REVIEW: THESE NAMELESS THINGS by Shawn Smucker

Monday, June 29, 2020

Hey everyone!  Today I have a review for the freshly-released novel These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker -- in fact, it just came out today!  But before I get into my review, check out some info on the novel as well as Smucker.



BLURB

Before Dan opened his door to find a wounded woman who had escaped from the tormentors in the mountain, his life had become rather quiet.  He and the eight other people in the mostly abandoned town had become friends.  They spent peaceful evenings around the campfire and even made vague plans to journey east one day and leave the ominous mountain behind.  

But the woman's arrival changes everything.  Who is she?  How does she know so much about Dan's brother, who is still held captive in the mountain?  Why are long-forgotten memories rising to the surface?  And why does Dan feel so compelled to keep her presence in his house a secret?

Visionary writer Shawn Smucker is back with an unsettling story that invites us to consider two challenging questions: to what lengths will we go to assuage our own guilt?  Is there a limit to the things we will do for the people we love?  

Order from AMAZON.
(Also, look at that cover!  It's gorgeous.)  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Smucker  is the award-winning author of Light from Distant Stars, the young adult novels The Day the Angels Fell and The Edge of Over There, and the memoir Once We Were Strangers.  He lives with his wife and six children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  You can find him online at www.shawnsmucker.com.  



MY REVIEW

I can't really think of much to say that won't spoil this novel!  My goodness.  But I can say that it's an awesome blend of Dante's Inferno and Cormac McCarthy's The Road, with a very original twist.  While I had my suspicions about these characters and their condition from the start, I never cemented any particular idea in my mind until the  reality of the situation was revealed toward the end of the novel.  The book itself is very ethereal; otherworldly.  You can never quite get a grasp on whether the setting is real or not, and it's exactly supposed to be that way.  It's a book that you have to get comfortable with not knowing, with being uncomfortable, because it's supposed to be that way.  That took a bit of getting used to for me, especially as the book progressed past the first several chapters, but it's a stroke of genius.  It's also a book that requires a re-read after you've finished it the first time; you'll probably pick up on a lot of things after you get the full picture.  And while it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger (as far as I know, it's a standalone), it's very fitting.  These Nameless Things follows the main character, Dan, in first-person POV, meaning that we learn about this setting - where east is an inevitable unknown and the mountains hold untold horrors that no one can quite remember - through his eyes, as he recalls certain bits of information and learns more himself.  I have to say that while this one took a bit of getting used to, I ended up loving the twist toward the end and everything started to fall into place at that point.  You'll also want to stick around for the author's note at the end.  When all is said and done, this novel is thought-provoking, nicely written with stark descriptions and a genius plot, and a sense of mystery that will keep your attention from the start.

Announcing my Official July Projects + new obsessions

Friday, June 26, 2020

Today,  I thought I'd share about my current writing projects and announce a couple of new book idea that I revamped...oh, maybe a week or so ago that I'm knee-deep in already.  It's been that kind of a month.  


While I won't be participating in Camp NaNo July on the website this year, I will be writing a lot.  (At least, that's the plan - but you all probably know how plans are.)  I will, however, be involved in a couple of different writing groups geared toward accountability.  My main goals for July are....

1) To finish the third draft of Keeping Cassie, which will send me into the first big round of edits.  I'm aiming toward an end-of-August release date, tentatively, for that one.  I woke up this morning and decided that that's probably an insane goal (to publish by the end of August), but I'm sticking with it.  I know I've hardly shared anything about it, but that's just because it's part of my less-popular series (even though I love my character-babies...).  But be on the lookout for a cover reveal, which should be happening pretty soon!  

2) To finish the second draft of The Lady of Lanaria, which needs quite a bit of rewriting.  I'm super excited about the changes I'm making, though, and I know it'll be better for it.  I'm hoping for a November release, but, again, we'll see how it goes.  I've also been working on cover ideas for this one, and will be sharing sometime after the Keeping Cassie cover reveal!  

Now, those manuscripts probably have a total count of about 118,000 words combined.  Are my goals lofty?  Probably.  It's nice outside, which means I want to be outside, it's storm season, which means lots of migraines for me, and my internet connection likes to play tricks, so we'll see.  

But that logic doesn't usually stop the little part of my brain that piles on more writing ideas.  

Did I add more goals on top of those already-lofty goals?  Absolutely.  

Am I super pumped about another book idea?  
Oh Yeah Rocket GIFs | Tenor
(GIF: Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, 2014.  Tenor.)


