Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Inside the Writer's Mind - Interview with Michelle Graves

Welcome to the very first of a new feature, Inside the Writer's Mind.

I'm pleased to announce that my first interviewee is Michelle Graves, author of See How She Runs, The Chronicles of Izzy. See How She Runs is Michelle's debut novel and what a great one to debut with. I enjoy a good urban fantasy novel and this one definitely left me wanting to read more. The refreshing element to See How She Runs, is that the heroine of the story is a Seer. Most of the UF novels I read are either centered around witches, faeries, vampires or werewolves not seers. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of See How She Runs for review. If you want to read the review you can here. Well, let me stop blathering and let's get this interview started.  I hope that you enjoy and as always, any and all respectful feedback is welcomed.



~Interview~

Welcome, Michelle, to Inside the Writer's Mind.  I'll be asking you some questions, sort of picking your brain a little bit to get to know you as an author. Thank you for joining me.

Same DiNamics: Writing can be a daunting prospect, what made you decide to share your story with the world?

Michelle Graves:  Honestly, it was the encouragement of a few friends that read it while I was writing it.  Then there is Izzy, my main character.  I am pretty sure she would have mentally prodded me until I shared her story with the world.  It is a strange feeling to be pressured by a character that I created.  I think they make medication for that.

SD: Who has influenced you, as an author?

MG:  Oh, this one is a hard one.  I am a rather voracious reader, and I think like in all things in life, every book I have read has influenced me.  But if I had to choose just a couple of authors that I look up to I would have to say Molly Harper and Elizabeth Hunter are the two that come to mind immediately.  Molly Harper's quick wit leaves me laughing so loudly I receive strange looks from the people around me.  She has a way of taking serious situations and adding humor to them without taking away from the importance of the drama.  I love that.  Then there is Elizabeth Hunter who's words are poetry in motion.  I can't get enough of her writing.  Her words always pull me and keep me longing for more.

SD: What is your writing method? Do you outline first or do you purge your brain on paper until your story is told? 

MG: I have never been able to outline.  I get a general idea of what the big conflict in the story will be and then I start writing.  The story unfolds as I write it and often times I am just as surprised as I assume the readers are when I get to the big twists.  None of them are ever planned. 

So, as far as writing method goes, I would say that I sit down, pound out the story, and then go back and look over everything to make sure it flows and the story has a sound continuity.  I never read what I have written until I have completely finished the book.  It keeps me in the creative mode and not editorial mode. 

SD: How long does it take you to write your story, from getting it down on paper to publishing? 

MG: I can typically hammer out a rough draft of a story in about a month.  I know that is uncommonly quick, and in all honesty if I am in a writing mood and the ideas are flowing I can write it in a matter of weeks.  It all depends on my mood or whether I am blocked or not. 

After I get the story down, the rough editing usually takes about two weeks.  Then I send it out to a friend to review and she gives me feedback.  Once I implement the changes that I think need to be made I ship it off to my editor.

My editor takes about two weeks from start to finish to review it and then sends it back to me.  Then I do my FINAL edit which takes about a week.  Then it is back to my editor for formatting and off to publish.

The biggest problem is getting everyone's schedules lined up to make the magic happen... from editing, reviewing, and cover art.... it is hard to get it all put together.  

SD: Can you tell me a little bit about your book(s) without giving away too much? Why should I read it? 

MG: I would say that The Chronicles of Izzy are urban fantasy novels with a splash of romance.  The stories primarily focus on Izzy's journey in self-discovery as she takes her place amongst the ranks of Seers and tries to protect the world from nefarious forces working against  events that have been preordained.  She is challenged in her relationships as well as in her ability to accept her fate.  Her journeys often take her down dark roads and threaten to pull her under.  My main goal is to write her as a character that is hard to keep down.  Izzy is resilient.

SD: How much of yourself is in your character(s)?

MG: Oh, in Izzy there is a lot of who I am.  Her sense of humor and quirks are decidedly my own.  Even her accent resembles my own muddled Southern one.  I think that I set out to write what I knew and who better do I know than myself? 

Then there is Kennan who is based on my husband.  His sense of humor is really similar to my husband's.  Even his stubbornness comes from my husband.  

SD: What advice would you give to an aspiring author? 

MG: Surround yourself with encouraging and supportive people.  This is a scary business in which you put a huge part of yourself out into the world to be judged.  If I did not have my support system I would surely have crumbled under the pressures by now. 

The other bit of advice I have is to not compare yourself to other authors.  Just get your story down in your voice.  Your writing style will not be exactly like anyone else's and that is a good thing.  So do what you do best, tell your story, and worry about making it perfect once it is down.

SD: Is there anything else that you'd like to share? 

MG: Read my book. No, in all honesty, I hope that people can relate to my characters and that my readers feel comfortable enough to reach out to me and let me know what they think.  Reader feedback is so important to authors.  We have no way of knowing if what we are writing works if we never hear back from the readers.  Reviews are important, as are notes to the author!  Don't ever underestimate the power of a review! 


Oh, and a huge thanks to you Dianne for having me here.  This has been a lot of fun!

