Book Reviews, Books

Time out for reading!

As you may know—since I said it on Facebook, this blog, and in my April newsletter—I’m in the midst of a hiatus from writing. That’s difficult for me because I’m used to working on something nearly every day, so I wander around looking lost. I vowed to get caught up on housework, and I do have nice shiny windows—inside and out—now, but it doesn’t take much to distract me from cleaning.

Reading is an infinitely more interesting way I’ve been occupying my time. Like many of you, I have an out of control “pile” of books I want to read. The two I’ve read so far during this break, have been on my Kindle for so long they’ve spawned sequels which I’m now anxious to read.

BREAKAWAY_TINY_WEBFirst, I read The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle. I’d read other works by Michelle: Cinders, True Colors, and Monarch, so I knew her writing would please me. The Breakaway was no exception. It’s aptly described as contemporary suspense and it’s categorized as mature YA – New Adult, but I’m well past that age and loved it.

When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she’s missing. Escape isn’t high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she’s part of a family—even if it is a family of criminals. But she’s still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she’s falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn’t sure she wants to take it.

Dance on Fire, FINAL, Kindle sizeThe second book I read is Dance on Fire by James Garcia, Jr. When I first heard this book was a Christian vampire story, I thought hunh? What it turns out to be is an excellently told vampire story centered around a family that happens to be devoutly Christian. And that works out very well because one of these vampires desperately desires hope that he’s not eternally damned.

Two Kingsburg police officers have been butchered in an attack as ferocious as it is mystifying. Now two detectives and their families are being drawn into a battle that threatens to destroy them and those around them. In a marriage of horror and Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the fictional account of characters drawn into the fire by supernatural forces.

I’m a slow reader, but now I’m halfway through another book. And many others have been patiently waiting their turn, so I’ll probably have more book recommendations before my hiatus ends. And next week, I’ll have my first ever guest blogger, so stay tuned for that.

elle

Marketing, My Books, Writing

A new bloom on an old rose

Those of you who read my blog only in a reader or by email, will have to come online to see the preview of my brand new luscious book cover for The Brevity of Roses. In about a week, when I approve the new cover for print and ebook distribution, I’ll change the cover image here and other places online. For now, you can only view it in, and from, this post.

Michelle Davidson Argyle is the designer of my gorgeous new cover. She’s the author of Cinders, Monarch, and True Colors, and has a new novel coming out in May. She’s also a professional photographer. As I said in a previous post, I was already primed when she suggested Brevity would sell better with a new cover, I just hadn’t decided what to do about it. She offered a solution, and I couldn’t be happier I took her up on it.

As we discussed in the comments of my previous post, a book cover is usually the first thing you see, so it has a big job to do. When viewed online, where my book is sold exclusively, the cover needs to not only catch your eye, but tell you the genre and tone. In the span of one glance, it has to shout, “Hey, this is the book you’re looking for. Check it out.”

The word that comes to mind when I see this cover is tender. I love that because Brevity is a tender love story. I have to tell you, I never thought I’d allow pink on the cover, but after trying other font colors, it was clear that pink added the perfect pop. This cover tells me the story inside is everything these new back cover blurbs say it is.

Told in gorgeous, poetic tones, The Brevity of Roses will take you on a journey delving into three unique characters as delicate and beautiful as a rose itself. Lewis’ rich understanding of relationships is phenomenal.”  – Michelle Davidson Argyle, author of Monarch

“Grief, discovery, anguish, pleasure, rejection, acceptance, atonement, forgiveness—the rhythmic odes of marriage, friendship, family. A fine debut novel that reaches deep into a poet’s beating heart, lays it open, vulnerable to the bitter betrayals, and the joyful loyalties, of this thing we call Love.” – Kathryn Magendie, author of “the Graces Sagas,” Sweetie and Petey, publishing editor of Rose & Thorn.

Please do Michelle and I the honor of clicking on these images to see larger versions:

 

 

Doubt, Dream, Goals, Reflections, Writing

This writer is looking forward

Looking back at my life during the past year, I can see losses and gains, but I can’t yet judge the long-term effects. Every year at this time, psychics make predictions for the coming year. I have no such gift. I can only make resolutions, affirming to myself and all, my intent for the future.

New beginnings are hopeful. This year I’m excited about opportunities to advance in my writing and publishing career. One change I hope to make that will affect not only my writing, but my life in general is obtaining—and maintaining—a balance.

In 2011, I neglected not only the usual housework, but gardening as well. I don’t think my roses will survive another year of the same kind of neglect. In general, I spent too much time in my cave. Since my 2012 plans include publishing one book and writing another, it’s imperative that I improve my time management.

This doesn’t mean I’m creating spreadsheets, but it does mean I’ll be working to conquer my habit of letting doubt (fear) derail my writing. In 2011, I probably wasted a good 30% of my writing time hand-tied by indecision. I vow not to let that happen in this next year. I will boldly write what no woman has written before.

