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Friday, January 31, 2014

Looking for Guest Reviewers!!

My inbox is flooded with review requests! While I'm flattered with so many requests, I am hesitant to add any more books to my to-be-reviewed pile. I've decided one way to help these authors is to ask if anyone would want to do a guest review! I hate turning down authors. I get a lot of requests on a variety of book topics so if you think you have time and want to try your hand on reviewing a book please leave a comment below and I will hook you up!

Your review will post on this blog and I normally post my reviews on amazon and goodreads as well. Hope to hear from some of you!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Obstacles by Chris Reardon

A child will die. You're afraid to live. Would you go to all lengths to save him? Darkness knows no bounds, as Alcott, an African American doctor sees all too well. The man is petrified by death. His fragile existence rests at the mercy of the universe. This fact is far too much for him to handle. From unyielding nightmares to elevator terrors, he's lost in paranoia. 

Assigned to look after an ill child, Alcott's horrors only heighten. Gari is a nine-year-old boy with a fatal disease. He will surely pass on within the year. Alcott bonds with him more and more each day. Part of him knows this grim fate just isn't right. 

Alcott befriends a hospital patient. This lunatic forces him to lug home an ancient text on bringing back the dead. Despite the man's obvious dementia, Alcott attempts the scheme. Charging up a cliff, he recites the chant over ocean gusts. 

A god woman glides in from the horizon. She instructs Alcott on the trials to save Gari's life. These fearsome Obstacles require true strength. From battling sharks to wielding a flail, he must prove fortitude against genuine danger. Alcott decides his fate at this moment. 

Death's claws shall not grasp Gari's soul.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

What an amazing book! I'm not even sure where to begin! I love the way this story was written, not to mention the pure creativity that is in this story. An action packed fantasy novel it keeps you on the edge, as well as bring up hard questions. Would you give your life for a sick childs..even if you were afraid of dying? 

Reardon does a great job developing his characters and bringing them to life as well as painting wonderful pictures of the obstacles Alcott and his companions have to go through. 

I enjoyed reading this book and I'm glad I got the chance too. I think young adults and adults alike will enjoy this novel. You really just need to be a fan of fiction novels to enjoy this story. 

Goodreads  /   Amazon 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Guest Post by Jack Welles: Writing a Discovery (First) Draft of a Genre Novel

