Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Loves: My Parents

This is an obvious one, but talking about how much you love your mom and dad is never a bad thing.

Me and the kids spent last week at my parents house because the kids didn't have school. So I slept on a hard bed and didn't get my exercising done, and all around it would've been easier to spend the week at home. But we had a great week and I'm happy every time I go. My parents, my mom especially, are so good with the kids. My mom does "projects" with them, my dad takes them around in the Handi-Bus, we watch movies and play a ton of games. My kids love going to Grandma's and I'm so grateful that my parents live close enough (3hrs away) that we can go often.

So big love to my wonderful parents, I'm so grateful to have them in my life.

Monday, February 22, 2016


I've decided to cut back my blog posts a bit. Blogging at the YA-NA Sisterhood, Meryton Press, and Austen Variations, plus three times a week here on my own blog, has all got to be a bit much for me. Frankly, I don't have that much to say. I'm still going to do my MONDAY READS, WEDNESDAY WRITES, and FRIDAY LOVES posts, but I'm going to alternate M,F, then W. 

The one teensy problem with this is my MONDAY READS post will feature more than one book, and I have a hard time remembering my feelings on the book(s) I read a couple of weeks ago. 

Such as MONSTROUS by MarcyKate Connolly. MarcyKate and I were in the same Writer's Voice contest a few years ago- her with MONSTROUS, and me with my YA time-travel DAZE AND KNIGHTS. I've wanted to read MONSTROUS ever since and it didn't disappoint. I had a lot of thoughts about this book and wish I knew someone who could discuss it with me. For one, I'm pretty sure the author changed it from YA to MG, but it still felt very YA to me. It makes me wonder what and how much she changed to make it so. I could see the twist coming from the start and wanted the MC to get there a bit faster- I wonder if this is what made it a bit more MG? Not sure. The book is lighter on the dialogue, which isn't my favorite thing, but the writing is beautiful and interesting and the voice kept me turning pages to the end. A great read.

The next book I read was SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo. I had no idea this book was going to take place in the same world as the GRISHA trilogy. I pretty much just picked it up because it's by Leigh Bardugo. I loved that it's the same world, but I had a hard time getting into the book. It wasn't until around 100 pages in that I really started loving it. There's a big cast of characters, and the author does a really good job of not info-dumping their backstories at the start. Because of that, I didn't really care about them though. I didn't know much about any of them other than they're all criminals. Once I hit 100 pages, I couldn't put it down, and I loved loved loved the rest and wish I had the sequel in my hands yesterday.

The third book I read was PROM & PREJUDICE by Elizabeth Eulberg. This was a fun and quick read. It's a modern take on PRIDE & PREJUDICE (obvs) and I loved the whole ritzy prep school feel to the book and the way the author made the story her own. My only complaint was some of the dialogue felt a bit forced- it was too similar to the original P&P, which to me didn't match how teens talk these days, fancy prep school or not. But it was a fun book and as soon as I finished it (in two days), my 12-year-old daughter read it even quicker and she loved it too.

So it was a pretty great couple weeks of reading. I might nitpick at books sometimes, but that usually doesn't lessen my overall enjoyment of a book. All of these books were 4-stars for me or higher.

What have you read lately?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday Writes: An Interview with Barbara Meyers

Last week I read FANTASY MAN by Barbara Meyers, a fellow Samhain author. This week I'm pleased to feature an interview with her!

Someone just gave you the best compliment ever.  What was it?

My son has told me several times in the past couple of years that he thinks I look younger than I am. I’m at an age where that is definitely a compliment. I do not, however, get carded.
You have no choice but to live your life from now on as one of your characters.  Which character is it and why?

Easy question. Quinn Fontana from FANTASY MAN.  I think I identify with her in that she was overly protected by her family and every bit of spontaneity she had got squashed by their concerns for her safety. So when she’s finally free of them, she goes a bit overboard. She understands their behavior but wishes she’d rebelled against it a bit sooner and stood up for herself. Plus, Reif is just delightful as a security consultant who can protect her from everything except himself.

