Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Excerpt - Provocation - Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story Two

Happy Friday, everyone! Well, today was supposed to be a guest post, but no one wanted to write one! Ha! So you lovely people get an excerpt from my upcoming release! Oh, happy day! Grab your coffee or tea, get comfy, and let's get going.

First, info about the book. Kindly remember this hasn't yet been edited. I'm nearly 30k deep, so heading toward the end.

Title: Provocation - Pen Pals and Serial Killers - Story Two
Author: Jo Michaels
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Length (guessing): ~ 60k
Release Date: Spring, 2018

Blurb:

Doctor Victoria Ward has been killing men for over thirty years. Her victims all have one thing in common: they’re abusive. Righteousness is a close companion—it helps her sleep at night—and she holds the virtue closely as she defends the innocent, upholding the law when it won’t rise to protect those who need it most. When she meets a young girl named Kelly, and follows her down a twisted path of deception, Doc Ward finds herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. Never before has she wavered in her resolve—but can she defend another against someone she loves?

BEGIN EXCERPT
~~~~~~~~~~


Chapter 1

Victoria
Splinters of wood on the corner of the table curl up and away. They seem to be trying to escape the acrid stench of whiskey as much as Victoria is. Her father’s face is inches from her own, forcing the putrid smell through the air as he screams.
She winces when dirty fingernails bite into the soft flesh of her upper arm, and she grinds her teeth against the pain as it mingles with the ever-present terror. It’s better this way. Her mother is saved from enduring another round of Daddy’s wrath…
***
“And then he was hitting me again.”
Victoria came back to the present, returning her attention to the patient on the couch. “How long has this been going on, Shelley?”
“He doesn’t do it all the time, you know?”
“How long?” Pressing the young woman might not have been the best idea, but duration was something that needed adding to the notes.
Nibbling on an already ragged thumbnail, Shelley answered, “Since our wedding day.” She whirled around. “But he doesn’t mean to! James is a good guy; he just has these moments.”
Little tears appeared on the yellow legal pad as Victoria wrote.
~~~
Patient has nubs for fingernails—shows distress. Likely cause is horrific encounters with abusive husband. Bruises on forearms outline as fingers. Prescribing anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. See entry in med script log book 4581.034—S. Whitaker.
~~~
“And he always apologizes afterward, right? Maybe cries?” It was obvious where the discussion was going, and she wanted nothing more than to rip James Whitaker’s face off. Instead, she pressed her lips together in a tight smile.
Shelley was nodding, her eyes brightening like an excited child’s. “He’s so loving. He really doesn’t mean to do it. I make him so angry when I screw things up.”
Rather than squash the newfound lightness, Doctor Ward gave a tight smile, walked to her desk, and picked up a prescription pad.
~~~
Effexor – 500mg 1x per day
~~~
“I’d like for you to take these.” Ripping off the first one and handing it over, she wrote the second.
~~~
Xanax – 2mg 2x per day
~~~
She scribbled her signature on the bottom, and that one was given over as well.
Shelley squinted at the squares of paper. “Do you really think I need these, doc?”
“I’m not sure, but I’d like you to try them. They may help take the edge off.” Or at least help you get through the next couple of weeks. Still smiling, Victoria pulled her chair across the room and turned it so she could see the woman. “Tell me about your wedding night.”
Shelley’s eyes widened. “I… I uh…”
“It’s okay. No one will ever know what we talk about in here. You’re safe with me.” Bastard already has her terrified to tell anyone what really happens. Victoria felt her face get warm as anger vibrated up her spine, but she kept her features soft.
After a deep breath in and out, Shelley closed her eyes and spoke quietly. “We’d gotten a hotel room in a swanky place, and he’d bought tickets to a show. Since we were early, we decided to go to the hotel bar for a glass of champagne—you know, to celebrate—before we went to get something to eat.”
She chuffed, and a small smile appeared on her face. “At dinner, we had a bottle of wine. I’m not a big drinker, so by the end of the meal, I was feeling pretty good.” Her face turned bright red, and she twisted her fingers until they turned white. “We got our seats, and that’s when my stomach decided it wasn’t happy with all the alcohol I’d put into it. I knew I needed a bathroom—and fast.”
Tears suddenly poured down her face. “I got up, but I was too late. There was barely enough time for me to make it to the stairwell outside the main hall. It was all over me, my dress, and my shoes.
“I didn’t know where I was, so I wandered until I found a restroom. After I cleaned myself off, I found my way outside and went back in through the main entrance.” Snot ran out of her nose, and she sniffed. “S… sorry. I…”
Doctor Ward handed over a wad of tissues. “It’s okay. Take your time.”
Several nose blows later, Shelley nodded. Her voice had gotten much louder. “I knew I smelled awful. I mean, who wouldn’t? But I made my way back to my seat anyway.” Fingers that had been clutched together flexed open and closed, vibrating.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded but was breathing heavily. “It’s just hard to think about, you know?”
