Monday, January 15, 2018

My TBR for 2018

A lot of book bloggers gear up about this time of year with a plethora of new releases/debuts they're anticipating for 2018. I'm just not that person. In fact, I anticipate the ones sitting in my TBR list instead. Yeah, there are a few releasing this year that I'm eager to read ASAP but, again...those other ones I'm just longing to sift through and bask in.

So, with that said, here is a collage of all the books in my TBR I marked while sifting through the online library's catalogue. Mind you some of my TBR's are not in the catalogue, sadly. But, this will have to do for now!

DO YOU have any pertinent reads you hope to finish this year??

READ THIS WEEK: A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer Nielsen, a girl's family is divided when the Berlin Wall erects, LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds, a book in poem verse, if the ghosts of Christmas past met a boy in an elevator about to avenge his brother (loved it too much to even say)


MOVIE WATCHED: LEGO NINJAGO and it was pretty dang funny. There was this emotional part that I thought was okay let's move on, but my kids totally teared up during it.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Characters that Speak, Not the Author

As I've worked on my editing rounds from my YA Viking book, I am in the heads of three of the older sisters, as it is told in 3 points of view. Recently, my CP pointed out something to me that I had not even REALIZED I was doing - not speaking from my character's view.

For instance, there were a few times when I was writing as the author, as if I was in heaven and showing the angels what was happening, rather than them looking at it from the character's
perspective. I wondered then how many times throughout the book I had done this. It's easy not to catch because you will likely get so caught up in the story you don't see it or realize you're even doing it. You really have to proactively search for it. But IT IS THERE! Like a snake in the grass - oh my gosh it is there!!

Maybe this is hard to understand what exactly I mean, but maybe a few "for instances" will be helpful.

The author's head: The land was green and rich, lively and serene with birds flying wildly.
The character's head: Lush and lively land covered the earth for miles, more than Amy could imagine or had ever seen. The birds flew wild, much like the ones in her dreams, making her heart pulse with excitement.

The author's head: He wore a beaded necklace, sneakers, and board shorts like a surfer or a skater.
The character's head: His beaded necklace, sneakers, and board shorts made Amy swoon. There was nothing more than a skater slash surfer look that teased her senses, and blushed her cheeks quick.

The most important part of extracting and re-writing these areas, is to really think like the character. See it from their eyes and emotions. We normally see things and pin it to something else in our past, or judge it in some way. It is human nature, and if your character has any human or humanistic qualities, ensure they do the same! It definitely makes them relatable to the reader!

READS THIS WEEK:  AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White, a series opener with the premise of what Vlad the Impaler would be like if female. The story is very gritty and I enjoyed it! LGBTQ friendly. THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, a standalone turned movie, with the premise of social/racial injustice. Other than the amount of cussing (which is part of the reason I put it down and then later gave it a 2nd chance), it really does speak out and speak up.

READING NOW: A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer Nielsen, LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds. I have a couple library and home books to figure out which to start first as I generally read 2-3 books at a time. It's a toss up between SOULMATED, THE LAST NAMASARA, and CITY OF SAINTS AND THIEVES.

MOVIES WATCHED: KING ARTHUR - it was really good, and I loved how they did the talking while showing it already being done. You will have to see the movie to understand what I mean.THE SHACK - my heart cried a million times over just like when I read the book.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 - the Year of the Warrior

2017 was a crazy, emotional year for me. On January 19th, I began writing a YA Viking fantasy, finishing it in March at 120k words. I was very proud of how quick I had written a book I'd felt so passionate about. Characters came out of the woodwork. Magic I had never attempted before, began to be written. Romance. All sorts of ... things I had never tried to write, were being written. With prayers and faith, I was steadfast in the work. By the end of the year, after not making it in to Pitch Wars after 4 requests for manuscripts from mentors, and after a few agent rejections, a few requests that ended in rejections, and an amazing writer retreat where I met Jennifer Nielsen and got personal sage advice on my query and 1st chapter pages - I began the journey again.

At the end of October, I went back to my book after a few weeks break and rewrote my beginning pages with a new scene (3x now as of a week ago). I rewrote my 4th chapter beginning. I rewrote or cut or shortened the heck out of many words, sentences, and paragraphs. I revamped. And I am still revamping. But this time, something really hit me.