WRITING A DISCOVERY (FIRST) DRAFT OF A GENRE NOVEL

This is an excerpt from my booklet how I go about “Writing a Genre Novel” the full version of which is available for free on my website.
I would like to start by putting the excerpt into context by giving a summary of the overview of my approach. I think of genre writing as having four components: concepts (theme, idea, plot, story etc), process (six stages: discovery, planning and research, organising, revision, editing & polishing), language (grammar, prose-writing, figures of speech) and story-telling (the 6 elements of fiction, use of details, characters & symbolism). In addition I have a short “Random Thoughts” category for ideas that don’t easily fit into the four components just mentioned.
This excerpt is about the “discovery” stage of the process (or workflow) I use. I guess the “discovery” tag is self-explanatory: this is my first draft. I don’t plan anything before I start. I know there are many different ways of approaching the writing of a novel, this just happens to be the way I go about things.
I have an idea and a title and that’s all. The title should conceptualise for me the idea of the book, eg, my first e-book (I’ve written a few “hard-copy” books prior to going indie) started with the idea (and it also happened to end up as the rationale of the story) of the conservation of wildlife tied up with conflict between scientific (from conservative to progressive) values on the one hand and the activist/political (from bunny-hugger to animal rights people) values on the other hand.
The title was from the bible which characterised the devil as a roaring lion (which I then used as my title) seeking whom he may devour. This title embodied an element of double entendre (although not risqué as is more common), directly referred to one of the easiest to recognise of wild animals, implied that a great deal of the narrative would be set in Africa and even that a lion may play a leading role in the story (it is also an example of symbolism at work).
With just that – idea and title – I start writing. The “rules” for the first draft are very simple. I start on page one and write anything that comes into my head, given the idea and the title. It could be the biggest load of garbage in the world. I must start each morning and keep going for at least 4-5 hours and sometimes more than that if and when I get on a roll.
There is no stopping, I do not go back to see what I have written earlier, either that day or on previous days. I do not revise anything. I do not care what I write. Sometimes it is very hard to write anything sensible at all. Sometimes it just flows and the material stays virtually unchanged through all the many many drafts that I do. I don’t care. The big thing is just to keep going until I get to the end wherever that may be.
I do not do the first draft on a word processor. I write with a ballpoint pen on a pre-punched executive writing pad A4 sized, tearing off the sheets as I go and sticking them into a lever arch file. I only write on one side of the page.
There are a number of reasons for this:
First, I do not have to worry about what I am doing having to be saved from a possible power outage or computer crash or anything else – to do that I would have to involve my brain in the routine of managing computer files, saving to external hard drives or to cloud storage or whatever. A hassle with my mouse or screen or operating system or something else computer related would interrupt the writing process. All of these activities are left-brain activities and would take me out of my writing which is a right brain activity. I would lose impetus. I also do not answer the phone. I do not deal with domestic crisis. I just write word after word, sentence after sentence, page after page.
Second, for me the growing “wadge” of A4 sheets in my lever arch file is physical proof of the fact that I am getting somewhere. Sometimes I just riffle the pages through my fingers, feeling what I have written through my fingertips, getting a sense of accomplishment from the physical presence of those pages.
Third, the tactile feel of pen on paper is a more direct connection with what I am writing than the hitting of keys with some mechanical or digital process intervening to produce the words.
Fourth, seeing the words on a screen makes it almost impossible for me not to correct errors or to edit what I have written and my biggest rule is never to re-write anything in the first draft. The most important thing is to produce X amount of pages a day and to keep going until I get to the end.
Finally, as I go along I have ideas for scenes, characters etc that need slotting in to what has gone before. If short I write these on the left side of the facing page opposite where I think it should go, alternately for longer scenes ideas, characterisations etc. I write these out on separate A4 sheets and tuck them into the lever arch file more or less where I think they would best belong. I might also have cuttings from newspapers or magazines or printouts of stuff picked up off the web which I can punch holes in and stick in my lever arch file again where I think it would be most appropriate.
By the time I have finished the first draft I have a very good idea of how my story is going to start, how it should end, how the whole thing should unfold between those two points. I know most of my key characters and have stacks of good notes as to their background details. I become so immersed in that unfolding story that I dream of scenes and events in the night and keep a pen and A5 sized pad next to the bed to jot down notes, scenes etc for slotting into the appropriate place in my lever arch file.
I don’t actually like writing first drafts: having no plan each writing day is a trial, nearly every word has to be forced out (but occasionally just flows, although it doesn’t seem to do that very often), every page seems an insurmountable challenge. So it’s a hassle.
But when it is done and I have the whole story in my head and I pretty much know what happens and why it happens and who it happens to and I can see the whole thing clear in my mind’s eye and I cam see and feel the whole story all at once and I understand it, then for me that is the ultimate reward for the painful journey through that first draft. I will have “discovered” my story.

I hope this gives some insight as to how one writer goes about his business. A free copy of the complete booklet on the subject of how I go about writing a genre novel can be found at my website: http://jackwelles.com and just click on the “For Writers” tab.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review of As a Roaring Lion by Jack Welles

A feisty defense against rape by a female American veterinarian with a mighty African cross-border conservation plan, leaves the powerful attacker bloody and publicly humiliated. He becomes a revengeful and vindictive enemy who blocks her at every turn and plots to bring her down … 

A lover, local politicians and even her own father, all with their own agendas, cause her even more trouble – is there anyone she can trust? 

The spillover of a decent man caught up in an indecent third-world civil war complicates matters further and a wounded lion turned man-eater doesn’t help. 

* I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

I don't read a lot of thriller novels myself, but I am glad I agreed to read this one! I loved the pace of the story and how bits were added to slowly form the plot and draw you in. 

This book took several concepts and showed how they connected to create this big plot and conspiracy. You were cheering the main character the whole way! 

Even if you are not into thriller novels, I say this would be a great one to try. It's wonderfully written, it somehow makes you feel smarter just by having read it, and keeps you on your toes and eager for more. As an aspiring author myself I felt this would be a good book to look up too. Being so well written I could totally take a lesson from Jack and try to make my own writing on the same level. 

Goodreads  /  Amazon 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Finding time vs Making time

I don't believe it comes to anyones surprise that I've been struggling with finding time for writing. With the new semester in full force now and work, my brain is so tried I end up not writing.

When I talk to other authors and ask advice, they alway say you have to keep writing and practice. Make time for it. That's what I want to do.

Currently I feel I'm just attempting to find time, and I'm coming up short. If I want to be serious about writing, I'm going to need to make time.

The weekends seem like the most logical time to schedule writing time. So, from here on out, every Sunday at 4pm to 4:30 pm I will be writing. I don't care how many words get down, but that slot is for writing only.

