Thursday, July 31, 2014

Winner Announced


Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! I have the winner of the book pack for you all today! I'm not gonna blab on and on, so here it is!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to the winner! You take home these books:





 

Check out the reviews for these books here on the blog:
Sanctuary
Falling for Autumn
Sir Edric's Temple
The Bestiarum Vocabulum
Chasing Shadows

I've contacted the winner already. I hope she's super happy about this great book pack.

Tomorrow, we're back to the grind!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Unofficial UtopYA Con 2015 Author Interviews to Start Soon

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I'm just taking a moment today to let you all know about the upcoming author interviews that'll take place here on the blog. Like last time, I'll have authors who intend to be at the next UtopYA Con on the blog, so you can take a moment and get to know a little about them. Get your tickets and find out more about the con here. Next year's theme is time travel, and promises to be a cool experience. You can see from the poster, the con has been extended to four full days of awesomesauce, too! While I've made a page here on the blog for the dates of the interviews leading up to the con, I'm gonna give them to you now:

Susan Burdorf - August 25
Kelly Martin - September 8
Liz Long - September 22
BJ Sheldon - October 6
Christina Mercer - October 20
Sharon Rose Mayes - November 3
Kelly Risser - November 17
Devyn Dawson - December 1

Break! Merry Christmas! This will be my 12 Days of Christmas event on the blog. Very fun!

Casey L. Bond - December 29
Casey Peeler - January 12
Rachael Brownell - January 26
Kristina Circelli - February 9
Megan Curd - February 23
K.C. Neal - March 9
Inger Iversen - March 23
Natasha Hanova - April 6
Mindy Ruiz - April 20
Christal Mosley / C. Marie Mosley - May 4
Erin Hayes - May 18
Toni Lesatz - June 1

How exciting is that list? Those folks in bold are the ones who were with us last year. Yeah, I'll have the inside info on a couple of them (because now I've met them and watched from afar). No, they didn't know I was watching. *evil grin*

You'll also see a bunch of new names up there. I'm so excited to get to know some of these ladies better. As I progress through the ranks, I'll update the page with links and photographs. How exciting is that?

Do you see the break up there for Christmas fun? I'll be doing things a bit differently this year, and giving away books from the authors from last year I gave four or five stars to over the course of 2014. Yes, I'll still include my own books; but I'm all about paying it forward and changing things up to keep them fresh for you all. More details on that as we get closer.

I'll announce the winners of my birthday Rafflecopter giveaway tomorrow. Come on back for that!

Are there any authors on the list you're looking forward to hearing from/learning about?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Review - Unhinged

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I bring you another book review. Bet you're excited about this one, huh? I read Splintered, the first book in this series, back in March of last year; but I never wrote a review. Since this isn't a new (or Indie) author, I can't include this read in my Indie Fever Reading Challenge goal for this year; but, the kidlings go back to school Monday, and that means more reading and writing time for Mama Bear. I'll be finishing up some books I have in progress (I read more than one at a time), and I'll be bringing you lots of reviews very soon. Anywho, enough of all that, let's get to what you came for, shall we?

A little about the book up for review today:

Title: Unhinged (Splintered Book 2)
Author: A. G. Howard
Genre: YA Fantasy/Fairy Tales
Length (print): 400 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $9.99  ~  Hardcover $14.00

Synopsis:
Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school. That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn't show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland--where she (partly) belongs. Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what's right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard's bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll's classic.

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. Holy crap at the covers for these books, huh? I love, love, love them. They're all so very close to monochromatic, the cover for Splintered was the same (but green), and the next one in this series appears to be red. Booyah. I have an idea where that story may be going by the image on the cover alone. Red is a bad lady. *grins* I love it! This book gave me chills as it carried me along on its back through a mad, mad world.***

Let's get to the review, shall we?

I was browsing through Barnes and Noble when I spotted this book nestled among the titles in the Teen section. Of course, because I'm me, I picked it up. Bad decision (ask my husband and kids), because I couldn't put it down once I picked it up it fell into my hands. A. G. Howard is becoming one of my favorite authors through this trilogy. What did I love? Well...