The girls I am writing, the six daughters of a Warrior King, are just that - WARRIORS.

Maybe they are shy, stubborn, earthy, bossy, tomboy-like, but one thing I do know is I am putting them through hell AND high water and they are turning into warriors before my very eyes, and by my very hands. And not just in the sense of fighters, but in the sense of so much more. They honor their family, their people, their Norse gods. They stand for what they know is true and right. They attempt what shouldn't be attempted - crumbling a honored patriarchy system.

Through them, I am discovering how I need to warrior-up and take things more head on. How I need to say no and be okay with saying no when all I really want to do is say no. How I need to take time for myself doing things that keep my faith strong. How I need to foster the relationships in my life that make me feel good about myself. How I need to worry less about silly things and more about important things. How I need to make this book my biotch and get it exactly where I feel it belongs - on a shelf in a bookstore being stared at by a girl looking for something to escape her reality for just a moment. Or a few hundred pages :)

That is why this year I am making it the YEAR OF THE WARRIOR. It will be my word. I will be my reminder. It will be my mantra.

What about you? If you could define this new beginning to one word, what would it be? 

Friday, October 20, 2017

MARKED BEAUTY Tour Stop by S.A. Larsen

Of course when your blogging buddy from years ago has a book release, you jump on board and you dig deep. You find out what got her from one book idea to the next. Especially for Sheri's newest novel - MARKED BEAUTY

1. Sheri, how did the concept for the story begin? Was it inspired by something?
It started out with the notion of a tumultuous romance between two young adult characters. I am a major sap for the push and pull of a good romance. But I didn't want it to be merely he-saw-her/she-saw-him and the chase. I wanted to show more resistance from both characters, internal ponderings that left room for each to grow. To accomplish that I needed a tumulus that would force the couple to snub each other, yet draw them together at the same time. That's how the story gave birth to ancient Rifters and the Lynceus people, and put Ana on the opposite because of her empath abilities. I guess you could say the star-crossed attraction between Ana and Viktor partially was inspired by the feelings I always get from reading Pride and Prejudice.

2. I really liked the opposition, the almost resilience to give into the attraction. You really root for them to fall in love. What did you find most difficult to write when creating Anastasia and Viktor?
Expanding on my answer to your first question, I'd say it was in establishing the balance of tension and conflict between Ana and Viktor without isolating one or the other, or irritating the reader too much. A character can only complain or resist for so long before they become annoying. But I had to push those boundaries to force both characters to take a risk they normally wouldn't.

3. I thought it was well-done! It always hard to please both the writer and reader. So, what was the easiest thing for you to write in this story?
Ooh, this is a give and take question. I have an equal affection for developing characters and for world building. With all the Celtic and druid research I did, creating the story world was a blast. But I think the easiest ingredient of the story to write was Viktor. He has a similar heart to Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice. The deeper into the story I wrote him the more comfortable I became with him.

4. You wrote him with a natural affection. And I like the comparison to Mr. Darcy! For those who've never read MARKED BEAUTY, tell them some things to expect.
a. Mystery & danger
b. Dark romance
c. Friendship & family
d. Conflict from an eerie character or two
e. Amped up tension
f. Intriguing elements from Celtic mythology and astrology
g. Bits of humor

5. Yes! All of that! What comparison titles would you give MARKED BEAUTY?
It's been likened to Holly Black's Tithe series and Amy Plum's Die for Me trilogy. I also think fans of L.J. Smith's Dark Visions would enjoy Marked Beauty because it has a similar dark quality about it. And even though I'm playing more on Celtic mythology, astrology, and the history of the Druids, Meg Cabot's Abandon has a parallel feel with its mythological edge.

Thank you so much to Sheri AKA S.A Larsen for stopping by and sharing her newest YA release - MARKED BEAUTY - and letting us pick that beautiful brain of hers!! I read the book in less than a few days. It left you wanting to see what would happen between two unlikely love interests, and yet, take the world by storm. When they were together, I had a little Bella/Edward feeling - which I love! Five stars!
Title: Marked Beauty
Author: S.A. Larsen
Publisher: Ellysian Press
Release Date: October 2017

Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.
Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her.
Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.
After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger.
As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.