Let's get this party started! This novel will be finished!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Grammar

I use Grammarly for english proofreading because being proper is the only way to do it (this needs to be read in an English accent, think the Queen here people) .

I'm taking a grammar class this semester. Should be easy right? I remember diagraming sentences growing up, heck, I was even pretty good at it. Where is that knowledge now? Out the other ear. 

I just took a quick introduction test for my grammar class. I could find a few changes that needed to be made but as of why they needed to I had no idea! I don't know if the changes I made were even the right ones! Granted, this class will help me, as a author-in-training I could use a class like this, but Grammarly is a great resource as well! Especially if things go out the other ear again. 

When I publish my book, or give it to an agent to look at, I want it to be the best possible, that would be true for any writer. I know I lack good editing skills so having good resource to help me polish up my writing is essential!! 

How are you at editing? Are you a grammar naiz? Can you hardly spell like me let alone get tenses right? Just because I'm a poor speller and bad at grammar isn't going to stop me from being a writer. It should never stop anyone. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review of The Fountain of The Earth by H. L. Le Roy

Terra Vonn is fighting to survive in a destroyed world,
surrounded by unspeakable horror . . .
and things are about to get much worse.

After witnessing the horrific murder of her mother, fifteen-year-old Terra Vonn has a singular focus—exacting revenge on the killers. But before she can complete her plan, savagery intervenes, and she is cast alone into a brutal post-apocalyptic world. As she trails the murderers south—through a land filled with cannibalistic criminals, slave traders, and lunatics—the hunter becomes the hunted. Terra quickly learns that she is not as tough or as brave as she thought she was. Worse, she may be the only one who stands between what little remains of civilization and destruction.

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

I think books like this one are my favorite type to read. Terra was a great character to follow and I loved seeing her stay strong no matter what was happening to her (which was quite a lot!!). At first I thought this would be a fantasy novel, and while it had that sort of feel to it, it's not. Set in a post-apocalyptic world brings the story even closer to home. 

I read this book in about two sittings! It was so hard to put down. I was able to get drawn into the story very quickly and stayed that way until it was over. I would gladly read another book by H. L. Le Roy. 

This story had some common themes you find in novels, revenge, love, rising hero; but it took these themes you see over and over again and wove them in a way that made it fun to read. I was able to get attached to the characters and want to see things work out for them. 

Definitely add this book to your reading list!! 

Goodreads  /  Amazon

Thursday, January 9, 2014

No Break for This Gal!

If you remember I post I did a few days ago about how I might have to drop out this semester, well, I have an update for you!

I dropped two of the four classes I was taking, to see what the cost would be after my grant. Turns out...I got a refund for $300! While not a lot of money, to a poor working college gal like myself it's a nice turn around. Most of it is going to the savings account to help pay for fall's tuition and books but I do want to treat my husband and maybe get some new jeans (much needed!).

I'm proud of myself. Normally I would be freaking out and having panic attacks that I might not be able to go to school this semester. I didn't though. I knew things would work out one way or another. I'm glad I will still be able to take two classes this semester. Since I'm working full time again it will make for a good balance.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Book Review: Order of the Dimensions

When Jane Kremowski first began her graduate studies in physics at Madison State University in Wisconsin, little did she know where her work would take her. Now, she is embroiled in a multitude of dimensions all leading to different outcomes. She and her colleagues therefore must act wisely in order to take and keep away the Order of Dimension from falling into the wrong hands for the sake of her loved ones.

* I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

I have mixed feelings about this book in all honestly. I love the creativity it has and how fast the story moves along. The book moved so fast though I felt like I was missing pieces sometimes. The way the story was written didn't help either. It became somewhat hard to follow what was happening as no explanations were going on. 

I do however, like the premise of the book. I found it to be very interesting and intriguing. Had it been easier to read and follow what was going on, I would have adored this book! 

I still think this book is worth reading, as it does have such a wonderful premise and an interesting storyline. Just beware that although interesting to read, it's not the smoothest of reads. 

Goodreads  /   Amazon 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tough Decisions

Currently I'm facing a tough decision. Surprisingly though I'm not that worried.

I want to take four courses this semester, making me full time. The logistics of everything though just isn't adding up for that. With working, paying for school out of pocket, going full time just doesn't seem feasible. I have under 30 credit hours to take before I can graduate, so I'm close. I want to finish so I can get a better job or go on to get my masters.

It was a tough decision, but I'm going to see what the cost will be if I only take two classes this semester. If it's still more than my budget, well, I will just save my money and go in the fall. That's why I'm not worried really. I know it's going to happen. I want to be smart about it, not take out any more loans and just pay as I go. If I have to wait a bit for that to happen-so be it.