From a Reader's Perspective:
Wow. I got completely sucked in by the descriptions and world building going on in Unhinged. Several times I caught myself closing my eyes for a moment to get a more vivid picture in my head of what was going on around Alyssa. She's one tough cookie, and I can't help but root for Morpheus in the crazy love triangle going on. There are no middle book blahs going on here. This story was funny, fun, and contained all the wonderful madness of Splintered. I wasn't disappointed, and I can't wait to read Ensnared in January. When the end happened, I wished for more book right away. Unhinged totally left me with a book hangover for a couple of days after I was done reading it. I liked how the second book built on the first one and set me up for the third. Jeb was kind of annoying. I know, sad to say, but I'm crossing my fingers for Alyssa to take her place in Wonderland as queen with Morpheus by her side. I had one of the little twists figured out by the middle of the book, but it was no less thrilling. You'll enjoy the creepy factor. This isn't a retelling of Carroll's story, it's a total re-conception of why, who, and how, building on Alice's ancestors.

From an Editor's Perspective:
Just a pronoun misplacement or two; nothing to write home about.

Rating:
1 Star for edge-of-my-seat world building
1 Star for giving me such likeable characters I don't know which one to root for
1 Star for just enough description without going overboard
1 Star for pacing, tying things together with book one, and setting me up for book three in a non-irritating way
1 Star for great editing
Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. Recommended if you dislike retellings, but love great spinoffs, of classic fairy tales.

I hope you all enjoyed that little review!

Have you read any of the books in this series?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, July 28, 2014

Last Chance to Enter!

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! I hope you all had a super awesome weekend. Just leaving you a quick note to remind you about the giveaways going on. I'll be back tomorrow with a book review of Unhinged by A. G. Howard. How exciting is that? Without further ado, here are the deets on those giveaways:

Giveaway #1:





Check out the reviews for these books here on the blog:
Sanctuary
Falling for Autumn
Sir Edric's Temple
The Bestiarum Vocabulum
Chasing Shadows

Giveaway #2:
Review here.

This is a companion novel for Falling for Autumn.



Now, for the Rafflecopter entry forms. Good luck to you all!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review - Finding Autumn

Happy Hump-day, everyone! Today, I bring you another fab book review. This is yet another title from the ever awesome Heather Topham Wood. If you haven't read her books, you can start for free by picking up the first of her Second Sight series: First Visions. Those are new adult contemporary paranormal novels about a girl named Kate who falls ill and wakes up from a coma with a psychic ability. I reviewed the whole series of four! See those reviews (in order by book #) here (Amazon Review), here (Goodreads Review), here (on this blog), and here (also on this blog). Anywho, grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and let's get going!

As I do, here's a little about the book up for review today:

Title: Finding Autumn - a Falling for Autumn companion novel
Author: Heather Topham Wood
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Length (print): About 153 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $0.99

Synopsis:
***Not a standalone. Falling for Autumn from Blake's point of view. Includes bonus chapters set after the events of Falling for Autumn.***

Two years earlier, Blake Preston received a phone call that would change everything. His stepfather—a man he trusted and admired—had been accused of sexually assaulting one of his students. His stepfather declared his innocence and Blake chose to stay loyal to the man who had raised him as his own.

Cook University is the one place Blake can keep his anonymity. No one knows about the scandals surrounding his stepfather’s arrest and subsequent conviction. To his friends, he is merely the star running back for the college team and an NFL hopeful. But the life he has built at Cook is threatened when Autumn Dorey locks eyes with him at a campus party.

Getting entangled with Autumn is a mistake. Yet Autumn is the only person who can answer the one question that haunts him: is his stepfather a monster?

Blake conceals his identity and starts a friendship with Autumn under false pretenses. What begins as a way to uncover the truth about his stepfather changes as he grows close to Autumn. His relationship with her calls into question everything he thought he knew about his family. Against all odds, he falls in love with the one girl he’s forbidden to have feelings for. But can their love last once Autumn finds out who Blake Preston really is?

60,000 Words

Ages 17+ Due to Strong Language and Sexual Situations

***Will not appear in review elsewhere. I've been a long time fan of Heather's. We met during the first Author Blog Challenge, and we've kept in touch ever since. I found her and her books, enjoyed her unique flavor, and never looked back. I've proofread nearly all of her titles since then. Love her work! Finding Autumn is a companion novel to Falling for Autumn. You can read my review of that title here.***

Let me move on to the review.

I was so excited to read this novel. So many things happened in Falling for Autumn that I wanted to see from Blake's POV. When I heard Heather was writing this one, I was chomping at the bit for her to finish. Well, she did. And I wasn't disappointed. Time for the good stuff!