Chapters | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks                  

S.A. LARSEN is the author of the award-winning novel Motley Education, the first book in a fantasy-adventure series for middle grade readers. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press. Marked Beauty is her debut young adult novel. Find her in the land of snowy winters and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty-five years, four children, a playful pooch, and three kittens. Visit her cyber home anytime at

Blog Tour Giveaway:
One (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Party Giveaway:
What better way to celebrate a book birthday then by a giveaway! There are many ways to enter, which you'll find below. You can win an iTunes, Amazon, or Starbucks gift card, an authentic Vera Bradley Little Crossbody in Cobalt Tile, an assortment of bookish swag, and even a KINDLE Fire HD 7"! The giveaway runs from release day, October 17, 2017 to December 5, 2017. Winners will be announced via social media December 7, 2017.
*No purchase necessary to win*
However, if you have read Marked Beauty or purchase it and read you can earn extra entries by posting a review on any major online retail bookstore and Goodreads! All the information you'll need is in the form below.
BUT there's more...FOR WRITERS! Writers who enter can WIN a first five pages critique!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 11, 2017

Time Doesn't Heal All Wounds

Last month, I did a very public thing. I know a lot of people who would steer clear of public endeavors because, quite honestly, they're so...public. I did Pitch Wars. If you haven't heard of it, click here. It's an annual writing contest and a great way to meet new writer friends.

Anyways, so, I did this public twitter thing, and well, even though I had several requests from mentors I submitted to wanting my full manuscript, I sadly didn't make it in. There are some facts to this that make it less of a blow. The amount of submissions was crazy. I can't remember, nor find the tweet, but I think it was over 3k. The good thing is I don't have to wait 2 months while I edit with a mentor to submit to agents. There are some highs and lows. Pros and Cons.

After I found out I wasn't selected, I melted (while at work) internally but kept my brave face on (because I was working). When I got home, I was a water falling down into the sewer. However, by the next day, I made my agent wishlist, researching the crap out of them for a good match, and then the following day queried a small group of them.

I was hopeful. I had this "if the mentors liked me enough to see my work, maybe these agents will too!" attitude. But then, crickets. Ok, I will admit it has only been like a week, but still. Crickets. And ok, I admit some warned it can take up to 2 months to hear back from them, but still...crickets. Yet, I DID receive a request for a full the next day...that was NOT a cricket.

Surely I would get that phone call or email or something the next day, right? Surely! Who doesn't like surely?? I didn't. I still haven't. I'm waiting. Time is passing. I got one rejection (albeit from a very high end agent) with a personal email and not electronic which was nice.

Now, I sit and wonder many things to myself. Is my book worth the heartache? (yes) Is it worthy to be published? (yes) Was it divinely inspired? (yes)  Is this waiting reflecting on my self-worth? (yes) Am I looking at published authors with green envious eyes? (oh, yes) Am I internally kicking to do events like my published friends? (hell, yes) Did I arrogantly believe so much in my book I wanted to sing about it from the rooftops, but didn't get into Pitch Wars, and got only one agent request from Pitch Mad, and have not heard from agents queried other than 2, and now I feel like God mailed me some humble pie? (yes...)

Does time heal all wounds? (no)

In fact, as time goes on when you're querying, and you're not seeing your hardwork be fruitful like you believe it so can be, it's a little crushing. Ok, A LOT of crushing. It makes you wonder and ponder and doubt this whole writer stuff. But, like I've heard a million times over, the real writers are the ones that DON'T GIVE UP.

Will I give up? (no) Will I continue on? (yes) Am I writing another book? (yes) Have I even started plotting book2 of my Viking book? (yes) Am I praying every night to hear from the agent with my full manuscript? (hell to the yes!) Did the humble pie taste good? (no) But did I learn that forced humble pie isn't fun? (yes...)

Good luck out there everyone! No one said it would be easy - only worth it! What has the waiting room of querying looked like for you?

<-- If you look on my sidebar, you can see all the amazing books I have read. Some are just top notch stuff. Also, using audiobooks has been a hit for my long drives to work!

** A SPECIAL thank you to all our men and women serving our country, be it firemen, police officers to our military **