I love going to school, being an English major and learning about writing and literature. If I can't go to school this semester it just gives me more time to work on my novel.

Making lemonade!!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Short Story-The Only Home I Ever Knew

I'd like to share today the second story in the series of short stories I wrote for my American Minorities Literature class this past semester. You can read the introduction and the first story in the series here.

The Only Home I Ever Knew
My grandmother had come from Africa. She raised me ‘til I was twelve. My mother, her daughter, died in childbirth. Living on the Harper plantation is the only life I have ever known. My grandmother was a house slave; my mother had worked in the fields. My grandmother trained me up to take her place as a house slave so I could know a better life.
                I hate working in the house. When I was young and my grandmother was still around telling me stories of her life and helping me learn what I needed to do and say to make the masters happy, I could stand being in the house. She’s been gone for four long years now.
She taught me to read and write, a talent I kept hidden from my masters. As a child I didn’t think much of old Master Harper’s son, who is now the owner since old Harper died. His new wife looks at me unkindly. My work never seems to satisfy her, and I constantly have to redo a chore I had already finished. Young Master Harper is nothing like his father. I remember old Master Harper being a fairly kind man, who would often smile at me when I brought him tea, but his son is something different. A monster would be a fitting title. [1]
A week after he had brought his new wife home, he handed me a note. I simply replied, “I can’t read them sir.” “Can’t you?” He would ask. He would then proceed to read them to me, asking if I understood. He made it known I was to serve only him at dinner, while the other house slaves served the rest of the family. I hated the way his vile eyes looked at me, as if he was trying to see through my clothes. How I wish I were plain, ugly even, as not to draw attention to myself.
The only way to make it through is to avoid my master at all costs, and his wife as well. I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen, hoping that the mistress will want me there. I can find no sympathy from her. She seems to think I seek her husband’s advances, although I caught her peeking through the door one night as he had me bring him hot tea in his study. He grabbed my arm and caressed my skin. Hoping he would release his hold of me and let me go, I said, “Will that be all sir?” I could feel her watchful gaze burning on my skin.  Instead he would say, “no, not quite,” and would then proceed to talk to me in such language as he saw fit. I was obliged to stand and listen, knowing his wife was cringing at his every word. When I could stand it no longer, I quietly spoke, “Please sir, let me go.” This wouldn’t do. He became angry, cursing me, though he never saw fit to strike me. [2]
It was after this night that Mrs. Harper began probing me with questions. She wanted to know what her husband had wanted with me, and even had me swear on a bible that nothing had happened. I had pity for her, though I knew she had none for my predicament. Her pride was wounded, and she was angry at her own situation. She wanted a child, but that could only be done through her husband.
A few nights later I was called to my master’s study again. I had been successful at avoiding my master, my inner happiness rising. Being called to his study, I was unsure of what to expect, but I knew I would find no happiness in it. His wife had beaten me to him, and I waited at the door.
“Why? Why her? Don’t you want a son? Can’t you come to bed and visit me?” She seemed on the verge of tears, though she was doing her best to show strength.
“Leave now Virginia before I get upset. I will come when I am ready. Do not speak to me in this manner again. Now get along.” He waved his hand at her, never looking up from his papers. She made a motion to leave, but turned suddenly and faced him.
“You are a vial man. A sinner! I am ashamed to be your wife!” He caught her arm as she was turning away from him, their eyes locked. I heard the smack more than saw it, as he was that fast. Her hands went to her face as she scrambled out of the room.   In her rush, she disrupted the tray that held the tea I was holding. This caused it to spill and land on my dress, burning my hands. I cried out in pain, which made her notice me.
“You! You are as bad as him!” As Mr. Harper reached the doorway she turned to leave before he could say anything to her again. “I am so sorry my dear. Go get cleaned up and come back. I wish us to have one of our…conversations.”  I took the tray back to the kitchen, fighting back tears. I couldn’t stand living like this, being hunted by a man I wanted nothing to do with. The thought of his vile breath on my skin, him licking his lips as I drew near him filled me with disgust.
My options were few, but I knew I had to try. Running away felt like the best course of action. I packed a small pack filled with food and my scarf, and left the only home I ever knew. [3]











[1] This story is based on the life of Harriet Jacobs. She was born into slavery and taught to read and write, but was something she didn’t admit she could do to her master. (Jacobs 161-167)
[2] In her story, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the master, Mr. Flint, speaks to her in intimate ways. The wife doesn’t see him do this, but is suspicious and makes her swear on the Bible that she hadn’t slept with her husband. (Jacobs 161-167)
[3] Jacobs does flee, and stays in hiding for her children’s sake. She spends seven years in a crawl space before escaping to Philadelphia in 1842. (Jacobs 161-167)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Author Interview with Georgia Bell author of Unbound!!