What is my book idea, you ask?  Well, I actually have two.  I don't have a title for the first one, and I barely have a coherent blurb at this point, but it involves a Wyoming ranch, barrel racing, and romance, steeped in themes of healing, forgiveness, and moving forward from trauma.  Ah, yes.  Most of my favorite things rolled into one lovely, messy idea.  I'll be sharing aesthetic collages and my inspiration for the book pretty soon, but I can give you the first names of our main characters: Emerson and Rhett.  I'm also looking into the guidelines to submit it to Love Inspired Romance for publication, but who knows - regardless, it's seeing the light of day and I'm pumped!  I've been mulling over this idea for several months, changing plot ideas here and there, trading out different features, but it always felt off.  Cue the 12:32-A.M. partly incoherent brain that whispers, "you've gotta change it all."  So that's what I'm doing!  

Oh, and I'm revamping another idea that's more of a mystery/crime drama type, which I've had simmering in the back of my mind for a couple years.  For the past week or so, every time I try to focus on prepping my main goals, that bugger jumps up and tries to distract me, so I suppose I should give it some attention.  I just haven't decided on the amount of pain and suffering the characters should endure.  We'll see...
And the title shall be Project Remember Me. 
Evil Grin GIF | Gfycat
(GIF: Loki, Avengers, 2012.  Gyfcat.) 


Someone  please stop me.  



What are your writing plans for the summer?  (Or reading, or just...general plans!)  


REVIEW: WATERMAN'S FIRE by Angela Nowak!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Hey everyone!  I recently had the privilege of reading and reviewing Angela Nowak's novel, Waterman's Fire, a Christian YA novel that's full of suspense and faith.  Before I get into my review, here's some info about Nowak as well as her novel!  




BLURB

THE WAR ON DRUGS IS REAL.  WHO WILL BE THE WINNER?

Sixteen year old James groans a half-expectant prayer.  To his surprise, the answer is more than what he bargained for - James is recruited to act as a decoy to bring down Mexico's ruthless drug barons.  As his faith in God grows, James is determined to do something even more challenging than helping to catch criminals.  He is about to face his estranged father whom he must forgive.  Is God still going to help him?  Will his friends see the reality of God's power in his life?  Can he win over Ruby's heart once he is back from Mexico?

Available for Kindle and paperback from AMAZON 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Nowak is a YA and historical fiction yet-to-be author.  From her native Black Sea coast via Moscow, all the way to sunny California and now to rainy, rural Suffolk, in England, with five kids besides, she enjoys her adventures in life.  Little did she imagine what the future holds when her mother used to say: "Someone has to write this story down!"  Found by God, she mines her inspiration from the Bible.  A good sense of humor and some dark chocolate is a must in life.  So far, she penned down, with her younger ones in mind, Big and Brave and with her older ones, Waterman's Fire.  Stay tuned.  

Follow her on INSTAGRAM



MY REVIEW

This book is a unique novel for the YA genre, and covers several difficult topics that young adults face in today's society.   For me, the first chapter took a bit to get through, but the plot picked right up after that, and did so especially in the second half of the novel (it's divided into two sections).  The novel follows James on what begins as his summer vacation, but quickly turns into something much bigger when he finds something important on the beach.  In the second half of the book, the reader's attention is divided between Ruby (a local girl who catches James' eye) as well as James as they find themselves in different parts of the world for the time being.  It's a novel with a bit of globe-trotting, a good bit of suspense, and a healthy dose of faith, with great themes of forgiveness and maturing as a young adult.  Nowak's descriptions of the different landscapes the characters see were especially enjoyable as well; very nicely done.  I've never been outside of the United States, but felt like I could almost be on the beach or in Mexico along with the characters!  It was a fairly quick read as well, especially once you get drawn into the story and invested in the characters.  While some parts of the story did feel a little "bumpy" - in that they seemed a bit rambling or didn't flow with the rest of the book - it was still enjoyable to read and, as I mentioned, easy to become attached to the characters.  




Do you plan on picking up a copy of Waterman's Fire?  What are some of your favorite globe-trotting novels?  

BLOG TOUR: Review of FADE TO WHITE by Tara K. Ross!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hey everyone! Today I have an exciting post -- a review of the newly-released YA novel Fade to White by Tara K. Ross.  This book is a fantastic novel and has such important themes.  Read on for some info about Ross as well as Fade to White!  


Fade to White Cover.jpg
BLURB

Thea Fenton’s life looks picture-perfect, but inside, she is falling apart. Wracked by anxiety no one seems to understand or care about, she resorts to self-harm to deflect the pain inside.

When a local teen commits suicide, Thea’s anxiety skyrockets. Unexplainable things happen, leaving her feeling trapped within her own chaotic mind. The lines between reality and another world start to blur, and her previously mundane issues seem more daunting and insurmountable than ever.

Then she meets Khi, a mysterious new boy from the coffee shop who seems to know her better than she knows herself—and doesn’t think she’s crazy. His quiet confidence and unfounded familiarity draw her into an unconventional friendship. 

Khi journeys with her through grief, fear, and confusion to arrive at compassion for the one person Thea never thought she could love. 

