Friday, January 29, 2016


I probably shouldn't talk about books on Friday when I'm going to turn around and do it again on Monday. But I can't help but proclaim my love for THE LUNAR CHRONICLES by Marissa Meyer.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about:

I'm not much of a sci-fi girl. I don't mind it, but it's not my favorite. I'll read them if they come highly recommended, or if the premise is super intriguing, or both. Usually both. That's what happened with CINDER. There was a lot of positive talk around it, and it's a Cinderella retelling, so I was willing to give it a try.

I'M SO GLAD I DID. These books are crazy good. I have mildly less love for SCARLET (book 2) but I'm starting to wonder if I was going through a book slump when I read it because both CRESS and WINTER (books 3 and 4) are AMAZING.

Some of the things I love: how each sort of focuses on a different character/fairytale retelling but still also focuses on the whole. (In case you don't know, SCARLET is Red Riding Hood, CRESS is Rapunzel, and WINTER is Snow White.) Meyer did this especially well in the last book. There was so much going on, and it was a long book, but it never felt like a long book, or drug out, or unnecessary. Everything that happened was important and exciting. I love how each female character had their strengths and their weaknesses. I love how each female character had their hero- also with strenghts and weaknesses, but how they complimented each other well, played off each other. The relationships are just SO GOOD. And of course the world-building. The story-telling. The dialogue. Augh, I could gush about these books forever.

And let's not forget my personal favorite: Thorne. If I was Cress, I'd be daydreaming about him too. Someone, please make a movie of these books. But DO THEM JUSTICE if you're going to.

If you haven't picked up these books, DO. NOW. GO.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Reads: OF NEPTUNE

I pretty much asked for books this past Christmas. One of them was OF NEPTUNE by Anna Banks, the last in her OF POSEIDON trilogy. It had been a really long time since I read both OF POSEIDON and OF TRITON, so I didn't quite remember everything that I needed to. But I quickly caught on to the important stuff. Here's the blurb:

Emma, who is half human and half Syrena, and her Syrena love, Galen, need time together. Alone. Away from the kingdoms of Poseidon and Triton. Emma’s grandfather, the Poseidon king, suggests the two visit a small town called Neptune.

Neptune is home to both Syrena and Half-Breeds alike. But Emma and Galen didn’t sign up to be peacemakers between the ocean-living Syrena and the land-dwelling, freshwater counterparts. They didn’t bargain for meeting a charming Half-Breed named Reed, who can barely disguise his feelings for Emma. And they especially didn’t expect to find themselves in the middle of a power struggle that threatens not only their love, but their ocean kingdoms.

This trilogy, in the loosest sense, are mermaid books. But they're a lot more than that. The best part about them to me, is the romance. The relationship between Galen and Emma is what really gets me through all three books. The books are told in first person POV for Emma, and third person for Galen. The switch-up was a little weird to me sometimes, but I loved Emma's voice because it was fun and engaging. The book had a little bit of a repetitive feel within this last book (I can't say why without giving spoilers), but in all, I was satisfied with the end of the trilogy. They're definitely books I'm going to recommend to my daughter next.

What did you read this week?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Loves: Chill-Out Songs

I did a radio interview this past week. Leading up to it, I found it easiest to just not think about it. Because when I did: FREAK OUT.
(This is me right now with my book launch/signing coming up this Saturday.) 

I was worried about so many things. Saying something stupid. Saying "um" and "like" and "yeah" a lot. (I tend to end my sentences with, "so yeah.") Not knowing the answer to the question. Saying something that's just plain wrong. Forgetting my own name or the title of the book. Barfing. Okay, not that last one, but I did feel slightly sick to my stomach on the drive there.

My cure: a chill-out song. The entire drive to the radio station (which was about twenty minutes) I had this song on loop:

This song relaxes me. As soon as it comes on, I'm singing along, my shoulders swaying, and all the stress and anxiety magically melts away. Of course, as soon as I parked and turned it off, BAM. Anxiety-city. But that's okay because the interview went well and now I know I can do it (yay me!). But I'm thankful for chill-out songs like BUDAPEST that help take the worries away, at least for a little while.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday Writes: THINKING and DOUBTING

Ever get notes back from a CP, or maybe even your agent or editor, and think HOW DO I FIX THIS? They tell you what's not working, which is GREAT because that's exactly what you want. But then you wrack your brain trying to figure out how to make it work.

That was me last week. I knew my MS needed work. (They always do.) And all my CP's comments made perfect sense. But for a couple of days I was completely blank on how to fix the problems. Said blankness led to frustration, then despair, a lot of in-my-head sobbing, denial, the feeling of being the worst writer in the world... and then once I got through all that, it was: okay Melanie. THINK. And I did. I ran questions through my mind, I looked at different angles, I went back to the basics and figured out what each of my characters wanted and then tried to figure out what they would DO to get it.

Seems obvious, but this is pretty much the process I go through every time I get critique back. I finally got started on the actual revisions, and I have a vision of how to fix the problem, which is good. The bad thing is there's still that niggling voice of doubt in the back of my mind that's saying: maybe this isn't helping at all. Maybe you're not really doing anything. Or maybe you're fixing one problem only to be causing another.