From a Reader's Perspective:
Autumn Dorey is an unreliable narrator because she never gets to see what Blake is going through when she's not around. I have to say, I loved him in the first book, and this one just made him more likable. I did find out some of the things he was doing when not by her side (things that were a little deplorable), but I loved watching him grow as a character and appreciated that he wasn't perfect. We're human; therefore we're flawed. He was so protective of her later on. It was a nice change from the A-typical bad-boy in many other books. By the end, I wanted him to succeed and win her heart. Like Falling for Autumn, I was immersed in the story and emotionally vested by the end. There's enough difference in the stories that it's worth it to pick this one up and lend it your time. A great read.

From an Editor's Perspective:
This book is clean and error free. You won't be sorry if you take a chance on it.

Rating:
1 Star for giving me an excellent variation on the first book
1 Star for making Blake so likable
1 Star for keeping me biting my nails
1 Star for giving the main character plenty of flaws
1 Star for lack of errors
Overall, 5 out of 5 stars! You certainly want to pick up this title. Great book hangover.

In case you weren't aware, there's a giveaway going on here on my blog and here on the IBGW blog. In one, you get Falling for Autumn (and six other awesome titles); in the other, you get Finding Autumn.

Go enter!

What do you think? Will you pick up a copy? Have you read the first one?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Giveaway

Hello, good people of the blogosphere! Happy Tuesday, and happy early birthday to me! Well, I'm a year older as of this coming Saturday. No, I'm not telling you how old I'll be. I got an awesome birthday gift already from The Best Husband in the World (TBHITW). So, because he's awesome, I'm giving you all a gift for my birthday. Exciting, huh?

What's up for grabs?

A couple of the e-books I've reviewed this year, and an e-copy of my novels: The Bird and I, Zombie.

Which books am I including? These (that I gave five brilliant stars to):




Check out the reviews for these books here on the blog:
Sanctuary
Falling for Autumn
Sir Edric's Temple
The Bestiarum Vocabulum
Chasing Shadows

So, get on your entry wagon and let your fingers do the clicking!

Rafflecopter will run until the Tuesday after my birthday (through 7/29/14).

Good luck to you all!

If you missed them, check out the great giveaways going over on INDIE Books Gone Wild this week. I'll have another one for you over there tomorrow, too! You'll want to enter this one and tomorrow's. There's a book in the other one that goes with one of the ones shown above.

Here's what you've been waiting for!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you enter? Are you super excited yet?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sleep - A Short Story

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Did you have an awesome weekend? I know I did. I'm rip-roaring and ready to go. Today, I'm gonna write you a short story. Keep in mind this is unedited and right out of my fingers onto the page (I'm just trying to entertain you today). So, grab a cup of something, cozy up, and let's get going!