~ End~

Author Bio:

Michelle Graves is a self-proclaimed nomad, moving every two to three years with her husband the Army man, her beautiful daughter, and a fat tailless cat named Torri. When she is not writing away trying to purge her mind of yapping characters she can be found entertaining her daughter, attempting to craft (whilst trying not to injure herself with the glue gun), baking yummy treats, or reading. She admits to having a restless spirit and forces her family to go out on adventures whenever possible. They lovingly play along. 

If you want to find out more about Michelle, be sure to check out her Facebook page here and her blog here. You can also add See How She Runs to your reading list at Goodreads here.  If you want to read the prequel, first chapter or Life Lessons with Izzy, be sure to check out Michelle's blog so you can start your journey with Izzy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Inside the Writer's Mind


Late last week in a blog post (here), I mentioned a new section to my blog called Inside the Writer's Mind where I would be interviewing authors.

I'm pretty excited about this section since the questions will be coming from me. I've shared author interviews in the past but those questions and answers were sent to me and all I did was read them and then copy and paste them to my blog. Pretty easy, if you ask me. 

At the time, I was fine with that. However, now I want to be more involved in author interviews. I want to continue with the theme of my blog (and why I started this in the first place), growing and learning and becoming a better me, yet stay remaining true to myself. How can I do that if I just copy and paste questions and answers sent to me? *SN: I will note that I have about two more interviews to share where the questions and answers were sent to me prior to my creating Inside the Writer's Mind. I will share those but label them under Book Reviews.* I need my blog to be me yet open it up to others to share their views as well. 

For now, I will share interviews as I get them. I'm not going to set a specific date for those, yet. My reading log is so full that this section comes at a right time.

If you're an author who is interested in doing an Inside the Writer's Mind, please send me an email at samedinamics(at)gmail(dot)com. I promise you, the questions are relatively painless and quite easy. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

DNF - What is it?

Earlier this week, I was browsing around the net, reading different book review sites. In reading a book review policy I came across the letters, DNF. I wondered what it meant as the policy didn't give much explanation. It was assumed that the reader/author knows what DNF meant. This goes to show how much more I have to learn in the literary world - Challenge Accepted.

I did a quick Google search on the letters and several results came up. From quickly perusing the results, I got the gist of what DNF meant - Did Not Finish. As in Did Not Finish a book.

Later on in the week, I came across a review for a book that was considered DNF. I read the review and wondered about it. I won't go into details about the review, since bashing someone else's review is not my thing though it certainly gave me food for thought.

So, the question is should a DNF book be reviewed or not? I have mixed thoughts on this. See, before I learned of the term, DNF, I myself had reviewed a book that I Did Not Finish (you can read the review here). Why did I review it even though I didn't finish the book? Simply put the book wasn't for me. That's not the say the book was bad. My review of the book was not negative. I just was not the intended audience. While I struggled on whether or not to review it, I went ahead and did one since I knew the review was not going to be a negative one but an honest one.

Now if I Did Not Finish a book because I didn't like it for whatever reason and I know in my heart I won't be able to do a negative yet constructive review, I won't review it. I'll let the author know.

So, my answer to my initial question is two fold - yes, I would review a DNF book but only if the book just wasn't for me and I knew that making it to the end would not benefit me in no way; and no, I won't review a DNF book if I didn't like it thus creating a negative review.

There are always two sides to a coin (and sometimes another dimension) that explains things. I've learned that reviews are subjective. No matter what, people are going to give their opinions and almost all opinions will vary.

What are your thoughts on reviewing DNF books?

D.



Friday, July 26, 2013

Reader's Corner: Guest Reviews by Readers





How fun?! I decided to open up my blog to guest reviews by readers, like you. The idea came to me recently while I was either crocheting or doing something. My mind tends to think of a million different things but only a few ideas stick. 

Well, this idea stuck. I remember when I started doing book reviews, it was relatively easy to do so. I decided that it would be great for me to open my blog to readers, non-bloggers preferably, and have them share their thoughts on a current book they are reading or a past book they've read. I want to give someone the opportunity to do so. Who knows, book reviewing might be something that you could see yourself doing via blogging in the future. 

I've compiled a guideline, not inclusive, to help both the reader and myself maintain a sense of organization. 


Basically, I want this to be a once a month feature. 

I normally review any genre but I need to know what genre the book is to approve it. I ask that you be mindful of the type of blog my blog is. It's a friendly blog that is open to all who wants to read it. If reviewing erotica, I ask that your review is kept classy and clean. It can be done. I also ask that you don't use foul language in your reviews. If you feel you need to use them in your review, my blog is not the right place.

Also, I don't share negative reviews on my blog unless the review is constructive. I won't accept reviews where the author is attacked for whatever reason. Please be mindful of that. I don't do any sort of rating on my blog, so no need to worry about that unless you feel it is necessary. 

I would prefer for the reader to be a non-blogger. This is to give you, the reader, an opportunity to share your thoughts on a book. There may be an exception where the reader is a blogger but not a book review or product review related blog, if that makes sense. I may occasionally have an indie author do a guest review. I think it's wonderful when indie authors support each other. 

I do have a format that I like to follow for my reviews, so I will follow that same format when sharing your review, if at all possible. Once you send me your review, I will not change anything. If I see a spelling or grammatical error, I will let you know and ask that you correct it prior to your review being posted live on my blog. Please trust that your words are yours and will not be altered in any way. I will respect and value you as a reviewer. As a reviewer myself, I ask for that from others. 