In her recent blog post When You Allow Others to Decide Your Dreams, Michelle Davidson Argyle said:

“Nobody’s goals and rules are ever going to match up to my own on the unique path I’m on. Even if I met all those goals I see floating around online on so many blogs and Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds, I still wouldn’t be happy because I would not have met the deepest desires of my own heart …”

And this:

“I think we authors often forget what we really want. I think we often delude ourselves into thinking we want what everyone else wants, and it’s creating this insane sense of urgency in our heads. We pump out our work faster and harder and less carefully than we would otherwise. We feel pressured, more than anything else, to meet certain criteria, follow the lists and rules and advice others post, and it hurts us deeply when we can’t meet that criteria at breakneck speed. For me, at least, this urgency transformed itself into an energy-sucking, emotionally-draining need.

Until I realized that for me it was an illusion and unnecessary.”

Michelle expressed my dilemma. My lack of self-confidence leads me to compare everything I do to what other writers do, seeking a stamp of approval. At best, that works only temporarily. Sooner or later, doing what others did leads to frustration, doubt, fear because their plan, their path, their dream doesn’t “fit” me.

Let me toast to the New Year. New beginnings. New opportunities. Another chance to get it right.

In 2012, I vow to follow MY dreams. What about you?

Inspiration, Writing

Bloggers who inspire and help keep me sane

I’m astounded when I think how many people have come into my life the last three years through blogging. Only twice, since my school days, have I had a “social circle”. The first developed when I joined a church. That lasted twelve years. For several years after that, I retained a couple of church friends, and then we drifted apart.

A circle of virtual friends

In 1988, I moved 2,000 miles away from my birthplace to California. I knew no one here, and since I didn’t work outside the home, I met very few people. My growing family sufficed as a social circle. Fast-forward twenty years. I decided to take fiction writing seriously, and soon realized I needed the company of other writers.

That was the beginning of a new social circle, though for the most part, it’s become a virtual circle. I started this blog five months after I started my new life as a writer. I’ve met many wonderful people, mostly writers and poets, through blogging. I can’t imagine making it this far without them.

If you scroll down, over there on the right side of this page you’ll find links to some of the bloggers who’ve entertained, inspired, and taught me. At various times, most of them have kept me company on this blog. Some have helped me through numerous private emails. A few are writers I’ve met in real life. You would do well to visit their blogs.

I said in my last post that I would mention a few who recently lifted me from my despair and inspired me to come clean about why I self-published. So here goes:

  • Michelle Davidson Argyle is open and honest about her struggles as a writer in both her public and private blogs. Many times, I’ve read her posts and marveled that her thoughts and feelings mirrored mine. With her post on failure, she inspired me to change my attitude about my self-publishing venture.
  • Cristina Trapani Scott has inspired me many times, but recently she wrote a post about words as food that woke me up to how malnourished I’d become. Recalling the days when writing sustained my soul, I felt starved. Her post pointed out not so much a needed change in attitude, but a change in focus.
  • Jessica Luton is new to blogging, but she’s long been an inspiration on Twitter and Facebook. Recently she wrote a post about opening ourselves to abundance. It was another reminder that my attitude needed changing.
  • Chris King wrote a post about aging and how to find more joy and energy. Since all the stress in my life had certainly made me feel I’d aged rapidly, I appreciated her post. Again, it pointed out the need for a change in attitude.

These are not the only bloggers or posts that inspired me this year. I hesitated to make this list, knowing I would leave out important ones, so know that these are only a few of those most crucial to my renaissance. I hope you enjoy them.


Photo credit: showbizsuperstar

Book Reviews, Fiction, My Books, Short story, Writing

Tuesday Tales, Titles, and a Thriller

Since I’m in the middle of a read-a-thon, I have books on the brain. I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks yesterday afternoon and immediately started The Help, but today, I’ll put down the books and go to the movies with my husband. We’re seeing Contagion, if you’re interested.

Speaking of books, I’ve made a final decision on which one I’ll publish next. It will be a short story collection. I hope, before too long, to whip into shape the stories I’ve written so far, plus the one I’m working on now, and the one I plan to write next. They make an eclectic grouping, so I made a list of appropriate book titles, but then searched Amazon and found out most of them have already been used … some more than once. I’m sure something will come to me when it’s time.

Speaking of books again, if you’re looking for a thriller with a heart, check out Monarch, a new release by Michelle Davidson Argyle. This is the blurb:

Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…

I rarely read thrillers, but I’m glad I read Monarch. My fear that the CIA agent storyline would bore me and possibly be hard to follow was groundless. The characters were well fleshed out, warts and all. The author deftly entwined the action story with a love story, switching back and forth, without any confusion and the breaks were just long enough to build the tension, but not make me want to skip anything to get back to the other story. I found both stories satisfying. As a bonus, I learned a bit about Monarch butterflies. 🙂

Find out more on Michelle’s blog, including a list of giveaways you can enter to win a copy: MONARCH giveaways!