“I do. Take your time.” Malice brewed, bubbled, and burned inside the doctor; she had an idea of where the story was going. If James had been in the room, Victoria was certain she would’ve killed him on the spot.
Once the shakes quelled, Shelley sucked in air. “He’d sent me a text message asking me where I went. I didn’t have my phone with me—I’d left my purse—and he was furious by the time I returned. I texted back and said I’d gotten ill. Well, that was it. We left right then, and he stayed three steps in front of me the whole way back to our room.
“After we got there, I got undressed and showered because I was sure I smelled awful. When I came out, I asked him what was wrong. He just got in bed and rolled over. I was angry and frustrated. I went outside and smoked a cigarette, and when I came back in, I tried again. Still nothing. Of course, my idiot self kept talking.” Her words were coming out fast by that point, running together so it was difficult to make out what she was saying. She hiccupped. “I was so angry he’d reacted that way. Still, I kept trying to talk through it, work it out somehow, begging him to just talk to me. Eventually, he had enough. He got out of bed, grabbed me by the throat, pushed me up against the wall, and told me how much he hated me.”
Sobs tore from her throat, and everything else was garbled.
Doctor Ward leaned in to try and catch what was being said.
“I petted… touched… told… I loved him… I cried.” Shelley wailed. “It was my fault for embarrassing him and provoking him!”
White hot fury grew behind Victoria’s sternum, and she pulled the other woman into a hug. “Shhh… Just cry for a minute. You don’t have to talk any more right now.” Jaw muscles popping from clenching teeth, Doctor Ward rocked back and forth, providing what comfort she could through the rage that was trying to consume her. She pushed it down and focused.
Finally, Shelley relaxed, and her tears slowed as she lay back down on the buttery soft leather of the couch.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded. “I’d like to tell you the rest of the story, if that’s all right.”
“Of course. This is your time. You can tell me whatever you want, Shelley. Again, you’re safe here.”
“Thanks, doc.” Shelley gave a weak, half smile. “There were these beautiful, chocolate-covered strawberries the hotel had sent—because we were newlyweds. I threw those little fuckers at the wall one by one. Not once did he get up and say he was sorry. He just laid in that bed. Man, let me tell you, I was pissed, hurt, and my heart was broken. I got my stuff, got a cab, and went home. I bawled the whole way.”
“I bet you did.”
“It was our fucking wedding night, doc.”
“I know, sweetie.”
“Why? That’s what I don’t understand. If he hated me so much, why marry me? I’m not a horrible person, right?” Shelley needed validation for her feelings, that much was clear. She was begging for someone to tell her she was worth something without asking outright.
“You’re not a horrible person. You’re a very good person. Know how I know?” Doctor Ward asked.
Shelley shook her head, her eyes open wide, begging.
“Because you’re still nice.”
That brought on a smile.
Dear God. What else has he done to her besides that beating she mentioned, I wonder. Before Victoria could ask, the buzzer signaling the end of the session went off. She stood and popped the top with her hand. “I’m sorry, that’s our time for today. Are you okay to drive?”
Shelley got to her feet and gathered her garish, oversized purse, tissues still clutched in one hand, face red and swollen. “I’ll be okay. Thanks.”
“Same time next week?”
She moved her head up and down.
 “I want you to think about what happened after he came home. How you felt, what was said. We’ll talk about it next time. And take those meds. Be safe.” She guided Shelley to the exit and smiled.
After the door closed, Doctor Ward pressed her back against the polished wood and clenched her fists so hard her nails dug into her palms. She stared at the red carpet, wishing it was a pool of James Whitaker’s blood. It got worse, she was sure. Those stories were the tip of the iceberg, the beginning of the world of shit that poor girl was in.
Based on comments she’d made earlier in the session, the abuse had gotten worse mentally as well as physically, but only Shelley could shed light on the whole situation.
Victoria’s hand snaked back and clicked the lock. No interruptions. That had been her last appointment for the day, and she needed to do some research.
While she waited for her computer to boot up, she pulled out her script log book.
~~~
4581.034—S. Whitaker: 500 mg Effexor 1x day – 2 mg Xanax 2x day.
~~~
She reached down the front of her blouse and extracted the key that never left her person. Once the log book and Shelley’s notes for the day had been properly locked away in the filing cabinet, Doctor Ward sat at her desk and opened a private browsing session. Subject: James Harlow Whitaker.


~~~~~~~
END EXCERPT

What did you think?

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

Jo

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Author Life ABC's - A

Happy Thursday, everyone! Welcome to my new, twice-a-month Thursday feature, Author Life ABC's. Obviously, since this is the first, we're on the letter A. I thought about this one for a while, and I've decided to go with Achieve. Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, get comfy, and let's get going!

As authors, we're always trying to achieve something, make something happen, get into a good place with our writing.