Sleep

As my senses roused, I tried to force them back to the beautiful dreams I was enjoying a moment before.
Ping!
Ping!
I felt my skin tighten as my ears adjusted themselves on my head. That sound...
Giving my head a shake, I stretched my arms over my head and swayed my back as I pointed my toes. Energy flowed into me from either end of my body with the motion. No more pinging sounds assaulted my senses, and I lay there with my eyes closed for another moment.
I took a deep breath, letting the air flow in and out of my nose; cleansing me, and leaving me prepared to take on the world one more time.
One eye popped open.
Blue liquid filled my vision, and I could see a faint, distorted reflection of myself in what seemed like glass. Another round of oxygen passed through my lungs, and my other eye opened. I slammed my eyelids down against the harsh light emanating from the cerulean.
I flattened out my hands and ran them down my throat, over my torso, and around my thighs.
My skin was softer than I remembered.
Ping!
Ping!
Damn that sound. I knew what it was but couldn't place it. Where had I heard it before?
Again, I pushed it away, concentrating on the feel of my fingers on my belly. I traced small circles, sending chills down my arms. My toes curled until cramps began in my calves. Slowly, I forced my body to relax.
Mondays always felt like the beginning of the end of the world. I thought of Garfieldthe fat, orange, loveable cat from the comic stripand identified with his loathing. Yes, Mondays were bad news.
"What's she doing?" A man's voice interrupted my procrastination.
Smooth as silk on freshly shaven skin, a woman's tone met my ears in response to his question. "She always does this. Ever since we activated her. Dim her light."
Activated.
Who were those people?
What did she mean by "activated"?
My eyes popped open once again, the vivid color surrounding me causing me to blink rapidly while my pupils adjusted.
I moved my hands to cover my nakedness. Why were there people in my room?
Ping!
Ping!
And what the hell was that noise?
Once my eyes and the light adjusted, allowing me a full view of my room, I felt my jaw fall open and gagged on the warm water that swirled into my mouth.
Computer monitors winked back at me from every inch of the space. A low hum vibrated the viscous liquid surrounding me, causing miniscule waves to pass through my field of vision. Oatmeal with blueberries was the flavor on my tongue when the liquid poured in. There was no odor, only the blue gel filling my nose.
Brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, blue eyes, and the diminutive features of a doll appeared before me.
"Good morning, Layla. I hope you had a nice weekend. We gave you some beach dreams to keep you calm. Did you sleep well?"
Like a jackhammer pounding information into my head, memories returned full force.
Falling.
Duke...
The Cliffs of Insanity.
A million knives stabbed into my heart and sent pain all the way to my toes.
I remembered why I was there.
Inhaling, I stared back at Sherry. "I slept well, thank you. So well, I forgot where I was."
Her laughter filled my ears over the roar of anguish for my loss. "Monday's are a bitch, aren't they?"
"Yes, they are." My words echoed around the room from the speakers outside my box.
Ping!
Ping!
"Would you mind turning off my alarm clock?"
She smiled and waved a hand in that direction; her assistant running to do her bidding. "How are you feeling today?"
I wanted so badly to smile back, but the corners of my mouth refused to cooperate. Looking through Sherry at my reflection on the far wall, I felt and saw my traitorous lips turn down. My black hair swirled around my face, blending with the wires attached to my head. A sob caught in my throatwhat was left of it, anywayand I closed my eyes again. "I'm great. Thank you for asking." I pulled my eyes away from the mirror. "What's on our agenda for today?"
Her yellow legal pad snapped to attention in her hand, and she peered down at it. "It looks like we'll be hooking you up to another person. He should be here momentarily."
I wanted to scream at her and punch the glass. They shouldn't be allowed to do this to people. But, what the government wants, it gets. That doesn't make it humane.
"Ah! Here they are now." Shelly's heels sounded like tennis balls in a tournament of champions as she ran to the door and punched in her code.
My breath caught in my throat, and my eyes strained to see what the newcomers were bringing in.
Over the threshold came the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. His hair was short, his eyes were a brilliant sea-blue, and his wires were the perfect compliment of orange.
He stared, and we shared something for a stolen moment. Finally, his lips turned up and parted to reveal perfectly white, straight teeth.
Unable to contain my excitement, I felt my mouth copy his.
This was my eternal partner. Suddenly, being in my box didn't seem so bad.
My only regret was that I would never be able to touch him.

~ The End

What did you think? Did you get it?

Click here to see the image and find out if you were right.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dialogue - Keeping it Fresh

Happy Friday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm talking with you about dialogue again. I started writing this post yesterday, but life took over and killed it. Ha! Great how that works, isn't it? But! The kids go back to school soon, so things around the blog will settle down as they were before. Anyway, today we're gonna talk about keeping your dialogue fresh for readability and comprehension. I'll also give you a little exercise to do afterward. Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Let's start with things you shouldn't do.
  • Make every line of dialogue begin the same way.
  • Break several lines of dialogue in a row with an action.
  • Confuse your dialogue tags with action tags.
  • Make everyone sound the same.
In keeping your writing fresh, you want to use dialogue, action, and dialect in a way that keeps them harmonious.

Example time!

Shouldn't do:
Pat elbowed her way through the crowd. "Can you believe how many people are here?"
I grabbed her hand before leaning toward her ear. "It's always like this on Friday night!"
Lucy made her way to us and joined the circle. "I'm so excited to be here! I can't believe our parents let us come."
I put my free hand on her shoulder. "This is once in a lifetime, kid."
Music pumped through the speakers, and my insides rattled.

Better:
Pat elbowed her way through the crowd. "Can you believe how many people are here?"
"It's always" someone jostled me, and I grabbed Pat's hand to lean toward her ear "like this on Friday night!"
Lucy made her way to us. "I'm so excited to be here, y'all! I can't believe our parents let us come." Her eyes sparkled.
"This is once in a lifetime, kid," I said.
Music pumped through the speakers, and my insides rattled.

Frequent name restatement is often necessary when there are several people in a discussion. Watch your pronouns. Let's look at one more example; then I'll turn you loose with an exercise.

Shouldn't do:
"I wanted to go to the store with Mommy," Lisa whined.
Her father's mouth turned down. He said, "You didn't want to stay with me?"
She crossed her arms and shook her head.
"I thought maybe we could play your favorite," he said, pulling out Chutes and Ladders.
She clapped her hands and said, "Yay! Yes, Daddy. I want to play."
"But you wanted to go to the store with Mommy," he teased.
"I was just kidding," she said.
He roared with laughter.