If you feel the need to share a spoiler because it must be shared, I ask that you put a warning so that the person reading your review can decide whether or not to continue reading. I've done spoiler warnings before when I needed to share something. 

I normally cross post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I will not require that of you but it would be nice if you do. Reviews do help authors.

If you decide to submit a request to be featured on my blog (just send me an email) I will assume that you agree to the guidelines mentioned. The guidelines are subject to change with or without notice. 

All in all, that's it for now. If you are interested in being featured in Reader's Corner... Guest Reviews by Readers, please send me an email at samedinamics (at) gmail (dot) com. We can discuss any other questions you may have and hopefully get the ball going on this. I am very excited to do add this piece to my blog. 

D.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Busy as a Bee with Book Reviews!!!!

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Let me say that again, Wow!

Okay, now that I have your attention, I hope, I have to fill you in. These past few weeks, amidst tragedy that befell my family, has been a very busy time for me.

About a month or so ago, I'd signed up with The IndieView and requested to be approved and added to their list of book review blogs. My request was approved and I granted an interview (my IndieView Interview). I loved answering the questions and letting others read how I approach interviews and what my thought process is. Luckily, I'd set up a new email address just for book review requests because not too long after, the influx of book review requests started coming in.

I was completely overwhelmed and floored. Overwhelmed in a good way though and I'm certainly not complaining. I'm not sure if authors are requesting book reviews just to request them or if they took the time to read some of the reviews on my blog to see if I'm a fit for them. I hope the latter. The review requests got to the point where I had to start turning down a few. I'm looking, right now, at October for posting reviews on my blog. The last thing I want is to get burned out with reading. So, I decided to just take it as it is and enjoy myself. Really enjoy myself.

I also started with with Sharon Hannaford, author of the Hellcat Series as an assistant to her. It's non-pay, which is fine by me. I want the experience and I'm doing something I enjoy tremendously. I'm grateful and thankful to her for taking the chance on me. I did a review of A Cat's Chance in Hell here. I enjoyed the book and happy that I was granted the opportunity to help out.

So, being the person that I am who likes to bite off more than I can chew, sometimes. I have decided to add two sections to my blog: Reader Guest Reviews (still working on a catchy name) and Inside the Writer's Mind (still working a name as well), an interview section. I've done interviews on my blog before but they have been questions and answers given to me. I'd like to personalize it more but it'll take some thinking on my part for the questions. I don't want the questions to be your run of the mill type questions yet don't want them to be too challenging either. I'll see how that works out.

Once I have my thoughts gathered on both new sections of my blog, I'll share with everyone but for now, that's all I have.

I just have to say that I am completely happy and feel like I have found some purpose. My year started off eh and it's looking like it's shaping up to be a nice one. I never thought that writing would be something I would do, well, writing reviews and sharing my thoughts on a blog, but I'm happy to be doing so.

To all who have read my reviews and continue to do so THANK YOU!!! It means a lot that you find value in my words.

D.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview with Shehanne Moore, author of The Unraveling of Lady Fury



I am pleased to share an interview with Shehanne Moore. Shehanne wrote The Unraveling of Lady Fury is Historical Romance. Who doesn't love a good historical romance? I know I do. 

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your books?
I tell people nothing at all. Unfortunately that is not what they tell me.  Obviously they see similarities in terms of the absolute niceness of my characters. The patience and serenity with which they greet life as a whole, accept defeat and never want the impossible. Ahem. Looking the other way here.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing?
I see the beginning and that’s it.  Obviously since it’s romance and you have to HEA, that too. Then I just hope I can get from one to the other.

Can you tell us about your Historical Romance?
Well, it’s set in Genoa, in a sort of √©migr√© English community and it’s about a woman needing to conceive an heir in order to guarantee her future. All fine till  husband meets with an unfortunate accident and then her ex-lover, the one man in the world who knows all her secrets turns up.
Will you write another book in the series?
It’s a stand alone, although they do have children so you never know.
How do you cope with writer's block?
I don’t think about it. To think is to fear.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
I like feisty characters, characters who are glaringly imperfect and not terribly self aware because let’s face it, which of us is truly self aware? I develop them by thinking of their lives before they got to the point where the actual story starts because the things that shape us as people are to be found there. I then think about what their goals are at the point the story starts, to see what little traits to give them they will soon shoot themselves in the foot with. Then I think about physical appearance. Their likes, dislikes. 
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
A lot of candlelit baths and optimism.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
When every end is tied and the conflicts external, then internal, are resolved.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
Even when the subject matter is weighty I think the ability to laugh is a huge thing. So I try to get these touches of humor even in the bleakest circumstances. Also real life isn’t perfect so why should my characters be?
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a story which I see as part of a series about an ex jewel thief.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. I have actually. And I’ve stuck at all kinds of jobs in the hope that one day this dream would come true. 
At what age did you discover your love of writing?
Seven. But it certainly wasn’t as simple as that.
What was the first story that you wrote?
A god-awful fairy tale. Some unoriginal claptrap about a princess in a forest.
When were you first published? How were you discovered?
It depends what kind of publication we are talking of. For years I’ve done all sorts of writing jobs, from girls’ graphic comics to non fiction.  The Unraveling of lady Fury is my first published book. I subbed it to Etopia Press, I subbed it a lot of places actually, but they came right back offering a contract  so... 
What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?
Probably accepting that you may fail. That no-one might want to publish your work and not necessarily because it’s no good either. Having a book out is no guarantee of anything. 
What do you like to read?
I love historical stories. But some of my favs are oldies. I also love anyd of the forties noir books.
What writer influences you the most?
I would that impossible to answer when so many do. I love the sprawl of writers like Margaret Mitchell, F.Tennyson Jesse,  the incredible detail of the times, but I also think these thirties/forties writers like Cain and McCoy had a huge talent for keeping it tight, while F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the prose that is a delicacy. 
If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, which actors would you like to see playing your characters?
Talking Margaret Mitchell I could see Vivien Leigh playing Fury. She has the right fire onscreen but I could also see Keira Knightley having that refined edge Fury constantly tries to maintain. Flint, I think Josh Holloway has the right onscreen mix of steel and grit.
Where can people learn more about you and your books?
3.      http://pinterest.com/shehanne