I think it's important to bring up goals when talking about achievements. If you have nothing you're striving for, you can't achieve hitting a milestone, right? Right.

For the folks who've been around the blog a while, you're aware that I usually set my goals low because I like to celebrate the small achievements in my career. Those are usually gateways to bigger things, stuff I don't let myself dream about because I'm an easy one to fall off the wagon if I can't see a positive end to my journey. But that's just me. I dream small and try to do more than my goal.

When I started writing, my definition of success was set very low (in my eyes): I wanted to change the life of one person, make them look at the world in a new way, or have such a massive impact on them that they went out and did something amazing.

After all, this was never about money for me. While selling books is lovely, and reviews are awesome, I never expected to get rich and/or famous for the things I was writing. Still don't.

I wanted to change a life. Simple.

Back in 2014, I achieved that goal. I'm not going to say how or when it happened, but I will tell you that one incident changed the way I looked at my career from then on. There was no longer a burning need inside me to create words that changed minds. Instead, from those books emerged my true author self. I found my voice.

I now write to entertain and educate while still examining the human condition however I can. Characters are put in impossible situations and area asked to make a choice. It's fun and so very rewarding.

My achievement in one area of my career led to new, exciting things for me.

Over the years, I've had other goals, and still do, but the biggest one was met, and I consider myself a success. No matter what happens from here on out, I have that to hold on to.

Sure, there are other things I'd like to achieve, but nothing will ever compare to that one thing, and nothing will ever replace it. It's my most cherished achievement.

In order to be successful, you first have to define that for yourself, in whatever way you choose. Writing is your career, and you need to feel as though you're doing whatever you set out to do, achieving those goals, no matter how simple, or silly, they may seem to other people.

That's what I'll leave you with today. Go define success for yourself.

If you've already achieved that goal, drop a comment below telling me when and how it changed your life.

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

Jo

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How to be a TOTAL LOSER Meal Plan Post - Number One

Happy Wednesday, everyone! So, you've read my book "How to be a TOTAL LOSER," and you're working on your meal plans! That's great! I'm excited for the journey you're on. This post is a little refresher on what not to do when you're cooking your awesome fare. If you don't have the book yet, what are you waiting for? You can get it on Amazon here or directly from my website here (if you buy from me, you'll get SIX new recipe cards every three months--free). Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

These are just a few tips on items you can use to replace those calorie-heavy ones you might be using today.

Say your meal plan for the day looks like this:
Breakfast - Apple Pie Overnight Oats
Snack 1 - 1.5oz Peanut Butter and 6 Crackers
Lunch - Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato, an apple, and 3 stalks of celery
Snack 2 - Carrots and ranch dressing
Dinner - Steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed broccoli, and peas
Snack 3 - 5 cups of popcorn

Now, that's one hell of a great meal plan, but it's what goes into those foods that you need to watch out for. Let's examine each one separately.

Breakfast:
Apple Pie Overnight Oats
If you're using honey or sugar to sweeten, try using a whole, mashed, very ripe banana instead.
Rather than just using plain yogurt for the creamy article, use low-fat Greek instead.
Instead of whole milk, add 2% or some yummy unsweetened vanilla cashew milk.
Using these substitutions can cut half the calories of the meal while still giving you the dairy, whole grain, and fruit you need.

Snack 1
1.5oz Peanut Butter and 6 Crackers
Go for a chocolate peanut butter smoothie (the recipe is in your book) instead, get the peanut butter you're craving, and save over 300 calories.

Lunch
Tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomato, an apple, and 3 stalks of celery
If your carbs for the day were met by breakfast, try putting your tuna into the lettuce instead, and topping it off with the tomato. If not, be sure you're using whole-grain bread (you need the whole grains in your diet, but oats are also whole grains).
Don't peel the apple, the peel contains most of the vitamins.
Use fat-free mayo for the tuna. Get a good brand, because the generics taste horrible.

Snack 2
Carrots and ranch dressing
Carrots! Yay! Swap your ranch for the calorie-and-fat-free variety (it actually tastes really amazing), or grab the new Greek low-cal dressing, and save about half the calories of the other stuff.

Dinner
Steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, steamed broccoli, and peas
Grill the steak, and leave off the butter (use heavy seasoning instead).
Bake your potatoes rather than boiling them, and then crack them open, leaving them naked (no butter or milk).
Use pre-packaged brown gravy mix that you can season to your liking (when you make brown gravy at home, it adds a TON of calories because of the oil and flour you have to use). Pour over the potato!
Don't put anything on your veggies except a little salt and pepper.
If you do these things, you'll cut more calories than you realize (you're using your app, right?).

Snack 3
5 cups of popcorn
If you're not using an air-popper, you should be. There's one on Amazon that works in your microwave and it collapses for easy storage, and it's not expensive at ALL. No oil or anything is required. I love mine. Salbree is the brand name, and I got non-GMO organic Jiffy Pop to go in it (remember that thing about corn and GMOs from the book? Yeah...).
Five whole cups is packed with whole-grain goodness, and it's just 31 calories per cup, popped.