A deeply transformational novel from an authentic new voice in Christian young adult fiction.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Ross_headshot_white on light.jpg

As a teen, Tara K. Ross discovered how well-written prose can change the trajectory of a person's life. Case in point: her life. She now passes along this wisdom through her work as a school speech-language pathologist and mentor with local youth programs. She is also blessed with a ridiculously supportive family that grants her time to create stories that tackle the interplay of faith and mental health. FADE TO WHITE is her debut novel (IlluminateYA, May 2020).

When Tara is not writing or reading all things YA, you can find her rock climbing the Ontario escarpment, planning her family's next jungle trek or blogging at www.hopeprose.com.


INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK




MY REVIEW


This book was quite the wild ride!  While it wasn't exactly what I was expecting after reading the synopsis, it was attention-grabbing from the start and it's easy to sympathize with the characters, especially Thea.  Written in the first-person POV, it almost feels like you're stepping into Thea's shoes, especially with some of the problems she experiences through the story.  It was a quick read for me - I read a bit more than the second half of it in one day.  Thea deals with a lot of problems that are becoming more and more prevalent in today's society, especially among youth: mental health problems, stress, broken families, and just trying to find your place in the world.  She struggles with anxiety while her family falls apart, and all of that stress is compounded by the shocking death of one of her classmates -- and she still refuses help, refuses to accept that she needs it.  While we didn't see as much of the mysterious Khi as I would've liked, especially considering his role in the story, it was still very interesting to see how all of the pieces of the story wove together: Khi's convenient presence when Thea needed him most; her "fair-haired-child" brother's arrival back in town, the girl's suicide, and how it all ties the story up.  It's almost like a contemporary YA meets just a taste of mystery and a good balance of faith (not overbearing, but a definite portion of the story), so it was a great read with excellent themes on growing past old grudges, overcoming peer pressure, healing, and accepting help when it's needed.  Fade to White deals with all of these topics - and the ones I mentioned earlier - with grace and balances the bad side with the good rather well.  It's difficult to find books that strike that balance among the scores of books that either romanticize suicide and anxiety and the ones that pretend neither exist in the world -- but this book is one of the good ones, and I'm glad it's out there for YA readers. 



Pick up your copy HERE.


Do you plan on reading Fade to White?  




COVER REVEAL: THE GRIM ALLIANCE by Angela R. Watts!

Friday, June 19, 2020


Hey everyone!  Today I have the privilege of sharing the cover for Angela R. Watts' upcoming release, The Infidel Books #2, The Grim Alliance, arriving next month!  And boy, is it awesome.  I can't wait to see the first two books side by side.  Make sure to follow Angela R. Watts' blog HERE for more updates on the upcoming release and for updates on her other books as well!    

But without further ado, here's the blurb -- and then we'll get to the cover.  


BLURB

WHEN THE NATION RIOTS, THE INFIDELS MUST BLEED.

The Second Civil War storms through the crippled US and winter brings nothing but disaster. West Johnston has earned his mafia father’s trust while searching for hidden answers: why are the UN leaders being assassinated, and why can’t the killers be found? If West can’t stop the Union from attacking D.C. in their last attempt to win the war, how can he stop his father?

Springtown remains one of the few townships left standing amid the tyrannical rule. Another group of gangsters prepare the town for winter. Rene’ Fisher is torn between fearing for her boyfriend Simon’s life and the upheaval taking place in Springtown. Can her father keep the town at peace? Will God have mercy on the allegiance the town must form with an unlikely candidate in order to survive, or will Rene’s home burn like the rest of the world?

Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, The Grim Alliance steps into a war-ridden nation where bleeding for what you believe is the only option for those determined to win. But with faith, can even the bloodiest hands be made clean?

Releasing July 2020

Also, if you haven't already read the first book in the series, The Divided Nation, it's on sale for 0.99 cents on Kindle!  The prequel short stories Lockdown and Emmanuel are also on Amazon.  And don't forget to leave reviews!  They're 100% the bread and butter for authors.  



And now for the cover reveal....

coming july 2020.png

Wow. Isn't that awesome?!  I just keep going back and staring at it.  What are your thoughts - and are you excited for the release of The Grim Alliance?  

REVELL REVIEW: STORIES THAT BIND US by Susie Finkbeiner

Thursday, June 11, 2020


Hey everyone!  I have another review for you, this time for Stories that Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner!  It was a truly enjoyable read, and I was grateful for the opportunity to read it.  Here's some more info on the book itself before I get into the specifics.  


BLURB
Rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at forty.  With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what's next, never imagining what God had in mind. 

When her estranged sister returns to town, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a five-year-old nephew she never knew she had.  In 1960s small-town Michigan, they make an odd pair.  Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair.  Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes.  But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives.  Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, as well as A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home.  She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the country.  Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.  

This book was just released earlier this month.  Make sure to grab a copy HERE!  