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books?
Apart from giving them a chance..! Nah.

I hope you've enjoyed the interview. If you did, definitely pick the book up. :-) Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 19, 2013

We All Have A Choice

Who ever said life was easy, was lying. Life is not easy but we make the best of it.

We take what we are given and make life what we want it to be, or so I believe.

This past week has been an emotionally exhausting one for me. Life, for me, was hard. My heart is heavy with grief, sadness, and resentment.  My grandfather passed away.  I now have to make it what I want it to be, through my choices.

I've been struggling with how to feel, what to think, what to do with all these emotions raging inside me. I even struggled with whether or not I should make a blog post about this. After all, I'm not the only who was affected by his death. I even wondered to myself "Am I being selfish and pretentious and attention seeking by making this blog post?". Honestly, I don't know. I don't think I am. My blog, though I've been doing reviews lately, is a vehicle for me to share my thoughts about life, my life. A vehicle for me to share how I feel about things that has happened to me in my life.

I digress, I get off on tangents quite easily, so let me bring this blog post back to my point. We all have choices, I briefly touched on this in a blog post I made Letting Go. I talked about our thought process and how we deal and react to situations presented to us in life. My grandfather's death is one such instance in my life where I had a choice.

Death hurts, plain and simple. It is never easy. Everyone is affected by death in different ways. Everyone deals with death in different ways. <---- That statement right there, I need to remember that. I need to keep that at the forefront of my mind. Why? Well, because when I found out about my grandfather's death (albeit premature, he was on life support at that time) and how I found out (Facebook), I was so angry. I can't even begin to explain how angry I was. I was dumbfounded, I could not believe it and chose not too until I spoke to my mom. Slowly, I had to realize that this was how death was dealt with for that person. My way of dealing with death is different. I had to remember that statement above.

I am now faced with a choice, do I hold on to that anger or do I let it go? I decided to let it go. While I'm still angry, I'm slowly letting it go. What's done is done, there's really nothing I can do about it. So expending all that negative energy and holding on to that anger with such fierce intensity is doing no one, especially me, any good. If I chose to hold on to that anger, it will only fester inside and make my heart black with hate and resentment. I don't want that. That's not a good place to be. I must leave it all in God's hand and I will.

When his heart beat for the last time, I finally allowed myself to grieve. My heart broke, it's still broken but as the past has taught me, in time, my heart will heal. The pain of losing someone you love will always be there but the pain will lessen in time.

I have to make peace with everything so that I can move on. I have to make peace with myself so that I can move on. I made a choice, I won't let that anger control me. I have cried, will continue to cry as I let it all out. My heart, like I said, is heavy right now. The physical pain I feel right now as I type of this blog post is one that I don't want to have. I don't like it. It scares me.

I will pray for peace in my heart. Through prayer and through God, I know that in the end, everything will be okay for everyone who was affected by my grandfather's death. In God's name, I pray.

Friday, July 12, 2013

See How She Runs Book Review

Lately, I've been fortunate enough to have read some incredible stories. They make writing reviews absolutely fun because all I want to do is gush about them. See How She Runs by Michelle Graves is one of those books that was loads of fun for me. I loved every minute of it. 


Synopsis:
One delivery changed her whole life. 

Izzy was a normal girl living in Chicago as a bike messenger before that fateful day. She delivered one package and set into action a chain of events she never could have expected. 

Now she is running for her life from the Corporation, her best friend is not at all who he seemed, and to top it all off she keeps having visions.

Will she survive to navigate the waters as a Seer? Will her feelings for Kennan be her very downfall? Find out in See How She Runs.

Title: See How She Runs
Series: The Chronicles of Izzy
Author: Michelle Graves
Publisher: Michelle Graves (July 11, 2013)
Format: ePub; Mobi; 212 pages
Location(s) Available: AmazonBarnes and Noble




When I first found out that Michelle Graves wrote a book, See How She Runs, and I started reading the prequel on her blog, Michelle Graves Writes, I instantly fell in love with Izzy, the story's heroine. Michelle also teased us with the first chapter of her book on her blog. Talk about knowing how to hook you in then keep you waiting with bated breath!