Better:
"I wanted to go to the store with Mommy." Lisa threw her tiny figure face-down on the couch.
Her father frowned. "You don't want to stay with me?"
She rolled over, crossed her arms, and shook her head.
"I thought maybe we could play your favorite," he said.
When Lisa saw the Chutes and Ladders game in his hands, she clapped. "Yay! Yes, Daddy. I wanna play."
"But you wanted to go to the store with Mommy."
"I was just kidding."
He roared with laughter.

Not only is the second passage easier to read, it's correctly punctuated. Remember to ditch the dialogue tag when giving the character an action. If you use a dialogue tag, there should be no action. Change it up so it doesn't get stale. No one wants to read: he said, she said, he said, he said, she said over and over again.

Time for your exercises!

#1:
Write a few quick paragraphs of dialogue with four characters: Paul, Mike, Anna, and Frank. Start each sentence the same way, pay no attention to punctuation, and no attention to pronoun usage.

Use the tips above and this post to correct your writing. Feel free to send it to me if you want someone to check it.

#2:
Using the ideas above, craft one line of dialogue for each of the following:
  1. Starts with an action, ends with dialogue.
  2. Uses a dialogue tag at the beginning.
  3. Uses a dialogue tag at the end.
  4. Break the dialogue with an action.
  5. Stars with dialogue, ends with action.
  6. No dialogue tag; no action tag.
  7. Interrupted speech (remember your em-dash!)
  8. Trailing off of speech (don't forget the ellipsis!)
  9. Starts with action, then has dialogue, then another action
You may feel free to post your attempts in the comments below.

What do you think? Helpful?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Paperback Giveaway - Not Born Here: Stories from Marsden, NC

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I know you're all annoyed with me for missing posts lately. I promise, I'm working on getting my schedule in order. Kids go back to school at the beginning of August, and things will be a lot smoother around here. Not sure what I was thinking by moving, attending UtopYA Con 2014, and trying to keep my duties with IBGW up and running all at the same time, but I'll get there. Please bear with me through this difficult time.

Anywho, over on the IBGW blog, there's a giveaway going on for the book below:

Title: Not Born Here: Stories from Marsden, N.C.
Author: Dennis Sinar
Genre: Fiction/Short Stories
Length (print): 196 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $4.99  ~  Paperback $8.99

Synopsis:
A collection of short stories about a fictional Southern town, Marsden N.C. Humor, foibles and heartwarming stories make the town real and the inhabitants memorable characters. The characters move through their days in a small town a daughter learns a secret about her dead mother, women goes through the stages of love, hopeful, love found and just as quickly lost. Roger learns something new about his wife's Jimmylegs and offers fine points on judging a chili competition.

~

This giveaway is being sponsored by the fabulous Tia Silverthorne Bach of INDIE Books Gone Wild. If you want to enter to win a copy, do so here on the IBGW blog.

Sounds like a great collection. I'm off to grab a copy for myself!

If you haven't joined the IBGW mailing list, I urge you to do so. You'll get these great giveaways in your e-mail inbox. We don't spam, and you'll only be contacted by us when we have a promotion going on. Hey, you're guaranteed a well edited read if you win!

Sign up here.

What do you think? Did you enter?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review - The Crossroads of Time

Happy Friday! Wow. Here we are again at the end of yet another week. I have a second book review for you today. This one I proofread a while back, and I think you're gonna enjoy the heck out of it. It was something new and different to sink my teeth into, and I found myself enjoying the story very much as I made comments and learned some new things. There's also a cool giveaway of this title after the review. Without further ado, let's get going!

As always, I'm gonna begin with information about the book up for review today.

Title: The Crossroads of Time
Author: Rhonda Denise Johnson
Genre: African American Urban and Historical Fiction
Length (print): 292 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $9.95   ~   Paperback $8.96

Synopsis:
Chloe loves to listen to music, but when the music starts listening to her, she begins to wonder. Try as she might, she can’t dismiss the strange things happening in her life as mere coincidence. Could some spirit be trying to send her a message? She tries to live a normal life as a student at California State University, but the more she tries, the more bizarre her life become. From the moment Chloe consults a Candombl√© priestess to find out what’s what, the events in her life spin from uncanny to numinous.

As her visions become more corporeal, Chloe gets literally swept out of her twenty-first century Los Angeles world in the stormy vortex of Oya, the African Orisha of the wind. Oya takes Chloe on a journey through time that throws her into the world of Ayodele, her ninteenth century ancestor on a Virginia tobacco plantation.