 Those are just a few hints you might find useful when prepping your meals!


What do you think? Anything to add?

Be sure you've requested the spreadsheet that goes along with the book. It'll change the way you do everything!

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

Jo

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Living in the Authorverse

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Is it Friday yet? Ha! Just kidding. We have four whole days of awesome ahead of us; keep it up! You're going to do great things this week! While you're here, why not read through my rambling post for a few minutes? I'm gonna talk about living in the authorverse; you know, that realm where all the writers dwell, silently waiting for their chance to jump into the spotlight in some way or another. These are things I've learned over the past six years. Ready? Grab a blankie, and let's get going!

1. Authors are a Rare Breed
Seriously, if you've never met one of these formidable creatures in real life, you're missing out. One minute they're shy and hiding in a corner, and the next minute they're blowing your mind with their knowledge base, talking to you like you've been chummy forever, and breaking out their (usually pretty bad) dance moves from the 80s. Of course, that outgoing behavior may be alcohol related, which brings me to my next item.

2. Authors are Prone to Drinking Massive Quantities
This is something I didn't know was a thing until I attended my first author conference. These ladies finally get out of the house, sans kids and husbands, and go all out. I watched someone literally fall all over herself (and the floor) that year. It's related to a taste of freedom, which brings me to my next item.

3. Authors are Chained to Their Laptops
I'm not kidding. Getting an author away from the computer is like prying a lollipop out of the hand of a toddler. Whoever referred to something easy by saying it's "like taking candy from a baby" has obviously never tried to take candy from a baby. Authors are the same way. Threaten their computer, and you may just get stabbed. This is because our laptops are literally the surrogate mothers of our children, the bearers of our blood, sweat, tears, and time stolen from our human families, which leads into item four.

4. Authors Treat Their Books like Babies
You've probably heard the term "My Book Baby," but did you ever wonder why people say that? Well, it takes nine months to grow a baby, and it takes nearly the same amount of time to write and publish a book (for most people). You care for it and feed it as it grows, clean it up, dress it properly, and then thrust it into the public eye for criticism. Can you imagine if someone took one look at your actual baby, turned to the crowd, and announced that it was the ugliest kid they'd ever seen? You'd be crushed. This is how a one-star review can feel, and it leads to item two on the list above. But when said author has nothing but three stars and up, it sometimes leads to item five, however, I've found that lots of praise isn't necessary to create this mindset.

5. Authors are Divas
Duh. They have to be. They're required to sing their own praises from dawn to dusk. No one is going to buy a book the author says sucks. I mean, if all authors were self-depreciating, this authorverse would be a very bleak place, indeed. So, we're a little stuck-up and demanding sometimes. You can't be told that you have to sing your own praises every day online but then must behave humbly in person. It doesn't work that way. I've never met an author who sold a book by calling themselves crappy writers. Just saying.

6. Authors are Spacey
Yeah, we really are. We blank out on people. Not because we want to be rude, see, but it's because we're all about the stories, and sometimes, inspiration or ideas hit us when we least expect them to. We're not ignoring you; we're plotting (yes, sometimes, it's your death as a character in the book, but it's fiction! Remember that. We don't really kill people [or do we?]) what will happen next in the story. Real life is hard on us, but we can interact! You just need a little patience (or some booze--see item two). You won't find spacey characters in our books, usually, because we like to write what we don't live. This leads me to the final item, number seven.

7. Authors are Normal People with Imaaaaaaaginations
Darn good imaginations! No, we didn't really fly a spaceship to Mars or engage in a threesome with the neighbor; but if we write it well enough so you believe we did, we've done our job! We're here to entertain you and make you feel as though what we wrote is believable and could actually happen. Don't assume we've done the things we've written about in our books or that our brains even work that way. Remember, we're stepping into the character's shoes for our novels, and we see and experience the world as they would if they were real. We don't have to actually take part in something to understand what it might be like.

So, if you meet an author in the wild, approach with a smile, tell them how excited you are to know about their books, excuse any blank outs or crazy behavior, don't assume our lives are the stories we tell, and try to remember that we're showing you, and talking about, our cherished children. We'd love it if you didn't call them trolls. With a megaphone. On national television.

This, my friends, is living in the authorverse. Know the rules. Be the exception!

Do you have anything to add?

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

Jo

Monday, January 15, 2018

How to: Make a Sound Marketing Plan

Happy Monday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm going to talk about that thing we all hate the most (besides blurb writing), marketing. Scary word, eh? It's not when you get into the nuts and bolts of it all. Why? I'll tell you below. So, grab your drink of choice (yes, it's too early for those drinks), and let's get going!

Let's begin with timing.
I always hear folks asking when the best time is to start marketing. Ideally, it's a year out, but who writes a book and waits a year to publish it nowadays? Not me.
You can start six months out, three months out, or one month out, depending on what kind of traffic you're wanting to get.
A six month plan would include teasers and things being shared that far out first. Get people excited about the release so they're foaming at the mouth by the time the book hits the shelves.
My last successful Facebook event, and my bestselling book on release, was planned six months before the book went live. I had over 1k attendees, and a ton of interaction leading up to the release day. It was a LOT of work, but the results were well worth it.
Will I ever start that far out again? I'm not sure. I think a lot of folks were weary of hearing about the book by the time it went live. Do what works best for you. You'll have to test things, play around with dates, and dive in head-first if you want to see results. A failure is just a learning opportunity, after all.

ARC reviewers.
Start looking for them at least three months out, and deliver the book at least a month (some prefer two) ahead of time. They need those hours to get your book read. Why? Well, they have lives, too.
A gentle reminder sent two weeks out is best for getting follow-through.
Sign up more of these than you need reviews. Not everyone will do what they say.
Protect yourself! I give some handy hints on how to nail a pirate here.

Finding your audience.
Let's be honest, my horror and thriller books have a MUCH different audience than my historical fiction or fantasy novels. While some may cross over, chances are most of them won't. I've found my target thriller audience, and I love them to pieces. None of them read other genres. So, where the folks who read erotica hang out, you likely won't have good luck with a gory horror novel.
Where are they hiding? Keep looking. You'll find them!

Cross promotion.
This goes hand-in-hand with the item directly above. Find authors who write in the same genre to do this with. Backmatter inclusions in a YA sci-fi novel of your NA contemporary romance won't do jack. Ask those authors in your genre to also share your stuff on their pages.
RETURN THE FAVOR. Put their previews in YOUR book and share on YOUR page, too. I cannot stress this enough. Be sure and get it all out there a good month in advance.

Now that you have all the things you need to think about, make a list. Start however far out you want, but remember to include tasks and dates for each of the above. Don't rely on social media alone. Go where the readers of your genre are and interact (organically--not just "buy my book" posts).

A sound marketing plan might look like this (you should've already found your readers by this point):
24 Weeks out -

  • Schedule author interviews with blogs
  • Start posting to social media about what's coming
  • Blog about writing the book
  • Schedule Facebook party 
  • Make a landing page for the book on your website
16 Weeks out -
  • Finalize list of bloggers willing to help (yeah, they schedule way ahead of time)
  • Add the book to Goodreads with a release date
  • Find ARC reviewers
8 Weeks out -
  • Have cover designed
  • Order swag and vehicle imagery (I drive around ATL with huge magnets on my car)
  • Contact radio station and local papers
  • Contact authors in your genre willing to swap materials
6 Weeks out -
  • Send book to ARC reviewers
  • Send book to editor
  • Schedule other marketing venues (I love NetGalley)
4 Weeks out -
  • Prep posts and send HTML to bloggers
  • Get book formatted and print book ready to upload
and so on.

Keep up with this stuff in something like Asana, so you get emails to remind you what's about to happen or what needs doing. I wrote a post on navigating that platform here.

What do you think? Have anything to add? Questions?

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

Jo

Friday, January 12, 2018

Fun Fact Friday - Contronyms

Happy Friday, everyone! This is my new, twice-a-month post on a fact I find fun and interesting! Today, we're going to talk about contronyms! Fun word, right? Grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

Do you know what a contronym is? Let's grab the definition first!

Contronym:
con·tro·nym
 'käntrəˌnim/
noun.
A word with two opposite meanings.

So, what does that mean, exactly?

It means the word is different depending on the context it's used in.

For example:
There's dust on that shelf! - means there are particles of dirt on the shelf.
I'm going to dust that shelf! - means to remove particles of dirt on the shelf.
One is a noun, and the other is a verb.

One more:
I got my dog fixed. - means to neuter, or take away.
My truck was broken, but now it's fixed. - means to repair.

That can get awfully confusing, eh? Ahhh, the English language! Such a wonderful thing. *grin*


How crazy are these?

You can find a list of 75 contronyms here.

Y'all... The things I stumble upon! Ha!

Do you find this as awesome as I do?

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

Jo

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Viewpoint - The Bachelor and Honesty

Happy Thursday, everyone! So, today, you're getting some randomness. Now and then, I'm going to throw these posts out there that talk about stuff. Stuff that's on my mind, that I've discussed with others and found interesting, and that I feel you might want to get into with me. Today is one of those days. Ready? Grab your coffee or tea, and let's get going!

I was watching The Bachelor (mine and the hub's guilty pleasure--oh, the drama!) the other night, and the hubs and I found ourselves, once again, amused by the women trying to do things to "stand out" among the crowd. They drive up in special cars or ride up on horses, wear costumes, bring gifts, and say crazy things. My husband and I find this rather hilarious. Of course, my brain started ticking, and I glanced over at him and said, "You know, if one of these girls really wanted to stand out, she'd forego the dress, extensions, false eyelashes, and makeup, and she'd show him what he'll really be looking at in a few years."

That got me thinking. Is the reason these relationships don't last unrealistic expectations that are set from day one?

What if those women wore their regular clothes and looked the way they looked when they're just bumming around the house? After all, that's what the man is going to see once the show is over.

Why not let them stay in the person's hometown and go on dates at local places? That's where they'll be going on dates once they're married.

Instead, these women put on their best faces, pretending to be something they're not, and jaunt all over the world on exciting adventures trying to win the heart of a guy they barely know.

I'm all about reality outside of books. I mean, you know what that person shows you in the few hours you get to spend with them. Some of the women leave without ever getting one-on-one time with the guy. How is that an opportunity?

While I love the drama and the crazy that happens on the show, I think we'd still get that, in a more raw form, if these ladies were just to all date the same guy with none of the glitz and glamor the show spends money and time on.

Once they leave, their hairdressers and makeup artists leave, too! Back to old Plain Jane.

Oh, and don't even get me started on the stuff they say (make up) to look better in the eyes of the guy. I mean, sit down and have a real conversation. Ask about him. Tell him about you. Don't lie. Lies in the beginning? What's the point? He'll find out eventually, and then what do they say? Oh, I didn't want to tell you that for fear of you judging me?

If someone can't accept you for exactly who you are, flaws and all, why would you want to be with them?

What a crappy romance story it would be if writers told it as the women doing anything to impress the guy!
Guy: "Oh, I can't be with you anymore because you own a dog, and I hate dogs."
Girl: "I can get rid of the dog!" Runs from the room crying because she loves that dog and doesn't want to get rid of it.
*Couple breaks up a year later because she gets tired of compromising.*

If it wouldn't work in real life, what in the world makes us think it'll work in the realm of reality TV?

I don't know about all of you, but I'd watch the show that put guys and girls in real situations with real time and honesty, with their actual selves, just to see what actually came of it.

What do you think? Does this drive you bananas, or do you think there's a reason ABC hasn't done a "real" reality TV Bachelor?

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

Jo

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Meet a Book Blogger - Post Apocalyptic Playground (Gaynor Smith)

WELCOME to my new twice-a-month feature! Because I hear everyone asking where all the bloggers have gone, I've decided to introduce you all to some of them. You'll get a little about the blog and the person (or people) behind it, their review policy, and all the links so you can follow them! First up, we have Post Apocalyptic Playground! Woooooohoooo!! Get goin'!

Hey everyone, my name is Gaynor, and I run the Post-Apocalyptic Playground book blog. Thank you so much to Jo for hosting this opportunity for us to get to know each other!


As a little bit about me, I am in the UK with my awesome husband and 2 little crazies who love to read as much as I do! I have a stressful muggle job by day which is why I love to escape into epic fantasy at night. I started the blog about 18 months ago as I felt that was a gap in the representation of some genres in the Indie blogging community, I wanted to help fill that gap and I kind of hope I have a little. Alongside with promo and reviews, I also hold my “bookish ramblings” where I like to share with my followers things that I have been up to, not only to do with books but also gaming, TV shows, and my new obsession of collecting bookish merchandise (I think I have more candles, teas, Funkos, and bookmarks on my shelf than books lol.) I am also an active bookstagrammer and occasional dabbler on twitter.

When it comes to reading, YA fantasy has to be my favourite genre of all time, but I love dystopian (1984 is one of my favourite reads) and science fiction as well. I’m pretty open as to the direction books take so if it loosely falls into one of the above I’m probably going to like it!

I’m going to come clean and say that I don’t have an active review policy on my blog, I’m kind of a “if I love it, I’ll review it” kind of girl. You won’t ever find a review on my blog that is fewer than 3 stars because I appreciate that firstly, not every book is for everyone, and secondly, I know exactly how much blood, sweat, and tears goes into writing a book, and who am I to bring that down? If you would like to approach me to review (and I am always humbled to be asked) please do. I will be open with you if it’s not my cup of tea, but if it’s on genre, the chances of that are slim ;) I don’t offer reviews on contemporary romance or erotica. I’m not against the content, however, I would just prefer it to be wrapped up in a fantasy world! As well as my blog, I also post my reviews to Amazon UK, Goodreads, and I share the review link on twitter.

You can find me in all kinds of places and I would be humbled if you wanted to contact me or follow me on any of these platforms:
Blog: https://post-apocalypticplayground.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/postapocalypticplayground/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/postapocalypticplayground/
Twitter: @PA_Playground

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, if you have anything you want to ask me, then please go ahead in the comments, or if you wanted to get in touch privately you can contact me either via the Facebook page or at postapocalypticplayground [at] gmail [dot] com!

<3

For really, you guys! She's awesome. Go show her some love! Thanks for coming round and chatting at us, Gaynor!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review - Weeds of Detroit

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today, I'm bringing you a BOOK REVIEW! :O I don't think I wrote a single review in 2017, and that's just criminal. This year, I'm doing at least two a month. Some will be books I read last year, and some will be books I read this year. Who knows? But you're getting those reviews! Get your clicking fingers ready, and let's get going!

On the chopping block today is:

Title: Weeds of Detroit
Author: Misty Paquette/Misty Provencher
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 392 pages
Buy Links: Amazon Kindle ~ Paperback

Blurb:
A NOVEL, BASED ON TRUE EVENTS.

I turned seventeen less than two months ago.

A week ago, I ran away from home, in the country outskirts of suburbia.
Now, I’m living at a hotel in downtown Detroit.

At home, you could walk to the corner store when it was dark outside and hear frogs croaking in the ditches on either side of the dirt road.
At the hotel, you don’t go out at night. All you hear is squealing tires and curses shouted from broken windows.
At home, we didn’t lock our front doors at night.
There are three locks on my hotel room door. One in the knob, a chain, and a dead bolt. I’m not sure it’s enough to keep everyone out.
At home, I’d be starting my Senior year in high school.
Here, I’m learning what it takes to survive.