Izzy is a funny and quirky character who is also independent, strong and smart. Kennan, is well... You'll have to read the story to fall in absolute love with Kennan. He is dreamy. Izzy and Kennan had me laughing and falling in love throughout the story. There were other characters that were essential to story and fit so well with Izzy and Kennan. Michelle did an incredible job at introducing and developing these characters where you are left wanting to know more about who they are and what their story is.

One of the things I loved about See How She Runs is the story line. I enjoy reading a good paranormal/urban fantasy story, who doesn't, but I'm used to reading about witches, vampires, werewolves or faeries. You know, the usual suspects. Well, See How She Runs is about Izzy being a Seer. I've never read a story about seers and marveled at the world that Michelle created about seers, their abilities and livelihood.

My only regret when reading See How She Runs is not being able to finish the book as quickly as I wanted too. Darn life getting in the way of my reading. I craved to read this book and read it every chance I could get. This was one of those stories that you had to see what was happening, you just had to know how it was going to end. The story ended wonderfully but it was certainly left open for more adventures to come in Izzy's life.

See How She Runs is Michelle's debut novel. I must say that it is a great story to debut with. See How She Runs hooks you from the very beginning. The details and story line create an amazing imagery in your mind that doesn't let you go.

Do I recommend this? You better believe I do! If you like intelligent, funny heroines who are confident in themselves, I do. If you want to read a refreshing paranormal/urban fantasy tale, I do.

I was grateful and felt honored to have been able to receive an ARC of See How She Runs.  The book will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble on July 17th. Be sure to mark your calendars so that you can join Izzy on her journey to becoming a Seer and learning more about her world.

****UPDATE**** The book had an early release date. So get your copy!!


About the Author:


Michelle Graves is a self-proclaimed nomad, moving every two to three years with her husband the Army man, her beautiful daughter, and a fat tailless cat named Torri. When she is not writing away trying to purge her mind of yapping characters she can be found entertaining her daughter, attempting to craft (whilst trying not to injure herself with the glue gun), baking yummy treats, or reading. She admits to having a restless spirit and forces her family to go out on adventures whenever possible. They lovingly play along. 


If you want to find out more about Michelle, be sure to check out her Facebook page here and her blog here. You can also add See How She Runs to your reading list at Goodreads here.  If you want to read the prequel, first chapter or Life Lessons with Izzy, be sure to check out Michelle's blog so you can start your journey with Izzy. 

Thanks for joining me once again!



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Look For Me Book Review





Synopsis:
A reporter, a healer, and a spy. In this gripping tale of Civil War-era romance and espionage, these three lives are brought together, with consequences none of them can foresee.

Samuel, a New York-based reporter, leaves the comfort of home to report on the war, where his focus changes from the men who fight to the women who heal. 

Sarah, a Southern healer, leaves the safety of her home to travel with nurses and use nature to heal. 

Meanwhile, Mack, a teenage girl, disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate Union camps. Mack befriends Sarah, and the two women begin a friendship—and deception—that will be carried throughout the war. 

When Samuel encounters Sarah on the battlefield, he realizes she is the childhood friend he has known for years. But when love blossoms, the war becomes a wedge between them, and they're forced to make a promise, for now and forever.

*Winner of Romance Division- International Book Awards 2012
*Winner of Historical Fiction- Chanticleer Book Review 2012

Finalist:
*Mainstream category- Chanticleer Book Review 2012
*Historical Fiction- Chanticleer Book Review 2012
*Romance division-Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2012

*Historical Fiction- International Book Awards 2012


Author Janet Shawgo



Title: Look For Me
Author: Janet Shawgo
Publisher: Publish Green (July 1, 2011)
Format: ePub; Mobi; 252 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Location(s) Available: AmazonBarnes and NobleJanet Shawgo's Website


I've always enjoyed history. I loved reading back on the past and imagining how life was back then. I especially enjoy reading about the places where I live or are near where I live, historically. Naturally, I enjoy reading a good historical fiction novel. I love novels that are accurate in history but also have that fictional element to it to add a richness to history. 

Look For Me is a wonderful tale about courage, and love, and determination, and the human spirit. Ms. Shawgo wove a sweet story during one of the most turmoil eras in our country's time, the Civil War era. Look For Me centers around a group of women who showed their courage and determination to help those in need via healing them with natural and holistic remedies. They showed their love for all those who were injured regardless of what side of the war they were on. These women, while not directly involved in the war, also fought disease, injury, fatigue and the very real dangers of violence against women.

As I read on in the story, I was transported back to the Civil War era. Ms. Shawgo created a wonderful yet terrifying imagery in my mind with the way she described life and the war. I truly enjoyed this story. It was sweet and made me fall in love all over again. I felt a sort of connection to our heroine because she falls in love with the man she's been corresponding with for over six years. I, too, fell in love with my husband after only chatting with him on the internet for a few months. Love, after all, is one of the greatest mysteries in the world.  

Do I recommend this book? I do... if you want to read a loving story that pulls at your heart with the struggles of the time and how love overcomes and transcends distance, then yes, I do recommend it. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Choices Book Review




I'm very excited to be part of Swoon Worthy Books book tour for Choices! I'm even more excited to share this review with you guys since this book made me laugh and cry. It really touched my heart. I felt the raw honesty and pain that was poured into the pages as Sydney Lane was writing this story. Make sure you make it all the way to the bottom as there is a giveaway involved. Who doesn't love giveaways? I know I do.  The prizes are 7 ebook copies of Choices, 3 $5 Amazon/Barnes and Noble GC, and 2 sets of Choices/Fate charms.