MY REVIEW

This one earned 5 stars from me.  While the first couple of chapters were a bit on the slower side and the narrative took a bit to get used to, the story was easy to slip into and enjoy.  Finkbeiner uses a rather interesting storytelling device of mirroring modern day with the past, and of using fictional stories (told to Hugo by Betty) to mirror the lessons that both Betty and Hugo are learning at the time.  It's a storytelling choice that I've often wondered about -- how well it would work and if it could be pulled off at all -- and I'm glad to say that this book really pulled it off.  It's definitely reminiscent of This Is Us in its storytelling, its ability to grab difficult themes and work with them, and to draw the reader in.  It's easy to read a hundred pages of this in the blink of an eye -- I did just that when I was finishing the novel.  You'll find yourself rooting for the characters and mulling over the difficult topics presented; some of the snubs and nasty comments that she and Hugo face considering the time era, mourning losses, even mental health -- which was dealt with horrifically in the 60s.  It handles each topic with grace and enough blatancy to make known the atrocities and the good that can come out of each thing.  

The themes of family, struggle, growth, healing, and forgiveness are big in this book, and it's easy to get sucked into the storyline and even easier to really 'feel for' the characters.  While the ending seemed a little bit rushed (maybe I just wanted to keep reading, though) it was an enjoyable read and a very poetic and satisfying ending.  It has just a touch of humor, a lot of heart, and a whole bunch of important topics to unpack.  


Do you plan on picking up a copy of Stories that Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner?    

SPOTLIGHT & REVIEW: JAYNE'S ENDEAVOUR by Lauren Compton!

Monday, June 8, 2020



Today I have a book spotlight and review for Lauren Compton's fantastic historical novel, Jayne's Endeavour.  This book was an absolute joy to read, and I can't tell you how relieved I was when I saw that there would be more books in the series.  It's just that good!  I read it in a few hours and couldn't put it down.  Before I get into the review, here's some info on Jayne's Endeavour and Lauren Compton!  

BLURB


Mysterious strangers, a Scripture verse, and a threat.
“Reids never give up.” The words once held so much truth. But at eighteen, Jayne Reid is beginning
to wonder if she can live up to that standard.
When puzzling strangers appear and odd things start to happen, Jayne and her two younger sisters
must find a solution—or lose everything.
What mystery lurks in the shadows of the Australian bush? Who is the man in town who thinks he
can buy and bully anyone he wishes? And is it all somehow connected to their new farmhand?
Journey with Jayne as she struggles to change fear into boldness and boldness into a trusting
relationship with her Heavenly Father. What adventure lies ahead?

PURCHASE from Lauren | AMAZON | THE BOOK DEPOSITORY | GOODREADS




ABOUT THE SERIES

The JOY Series follows three sisters on a quest to keep their parents’ legacy and dreams alive.
Loaded with 19th century Australian adventure, it’s a series full of intrigue, adventure, and faith for
ages 12 and up!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



Lauren Compton lives in Australia on a sheep farm—surrounded by mountains and plenty of Aussie
wildlife! From a young age she has loved books and writing-related things (yep, that includes
spending ages in the writing supplies department!). Now she has embarked on a mission to write
books that both entertain AND encourage. Her desire is to weave stories that point readers to her
Heavenly Father while at the same time being a whole lot of fun!




MY REVIEW

Jayne's Endeavour, like I mentioned, was a quick read for me.  While the first couple of chapters were a bit slower in pace, the plot picked up nicely and presented several realistic challenges that Jayne and her sisters, Olivia and Yvonne, had to face on the Australian ranch land that their parents left them.  One character in particular left me guessing up to the last second when his true identity was revealed, and suffice it to say, my guesses were wrong and I was very pleasantly surprised!  Compton does an excellent job of weaving inconspicuous hints into the story that you easily recall only after the truth has been pointed out -- a writing device that I'm a big fan of!  

The characters show a lot of growth through the story, and were realistically written. Additionally, the struggles that they face form and mature them, and they're important lessons for readers as well!  Great themes of turning from fear and growing close to God are embodied in this novel.  It's a nice, clean read for readers who enjoy historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and a clever ending that has somewhat of a cliffhanger.  



As an aside, I also found it absolutely fascinating to read a book set in Australia.  I don't read books set in Australia very often (although I've noticed a growing number of them on the market and a few are definitely on my TBR), and it was just so interesting to read about the different wildlife and trees - it's something that definitely kept my attention throughout the story, and Compton's descriptions are pretty clear as well.  I mean, Jayne mentions kangaroos as natural wildlife!  (Okay, so as a little kid, I was completely and perhaps unhealthily obsessed with kangaroos, so maybe I just got excited because of a little leftover zeal...)  At any rate, I had an absolute blast reading this book and I can't wait to read the second book in the series!    




GIVEAWAY



Of course, what would a blog tour be without a giveaway?  Click HERE to enter the awesome giveaway for Jayne's Endeavour  -- two prizes to boot!  