You can never write another work of fiction.  What will you do instead?

I’d become as actively charitable as I like to think I am in my heart. I’d come out of my writing hidey hole and volunteer and get involved in my community. I’d go read to little kids and become a hospice volunteer.

You get a month off from your regular personal life and writing routine.  You can spend it doing which of the following?  Feel free to elaborate.
Other (fill in the blank)

Well, it wouldn’t be cooking, I can tell you that. Or sleeping. I’ve heard you can sleep when you’re dead. I’d travel. I’ve only got a month so I wouldn’t go anywhere exotic, but I’d go visit my mother, brother and cousins in Missouri and my friends in Illinois and my daughter in New Hampshire. When I got back to home I’d trek down to south Florida and over to the east coast to see my friends and my son. (Plus, you can combine reading and traveling.)

You get one do-over from your life so far.  What is it?

I’d go to college after high school. I think that’s an experience I would have benefited from and I always wish I had a degree.

Optional:  Name one person who has either influenced you the most or you learned the most from and why.

My dad. He was a wonderful storyteller. He always had words of wisdom or a pithy saying he’d picked up and he would repeat it when the occasion called for it. I remember them all and my everyday language is peppered with his words. He read a lot. That’s one thing I remember from my childhood. We didn’t have a lot of money but there were books because he brought them into the house. Reader’s Digest Condensed Books? I devoured those. 

Here's a bit more about the author:

Barista by day, romance novelist by night:  When not writing fiction, Dr. Seuss-like poetry (for adults) or song lyrics, Barbara Meyers disguises herself behind a green apron and works part-time for a world-wide coffee company. Her novels are a mix of comedy, suspense and spice and often feature a displaced child.

Barbara is still married to her first husband, has two fantastic children and one almost perfect dog.  Originally from Southwest Missouri, (she blames her roots in the Show Me state for her somewhat skeptical nature) she currently resides in Central Florida.

You can find her on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter @barbmeyers and on Pinterest.

You can buy FANTASY MAN at Samhain's website, on AmazonB&NKobo, and iTunes. You can also find it on Goodreads. 

Friday, February 12, 2016


I think it was my mom who introduced me to Downton Abbey in the first place (my mom is good like that). I've loved and hated this show every season. Actually, that's not true- I've loved the show, but hated some of the characters. I remember after the first season feeling like most of the characters were just awful. Or being hugely disappointed when [SPOILER ALERT] both Sybil and Matthew died- two of the best (as in GOOD) people on the show. But I've been hooked on it from the start- the drama, the fighting, the loving, the scheming, the costumes. All of it. This has been one of my favorite shows and I'm bummed it's come to an end.

I wasn't disappointed by the last season though. It was definitely a lot tamer than previous seasons, probably because everything had to be wrapped up for the finale. But it was nice to see the drama a little less... dramatic. And to see the characters finally get their happy endings. Without giving any spoilers away (because some of you might still be watching it on TV), everything wrapped up very nicely. It was the perfect way to end the series.

What I find really fascinating about this show is how I really didn't like a lot of the characters, and yet I kept watching, and kept rooting for them. Mary, for example. UGH. She's such a snobby, vain jerk most of the time. One of the last episodes I really wanted to punch her in the face for being so mean, and yet when she cried, I cried. Same with Barrow. He spent almost five seasons manipulating people and being all around despicable, but I felt sorry for him many times, I wanted to see him get his happy ending because then maybe it would've made him a better person. Obviously the writers did a great job on these characters because despite their many mistakes or downright awfulness, I still rooted for them.

I'll miss this show. I already want to go back and watch from the beginning... but I'll wait a year or two at least. ;)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Reads: FANTASY MAN

This past week I was privileged to read another Samhain book, and this one by Barbara Meyers. The book was FANTASY MAN and here's the blurb:

Quinn Fontana never thought witnessing two murders would lead to her first taste of freedom. But when her overprotective brother puts her on a plane for L.A. to hide until it s time to testify, she can t stop the shiver of anticipation.