Synopsis:
Fate brought her here, but will her choices destroy her dreams?

Quincy Priest made all the right choices in her small town, black-and-white life. But being perfect is tiring. So. Very. Tiring. 

Wanting desperately to step out of her sister's shadow, Quincy jumps at the opportunity to attend college with her best friend. The quiet bookworm with family secrets comes out of her shell. But when Quincy meets not one, but two perfect guys, she has to make a choice. In doing so, she might forfeit the relationship she secretly longed to find. 

Declan. Sweet, handsome, and perfect. He makes her feel cherished for the first time in her life.

Brody. Sexy, hot, and irresistible. He could tear down her carefully built walls.

Before she can become the woman she wants to be, Quincy will make mistakes. And suffer one unimaginable loss.

Title: Choices
Author: Sydney Lane
Publisher: 
Genre: New Adult
Format: Mobi; ePub 
Location(s) Available:





Where to begin? Let's see, it's been quite a few days since I finished Choices and it's still with me. It affected me so strongly that even just writing about it is stirring feelings within me and makes me misty eyed. I've talked to whomever I can about this book and how much it touched me.

Choices really threw me for a loop. I read the synopsis and had a pretty good idea of what it was about. I figured it'd be a sweet, cute story about a girl and her choice between two boys. However, Choices was so much more than just a young/new adult story. 

Quincy learns a great deal about life through her experience as a college freshman. With the support of her friends she learns how much the choices we make can affect us, in a positive or negative manner. She also learns to deal with the consequences of the choices that she's made. 

Choices is indeed a sweet and cute story, on the surface. As I read and got caught up in Quincy's story, I began to see the different layers to who Quincy is. While this is Quincy's story, it was also someone else's, her sister's, Katie. Choices has love, betrayal, loss and a rainbow at the end of a storm. It is also a peppy story that made me laugh at some points. I loved the interactions between Quincy and her best friend. 

This is one book that kept me up way past my bedtime. I couldn't read fast enough. I couldn't even see the words clearly through me teary eyes. My eyes overflowed with tears as I read. If it weren't for my husband sleeping next to me, I would have cried out loud. My heart was simultaneously breaking and leaping for joy. All I could do was just stifle my cries and know that in the end, everything was going to be okay, for the most part.

I don't want to give away too much of the story because it will really be unfair to you, the reader. Normally, I'd give a spoiler warning but I just can't. Not this time. If you decide to pick up Choices, you need to experience it all for yourself. I won't take that away from you. 

Do I recommend Choices? I absolutely do. I can tell you that you will laugh and you will certainly cry. It's more than just a coming of age story. It's a story that will truly touch your heart. 

About the Author:


Sydney Lane lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and children. Growing up in Smalltown, USA, Sydney dreamed of being a writer. After spending an obscene amount of money to go to college, Sydney finally decided to follow her heart. With her babies in bed and husband neglected, she worked by the light of her laptop and wrote Choices. Sydney is very active in charity work for anti-bullying and depression awareness groups.

Get in touch with Sydney Lane via Facebook and Goodreads




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Excerpt of Forced To Serve Box Set






I've once again joined up with Writer-Site (formerly Book-Tour) to provide you with an excerpt of The Demon of Synar Book One and The Demon Master's Wife Book Two of the Forced to Serve Box Set.I hope you enjoy the excerpts as much as I did.