I hope I make it to eighteen.

~~~

Now for the review!
I'm a long time Provencher fan. Since I read The Fly House, I've been watching for another I thought I might enjoy. I grabbed Weeds from Misty at an author conference (Great Lakes Book Bash) a few months ago. I was so excited to read it, I started the day after I got home. I'd heard great things about the book, and I might have wanted a peek inside her life and head. *grin* It's always interesting to find out what events shaped a person into who they've become. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I was lost in the world of vagrants and thugs as this seventeen-year-old girl tried to find her footing as a free-range chick. Anyway, enough about how I got hold of the book; let's get to the review!

From a Reader's Perspective:
Oh, man. I connected with the MC, Lael, on a whole other level. I could feel her pain, fear, and shattered heart acutely as she reacted to things that happened around/to her, and I knew her frustration as she ranted at her mother in the beginning of the book. As teens, we always think we have it figured out, right? Anyway, as Lael faced the new and frightening situations in her story, I was actually scared for her. Misty did a great job of pulling me into the story and putting me in Lael's shoes. Even the secondary characters came to life on the page.

Pacing of the story was spot on, and there was never a time I felt like it dragged at all. It was smooth from start to finish. I loved the descriptions of the places the characters were in. There was just enough so I could see it in my head, but it didn't bog me down in details. Plot was smooth, also, and the story worked from beginning to end. It was cohesive.

You know you've gotten hold of a great book when you tear up as you're reading, and this book did that to me. I felt angry, sad, and fearful. It was just perfect.

From an Editor's Perspective:
I didn't find a crapton of errors. That's rare these days, so woooooooo!!! Of course, like I said above, I'm a long time Provencher fan, and this is one of the reasons.

Rating:
1 Star for giving me characters I loved and had feelings about
1 Star for an awesome plot
1 Star for just enough description to keep me engaged
1 Star for pacing that was bang on
1 Star for editing
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended read!

What do you think? Have you read it? Plan to?

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

Jo

Monday, January 8, 2018

How to: Write a Book Review

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome to my new schedule! At the beginning of every week, you'll be getting a How to post to warm you up for the five work days ahead. These range from Photoshop tips and tricks to basic marketing plans and beyond. Be sure you subscribe to get all the yummy goodness in your inbox! Today is all about writing a book review. Yeah, you're probably thinking how easy it is, but let me tell you, I've seen some doozies. There are people out there who need to read this. Even if you think you have it down pat, keep going. See if there's something you might be able to do better.

Why am I writing this post? Because I saw a thread on FB yesterday where people (authors AND readers) were raging about the way reviewers review books. I thought perhaps I could help. Ready? Let's get going!

There are a few very simple steps to a book review (all of these are optional, of course):
  • Talk about how it made you feel when XYZ happened.
  • Talk about how well or poorly the plot was structured.
  • Talk about the characters and why you liked or didn't like them or what they made you think of. Did you connect with any of them? Why?
  • Talk about the formatting of the book.
  • Talk about the pacing (too fast or too slow).
  • Then talk about what the book left you with. Thoughts or feelings you had when you were done.
And it's that easy. You can even sum this up in just a couple of sentences. Like so:
This book blew me away when it twisted the way it did. I felt like Henry and Gina were two of my closest friends, and I didn't want to see that little hiccup; it made me cry. There was no way I could put this book down once I started! It flowed from beginning to end beautifully and kept me riveted to the pages. Highly recommended read!

Or, if you hated it:
I could barely finish this book. Because Henry and Gina were never given backstory, they felt very one-dimensional to me. There wasn't a single main, or secondary, character that I connected with. This plot dragged on and on, and it felt like the story was never going to end. I was left sorely disappointed.

See? Those aren't long, but they communicate the basic idea. You don't even have to include all of the above, but it sometimes helps people understand why you're rating the book the way you are.

Now, a lot of the people like to sum up the story. I strongly suggest trying to avoid this when possible. I mean, if the idea is to sell the book and surprise the reader, telling the whole plot in the review makes it so no one really needs to read the book, right? Don't talk about the story itself; talk about your feelings about the story.

Writing a book review isn't rocket science. You can do it, and it literally takes just a few minutes to make a lasting impact.

What do you like to see in a review? What do you not like to see?

Come on back tomorrow for one of MY book reviews! I'm playing catch up from this year, and first on the list is Misty Provencher's Weeds of Detroit!

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

Jo

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Looking Back and Forward - A 2018 Yearly Planning Post

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year's Eve/Day. Today, I'm laying my blog and writing plan out there for you all to see. We'll look back over 2017 and see what can be improved upon in 2018. Ready? Let's get going!

First up: This Blog

Looking Back
This year was abysmal. Life happened, and a lot of my time was given to things around here. I'm not sorry, because my family will always come first, but since everyone is on the upswing health-wise, I'm going to do MUCH better this year. I only had 71 posts for the entire year, and that's just not okay. I clocked 158 in 2016, and nearly double that the years preceding. Time to fix it!

Looking Forward
Going forward, I've decided to go back to my five day posting schedule, but with a little something different. Sure, I'll share the occasional new release for myself or a friend, I'll share excerpts, and I'll be posting book reviews again for the first time in a LONG time, but the bulk of the blog will be news, tips and tricks for authors on writing and marketing, the occasional opinion post, and learning type posts. This will all begin next week. I have a plan for those posts, and I intend to stick to it like glue. It's not difficult to come up with a year's worth of content; I just needed to DO IT. Planning is everything (you know how I preach this--I just need to practice what I preach LOL).

As you all know if you've been around a while, if life happens and my family needs me, I'll go dark, but this year, I promise to be more open about what's going on so you're not thinking I've quit.

Next: Books and Writing

Looking Back
2017 was a pretty good publishing year for the F5, but no so much for myself. Our little group put out 30 episodes of a serial this year! Impressive, to say the least. You can see what we did on the Frayed Fairy Tales website here. That being said, I only released two books of my own: Utterances and How to be a TOTAL LOSER. That's just over 100k words. I can do better.

Looking Forward
2018 will be full of words. I already have a ton of writing done on Provocation and Intensification, and The House is written but not yet tweaked or edited. Those will be released in the first quarter of the year. Second quarter will be all about more words. I've stepped way back from other things, and I intend to put all my effort into getting stories told. I'm a writer, and I need to write. It's my happy place.

Last: Marketing, Events, and Life

Looking Back
I did a crap job on marketing this year, but sales have been okay--not nearly as good as 2016, but what did I expect? I attended five events: RAI, Utopia, Chapter.con, OIBF, and GLBB. Four of those were as an author. Myself, the F5, and IBGW also sponsored (in some way or another) four events: Chapter.con, OIBF, GLBB, and OUAB (I like to help when and where I can). I'm not positive there was a huge return on those investments, but most of them felt good/right. Life, of course, was full of ups and downs, but I feel as though I handled them with grace and dignity. There was no crying in a corner or pitching a fit like a toddler.

Looking Forward
I'll be doing more of the marketing I did in 2016 and adding on a couple of new things. I'm only attending one event this year: RAI, but there will be no others. That was a difficult decision, but it's what's best for me at this time. I have a writing/planning retreat scheduled in June of this year with the other F5 ladies (helloooooo, beach!), and that's going to be IT. My office will get an overhaul so it's more conducive to writing, too. This year is allll about the words and the wellness. Even when I'm not writing in my special place, I'll be thinking about writing and putting ideas on paper. Many plots will be had, and many hours will be logged in my home gym.

So, if you want to see me or get autographs or pics, you'll have to be in Roanoke, VA in April. Period. I'm not even sure what will happen in 2019 at this point. We'll see.

2017 had me by the balls. I fought MS, my husband fought cancer (like a beast, I might add), we buried my father-in-law in September, my eldest son did a tour in Afghanistan, and my second eldest had a serious fight with depression. I questioned decisions I made, got burned by a couple of people I thought had my best interests at heart (like I did theirs), and made mistakes.

But there was good in there, too. I connected with my husband on a deeper level than ever before and jaunted all over Europe with him, I got some great road time with my best friend (who I'm positive was my twin in a previous life), I made some amazing new friends, laughed until I couldn't breathe, saw my granddaughter turn one, lost a crapton of weight and gained a new lease on life, and KILLED NaNoWriMo (like, crushed it, seriously).

2018 is going to be my best year yet. I can feel it. BRING IT ON! Let's do this thing. Thanks for sticking with me through that post. I know it was long.

Do you make plans like this? Share some!

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

Jo