 

REVELL REVIEW: WHAT MOMMA LEFT BEHIND by Cindy K. Sproles

Saturday, June 6, 2020


Hey everyone!  Today I've got a review for my latest Revell Reads review -- What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles!  It's a new historical release, and I was super excited to have the opportunity to read it and review.  The blurb really caught my attention right off the bat, and the story did as well.  So...let's get to it!  

BLURB
 
In the face of overwhelming obstacles, she'll need courage, grit, and a tender heart. 

Worie Dressar is seventeen years old when influenza and typhoid ravage her Appalachian Mountain community in 1877, leaving behind a growing number of orphaned children with no way to care for themselves.  Worie's mother has been secretly feeding several of these little ones on Sourwood Mountain.  But when tragedy strikes, Worie is left to figure out why and how she was caring for them.  

Plagued with two good-for-nothing brothers -- one greedy and the other a drunkard -- Worie must fight to save her home and the children now in her begrudging care.  Along the way, she discovers the beauty of unconditional love and the power of forgiveness as she cares for all of Momma's children.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries.  An author, storyteller, and popular speaker, Cindy teaches at writers conferences across the country and directs the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina.  Editor of ChristianDevotions.us and managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, Cindy has a BA in business and journalism and lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her family.  


This book just came out June 2nd, so make sure to snag a copy soon!  You can do so HERE



MY REVIEW

I'm...conflicted about this book.  I was super excited to read it, but while I loved some elements about it, others were just a bit confusing -- and some issues felt unresolved.  

I've been thinking about it for almost a week since I finished reading my copy.  I've decided to give it a 4 star review -- maybe a 3.7 if we're talking fractions.  The story has some really solid themes about forgiveness, bravery, and family that I really enjoyed and support wholeheartedly.  I had a lot of fun reading it, and the first person point of view was surprising for historical fiction; not to mention that it's written in supposed Appalachian slang, which took a bit to get used to but brings a lot of endearment to the story as a whole.  The story itself is intriguing and quite a page-turner; when I started reading it, I only intended to read a few chapters and ended up 80 pages in right off the bat.  The short chapters really make you keep reading.  The characters were easy to like and empathize with, and it has a few pretty clever twists and turns that you might not pick up on originally.  Overall, I did enjoy reading it.  

However, the timeline felt a bit off--at one point, it's mentioned that a particular event happened a couple of months ago, and in my mind it felt like something that had happened a week ago or so.  And there were some general bits of information about one of her brothers, Calvin, that felt like they were planted as hints early on in the story, only to fall useless at the end, unresolved, which frustrated me a bit because all that perceived mystery build-up was swept away.  

Overall, if I had to answer the question, "would you re-read this?" I'd say yes.  It's one of those books that is lovably flawed, but has such solid themes and faith elements that you can overlook the flaws to enjoy the story.  


Do you plan on reading What Momma Left Behind?  What's your favorite historical novel?      


CREATIVES VIRTUAL CON: ALWAYS GREENER by J.R.H. Lawless!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Hey everyone!  Today's the first day of the Creatives Virtual Con, and the signups didn't go quite as planned so I don't have additional bloggers, BUT  I do have a spotlight for an author, J.R.H. Lawless, and his book Always Greener!  It sounds really interesting, especially for fans of science fiction, dystopian, or comedy, so let's get into it!



BLURB

In the year 2072, new technology allows the television to be broadcast straight into and out of the human eye.  When a reality show offers a lifetime of lazy luxury to the one person living the world's worst life, everyone is out to prove just how bad they've got it.  Eight contestants vie for the prize, allowing the whole world to see life through their eyes, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Only the show's ever-smiling host, an equally hopeful and hapless former weatherman, seems to have any faith left in humanity.  Each week, he struggles behind the scenes as he attempts to elevate the show and wring meaning out of his own unhappy existence.  

Clever, hilarious, poignant, and relevant, this sci-fi satire mixes the whimsical wordplay and humor of Douglas Adams with the bleak social commentary of Black Mirror at its best.  


BARNES & NOBLE | INDIE BOUND | AMAZON | GOOGLE BOOKS | KOBO BOOKS

For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, Always Greener will be on sale for 0.99 cents on Kindle, so make sure to snag a copy!  Click HERE for more information from the publisher, including  testimonies, reviews, and purchase links!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J.R.H. Lawless is a bestselling SF author from Atlantic Canada who blends comedy with political themes - drawing heavily, in both cases, on his experience as a lawyer and as Secretary General of a Parliamentary group at the French National Assembly.  A member of SFWA and Codex Writers, his short fiction has been published in many professional venues, including foreign sales.  He is also a craft article contributor to the SFWA blog, the SFWA Bulletin, and Tor.com.  His debut novel, Always Greener, is out now from Uproar Books, and the sequel, The Rude Eye of Rebellion, comes out in Fall 2020.  He is represented by Marisa Corvisiero at the Corvisiero Literary Agency, and would love to hear from you on Twitter, over at @SpaceLawyerSF!  