The Demon Of Synar 

Excerpt from Prologue


“I was nervous the first time I bound myself to a female as well,” Dorian said, watching his best friend and current captain pace the room.
“What makes you think I’m nervous?” Synar asked.
Dorian laughed when Liam paused his restless pacing and gave him a strange look.
“What still shocks me is that Ania Looren passed up dignitaries, presidents, other ambassadors, and more warriors than I can count to tumble into your bed like a love stricken Earthling. I’m in awe of you turning out to be the one male in her entire life that she couldn’t refuse.”
“If you think I’m going to be indiscreet and brag about my bonding time with Ania, you are mistaken my friend.”
Synar grinned at Dorian’s guilty, and disappointed, look.
“Being a Siren, my vows of abstinence are hard to endure every day. You have known me long enough to realize that this is a profound truth, Liam. But today the most celibate planet in the Alliance is tuned into your mating vibrations, as am I. As your best friend, the least you can do is let me live vicariously through you once in a while,” Dorian teased. “I know you were Ania’s first breach. She told me.”
“Yes I was, but I’m still not telling you any details. The first time is a private matter and a special sharing. You’ve been alone too long, Dorian. Find a willing female and start living again,” Synar ordered.
“I want peace, not another mate. It hasn’t even been a century since I lost the last one. I know not all creatures live as long as Sirens, but a century doesn’t feel all that long when you are grieving.” Dorian narrowed his eyes as his friend picked up his walking speed again. “Liam, you’re going to wear out your footwear if you keep that up.”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me—just can’t seem to stand still. I’m truly not nervous taking Ania as a formal mate, just impatient to get the public ceremony over. My intuition is sending out massive warning signals, but I can’t tell if they are real or just a reaction to the events of this day.”
Synar frowned at Dorian who wasn’t even trying to hide his amusement. “Glad one of us can laugh about it. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to Ania in front of her family, so I haven’t said anything about my concerns.”
“Perhaps I should mark this historic day in my journal. The ever stoic Liam Synar has been brought to his emotional knees with mating nerves. Why are you even doing this ceremony? I distinctly remember Ania saying it wasn’t necessary for her sake. She said you filed the legal forms before ever leaving the ship.”
“Yes. I did,” Synar confirmed.
 Dorian smiled and nodded. “That means all the Peace Alliance planets will honor your commitment. What will this ceremony accomplish?”
“Ania is a high-level Peace Alliance ambassador. You don’t just throw one of those over your shoulder and run off to your quarters with her screaming that she’s yours,” Synar answered dryly, shaking his head at Dorian’s outright laughter.
“You can laugh until it’s done, but it’s still happening. This ceremony is not for Ania or me. It’s for her family. They’ve waited a long time for their only child to take a mate. At least one of us is represented. My mother declined to be here, which was just as well since she hasn’t spoken to me in person since my father died. Mother says she is still grieving. I suppose that could be true. She had more trouble believing Conor killed him than I did. I’m not even sure she believes it now.”
Dorian could hear the pain in Liam’s voice without even looking at his energy. His previous losses were large, but the absence of family today was taking a toll on his Norblade friend. It was his first mating and yet he would have no other Synars standing at his side to bless the union. His Siren mother had attended both his matings, and been there to comfort at their deaths. Truly he couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be shunned by a birth parent.
“Is your brother still exiled?”
“Yes,” Synar said, feeling Dorian’s sympathy reaching out to him energetically. He bowed his head to his friend to acknowledge the support. “And it will stay that way for at least the next century of my brother’s life. Mother will just have to deal with Conor’s punishment and be glad that at least he isn’t dead.”
“Have you told Ania about your family? And your. . .inheritance?”
“No,” Synar answered, adjusting the cuffs on his uniform jacket. “I ordered Malachi to block Ania from knowing for now. Once Jonas is gone, the demon is going into the sacred amulet until I can figure out the proper person to rule him.”
Skipping over the advice he wanted to offer Liam about the dangers of keeping such a large secret from the person closest to his spirit, Dorian instead focused on the main issue he saw as a problem. “How can you be so sure that you are not the proper person, Liam?”
Synar looked and held Dorian’s gaze until he was sure his friend saw the truth in him. “No one in my family is worthy to rule the demon any longer. Certainly not Conor or me. It’s time the burden was passed on.”

“I can tell you sincerely believe that, but I think you are more suitable than you realize.” Dorian glanced at the timekeeper on the wall of the room they were in and saw it was time for them to go.


The Demon Master’s Wife 

Excerpt from Chapter 1


“So who won the fight?” Gwen asked, pushing open the door to the training room.
“It was not a true competition. What is more important is that Synar surprised me and I let him get by with it,” Ania said with a frown. “That’s what should matter to you from a warrior’s perspective.”
“Much of what Synar does these days surprises me. Before you got here, he was the most stoic male I had ever met. Now he’s as anxiety ridden as any other creature. When I reported to him last, he actually yelled at me. So quit stalling and tell me who won the fight,” Gwen demanded on a laugh, removing her shoes and tucking them under the bench. “Did you beat him as badly as you did me? And can I watch next time?”
“Your competitive nature screams ‘Earthling’ to everyone who gets to know you,” Ania chastised, even though she also paused to think about Gwen’s question as she slipped off her own shoes.
Truthfully, she hadn’t really thought of what happened during their fight as her losing to Synar or either of them winning. She didn’t even think of fighting Synar the way she thought of fighting other people. She had merely been trying to prove a point, and maybe work off some justifiable anger.
“Winning is relative, but by your standards I would say I did. My body never hit the mat,” Ania said with a shrug.
Gwen snorted, examining the smaller female’s skinny frame and lack of roundness with a trained warrior’s eye.
“Synar is not all that tall for a male, but you’re at least five inches shorter than him. I know because I’m as tall as he is. Are you telling me Synar kissed you and your feet never left the mat?”
Remembering his fierce embrace and her legs wrapped tightly around him, Ania sighed and frowned. “I see your point. Perhaps the fight ended in a draw.”
“Too bad for you both that it didn’t end in one of your beds,” Gwen teased, laughing at her own joke. “If it makes you feel any better, right now I’m running from Zade. He keeps asking to speak to me privately. My instinct is to keep away from him, so that’s what I’ve been doing. You want to help me out by telling me what’s going on?”
“Why should I tell you what I see intuitively when you are able to see for yourself? If you are so concerned, use your intuition to discover the reason,” Ania ordered.
Gwen ran a hand through her hair. “Not going to happen—I’m not sure I want to even know. Zade and I—Shades of Kellnor—we have a history, okay? Or at least we could have had one. I sort of threw myself at him when I first met him. I hadn’t felt that way about a male before him and haven’t felt like that for another since. He refused me very politely, which has worked out fine. Now I think he wants to break the news to me about the mating thing you mentioned. I’m just not up for all that awkward stuff,” Gwen protested.
Ania studied Gwen, blinking in disbelief. Dorian was finally chasing and Gwen was now running. They had traded places, but the end result remained their continued avoidance of involvement with each other.
“You really need to learn to use your intuition in better ways. It rules you anyway. I suggest you concede to it as soon as possible,” Ania advised.
“Really? Well, what’s so great about knowing the future? Zade can just go do what he needs to do. Let him mate someone. He doesn’t owe me any explanations. I admit I felt a twinge when you first mentioned it, but no male is worth dwelling on forever, no matter how nice he looks,” Gwen announced.
Ania rose and took a deep breath, wrestling with the decision of telling Gwen or not telling Gwen about Dorian’s intentions towards her. When a creature rejected their intuition so adamantly, it had always seemed wrong to her to force them to epiphanies they did not seek on their own.
Besides, Ania thought, who was she to put herself in the middle of Dorian and his mate?
Deciding to let it happen as it would, Ania only smiled and gestured at the mat.
“Let’s go. I’m feeling lucky today,” Gwen told her, looking down on the top of the shorter female’s head.
“Good for you. I’m feeling like you’re going to be on the mat in the first two minutes again,” Ania teased back. “Unless you’ve magically learned some patience since last time.”
“Very funny,” Gwen said, taking her stance.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Clothes on the Line

As I hang clothes to dry on the line, I'm transported back to the days of my childhood.

The slow, methodical rhythm of hanging my clothes one by one on the line to dry has proven to be therapeutic and has brought back some joy, albeit minimal, in doing the laundry.

Clothes on the line.
Not my clothes. I wasn't brave enough. 
Growing up, the natural sunlight and fresh air, cool breeze blowing in from the sea was the "dryer" of choice. See, back home I always thought that having an electric dryer was considered a luxury. There was sunshine and warmth year round, with the scattering of storms and the occasional hurricane. There really wasn't any reason to have a dryer. It was convenient to have one but not considered a necessity.

I remember going out to the yard and hanging up clothes to dry and creating patterns as to how they should be hung, by size - small to big; by type - undergarments to shirts; by color - darks to light or vice versa. There'd occasionally be the odd one that just didn't quite go but I'd make it work. I enjoyed it. I truly enjoyed hanging up clothes to dry and picking them off the line. Now folding, well... that's another matter entirely.

When I moved stateside, the use of a dryer became the norm and a major convenience for me. However, as I got older, got married and had my brood, laundry became NOT SO FUN. I hate(d) doing the laundry. Really. It would put me in a bad mood because it is always a mountain of clothes. I'm not the type that can wash clothes every single day. I would be forever in a bad mood if that were the case, not good for my family. I'm the once a week type of person. Except once a week turned into two days or three days or... well, you get the picture.

Then came the electric bills. It's costly. In all fairness, it's costly to do a lot of things but I'm sure using the dryer adds a lot. In the several homes I've lived I had no choice but to use a dryer. It just wasn't convenient to hang clothes on the line or it was "against" the community rules. This one still baffles me but I guess aesthetics goes a long way. I'm all for saving money and being a little bit green at the same time.

Carrying on... In the home that I now live in, I've been very fortunate. It took me, hmm, about 3 years to realize that I could invest in a clothesline and try to save some money. I'm literally smacking my head wondering why I didn't think about it before.


My deck with the clothesline installed.


So, I set out on my quest to install a clothesline in my screened in deck. It's perfect. It's not too visible to anyone from the street or my neighbors, unless they're all up in my business breaking their necks wondering what my clothes looks like or what's going on in my house. The screens still allow the breeze to come in and dry my clothes while keeping pesky bugs off my clothes. Depending on the time of day, the sunlight hits my clothes just right.

All it took was some Googling for ideas and buying the materials. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. The total cost was less than $20. Pretty good I'd say compared to how much my monthly electric bill is.

It's been about 3 weeks now since I've begun hanging clothes to dry. I've been happier about the laundry, I get it done in one day and, dare I say it, I look forward to laundry day. Now, if only the clothes could fold themselves, all would be good. Speaking of which, they're waiting to be folded as I type this but they can wait.

Hoping that you've made it all the waaaaayyyy down the page, I took some pictures of my clothesline to show how I (or rather the muscles in my house, the hubster) put it all together. I know.. I tend to ramble on. I can't help it. I like to talk. :-D So here they are...


When I set out on my quest to find a clothesline, I wanted it to be an easy project. I didn't want to worry about how was I going to get this up or down when I needed to use it. I surely didn't want to have a line in my face all the time. I saw many different images using different techniques. The ones that stood out to me were the ones using screw eye hooks. These are perfect because I can string the line through them for easy set up and easy take down.












I also have a cleat hook (these were already installed) that I use to practice my boat tying skills.. okay, okay, I'm jesting.. I use it to "tie off" the end of the line without the use of a knot. And guess what?! It stays in place. I have no slackness to my line and no knot to worry about.






This is how the clothesline fits in my deck. I have 3.5 lines. The last line is half because of the tie off. There are times where some clothes have to wait their turn to be hung. That's okay since the clothes seems to dry quickly, depending on the type of material.






At the end of laundry day, I just take the line down and wrap it up. I store it just like this on the deck. Out of the way. I love the ease of it. This definitely makes hanging up clothes to dry an easier task.



If you use a clothesline to dry clothes, share your stories with me. I love hearing from others!