Both women share dreams of achieving more in life than is expected of them as women and as African Americans. At the Crossroads they must decide which costs more, struggling to fulfill their dreams or letting them die—and which price are they willing to pay?

**Will not appear in review elsewhere.  I have to say, the cover doesn't give you any glimpse of the awesome inside. You all know I'm a cover junkie, so I'd like to see this one meld more with the genre.**

Now on to the good stuff!

I proofread The Crossroads of Time and loved the heck out of it. Ms. Johnson brings her characters to life on the page, and showed me a world beyond the one I'd known my whole life. My Kindle now holds a copy for me, because I bought it when it went live. Getting the chance to look inside someone else is one of the reasons I read. How many lives can I live? Well, this novel didn't disappoint. Let's move on to the review so I can tell you what I mean.

From a Reader's Perspective:
I learned a lot reading this book. From the beliefs of the Candomblé religion, to the meaning of dance and drums in African religion. One of my favorite things about being a reader of fiction is picking up new facts or tidbits of information buried in the story. I got a lot of that in this book. Chloe is a modern day college student, struggling between what she wants and what her family wants for her. Ayodele is from Chloe's family history and is struggling with the threat of losing her identity as she's enslaved for hard labor. Both women were beautifully drawn, and I felt their indecision and desire to be more than those around them. I love strong female characters, and this story has plenty of those to whet my appetite. Sure, there are men, but they play supporting roles, fading into the background of the central plot. I liked that the author didn't feel a need to bring everyone to the forefront. World building and descriptions of the goings-on of the religious groups in the book were well drawn, sucking me right in.

From an Editor's Perspective:
I didn't like that the book walked through so many POVs. It didn't do anything for the plot, and I left the book not even remembering one of the names. Of course, grammar and punctuation should be spot on from the proofread, but there were some minor syntax errors (repetition of ideas) that I picked up on here and there. All in all, not too bad.

Rating:
1 Star for teaching me a lot of interesting things
1 Star for the strong female leads, Chloe and Ayodele
1 Star for world building
.5 Star for ease of reading
-.5 Star for repetitive phrases
.5 Star for flow
-.5 Star for so many POVs
Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. A book that will lock you in and keep you reading well into the night. Recommended to fans of both historical fiction and strong female leads.

Time for the Rafflecopter form!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, everyone!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Reversal Word

Happy Thursday, good people of the blogosphere! As you can probably tell, I'm going into word reversal in novels today. What the heck am I talking about? Well, I'm not gonna beat around the bush. Grab your pens and notebooks, slurp up that coffee, and let's get going!

When I say word reversal, what I mean is using the difficult path to convey an idea to your reader. One of the things I do when I'm editing is check readability. Your words should flow for the eyeballs moving over the page. One of the acronyms I love is:

K. I. S. S.

It means: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Never speak over your reader's head (we know you're smart, but making someone feel stupid isn't a good idea), and try not to reverse your words. If you do, be on the lookout for awkward sentences in your first round of edits.

Time for some examples!

Rob looked at me, and I inwardly cringed.

First off, you don't need that adverb. Taking it out would simplify the sentence and make it more reader friendly. But let's say we want to leave it in there. As an editor, I try to apply a lighter hand when suggesting changes. I'll suggest a blanket change to remove most of the adverbs when I run across the first one. Mentioning it again becomes cumbersome. If the author enjoys adverbs and I leave this sentence alone (thinking it'll be fixed later), I'm doing them a disservice. Why? Because it will read/flow better if the action precedes the modifier. That's my job. There are two possible fixes if we leave in the adverb:

I cringed inwardly when Rob looked at me.
Rob looked at me, and I cringed inwardly.

Put the action first.

Here's another one that needs some rearranging:

I'd heard about the relationship being messed up between them, but I knew it wasn't also damaged on my side.

A small move will make a big difference. Like this:

I'd heard about the relationship being messed up between them, but I also knew it wasn't damaged on my side.

Make sense?

Yes, there's always more than one way to fix a sentence. Remember to KISS your reader, and you'll be fine.

When in doubt, read it out!

Do you ever catch yourself making those kinds of mistakes?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review - happenstance

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Just two more days to grind through until we reach the start of the weekend. Awesomeness. I hope you all have big plans! Today, I'm bringing you another book review and a lovely giveaway in conjunction with IBGW. My review of the book in the giveaway will go live here next week. So, grab your coffee and a comfy chair, and let's get going!