Are you planning to pick up a copy of Always Greener?  The synopsis definitely piqued my attention--and since it's a comedy, why not?  Everyone needs a laugh right now.  Do you enjoy reading sci-fi?  Sound off in the comments below!  

Also, if you have a social media page and want to help out, (and if you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance that you do), please feel free to share this post to spread the word about the sale for Always Greener!  


Announcing my newest project!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Hi everybody!  Before I get to the main content of the post, I wanted to make another quick announcement first.  On a whim, I entered a flash fiction prompt contest on Cassandra Hamm's Instagram account last week, and I actually won! (???!)  I'm still a little baffled by that because there were so many wonderful entries!  It's a short little thing, barely a scene, but you can check it out as well as the winners' entries for the other prompts HERE.  I used this prompt to try out a dystopian character that has been bugging my brain lately, so this might even be a little snippet for something coming down the line.  Thank you so much to Cassandra Hamm as well as her co-judge, Marit Edwards-Ronning.  This contest was a blast, so make sure to check them out on Instagram for more contests later on!  


Okay, I said that one was going to be quick...but there's a reason my nickname is Wordy.  Back to the schedule of events: 


Today, I'm sharing my newest project - aka my Camp NaNo project from April - with you all, including a blurb!  I'm hoping to have it published in fall, but with everything going on right now, who knows.  June could bring a resurgence of dinosaurs and we'll have to evade velociraptors to get the mail or something, causing proof copies to be late.  September could bring a meteorite that destroys all life on the planet, leaving only indestructible cockroaches and bits of glitter that you never could get off of your counter from that 3rd grade art project.  Horror of horrors, I could slip back into procrastination tomorrow.  Ya never know, it's 2020.  


Anyway, I am working on a book called The Lady of Lanaria.  For a little bit of context, this is a fairytale retelling that combines the Brothers Grimm fairytale Rapunzel with Lord Alfred Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" together into one novel.  I'm already working on the second draft now, and just recruited a friend for some help with the pesky introduction (by the way, said friend is having a sale for her editing services, so check that out HERE), and writing it has been surprisingly smooth sailing!  



I knew I had to write this book ever since last July, but I just got around to it in April.  In July, another friend and I were talking about the publishing industry and he mentioned that he didn't want to hear about me giving up on ideas because someone said they were stupid.  Of course, we have countless instances of that in publishing, oftentimes the greats -- J.K. Rowling and George Lucas were two he referred to.  And he's absolutely correct.  We shouldn't give up on our stuff because one or two (or even a hundred) people say it's stupid, because there might be one person in the world who needs what's in that book.  And if we have the ability, if we have the God-given inspiration and talent to do so, why not?  

I know I needed to hear that, because I'd been on a major streak of writer's block mostly thanks to the little jerk in my head that says "really?  Well that's stupid," every time I had an idea.  And since The Lady of Lanaria was the first book idea (of many, actually) to pop into my mind as soon as my friend said that, I figured it could be first. 

So if you needed a reminder to keep going on your own projects....keep going.  I don't want to hear about you giving up on an idea because someone thought it was stupid, either.  



Okay, well, I think I dragged this out long enough.  Are you aggravated or waiting with bated breath?  I probably know that answer, never mind.




You can also check out my Pinterest board for it HERE.  


BLURB

A kingdom cursed with mysterious plagues, a promise, and a kidnapped princess.  
"Mark my words, Evangeline; if you set foot outside, you will surely die."  

Evangeline has spent her entire life hidden in an ancient watchtower, gazing through a window as the world passes her by.  She heeds her mother's warning closely, the truth hidden from her - that she is the kidnapped princess of Lanaria, and her kidnapper is the most feared Witch in the land.  

When a young guard stumbles upon the old tower, Evangeline's life is flipped sideways, and she realizes that there's more to life than hiding in a tower.  As she strikes up a secret friendship with the guard, she learns more about the kingdom of Lanaria and the mysterious plagues that haunt it and all who live there.  She has spent years studying apothecary books, and her skills come in handy for helping the young guard when he needs it the most -- until she learns just what's causing the plagues.  

Nothing is as it seems, but will they figure out the Witch's plan before it's too late?

The Lady of Lanaria, arriving 2020. 
 


Soooo....what do you think?  Now, I know that magic is a really weird thing that brings up a lot of, ah, discussion  -- some people love reading about it, others hate it, so on.  I do want to add that I've thought long and hard about how I wanted to incorporate it (especially the evil side of things) and the messages I wanted to represent.  So before you automatically discard it, I want to invite you to give it a shot.  For those who dislike mentions of magic, you might be surprised by how I've written it.  Think about the witches in Chronicles of Narnia, so on.  Just a smidgen goes a long way.  