Isn't being a writer GRAND?

Monday, January 18, 2016


I had a slow reading week, only one book and it was an anthology. Yep, I finally got around to reading THEN COMES WINTER- the anthology that has a story by yours truly in it.

THEN COMES WINTER is a book of holiday romance stories, a lot of them Austenesque. Some are modern (like mine) and some are regency. Five of six of Austen's novels are represented- PRIDE & PREJUDICE, SENSE & SENSIBILITY, PERSUASION, NORTHANGER ABBEY, and MANSFIELD PARK. P&P was the most represented, no surprise.

If you're a Jane Austen fan, definitely pick this one up. Or if you just want some stories to cozy up with this winter, also a good pick. It was interesting to see the different directions that each of the authors chose to take the theme. My fave (which maybe I shouldn't admit, and no, it's not mine) was DELIVERY BOY by Suzan Lauder. I couldn't even tell you why it's my favorite, I just found myself smiling through every page.The whole book was a fun read and made me want to do a Jane Austen marathon as soon as I finished.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Loves: Alan Rickman

We lost a great actor yesterday and this makes me extremely sad. It was wonderful to see all the tributes and tweets and shares about him all over the internet- showcasing his different and beloved roles in pictures, gifs, and articles.

I first saw Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. How I loved to hate him!

"I'll cut your heart out with a spoon!"

Then came Sense & Sensibility. His voice is so lovely as he reads the poem to Marianne near the end.

"And all the better for her."

And of course, my favorite of all- Professor Snape in Harry Potter. So hateful, yet when we find out his tragic backstory, we just want to love him. Or at least feel sorry for him.

"After all this time?" "Always."

Alan Rickman, you'll be missed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Writes: Getting Lost in Marketing

I've heard from countless authors before me about how they reached a point where they realized the whole writing aspect of writing had gotten lost. They were too busy promoting themselves, answering emails, checking sales numbers, doing guest blog posts, and maybe even appearances.

Suddenly, I'm starting to understand this. Not that I didn't get it before, but I'm living it now. Over the holidays, I had time off from writing while my latest manuscript was with my CPs, so I didn't feel guilty about taking the time to organize SWAY's blog tour, write guest posts, read a lot, and figure out my next steps marketing steps. But last weekend I got notes back from two out of three CPs and planned to start my revision on Monday. I have a deadline after all. A DEADLINE. But both Monday and Tuesday I did NOTHING.

Nothing for revisions, I mean. I had errands to run, a house to clean, exercising to do (I'm trying to get back into it). I went to Writer's Group, did an over-the-phone interview, wrote up another guest post, did a lot of social media-ing. It was a list of a bunch of tiny things that ended up taking ALL my time. I realize now how easy (scary easy) it is to get distracted from the ACTUAL WRITING with everything else.

I think the really scary part is that all of this extra stuff is necessary. I wasn't wasting time. I guess I don't have to promote my book, but I HAVE to promote my book. Otherwise why get published at all? But I know that I need to start managing my time better, otherwise I will never get my revisions done by my deadline, and the thought of that isn't scary- it's HORRIFYING.

I don't have any advice because I'm so new to this all. Anyone out there come up with a plan on how to manage both writing and marketing at the same time? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 11, 2016


I read two very different but both awesome books this past week. The first one was WHAT A GIRL WANTS by fellow Samhain author Selena Robins.

Here's the blurb: She’s got the moxie. He’s got the sexy.

Travel journalist Maddie Saunders has new attitude, and wants two new accessories to go with it. One, turn her fantasies into reality with Mr. Sex-On-Legs—her friend, Alex Donovan. And two, find her biological father to see if her gene pool has a deep end. She never expected fulfilling both wishes would take her life down a drastically different path.

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.” 

Alex, an investigative reporter, grits his teeth when he accepts a joint assignment to Hawaii with Maddie. He’s vowed to never get involved with any woman he can’t walk away from. Maddie falls under the heading of “Look, but don’t touch”. Trouble is, she excels at giving him a hard time—in more ways than one.
He manages to fend off her guerilla seduction tactics until a bone-melting kiss throws his resolve into the ocean. Complicated? Absolutely. Especially when he discovers the real reason they were sent to the island… 

This was such a fun read and made me wish I was on the beaches of Hawaii instead of chilly Alberta. Maddie was strong and feisty, totally hilarious too, but with a vulnerable side, and Alex was a super hot love interest. The story was more than just about their relationship, which I loved- Maddie's past and all the secrets and family drama were fun to discover. I also loved how the end wasn't too easy. My favorite thing about the book was the dialogue. It was so quick and funny and sharp- the best kind! This book was fun.