If her life is going to be cut short, she plans to live it to the fullest. And that includes seducing her intended protector her brother s best friend and star of her private fantasies.

When security consultant Reif Callaghan awakens after a rowdy night out with his coworkers to find a warm, willing woman in his bed, he s almost past the point of no return when he realizes it s Quinn. And he s come way too close to debauching his best friend s little sister.

Her enticing offer one night, no holding back, no regrets is a temptation he can t resist. Until he realizes she s been hiding a piece of vital information that could cost not only their one chance to turn fantasy into reality, but their lives.

Fantasy Man was a super quick and fun read that kept me turning pages when I should've been doing other stuff! Reif was my favorite type of hero- a good guy with old fashioned values, but still tough and sexy. But Quinn really made this book for me. She was so outspoken (without always being snarky, which gets annoying after awhile IMO), and knew exactly what she wanted and went about getting it. She was often fearless- the kind of character I love to read because I'm not like that at all. The tension slowly built the first half, then went crazy the second- I couldn't put it down. I also really loved the antagonist and his ferrets- Meyers did a great job, no one-dimensional villains here. In all a great read, a definite recommend for romance lovers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday Writes: Learning From Reviews

I've learned a couple of things lately, and from my reviews no less.

First, I'd always heard the advice DON'T READ YOUR REVIEWS. Because you're going to get some bad ones no matter what, and they won't help you whatsoever.

Well, maybe I shouldn't have, but I've been ignoring this advice. I can imagine when I have a few books out my reviews won't matter quite so much. But with one book only, I'm a bit obsessed with checking the ratings and reviews on Goodreads. I know, I know, I shouldn't. BUT. Here's what I've learned: they actually don't bother me much. I've had a few negative ones, but so far I've just laughed, shrugged my shoulders, and moved on. I honestly didn't think they'd roll off me like this. Maybe it's because I've gotten used to rejection (hello, querying). Maybe because I know that there isn't ONE book out there that everyone loves. There's always someone who won't like it. So I expected that with SWAY.

I won't be surprised, however, if a day comes where a bad review hits me hard. Maybe because I'm tired, or having a crappy day, or feeling down about my writing already. I know I should be a little less diligent about checking my Goodreads ratings. But I also know that I can handle the tougher reviews. So go me for that!

The other thing I've learned from my reviews, and this is more writing related, is that romance readers DO NOT LIKE 1st person, 1 POV. Something I've heard in my reviews more than once is that people were disappointed because SWAY is told in Ava's POV only, with no Eric. Interesting. I never considered writing it any other way. But I see now, as I write the companion novel to SWAY with 2 POV's, why people would like to get inside the head of BOTH hero and heroine. So if you're a romance writer, keep that in mind.

Do you read your reviews or ignore them completely?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Reads: WINTER and JACKABY

I spent Friday gushing about WINTER and the entire Lunar Chronicles, so I won't do that again today. They're great books, read them, end of story.

The other book I read over the weekend, was JACKABY by William Ritter. This book is pitched as SHERLOCK meets DOCTOR WHO. Of course, as soon as I heard that, the book went straight on my TBR. Here's the blurb:
Love the cover!

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

I felt this was a lot more Sherlock than Doctor Who (where was the Doctor Who, anyway? the supernatural parts? the fact that it was a girl following around a very smart boy?). The story was lots of fun and an easy read. I loved the time period. I loved Abigail and the fact that she not only wanted adventure, but sought it out. But when things got really scary, she acted in a totally believable way. I also loved Jackaby- who was very Sherlockian. The book moved at a fast pace- I think there was only one chapter that felt slow to me, otherwise it was page-turning. The one thing I have to mention is, I usually don't see things coming- I'm not a great guesser or realize twists early on. But with this book, I knew who the murderer was halfway through, which was a bit of a disappointment to me because I want to be surprised. I'd rather that over the satisfaction of knowing and being right. That's my only complaint of the book- otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you like historical, mysteries, or Sherlock- definitely pick this one up.