As you know I LOVE to pick authors brains! As an aspiring author myself I get giddy when an author agrees to answer questions for me. Since they are doing something I hope to be doing in the near future, it's a great learning experience! Here's what Georgia so graciously answered for me!

1. How did you come up with the story line for Unbound?

I'm a genuine sucker for romance, particularly those involving slightly taciturn male leads. I blame this on multiple re-readings of The Lord of the Rings in my formative years. I had a huge crush on Aragorn. At any rate, I believe I was daydreaming about the kind of backstory a character like that needs in order to set up the romantic elements I like so much. The story sort of flowed from Rachel and Eaden and I wrote around them. Unbound also touches on many of the things I have loved so much in my own reading, like magic, myth, and destiny. 

2. Have you always wanted to write a novel? Do you have any others in the works?

Being a writer was something I always thought about doing and was too afraid to try. All of my early attempts to write fiction were disasters because I was trying so hard to write something "important". It was only when I stopped trying to write for others and wrote for my own enjoyment that I was able to write in any real way. Unbound wasn't initially meant to be anything but a way to occupy myself on my long train commute a few years ago. But I had such a great time while playing around with the story, I knew that I'd finally come to a place where writing, like reading, was something I could do for pleasure. Currently I'm working on the second book in the All Good Things series called Unknown.  I also have a stand-alone that has been knocking around my brain for a few years. No title yet, but it falls within the speculative fiction category.  

3. What is the hardest thing for you when it comes to writing? 

There are many hard things. Stopping and then starting again would be at the top of my list. Seriously, once I start writing I don't want to stop and everything in my real life takes a back seat. But if I take a break, even just a day or two, I find it so much harder to get going again. Currently, I write in my head as I go about my day and then try really hard to get it down whenever I can find time. Finding time is probably one of the hardest things too, given my other commitments. 

4. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

I'm not sure I feel qualified to give advice to anyone at this point. But I'll say that what helped me most was learning to write without judgment. Judgment and evaluation come later. First, you have to be able to enjoy creation. When I let go of expectations and wrote what I wanted, I had so much fun that I didn't have to try to write. Instead, I wanted to write and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. Also, I have read Stephen King's On Writing several times. I think he's amazing and he writes with great humour and wisdom about the challenges and triumphs of being a writer. 

About the Author:
Georgia Bell was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, courtesy of her father, a man who loved his family, fishing, scotch, and science (although not necessarily in that order). Georgia is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and a lover of good wine, music, children, and cats (although not necessarily in that order).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Book Review of Unbound by Georgia Bell

After her father dies, Rachel realizes she is scared and stuck. Scared of heights, of cars, of disasters harming the people she loves. Stuck in a life that is getting smaller by the minute. Stuck with a secret she has kept all her life: Someone has been watching over her since birth. Someone who tends to show up when she needs him the most. Someone she believes is her guardian angel. 

Eaden is a 1,500-year-old immortal who wants to die. Drained by a life stretched too thin, he has requested his final reward – a mortal sacrifice bred specifically to bring him death. But something went wrong. Rachel’s ability to grant death has mutated in ways that threaten to upset the uneasy alliance between mortals and immortals. And utterly beguiled, Eaden discovers that although Rachel is the key to his death, because of her, he no longer wants to die. And he will do anything to protect her. 

Swept into a world of legends, caught between the warring political factions of immortals, and carrying the future of mortal kind in her flesh and bone, Rachel must risk everything to save her world and the man she loves.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

This book was a very fun read! With the dark and deep themes in this book it was surprisingly fun and easy to read. Rachel is a great character to follow as she is a simple wallflower book worm who ends up the center of attention in the immortal world.  

Although this book had themes of Romeo and Juliet, it also reminded me of Twilight in a way. When I first noticed the similarities I wasn't phased though, simply because the way this book was written. The language and ease of which the immortal story line is brought into the book is very well done. 

Teen girls, wallflowers, book lovers, adult women-all can enjoy this book! The ending alone pushed me along, just so I could get to it and see what happens! I wasn't sure how the book would end and the made turn each page all the more exciting. 

Here's where you can pick up this awesome book!!

Amazon  /   Goodreads