As always, a little about the book I'm reviewing today:

Title: happenstance
Author: Jamie McGuire
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: About 100 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle $2.99   ~   B&N $2.99

Synopsis:
#1 New York Times Bestseller Jamie McGuire returns to self-publishing with this page-turning YA account of Erin Easter, one of three Erins in the small senior class of rural Blackwell High School who not only share a first name, but also their birthday. Easter, raised by a neglectful single mom, keeps to herself and admires Weston Gates from afar. The other Erins, Erin "Alder" Alderman and Erin "Sonny" Masterson are the darlings of the community: daughters of the two wealthiest families in town, best friends, cheerleaders, and everything Easter isn't--and they never let her forget it. Alder has even claimed Weston since the 8th grade.

Weston is a well-liked star athlete, and the son of two prominent attorneys. He struggles daily with the pressures of living up to his family name and secretly empathizes with Easter's feeling that she belongs somewhere else; in a different life. Not until he begins sneaking nights out with Easter does he gain the courage to buck expectations and acknowledge his feelings ... both for his future, and for her.

A shocking tragedy rocks the tiny town, and Easter's life is turned upside down in the best way possible. But when the truth is revealed and everything she thinks she wanted falls into her lap, life only becomes more complicated.

**Will not appear in review elsewhere. I love the cover for this novella. It fits the story inside so well, I wanted to high-five Jamie for the awesomeness that calls out to lovers of the genre. Letter spacing, no caps, and the reflection of the flower are all explained in the pages.**

Let's get on to the good stuff, shall we?

I was perusing Jamie McGuire's Facebook page and saw she was releasing a new story. Novella. Right up my alley. I haven't had a lot of reading-for-pleasure time lately, but knew I'd be able to finish something this short in one sitting. Of course, I ran out to Amazon and one-clicked, curled up in my chair, and immersed myself in a great read for an hour or two. I'm not a huge lover of romance, but I was looking for something light and sweet, that wouldn't make me think too hard about the words on the page. Now you know why I picked it up, let's move to the review.

From a Reader's Perspective:
Okay, there are three girls named Erin. All were born on the same day (Easter). Because of this, the whole town gives them nicknames to tell them apart. Our MC is called Easter. Forget the nuttiness of the plot, and just go with it. Yeah, it's not reality, but we're reading fiction. Right? Okay, I'm all good with this. Cool setting/idea. At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like Easter. She grew on me as the story advanced. I'm reading about this girl who gets bullied in school (okay, typical, but all good, makes for a good plot), and I begin to see her strengths emerge as the tale winds around. Easter is an awesome chick. While she cries when bullied sometimes, she never lets her tormenters see it. By the end, I was fully in her corner and did a fist pump more than once as it all came to a head. You'll love the twist in this book if you take the story for what it is: A fun, light read that leaves fuzzy feelings in its wake.

From an Editor's Perspective:
Again, Ms. McGuire's editor gets a round of applause from me. I only found one error. Devil should have a capital first letter. Just like God, the Devil is a divine being. Other than that, it was a clean manuscript. Well done!

Rating:
1 Star for making Easter grow on me when I didn't think she would.
1 Star for making me despise the other Erins (the bullies)
1 Star for a truly feel-good story
1 Star for the twist I totally saw coming, but loved anyway
1 Star for lack of errors
Overall, 5 out of 5 stars! Highly recommended if you need a mental break and fluffy read sometime.

Now it's time for that Rafflecopter giveaway I told you about in the beginning!

This is for two Kindle copies of The Crossroads of Time by Rhonda Denise Johnson. Click here to read more about the book. Enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think? Love Jamie McGuire? Gonna read this one?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Branding Yourself - A Whole New Level

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I'm back to the grind and feeling good about it. It's been a heck of a last month or so, getting moved, attending UtopYA Con, and going on vacation, but routine is something I thrive on. Blogging is part of my routine. It helps to wake my creativity, gets me writing something, and is my little contribution to the writing world. As you can see from the number of posts under recent months, I've been slacking. It wasn't because I didn't have a desire to blog or was out of topics, but because I had to let something give (hey, you were warned). So, today, I'm gonna talk about something unexpected that happened at the con, but threw me a bone in the process. Ready? Grab your coffee and let's get going!

Day one, I'm meandering around the hotel lobby with the fabulous Tia Silverthorne Bach. We pretended to be regular people, and didn't tell anyone there we were authors until later.

