweaty (and a few inebriated) fans.

But before you snatch away my Mom-of-the-Year Award and stomp it to bits with your sensible shoes, hear me out.

There were earplugs involved. And backstage passes. And amusement park rides. I couldn’t resist.

Little Miss M is no stranger to concerts. She attended many a moe. show in utero, and had her first 3-day festival experience at nine months old.

Baby's First Backstage Pass

All Access Babyphoto credit Mitch Cohen

When other kids are tagging along with their parents to office buildings and cubicles on “Take Your Child to Work Day”, we regularly give her a taste of our livelihood each summer as she witnesses stages built, lighting trusses hung, catering set up and crew running around like headless chickens with Maglites. She has happy reunions with other band kids who, like her, don’t exactly realize how rare it is to play house in a tour bus, to play tag backstage and to fall asleep side-stage while the band plays on.

Iron Maiden, Camden NJ 2012


So I knew she would do OK in the concert environment. However, she has never stood in gen pop, watching a stage ignite in pyro flames and fireworks, with a skeletal mascot leering out from ever-changing backdrops and making 3-D appearances in statues as big and impressive as an Easter Island Moai.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, the metal show was Iron Maiden. For those of you who aren’t aware of my admiration for their frontman Bruce Dickinson, you might want to click here.

Iron Maiden, Bristow VA 2012


It’s been over twenty-seven years since I first began seeing them live, and I never imagined they would still be touring well into their 50s and still performing top-notch. They never just phone in a show on auto-pilot, it’s always 110% effort and genuine.


And I always tell people: as long as they keep playing like this, I will keep going to shows.  This is no nostalgia act. For them, or for me. But realistically, I know the time is, as Bruce would say, running low.

So I thought it was time to show my daughter something I really love and enjoy, and to introduce her to the friends I have made along the way.

Ready for the show, maybe.

The band was playing 40 minutes from my house – the closest they’ve been since 2005. No borders to cross, no planes to catch. The shed was part of a local amusement park, so first there were rides:

Good thing she had my friend Dawn as her partner in crime for the rides!

Then there was the backstage part. With root beer.

Then came a weird and wonderful opportunity – I introduced my child to Bruce’s child. Like his father, Austin Dickinson is making waves with his distinctive voice in his own band, Rise To Remain. They are one of the many bands on Warped Tour this summer, and they happened to have a show the very next night at the same venue. So Austin came down to watch his dad’s show.

He was charming and gracious and I think he gained a new fan! Now the Dickinson-Topper circle is complete…until maybe the day when my grandchildren are famous and Bruce’s grandchildren want to meet them.

Oh, and the show? She loved it! Earplugs and all. Bruce (wearing a shirt on stage designed by his younger son Griffin, who recently launched a clothing company, Griffin Allstar) and the rest of the band thoroughly entertained and enthralled her.

“What is the most important thing in life?” an attendee of the Forum IAB marketing conference in Warsaw, Poland recently asked the guest speaker after his riveting 40 minute lecture on Customer Value Management. (Yes, I said ‘riveting’ and ‘marketing’ in the same breath!)

“Your children. Your family.” The speaker replied. The speaker was Bruce Dickinson. And the crowd hung on to his every word. (Told you. Riveting!)

Sadly the Youtube video containing the informal Q&A has been made private, but you can still watch the speech itself here and here. I wish I had transcribed what he had said about supporting and taking care of your children, as it was pretty wise. Spend time with your kids, pay attention to them. Show interest in what they do. We cannot all model our kids’ T-shirts in front of 15,000 fans each night, but we can love them and take an interest in what they want to do in life.

If my kid decides she never wants to see another metal show again, I will be OK with that. I’m glad I got to share a part of me she hadn’t been privy to before, and I hope she will always remember the side of me not defined by “mom” standards. I hope her own interests and passions and beliefs continue to expand and I will always fight my way to front row and center to cheer her on.