The next book was LION HEART by A.C. Gaughen, the third book in the SCARLET trilogy. In case you haven't read SCARLET, it's a Robin Hood variation with a female MC. I love these books something fierce, and this last one was just as good. It could have maybe used a bit more action, but it kept me reading late into the night. The whole trilogy wrapped up perfectly. A definite must read for Robin Hood fans.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday Loves: POLDARK

I heard a lot of buzz on Twitter about a show called Poldark. Basically what I gleaned is that it's a period drama, it stars Aidan Turner (AKA: Kili the Dwarf from The Hobbit), and that people liked it. Personally, that was enough for me to give it a try.

I'm so glad I did. I LOVE THIS SHOW. Granted, I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to period dramas. But this is an excellent show. The acting is stellar, the setting and costumes- beautiful, the characters fleshed out. I'm not big on the Warleggan's- right now they just seem bad for the sake of needing bad guys, so I really hope if they do a second season (which I'm pretty sure they are) that they give these characters more of a backstory.

Aidan Turner is a swoon-worthy hero, in both looks and his character. I'm a little surprised about this because I didn't notice it during the Hobbit movies, even with his elf/dwarf love story. But I believe his shirtless scythe scene was one of the top moments of TV in 2015 or something like that. (LOL)

The best part of this show to me though is Demelza. Eleanor Tomlinson does such an amazing job playing Demelza. Even the small things she does that aren't that noticeable but clearly show Demelza's upbringing compared to Ross's are just brilliant. She really makes the show for me. I haven't finished the first season yet so there will be heck to pay if they do something to her by the end of the season. *no spoilers please*

I'm warning you writers, Demelza BELONGS on the show...

Have you watched POLDARK and what do you think of it? If not, definitely check out this show if you like period dramas.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday Writes: A Whirlwind Few Weeks

The last few weeks have been crazy around here. Not only was it Christmas and New Years, but my book released right in between the two. So there's been lots of food eating, celebrating, spending time with family, staying up late, and trying not to obsess- and that was just Christmas Eve. ;) There's also been lots of time spent on social media. So much that I'm starting to get a little sick of myself, to be honest.

But that won't stop me from continuing #31DaysofSWAY, which is where I mention and link a song from SWAY's playlist on Facebook or Twitter. Yesterday was fun because instead of posting a YouTube link, I played the song myself! Since there was only me, and I have no clue how to edit videos on my phone, it took many takes to get it right, and even then I made a lot of mistakes in the song. Not to mention my "hope you're having a great day" at the end of the video. Honestly.

Anyway, you can check out the video on Facebook and see me attempt to play a piano piece as well as my main character Ava would.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Reads: A YA Contemp, a YA Sci-fi, and a Pride & Prejudice Variation

It's been awhile since I've done a Monday Reads post, so I've got three books read belt since the last one.

First off, THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord. I loved Lord's first book, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, and I had big expectations for her second book. It totally lived up. It was a great story of friendship, getting over loss, love, and figuring out who you are. There were a few times when I felt there was a lot of inner dialogue that I didn't need, but otherwise, the book was lovely. It made me wish I'd lived in one place long enough to have the kind of steady and unbreakable friendships that the MC had.

Second was ALIAS THOMAS BENNET by Suzan Lauder. Suzan is a fellow author in the THEN COMES WINTER anthology. ALIAS THOMAS BENNET is a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE variation, something I'd never read before- I've read a lot of retellings, but no variations. It was fun to see the what-if: What if Mr. Bennet was a better father and husband? The language was on point- it felt like I was reading Austen herself. Until it came to some racy scenes which were a bit jarring for me personally because I just wasn't used to seeing Darcy and Elizabeth getting it on. There was also a rape in the very first chapter- because it was so soon and I didn't really know what was going on yet- I really worried that it was only there for shock value. But the author proved otherwise as I read on, so if that puts you off, don't let it stop you from reading to the end. I really enjoyed the book and it was a fun read.

Book three: THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. TSW is the sequel to THESE BROKEN STARS, which I LOVED like crazy. Usually I don't like sequels as much as the first book, but I LOVED TSW just as much. I'm not even that big of a sci-fi fan, but these books are amazing and I hate that I have to wait awhile for book 3.

So that's what I read over the Christmas holidays. In total, I only read 62 books in 2015, which is over twenty less than I usually read. But that's okay. I swore to myself that I wouldn't go crazy trying to meet a reading goal and not enjoying the books in the process. Here's to the same kind of goal in 2016.

Friday, January 1, 2016

31 Days of SWAY

Music was a huge part in the making of SWAY. Ava, the main character, is a pianist who graduated with a Master's from Juilliard, and her ex, Eric, is a Michael Buble-esque crooner. I mention music a lot through the book, including two "original" songs. (I bunny-ear original because the words are mostly Jane Austen's words but with my adaptation.)

SWAY has a playlist of forty songs, all but seven actually mentioned in the manuscript. So I decided to do a little thing called #31DaysofSWAY. I'm going to post songs from the playlist on Twitter and Facebook with just a bit of why they were important (if I have the space in 140 characters) during the month of January. I always love to share, tweet, and talk about music because it's such an important part of my life. So if you're ever on Twitter, click on a song or two and take a listen to the music that helped shape this novel.

#31DaysofSWAY starts today with Bach's "Air on the G String." This song happens when Ava and Eric first meet.