And if you liked this tentative blurb (subject to change before publication), you might just want to check out my newsletter, which I'm reviving.  I'm going to send out the next one out June 2nd, and I do think I'll be sharing a snippet of The Lady of Lanaria with all my subscribers then!  So make sure you're signed up HERE.  Also, I'll be adding another freebie to the list -- a self-editing checklist -- so if you're into that, make sure you catch the newsletter!  

Any thoughts?  Have you signed up for my newsletter yet?  Have you read "The Lady of Shalott" before?  

REVIEW: DIAMOND by Kirsten Fichter!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Hey everyone!  Today's post is a review for Kirsten Fichter's Diamond, a Rapunzel retelling that was just released last week.  You probably know this by now, but I'm a huge Rapunzel fan - and equally, I can be a bit picky about retellings because I love the story so much.  While Diamond is a pretty short book (my guess is novelette length?) I sincerely enjoyed it, and the plot progressed smoothly.  

I also loved the character of Seth Stendahl, who was recently interviewed on a blog post HERE in case you missed it ;) -- and of course, the leading lady was lovely.  The story did pull from the original Rapunzel fairytale for some elements, but in the same breath it introduced its own twists in a fresh and fantastic way.  I also noticed some Easter eggs from other Rapunzel stories (one of which I'm a rabid fan of, I bet you can't guess which....[hint for those who haven't been afflicted by my endless discussion on said movie...check the first word in my blog name]).  So those were fun to stumble upon!  

The characters were easy to relate to, and the book's pacing was nice.  Fichter also does a really nice job of dropping hints about Diamond's true identity along the way without giving anything away too easily.  Again, there were a lot of unique features in this retelling, so it's almost in and of itself an original story with a bit of flavoring from the Brothers Grimm fairytale.  The ending, to me, felt a smidgen abrupt, but that's probably because I wanted to keep reading.  Oops.  

So this one definitely gets 5 stars from me.  It's a fun and sweet take on Rapunzel, and if you enjoy fairytale retellings or the story of Rapunzel, I think you'll have a good time reading this book.

You can check out the link above for a synopsis and purchase links!

Have you read Diamond yet - or plan to?  What are your thoughts on fairytale retellings?  

Current Projects & Editing Deals

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Hey everyone!  I meant to make this post in April, but I never did, and then I planned to do it in the beginning of May, but that got blown out of the water completely, and, well, I'm a terrible blogger.  

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know this, but I'm offering my editing services at a reduced rate.  Said deal was originally just for the month of April, but I've extended it through the end of May -- so you have a couple more weeks to get your reservations in place!  

ANY summer editing spot that is reserved through the month of May will receive a discounted rate of $2.00/1000 words.  Now is a great time to reserve a spot for your Camp NaNo project, or to achieve your summer publishing goals at a discounted rate!  I'm free for the month of June and have a couple of spots left for July and August, so make sure to contact me soon if you'd like to have your book edited soon. 

Prices will go back to normal ($3.00/1000 words) as of June 1st, so make sure to email me or send in THIS form if you'd like to reserve your spot or ask some questions about my services.  Click HERE to learn more about the services I offer.  


CAMP NANOWRIMO

I finished my Camp NaNo goal in April, which was to write 50k words, and ended up with about 52k by the end of the month.  Pretty great, if you ask me!  I'll be making an official post to talk about said project soon (and if you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen it...I suppose I should keep my blog updated as well as I do Insta...), so keep your eyes peeled!  I'm in the second draft of it already, and although there's a lot of work yet to go on it, I'm hoping to get it out in the world sometime this year.  In the meantime, here's a sneak peek aesthetic collage for it.  



OTHER PROJECTS

I'm also working on the second draft of Keeping Cassie, which is the third installment of the Mount Sterling series...yes, it's still a thing, even though I haven't mentioned it at all.  Oops.  But it's going along quite nicely, considering that at the beginning of the year, I thought I'd have to totally redo it.  Yay for not having to rewrite an entire book, amiright?  I have several ideas that I'm working on right now, too -- some Scotland historical fiction, a dystopian, and of course, plenty of romance to go around.  There might even be another short book of poetry and short stories this year, if I can cobble together enough works that I actually like, so keep your eyes peeled!  

Finally, I'm trying to revive my newsletter, so if you aren't signed up for that yet, make sure you're on the list!  I've decided that my newsletter-sending-out day will be on Tuesdays, so...my next newsletter will be going out on a Tuesday soon.  Just have to finalize a few details.  

Sign up HERE!



What are you working on?  Any reading or writing plans for the summer?  I can't wait to hear about it!

MEDIA TOUR: NEVER SAY GOODBYE by Sarah Grace Grzy!

Friday, May 15, 2020



A single father and a bookstore owner find hope and second chances in this heartwarming novel.