I never thought about it at the time, but I was wearing my hat (see blurry as hell photo). This hat almost didn't make it. I had to run back into the house and grab it from its spot on the floor of my room. I'd put it there so I wouldn't forget it.

Why was I taking my hat?

Well, cowboy hats and Nashville, Tennessee, go together like peas and carrots or peanut butter and jelly, if you will. I was born in Tennessee and will always have a deep affection for my birthplace. Besides that, my husband is the one who bought me that hat, and I wanted to have a little something he gave me along for the ride. I digress. Let me get back to the main idea.

When I finally introduced myself as Jo Michaels, everyone commented on my hat. Once I got my name tag, my hat became more of a branding thing because I put that tag on the brim of my hat (you can see the edge of it).

Was this branding intentional?

No.

But it worked. Every time I saw someone, they knew who I was at a glance. If you've perused the UtopYA photos, you'll see my hat on my head in almost every one.

Saturday, I showed up without my hat on.

People told me they didn't know who I was, and to stop trying to trick them. Even though I had on my Jo Michaels t-shirt, people didn't recognize me without my unintentional brand of a cowboy hat.

There were a lot of people there with something unique going on. Misty Provencher had the prettiest face paint I've ever seen, making her look rather like a fantastical fairy. Bella Roccaforte had fire-engine red hair. N. L. Greene had a pretty pink streak in her blonde locks, and Sarah Ashley Jones had her signature purple, blue, and white bob. Yeah, you knew who they were at a glance.

This is what I'm talking about. You need a strong brand so people will recognize you at one of these events. Remember, they're meeting a ton of people. What makes you special/unique?

Find something and go for it.

Be your brand. Embrace your difference.

Will I be wearing my hat next year?

You bet.

Have you ever unintentionally branded yourself with something? What was it, and how did it work out?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

Monday, July 7, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Tour

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but I'm moved, unpacked, got the con attended, and have gone on a (much needed) vacation. This next week will be exciting over at INDIE Books Gone Wild, because we'll be introducing you all to our new editors. Be sure and stay tuned for that!

Today, I'm taking part in a character blog tour at the request of the lovely L. K. Evans. I read Keepers of Arden (The Brothers Volume One) a few months back, and IBGW gave away two copies at UtopYA Con. It's epic fantasy and a fantastic read. You can see my review here.

Check out her character post on her blog here. That's also the link to her website, so you can give her a follow. What? You want more? Well, check out her social media!
Goodreads
Amazon Author Page
Twitter
Google +
Facebook
Pinterest

Let's get going! These questions pertain to a character in an upcoming release of mine.

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Markaza. She's a fictional bada$$ with mystical powers, a penchant for judo, and some other awesome things I can't tell you about for fear of ruining the surprises that await the readers of the series.

2) When and where is the story set? 
2012 - Just before Doomsday - New York, New York.

3) What should we know about him/her? 
Markaza isn't someone you'd want to meet in a dark alley. She's one of the super rich who hates that she's a member of that collective. Nothing would make her happier than for everyone in the world to just get along and accept one another for who they are.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? 
Her life is messed up when her father is killed in a car crash, and her mother sees (for the first time) what it's like for Markaza to have a vision. Mom goes a little crazy, and Markaza is left to fend for herself and run the family business (a hotel in NYC).  She also has had a vision of the end of the world and sees she must collect a group of young women to stop it. This series is her mission.

5) What is the personal goal of the character? 
To save her mother from her own head.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? 
Markaza - Mystic Book Six is the title. There's a post on the blog here where you can get a sneak peek at chapter two (chapter one is included in the back of Coralie - Mystic Book Five).

7) When can we expect the book to be published? 
Sometime this year. I'm swamped with other things right now, but it's coming along nicely (albeit slowly). I'm hoping to have her story, and the grand finale, ready for publication by November.

You can find out more about all my books from my publications page here.

Now, the author who'll be next on this little tour isn't published yet. Her name is Toni Lesatz, and she runs the My Book Addiction blog here. She's furiously scribbling out her first draft of a zombie novel for you all to consume in the near future. How awesome will it be to get a look at a character from a brand new author?

You'll see her post in about a week. If you'd like to check out her stuff, you can find her at the following places:
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Google +

Bio:
Wife, mother, gamer, aspiring writer, and lover of the culinary arts. I have been blogging for over ten years about a variety of topics. If I’m not curled up with a good book and a steaming hot cup of coffee, you’ll most likely find me playing with my kids, writing, baking cupcakes, or killing zombies.

I hope you all enjoyed the heck out of this post!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo