Monday, May 30, 2016

Main Character Meet And Greet

Today, My Pet Blog belongs to author Jack Lewis Balliot, as she prepares for the release of her latest novel, Brothers-in-Arms. She's here to tell us about one of the main characters of this story.

Take it away, Jack!



HELLO! It is me, your friendly neighborhood Jack. I'm here to invade M.J.'s blog because my book, Brothers-in-Arms, is being released upon the world. And the thing to do when that happens is to invade blogs. It is part of a world domination scheme.

M.J. asked me to do a character post, and since Japhet Buchanan got one, it only seemed fair to give one to the other main character, Franz Kappel.

Franz was one of those characters I didn't understand. He showed up and I thought he would turn out different than he did. Then as I edited he grew even more.

Franz Kappel is quieter at the beginning of the book. He's more than happy to stand back and let his chattery friend, Japhet, do all the talking for them. He has few friends and would keep to himself if it wasn't for Japhet. He's content to let the world pass by and annoy his five older sisters.

All of that changes the day tragedy strikes, and he finds his life and his world changed forever. As he grows older Franz changes. While Japhet, a Jew who is taunted and abused by his used to be friends, withdraws Franz starts to become the outspoken one. He grows reckless and angry, and often gets into fights to protect Japhet. His loyalty to his family and Japhet deepens, but at a dangerous price. While he would do anything to keep them alive and help them escape Germany he also doesn't plan things out very well. And that often ends badly.

Unlike Japhet, I didn't know Franz would be in my book until a few months before I started it. I thought it would more be a story about a German living in Germany at the time of the war, but about the time Japhet told me he was a Jew Franz showed up and told me he was Japhet's best friend.

Franz confused me. When I saw the story they wanted me to write I didn't know the kind of man Franz would be by the end of that and that intimidated me. I foresaw things ending badly and ruining what I thought to be a good friendship. Little did I know the wild ride they would drag me on and what we would see at the end. In fact, it was only thanks to help of my best friend that I finally saw Franz for who he really was.

In spite of all the complications he put me through, the painful story he dragged me into, and the ending I did come to love Franz. Everything about him. His protective nature, his temper, how when he does take time to think things through he doesn't do a good job at it. In some ways he ended up reminding me of my own brothers which only endeared me to him even more.

He's a very special sort of character, and I can't wait for you all to have the chance to meet him.


Can a Jew and a Nazi survive Hitler's Germany?

Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first-hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high. 

With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they've always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet's heritage a secret. Taking his best friend's safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations.

With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can't be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.




About The Author

Jack is one of those strange people who calls herself an Author. She spends a lot of her time writing and even less time editing. She likes to write about friendships which is partly how Brothers-in-Arms came to be. More than ten years in the making, this is the book she dreaded the most writing, but which also has the most meaning for her.

When Jack isn't writing, which doesn't happen too often, she keeps busy with various other hobbies – such as reading, playing the bagpipes to the dread of her neighbors, and drinking tea – which might not be considered a hobby by most but which should be. 

She lives in a cabin in the woods with her dog and a library which isn't quite equal to Prince Adam's but will be given enough time and a secret doorway.

Find her online at:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Slow Burn

Today, I am taking part in the Cephalopod Coffeehouse—an online gathering of book-loving bloggers—hosted by the Armchair Squid.



It takes place the last Friday of every month, and the concept is simple: just share the best book you've finished over the past month and visit other bloggers to see their selections. I love this bloghop because I always end the day with a brand new list of books that I want to read.

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts (Thanks, Life!), and when I signed up for this month, I honestly thought I'd be writing about a different novel today. I am going to write about that novel sometime next month, but as it turned out not to be the best novel I finished in the month of May, I'm writing about this one instead:



But first, a little history...

Back when I was in high school, and my sister was in college, we were introduced to a series of detective novels set in and around Boston. It was the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker, and told the story of a Boston-based private detective named Spenser. He was an ex-boxer and an ex-state cop, and could drop the most amazing literary references and/or witty one-liners like nobody's business. We were immediately hooked, and I spent a lot of time in every secondhand bookstore I could find searching for every last title I could get my hands on.

Robert B. Parker wrote forty Spenser novels in total (along with many other titles) before he passed away (at his desk) in 2010. His last Spenser novel, Sixkill, was published posthumously in 2011, and really, I thought it had the perfect last line, if this was to be the last Spenser novel.

But it turns out, it wasn't the last novel. The owners of Parker's estate decided to continue on the series with the help of author Ace Atkins. When I first heard this news, I was beset by mixed feelings. First there was, "Yay! Spenser lives to love and fight and cook another day!" And then there was, "Oh, but...Robert B. Parker won't be writing it. How will anyone else be able to do it successfully?"

I'm assuming here that I was not the only one to have these concerns. And I can't imagine what it was like for Mr. Atkins to take on this challenge. Or any author who takes on a challenge such as this. For example, there were two other series that the Parker estate moved forward with—the Jesse Stone series, and the Virgil Cole/Everett Hitch westerns—and while I haven't read any of the westerns with their new author, I stopped reading the Jesse Stone books altogether because they just weren't the same, and I felt like there was too big a gap there for me to want to cross. All of a sudden, the character wasn't the same guy I'd grown to love in the other nine books.

So how does an author do that? Take beloved characters from an established and beloved series and continue the stories without completely alienating a fan base? I imagine it's one of the hardest things to do in writing. I don't know that I could ever do it.

(Hmmm. Maybe I should have said a lot of history...I'm getting to the point soon, I promise! I'll try to speed things up.)

But anyway, I'm digressing.

So, Ace Atkins's first Spenser novel, Lullaby, was released in 2012, and it was with trepidation that I purchased a copy and read it. But I needn't had worried. The transition between authors felt nearly seamless to me. The rhythm was right; the dialogue was right—the character was right. I could have been reading a novel written by Parker himself, and I was so relieved to have that be the case. There were moments that felt like Atkins was trying too hard to cram recurring Spenser-verse characters into the story (like he was trying to impress the reader by saying, 'Look! I know all these characters!' or something), but I didn't mind because the rest was so good.

And now you may be asking yourself why I'm reviewing a book I read four years ago and not the one I showed you the cover for at the beginning of this post, but I'm getting to it, I promise.

I'll do it right now, even:

This is the fifth Ace Atkins's Spenser novel, and I think he's really settling into it. I didn't think this mystery was as good as Lullaby, but it was still a good read. There were moments that felt too over the top, especially toward the end, and one Oh-No! moment that made my jaw drop. The endless parade of recurring characters was reined in nicely (though, c'mon, would it kill you to at least mention Paul Giacomin once in a while?), and my favorite character Hawk put in an appearance. Susan Silverman, sadly, had a bunch of scenes in this novel (For long-time fans of the series, you may think that last statement is odd and, perhaps, blasphemous, but I haven't been a Susan Silverman fan since Valediction. And don't even get me started on A Catskill Eagle. Grrr.) and I always prefer it when she's more on the peripheral instead of more featured, but I get that the story kind of required that.

I don't know how many more Spenser novels there may be, but I'm curious where Atkins will take the story next. And when I want to read the next book in a series the very second I finish with the last, you know you've done something right.

Which sounds egotistical, doesn't it? Like I'm suggesting that I'm somehow the be-all, end-all when it comes to determining what makes a book good. And of course I'm not, but in my last book review post, I did rant a lot about a certain pair of books, but I'm not ranting today. Slow Burn just makes me smile.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! And for all my friends in the U.S., have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Endless Music

Today My Pet Blog belongs to author extraordinaire, Misha Gerrick, as part of her blog tour for her latest release, Endless. She's here to talk about a topic that is, as anyone who read any of my A to Z posts last month would know, very near and dear to my heart...

Take it away, Misha!

Music of Endless

I know some writers start putting together mood boards and collages once they start working on a new project. It must be a good way to connect to the story and let your mind go to find what you want to write.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t currently have a special office to put up a mood board for all thirteen of my currently ongoing projects. But instead, I do sound-tracks.

I actually found that, once I have a playlist together, it’s easier to get a feel for the story I’m writing. I guess music evokes emotions better for me than images.

To give you an idea, this song sounds like Aleria. And this sounds like Nick. And Ryan

All in all, the sounds of music or the lyrics or both just trigger something for me, and I use it to get into the mode I need to write and edit.

So I use music everywhere, from my rough draft to every stage of editing except for when I’m reading out loud. When I’m trying to “hear” what I’ve written, I can’t have music playing or it jars with the sentences’ rhythms.

Anyone else use music like this? What’s your favorite song for the story you’re writing?



First, do no harm.Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals. 

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them. 

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless. 

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.




About the Author


Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:

Monday, May 23, 2016

Coming Up For Air

I already divulged this over various forms of social media, but in case you missed it (and you know, are interested), I sent out Second Nature to my trusty beta readers at the end of last week. I reached the end of my proofreading attempt and decided to send it out immediately before I could change my mind (again). And as I stated on the social media sites, doing so left me feeling a little bit like this...


Of course, that feeling has now dissolved into the ritual worrying and terror that accompanies me anytime anyone anywhere is reading anything I've ever written. ( I have issues. I know.) But I am exceedingly grateful to my betas for being willing to take on the challenge, and I sincerely hope they enjoy the story. Or, if failing that, I hope they offer me excellent feedback that will help me improve the story. (Which isn't a worry—History has proved that they will do precisely that. I just worry that I sent out the story too soon.)

But regardless of how they ultimately feel about it, it's a big book that will take a while to read because a) it really is a big book (324k-words big) and b) even if it wasn't a big book, they still have children and day jobs and, you know, lives that rightfully come first.

Since I have none of those things, I find myself in serious distraction mode.

Fortunately, I have many options from which to choose to help keep me busy...

1. Deal with animal illnesses

Okay, so this isn't a choice so much as a requirement. I have four animals (two cats and two dogs) and, currently, three of them are ill. (One cat and both dogs) Part of the illnesses include an inability to control one's bodily functions. (Yay!) I have gone through a lot of paper towels and pet stain cleaner in the last twenty days (Yes, it's gone on that long), and it still looks like I'll have to keep up the pace for at least another twenty more. When I'm not scrubbing excrement and/or vomit out of the carpet (Because god forbid we have any accidents on a far-easier-to-clean surface!), I'm making vats of rice and boiled chicken for the dogs, even more special meals for my 18-year old cat (note: I don't even make special meals for myself), and calling the vet and just sobbing into the phone. Boy, being a pet parent sure is fun at times.



2. Work my way through my many saved-up series on my DVR

I've been pushing to get these revisions/edits done since January, so I limited my live TV time to watching just a few shows. Hence, I have a lot recorded, including but not limited to Orphan Black and Legends of Tomorrow. Plus, I want to binge watch the second season of Outlander and take advantage of my current HBO subscription to watch the first season of True Detective. (I heard the second season really sucked.) And on top of that, I haven't even seen the second season of Daredevil yet! (I watch entirely too much TV. I know.) So, clearly, there's some work to be done here.


3. Exercise


At the beginning of the month, I told you about my FitBit and its demands that I actually move from time to time, so I set a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. With the edits and illnesses and the house guests, this goal has fallen a bit by the wayside, but edits are done and the house guests have gone home, so I can now devote more time to it. I'll be walking indoors, though, because first of all it's ridiculously hot (Seriously, how does anyone live in this state?!?) and my A/C is my best friend. And also, there was this creepy snake outside of the vet's office this weekend, and it was totally stalking me and/or the Gator Girl. I'm pretty sure it wanted to eat us. The Man says otherwise, but I know what I saw. Anyway, I'm not so keen on going outside. Ever again. Which is an unrealistic goal until I discover some kind of oversized cupcake and/or giant chocolate chip cookie delivery service, but I certainly don't have to exercise outside. Why take the risk?



4. Go see Captain America: Civil War

I did see this movie opening weekend, and wore my Captain America t-shirt to the event. (I'm Team Cap all the way.) I still feel the need to see it a second time because (a) I thought it was pretty damn awesome and why wouldn't I want to see it a second time, and (b) I thought if I went to a matinee in the middle of the week, I'd have a better chance of having a quiet theater. See, during the first viewing, there was this Super Passionate Fan Girl in line, right? I was thinking, "Cool. I love Super Passionate Fan Girls. I, myself, am a Super Passionate Fan Girl, and I appreciate her excitement and enthusiasm. You go, Super Passionate Fan Girl." Then we got into the theater where she immediately laid claim to my usual seat (Yes. I have a usual seat in the movie theater. I have issues. I know. Let the Sheldon references commence.). But I was all, "Okay, no need to cause a rumble. I can just sit in the next row like a normal person. It'll be essentially the same seat. No big deal. But...I'll still send angry texts to my brother over this until the movie starts." Then the movie started, and Super Passionate Fan Girl Didn't. Shut. Up. She talked during the Whole. Damn. Movie. Not just cheering at awesome parts, or indulging in a boisterous guffaw at something funny but talking, talking, talking. During the Whole. Damn. Movie. Now, as much as I love Super Passionate Fan Girls, I also love moviegoers who SHUT THE HELL UP WHEN THE MOVIE IS PLAYING. I was super excited, too. I mean, when they started the Doctor Strange preview before the movie, I probably punched The Man's arm twenty times because my enthusiasm demanded I do so. But I did it quietly. Then there was the part where Super Passionate Fan Girl's *$@*$#*@#! PHONE RANG. And rang. And rang.

Hey, Super Passionate Fan Girl, Shepherd Book has something to tell you:




So, anyway, that's on the list.


5. Read


I have an incredible backlog of books on my TBR list. This would be an excellent opportunity to cross off a few titles. And, you know, add a million more. Because that's what always happens. I like books. This is not a problem. (Even if The Man thinks otherwise.) I can stop any time I want to...


No, really. I can.

6. Work on Book #3

Normally this is what I would do, you know? Jump right into the next project, and as much as I do want to do that, I'm not sure it's what I should be doing this time. I do want to talk more about this, but that'll likely be a lengthy thing, and I've already rambling on long enough. Perhaps I'll talk about it in another post on another day. I know you can't wait...

And on that note...

How do you, or any other normal people, deal with the beta-reader wait? Tell me in the comments!

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by today, and enjoy your Monday. See y'all next time! 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sign of the Green Dragon

Hello, all! Today we're welcoming back to My Pet Blog author C. Lee McKenzie as a part of the (very cool) cover reveal for her brand new novel, The Sign of the Green Dragon...

Check it out...


When a wall of their cave hideout crumbles, three boys discover a skeleton, clutching a treasure map. They set off to trace the story of an old murder, but stumble into a modern crime, and confront ancient Chinese dragons.



Available August 3, 2016



Available for Pre-Order at:



About the Author:

C. Lee McKenzie is a 4 & 5 star reviewed author. Her greatest passion is writing for young readers. Sign of the Green Dragon is her third Middle Grade novel. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were her first two. She has traditionally published four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets.




Have a great weekend, everyone. See y'all on Monday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Finish Line

Roughly two weeks ago (or maybe exactly two weeks ago; I honestly don't know), I wrote a post about how my WIP is like a cursed, uncooperative mummy hand.



I was stuck in a time loop that saw me unable to best the mummy hand. (Translation: I was unable to get to the point where I was happy satisfied enough with my manuscript to send it out to my betas.) I spent a lot of time looking like this:


But as the risk of totally jinxing myself here, today just may be the day that I finally break free of the time loop.

It might be tomorrow. Or maybe the next time. But definitely this week. Or, you know, next week at the latest.

How did this miraculous event take place, you ask? Well, I'll tell you...

I don't know.



But it did happen, so yay for that.

I mean, I still have ten chapters left to read through, but at this point, I'm just looking for any and all typo I can find in an attempt to avoid making any other accidental references to cannibalism...

Oops.

So there's every chance that the mummy hand will rear its ugly head again, and once I reach the end of Chapter 49, I'll find myself returning to Page One, but it does feel different this time.

Of course, I'm pretty sure said that last time, too.

So anyway, that's what's happening here. This was supposed to have been done last week (and the week before that, and the week before that even), but I'm a little (translation: perpetually) behind, this time due to animal illnesses and house guests (unrelated).

Boy, I'd really like to wrap this thing up this week.


What's happening in your neck of the woods?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Analyzing First and Last Sentences + A Giveaway

Hello, all! I'm still bushwacking my way through the land of never-ending revisions, but fortunately Chrys Fey is here to prevent My Pet Blog from falling by the wayside. She's here to talk about analyzing those first and last sentences, and there's even a giveaway at the end!

Take it away, Chrys!


Analyzing First and Last Sentences


First and last sentences of chapters are always my favorite to write. I always try to make them enticing. I want readers to keep reading. If they plan on stopping for the night, I want them to read the last sentence of a chapter and to be compelled to stay up later. Accomplishing this is much easier later in my story when the crimes and disasters start happening, but I think I do a decent job with the first few chapters.

Let’s take a look. Shall we?

Chapter One:

Begins: Beth didn’t die.

Ends: She stretched out on the chairs, letting exhaustion take over her body, and drifted off to sleep.

Yes, Beth is alive! And she’s safe enough to want to take a nap. Aren’t you just relieved? This chapter directly leads off the ending of Hurricane Crimes where Beth and Donovan arrive at the police department and start to head toward the doors. Well, we get a deeper look into their journey to the police department and actually follow them when they step inside. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

Chapter Two:

Begins: Donovan sat with his back straight against the metal chair, his cuffed hands clasped on top of the table.

Ends: “I don’t want your apology. I want you to help me get Buck.”


See what I mean? Donovan is in cuffs in the first sentence. At least he got an apology by the end of the chapter, though. That should be a good sign, right? Maybe...the problem is no one knows where Buck, the killer, is and Donovan hates that the man is free.

Chapter Three:

Begins: A hand cupped Beth’s arm and gently shook her awake.

Ends: She woke once when Donovan eased onto the cot and took her into his arms.


It’s kind of funny that I start this chapter with her waking up and end it with her sleeping again. But you have to forgive her...enduring a hurricane, killing a bad guy and trying to prove Donovan’s innocence aren’t easy things to do.

Chapter Four:

Begins: Donovan didn’t mind being stuck in the police department.

Ends: She squeezed his hand. “Because I have faith.”


This may be the second chapter in Donovan’s POV, but it’s the first one where we can really dig into his personality and get to know him. We experience his grief and lust in one chapter.



Title: Seismic Crimes
Author: Chrys Fey
Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Digital and Print
Page Count: 282

DIGITAL LINKS:




PRINT LINKS:


BLURB:

An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy.

From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?

HURRICANE CRIMES 99¢ SALE!



DIGITAL LINKS:


About the Author

Chrys Fey is the author of Hurricane Crimes, Book One in the Disaster Crimes series, as well as these releases from The Wild Rose Press: 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. She is an administrator for the Insecure Writer's Support Group and has participated in the Blogging from April A to Z Challenge.

When Fey was six years old, she realized she wanted to be a writer by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started writing her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen.

Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes. She has four adopted cats who keep her entertained with their antics, and three nephews who keep her entertained with their antics. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and through her blog, Write with Fey. She loves to get to know her readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 9, 2016

Final Score, Plus Four More (A Cover Reveal)

Hey everyone, 

As I'm still battling that uncooperative mummy hand, My Pet Blog belongs to author Kyra Lennon today, as she reveals the new cover for not only her latest release, FINAL SCORE, but also the newly-redesigned covers for the four other books in the series. 

Check 'em out...(also, sorry the first two are so large...I couldn't figure out how to shrink them properly to fit.)

FSFull

Cover Reveal

Title: Final Score

Series: Game On: Book 5

Author: Kyra Lennon

Expected release: July 22nd

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover design: Clare Dugmore

Cover models: Scott King & Lucy Jay

Blurb:

Leah Walker and Radleigh McCoy have overcome a lot of personal demons to be together, but what happens when everything they’ve worked to build is threatened? With wedding plans in full swing and Leah settled into her role as a stay at home mum, life is just about perfect. However, an unexpected job offer sparks tension between the couple, and when someone from Radleigh’s past shows up in Westberg with a life-altering revelation, Leah and Radleigh’s relationship is shaken to the core. Just when Leah and Radleigh seemed to have it all together, their happy home is ripped in two, leaving them both with some tough choices to make. Will they be able to overcome their problems and make it down the aisle, or will outside temptations make them say goodbye forever?

final score

UPDATED COVERS FOR THE REST OF THE SERIES!

 

Game On: Book 1

Add to Goodreads

GO  

Blindsided: Book 2

Add to Goodreads

blindsided  

Sidelined: Book 3

Add to Goodreads

  sidelined  

Play On: Book 4

Add to Goodreads

play on  

Author Bio

Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she's not reading, you'll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall. Lennon is a proud supporter of several charities. She currently volunteers for her local cat shelter as a fundraiser and social media guru. Kyra has also had stories published in charity anthologies to raise money for Cats Protection and the British Heart Foundation. Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels. Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go in November.

Social Links
 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Book Review

It's book review time, y'all!

And though I only have six books to review, it's a tad longer of a post than usual because I had to rant about a couple of books.

It had to be done.

Without any further delay, here's what I read in March and April:


How to Start A Fire by Lisa Lutz—A story that follows the friendship of three women who meet in college. It's told in third person omniscient with a non-linear time frame. It's interesting, but the time jumps were, on occasion, hard to keep up with. I had to go back and forth through the book to help keep everything straight. The characters were complex and often infuriating, especially Kate and George. But yeah, it was an interesting and occasionally engrossing and other times maddening read.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz—A story about a woman on the run. She's really an anti-heroine who does some immoral things, and there were times when I wasn't sure if I liked her or not. I kept reading because I wanted to know how it would end...and then I was kind of disappointed when I got there. So, not my favorite book, but I still think the author's great.

Jolissa: An Anti-Princess Story by Tara Tyler—A story about a young girl with a bad attitude who goes on a quest to find her dog, and ends up doing that and a whole lot more. This story is funny and imaginative. I really didn't see that ending coming, and I thought it was great. I really did. There's also a video storybook available on YouTube. It has songs. I love that. I'm looking forward to the next book in the Unconventional Princesses series.

Find Her by Lisa Gardner—The latest installment in the D.D. Warren series. I like D.D. Warren a lot, so I read everything in which she shows up. For the most part, I really enjoyed this novel. I had a hard time figuring out the end. It was not immediately obvious to me, which is not generally the case. I did not care for the villain monologue that took place toward the end. While reading it, I could only think of that Disney movie The Incredibles where the bad guy starts laying out his entire plan to the good guy, but then says something like, "Oh, look at that; you got me monologuing. Can't believe it." But that aside, there are parts of this that are incredibly engrossing and moving.

Between The Lines by Jodi Picout and Samantha van Leer—All right, so this book has inspired me to rant. Which means this will be long. And will include spoilers. Consider yourselves warned. Okay, so this is the tale of a terribly selfish/self-centered 15 year old girl who discovers this beautiful fairy tale book in her school library which tells the story of a cowardly prince who goes on a quest to save a beautiful princess. She becomes obsessed with the book, reading it over and over until one day she notices a slight change in an illustration: a chessboard drawn in the sand on a beach. What? How could this happen? Well, I'll tell you: this is because the characters in the story, once the book has been closed, have a life that doesn't include the story. They may play chess, they may bake. There's a pirate who's a dentist. Whatever. You get the idea. When the book is opened, the characters are dragged back to their role in the story and are forced to perform it, like a play. This is not the part with which I have a problem. It's actually an interesting concept. Someone else should take a crack at writing it, though, because this story is a gigantic hot mess. Anyway, the girl, Delilah, and the oh-so-perfect handsome (British) prince, Oliver, discover that they are aware of one another, and that they can have real actual conversations, and that they have this deep instant connection because both of them grew up without a father. Here's the thing about that, though: It is stated that Oliver's father died the day Oliver was born, so he would have grown up never knowing his father. But later in the book it's stated that his storybook mother isn't really his mother—instead they're like two actors on a set who play mother and son, but aren't actually related. So why are we getting all precious about Oliver never knowing his fake father? But that's only part of it, because it is also stated that Delilah's father left five years prior when Delilah was 10. Delilah is now 15, so the majority of her life DELILAH WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO GROW UP WITH HER FATHER. Anyway, it turns out that Oliver doesn't want to be in the fairy tale anymore because he's bored with having to do the same thing over and over again, and doesn't actually love the princess he's forced to rescue and marry every time the story is read. He wants to go out into the real world where he can live a real life and be a real boy. Because he's so dreamy and perfect and wonderful, Delilah decides to help him by stealing a library book (like the librarian wouldn't be able to figure out who had the book, as Delilah was literally the only student to ever check it out, and then did so repeatedly) and completely blowing off her supposed best friend to spend time instead with a two dimensional (in more ways than one) fictional character. Together, Delilah and Oliver brainstorm different ideas to spring Oliver from the book. They do not work. At one point, Oliver is so desperate to at least be with Delilah that he has her painted into the story. This is when Delilah meets the mermaids. In the fairy tale, the mermaids are boy crazy. In the life outside of the story, they are not. They do not like men at all. Delilah calls them hard-core feminists. And now I must rant in all caps. JUST BECAUSE A MERMAID/WOMAN DISLIKES MEN, IT DOES NOT MAKE HER A FEMINIST, HARD-CORE OR OTHERWISE. A FEMINIST IS SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES IN EQUALITY FOR MEN AND WOMEN. IF ANYTHING, THE MERMAIDS ARE  MISANDRISTS. MISANDRISTS ARE PEOPLE/MERMAIDS WHO DESPISE OR ARE STRONGLY PREJUDICED AGAINST MEN. Sigh. Okay, so where was I? Right. Delilah's still trying to get Oliver out of the book because he's so dreamy and beautiful and she loves him and can't live without him. She apologies to the best friend and promises to be a better friend (which she does not do, by the way, in this book or the next) in order to get the friend to drive her four hours away to the town where the author of the fairy tale book lives. Her plan is to get the author to rewrite the ending to something where Oliver gets to live in the real world with Delilah. The author's like, uh, no, but please come in and spend the night. Hey, here's my (American) son, Edgar, who just happens to be Oliver's identical twin because I wrote the story for Edgar when he was a young boy, and so I imagined Edgar as a teenager and based the illustrations off that. Good thing it worked out, right! So Delilah tells Edgar her sad tale, and Edgar decides to swap places with Oliver, and the book ends with Oliver in the real world, preparing to take the place of Edgar, while Edgar is in the fairy tale preparing to change the story into some kind of space-based video game tale. All without, you know, mentioning this to EDGAR'S MOTHER who will never notice that her son is a suddenly polite British kid who has no idea what a sandwich is (but does, for some reason, know what a fire extinguisher is. Which is good for fire safety, I guess, but not so good for continuity.) By the way, there's no real explanation of how this is even possible. It just kind of happens. Off page. And keep in mind, that all of this in being told in rotating POVs that for some reason alternate between three different fonts in three different colors. (The third color's black.) Why? Especially the three different colors. Why? Did they run out of black ink at the printer or something? Did they think the readers would be so confused by the shifts in POV that it had better be differentiated by more than just the character's name at the top of each chapter? Why? There are some very nice illustrations in the story, though. Those I enjoyed. I know there are many people out in the world who did enjoy this novel, but overall, this book was not for me. You know, in case I hadn't made that clear.

Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer—Otherwise known as 'What Happens When Authors Write Fan Fiction For Their Own Stories.' This novel is the sequel to the book about which I just ranted. Yes, I read it because I have a horrible sickness to do these things, and also because I really wanted to know how the author (Jessamyn) didn't realize that her son had been replaced. And yes, I will rant some more. Unless I decide I'm just too tired from the first rant. But I probably won't do that. So, okay, at the beginning of this book, Oliver as Edgar (in his best American accent) has convinced his not-mother to move them to Delilah's town because their love is just so beautiful and pure and whatever, and the mother agrees because why not? Which, okay, is...whatever, but here's the thing: Oliver wants to get out of the fairy tale so badly so he can have choices about things, including the girl he's with. Then he gets out of the fairy tale, and he settles with the very first girl he meets. And can I just tell you, Oliver, I think you could probably do better. Delilah is the sort of character that makes you roll your eyes so damn often, you're surprised when they're still in your head by the end of the book. But sure. You two are special snowflakes. I'll go with it. So Oliver starts high school and is immediately popular and beloved by all cliches (yes, I know it should be 'cliques', I'm just making a point). He knows absolutely nothing about chemistry or math or how to use a locker, but fortunately they're reading Shakespeare in his English class. (Romeo and Juliet. Naturally.) And then, like, almost immediately, he's taking the SATs. Fine, you want me to suspend my disbelief about your special, perfect insta-love, okay. (Note: I have no real issue with insta-love when it's done well. It was not done well in this book.) But don't ask me to believe that a student can take the SATs without having registered for them ahead of time, and then spend the entire time filling in the little bubbles on the answer page in such a manner to create the most beautifully aesthetic design (he draws a dragon) and get a score of 1600. No. No. No. No. No. I write and read fantasy, and that SAT nonsense is probably the most unrealistic thing I've ever read in a book. (Well, okay, fine, that's not true, but I'm amped up and ranting, so for the purposes of this particular rant, yes it is.) I can tell you for a fact that drawing aesthetically pleasing designs in one's answer booklet does not get one a perfect score on the SATs. Plus, isn't there an essay portion? What did you do for that, Oliver? Okay, enough about the SAT travesty. Meanwhile, back in the fairy tale book/Space opera, no one likes Edgar's new story, and he's sad and hates it there and wants to leave, but that would mean Oliver would have to go back into the story. Then, for some reason, Delilah's woefully neglected best friend gets sucked into the story. Then she gets out again, but not before she and Edgar experience some insta-love of their own. Then it is discovered that Jessamyn is sick with a brain tumor that made her think her son was an impostor (which, of course he is, but it's nice that she actually had a brain tumor) and as she doesn't have long to live, it's decided that Oliver has to go back into the story so Edgar can be with his mother, so they switch places, and everyone's all sad, especially Delilah who's all, "I can't live without my boyfriend!" Ugh. Edgar and the best friend are sad because they can't be together because Edgar has to masquerade as Delilah's boyfriend because the entire high school thinks that Edgar is Delilah's boyfriend. Because they totally couldn't just stage a break-up. That would be ridiculous. But then, it's okay because Edgar decides that he and his mother will take the place of Oliver and his fairy tale mother because in the fairy tale, his mother would live forever. Oh Happy Day! And all the travel to and from the book is made possible by an overuse of Deus Ex Machina, and gets very repetitive and very dull. (Look! Another portal, just when we so badly needed one! Thank goodness we thought to look here!) So then Edgar and Jessamyn go into the book, and Oliver and his book-mother comes out, and Delilah and Oliver get to be together, and the book-mother bakes cupcakes, and everyone lives happily ever after. Except for Edgar and the best friend. But who cares, so long as the special snowflakes get to be together. Oh, also there's a needless subplot where the vapid princess from the first book is transported to the real world, and Delilah takes her shopping at Victoria's Secret because the princess has larger breasts than Delilah. It felt like it was added for the sole purpose of having Oliver be embarrassed by the concept of Victoria's Secret. Victoria's Secret is not the only place where one may purchase undergarments. And seriously, for a kid who is said to have not a lot of money, there are far cheaper places, too. Just saying. Also, stop it with the font color changes. Stop it, stop it, stop it. Another book that was not for me.


And on that note, I will also stop it, because that's the end of my list for this month. Tune in again next month when I will actually review some books that don't make me rant.

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This Mummy Hand Has Ceased To Be (An IWSG Post)

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time once again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I'm guessing most people coming by here today will be long familiar with the IWSG, but in the event that you're not, the IWSG's purpose is:

To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

(For more information, or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.)

And this month, for the very first time, I am one of the co-hosts. Thank you for the opportunity, IWSG gods!

Now on with the post...

Okay, so there's this episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in season six (episode four) called Life Serial, in which Buffy tries to figure out what she's going to do with her life. (Note: that is not the point of this post.)

At one point in the episode, she tries working in retail. A customer comes in wanting to buy a mummy hand (true story) for this spell she's working on. When Buffy attempts to fulfill this customer request, she suddenly finds herself in this seemingly never-ending time loop in which she is forced to contend with this (uncooperative) mummy hand over and over again in an attempt to satisfy the customer.



As you can possibly imagine, it doesn't go well. For example, once the mummy hand tries to strangle Buffy. Another time, the mummy hand attempts to strangle the customer. Buffy kills the mummy hand with a dagger (which is where the title of the post comes from, in case you wondered). Buffy chops off the mummy hand's fingers. Buffy tackles the customer, assuming she's the reason why this is happening.

At one point, Buffy's just doing this:



Which brings us to the actual point of this post: (you were beginning to think there wasn't one, weren't you?)

I am trapped in a terrible, vicious editing/revising time loop. My WIP is the uncooperative mummy hand, and I am simultaneously Buffy and the unhappy customer.

And it's my own fault, too. Every time I think I have successfully wrangled the mummy hand (I love this metaphor.), the damn thing manages to escape, or the customer complains, and I have to start all over again.

In non-mummy hand terms, this means that every time I think I have successfully completed my revisions and edits, I find something else that makes me unhappy, and I have to go back to the drawing board.

Now abandoning the metaphor completely for a moment...The beta readers are patiently waiting for the pages, but I'm having a hard time letting the manuscript go. I know the purpose of beta readers is for them to supply the author with feedback on what works and what doesn't work. And if there are story arcs (or anything else) within my manuscript that do not work, they will tell me.

But I don't want to send out something with which I'm not happy. I'm not sure I'm ever completely happy with anything I write (I have issues, I know.), but at the very least, I don't want to send out a story that's making me feel the way this WIP has been making me feel.

Which is to say, restless and edgy and overwhelmed with the sensation that something is just off—even if I cannot put an exact finger on what that something might be.

I feel that sending the story while feeling this way would be wasting my betas' valuable time, and I don't want to do that.

So I've gone a few extra rounds with the mummy hand, and I'm gearing up for one more. There's a story arc in the last third of the novel that I just don't think I've written well enough. This week and next, I intend to take another pass at it.

I think it may be the very last thing I need to do.

Of course, I have said that before.

Have you ever done battle with a mummy hand (either figuratively or literally)? Ever been trapped in an endless revision time loop? How did you break free?

That's all for me today—Thanks for stopping by!