Have you read Never Say Goodbye by Sarah Grace Grzy yet? It was just released a couple of weeks ago, but I'm still thinking about it! It's such a sweet, heartfelt novel that I'll probably be in my 80s shouting about it from the rooftops, so...here ya go: a spotlight and a giveaway for this very lovely novel!


ICYMI, click HERE to read my review of Never Say Goodbye.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sarah Grace Grzy is a voracious reader, and if it weren’t for this crazy thing called 'Life,' she’d be tempted to spend all her days in front of a wood stove, book in one hand, coffee mug in the other. A lover of learning, she finds enjoyment in many things and has more hobbies than she knows what to do with. Sarah Grace is a freelance web and graphic designer, and when not working, spending time with her ever-growing family, or reading, she can be found painting, playing the piano, or fangirling with her sisters and friends. Sarah Grace inhabits the State of Great Lakes, and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else—unless it meant she could have a baby penguin, in which case, she’d gladly move to the South Pole.


INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TWITTER









SYNOPSIS


They say time heals all wounds. But he was finding it a poor painkiller.


Tyler Collens has seen grief and loss in his years of experience as a paramedic—but he never expected it to touch his life in such a personal way. The death of his wife eighteen months ago shook his steady world and changed him in more ways than he can count. Time and routine have steadied his feet, and he looks toward the future as he raises his infant daughter—but the past has a tighter grip on him than he knows.


Alyvia Emmerson has never been certain of who she is or where she belongs. Her dad’s abandonment as a teen broke a fragile piece of her heart, but ten years later, she has moved on. Living on her own, she at last has a project to devote herself to: revitalizing a shabby bookstore. But she didn’t count on her dream job revealing the shattered pieces of herself she thought mended long ago.


In this sophomore novel featuring beloved characters from Live Without You, Sarah Grace Grzy explores themes of grief, hope, and second chances in a story that touches both the heart and spirit. 




BOOK TRAILER | AMAZON | B&N | BOOK DEPOSITORY | INDIE BOUND | SIGNED COPIES | GOODREADS


Now -- I mentioned a giveaway in the beginning of this post, but there are actually two giveaways going on!  Sweet, right?!  






You can check out Victoria Lynn's official post HERE for all of the details for the first giveaway, which includes a signed copy of Never Say Goodbye and all of the fun goodies mentioned above!   



Onto the second giveaway, which is super easy to enter!  

Both of Sarah Grace Grzy's books, Never Say Goodbye and Live Without You are included in The Great Review Race, a Multi Author Monthly Giveaway.  Submit your reviews to the form below to be entered into the giveaway!  April/May Winner will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card!  Click HERE to enter!  


Have you read Never Say Goodbye yet?  What about Live Without You?  And have you entered the giveaways yet?




BLOG TOUR - REVIEW of MISFORTUNE by Kendra E. Ardnek!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Hey everyone!  Today I've got a review for Kendra E. Ardnek's latest release, a Rapunzel retelling titled Misfortune.  

This book is a unique retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale, blended into biblical times with several undertones that seem to be straight from the Bible itself, which I thought was a really cool idea.  The story reads like an actual fairytale -- think of the Brothers Grimm stories, not the versions that have come out since -- and as such, the pacing worked, but it did feel a little bit rushed.  But maybe that's because I just wanted to keep reading more, though!  There are a lot of great messages in the story; the way that the Princess is treated by her family is rather sad, and she has to learn that her life is worth more than she's been told.  It blends historical superstition and culture with just a touch of the fairytale supernatural, enough that readers reminisce on the original story but not too much to make it seem unoriginal.  I don't want to get into a ton of details and spoil it all for you guys, but I really enjoyed seeing how the story was woven together and, of course, the ending was a superb callback to the original story of Rapunzel.  As a huge fan (and a picky critic...) of Rapunzel retellings, I have to give this one a solid 4/5 star rating.  If you're a fan of Biblical fiction or fairytale retellings with great originality, this is definitely one you'll want to check out!  

It's a great short story with lots of heartfelt themes about value and love; a perfect read for spring!  


If you want to learn a bit more about this great story or order it (highly recommend that option), make sure to check out the info below!







SYNOPSIS
Is the safety of a country worth the sacrifice of one girl - even if she is the daughter of blood and misfortune?  
The day she was born, her kingdom fell, and so she was branded the daughter of blood and misfortune and locked away.  Now a dragon plagues the land and her curse may be the only thing that stops it.  

But is she really cursed?

A Twist of Adventure #4
Available on AMAZON | GOODREADS
Explore the rest of the series  HERE 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kendra E. Ardnek is the self-proclaimed Arista of Fairy Tales.  She lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her dragon babies and massive herd of mini-giraffes, and she is still waiting for one of her fifty nutcrackers to come to life and marry her.  When not writing, you can usually find her sitting in a random box, and she's frequently known to act before she thinks. 


Do you plan on reading Misfortune?  What are some of your favorite fairytale retellings?