Writing Wednesday: An Update

Just last week I was helping my mom with gathering some things. I went upstairs to look for an item she couldn’t find. I had hoped that maybe an extra pair of eyes would find it. I found other things, more pretty things, that took my attention. The next thing I knew, mom was yelling for me.

She basically told me she wondered if I got lost in something else instead of the task at hand. I didn’t lie to her, I did get lost and I still kept looking for the item, but couldn’t find it. She laughed at me. I laughed at me.

I tell this story first because that is the way I am. I get focused on one thing, but only for a set amount of time. And then, other things come in. They wave and dance at me, singing my praises, and ask me to touch.

Even right now I’m trying to remember what my focus on this topic is…

Ah, yes, an update. How does this connect to updates? Well, because I suck at updates. Just like in the last WW post, I said I needed to work on my time management. Apparently, in the same vein, my little brain needs some management as well.

There is a Fiction Friday I have been doing on my street team for peeps, but then I stopped. I just stopped. I want to go back to it, but other stuff is getting in the way. And my brain. Can’t forget my brain. So, I’m thinking of setting up a mailing list and having the polls on survey monkey instead of on Facebook.

I figure I will do this as a monthly thing. It’ll give peeps a chance to read and vote. It will also give me time to write. I know, this is sad. Seriously sad. But, I think this will be a better move.

I am still writing and I’ll never stop, but reading seems to have been taking most of my time this month.

And so… here I am looking at the shiny or the squirrels. Hopefully, I can get the management better.

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Blog Tour: Raven’s Sight by R. L. Weeks

Raven’s Sight
Raven’s Shadow Book 1
by R.L. Weeks
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
Award Winning author, R. L. Weeks, brings you Raven’s Sight – a Young Adult
Victorian Paranormal Mystery. Book One can be read as a standalone
and as part of the series.
 
Raven looks out over the small, industrial town of Cogsworth and imagines a
life beyond the confines of her Grandmother’s mansion.
 
However, Raven holds a dark secret that prevents her from leaving. One which
comes to light after her father’s untimely death. Now an orphan,
Raven must do her best to hide her gifts of sight if she’s to survive
the cruel Victorian society she lives in.
 
However, when a ghost of a child comes to her for help, Raven finds herself in
the gas lit streets of London, on the trail of a female serial
killer. As she tries to solve the string of murders, she realizes
that the murders are almost identical to those from a case left
unsolved years before she was born.
 
In a race against time, Raven is thrown into a world she doesn’t know.
With her crush, Tom, now a ghost, her friend, Emmett, now a suspect,
and an uncle who runs illicit groups and hates women, Raven will have
to unravel the mysteries quickly before she becomes their next victim.
Raven’s Sight is a YA thriller about a young woman who has a special gift. A gift that ends up putting her into the world of something darker.
Firstly, I liked this story. It starts off strong and ends decently. It’s the middle part that was so/so for me. There were times I got confused with what went on in the middle. The book is a quick read and Weeks’ writing is good, so, I may have ended up skimming those scenes and missed something completely important.
That said, even with skimming, I didn’t lose myself in the confusion. It was fairly easy to get into the meat of the story and understand what is going on.
I do wish there were more character development for Raven and Tom. Emmett seemed to be the more well rounded character out of the bunch. Though, in retrospect, it kind of makes sense why Raven’s personality didn’t seem that much developed.
The story itself is dark, filled with spirits, and does have a nice little tidbit that had me cringing and squeeing with delight. It was a decent book that works well as a first in a series, but can also work as a standalone. I liked it as a standalone, to be honest.
Final Rating: 3/5
R L Weeksis the bestselling and award-winning author of the Dead Loves Life
Series, Bloodlust, The Fallen, Willow Woods Academy for Witches,
Cursed, and the owner of Enchanted Anthologies, publisher of
Fractured Fairytales Books 1 & 2, A Deadly World: Vampires in
Paris, Things Only the Darkness Knows, and Christmas Nightmares.
She lives in a small village in the UK.
When she’s not writing, she’s traveling, reading (paranormal, fantasy and
horror being her go to genres) and designing covers for Dark Wish
Designs.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Book #24: Immortal Writers by Jill Bowers

Young up-and-coming author Liz McKinnen has no idea that her life is about to change forever when she comes home from her first book tour. When she’s kidnapped and told by her captors that she has to kill her fantasy book’s antagonist, she thinks that she’s fallen into the hands of crazy, dangerous fans… until her antagonist sends a real, fire-breathing dragon after her. Liz is quickly initiated into the Immortal Writers, a group of authors from throughout time whose words have given them eternal life, and whose prose is so powerful that it’s brought stories over from the Imagination Field into the Reality Field. As Liz meets authors such as William Shakespeare, JRR Tolkien, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jane Austen, she has to learn how to control magic, fight dragons, and face her own troubled past before her power-hungry villain takes over the world. Will she survive the ultimate battle against the dragon lord whom she created?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. What follows is my opinion and mine alone.

I really wanted to like this book. I really, truly did. The concept of immortal authors was very cool. The idea that they become a part of their story and have to stop their antagonist was also interesting. That said, this book was meh.

I should address that it wasn’t the writing style. Bowers’ style is easy to read and understand. There are lines I found myself quoting to friends because I found myself laughing (usually it was Shakespeare). That said, I still wasn’t completely sold on the book.

What was the problem?

Well… it was the characters and the tiny details of the storyline. Liz was a character who tried to be interesting, but didn’t have anything that I could relate to in the first 25% of the book. I didn’t care about her. I ended up reading just for the tiny tidbits of authors talking.

And about that… it felt cut out. Like, what you assume they would be talking about or how they talked. You don’t get a good feel of any of them. Not even Liz’s characters, who are alive. They don’t have real personalities. It’s just “well, you know our personalities. You wrote us.”

I feel the concept was cool and would have been more interesting if we weren’t introduced into the Immortal Writers’ world or group until AFTER Liz had taken care of her big baddie.

So, yeah, unfortunately, I didn’t care for this book.

Final Rating: 2/5

 

Book #23: Insatiable Darkness by L.M. Preston

EmVee didn’t know what to think about this new town her father’s passion for boxing lured them. It was an unlikely location for her to pursue her dream of going semi-pro. Just when she started getting used to the school with gorgeous jocks and strange cheerleaders, the depth of the danger her father’s choices dangled them in front of became clear. EmVee hoped Silas and Kayson will be able to help her uncover the mystery identity of the person who is threatening her family. The question is, will she survive to expose the mystery. [Pre-quel, Vigilant Series, Caged Fire Book 1: Coming Fall 2018]

Insatiable Darkness by L. M. Preston is a young adult urban fantasy about a teenage boxer who is fighting for her family and gets sucked into a conspiracy in the new town she has moved into.

I found this to be a quick read. In fact, I was actually able to read a huge chunk of it in one sitting. The story itself wasn’t bad and the writing is well done. However, I felt a little off about the characters. I didn’t feel connected to EmVee.

There’s a part where EmVee mentions that her name is a nickname and that is it. I’m not sure if her actual name is ever addressed, but I don’t remember that. I know this is a tiny thing, but it really kept me wondering what her birth name is and how did EmVee become her nickname.

Because of this disconnection with the main character, I didn’t really get as much into the story as I wanted to. Instead, I found myself wanting more about the supporting cast. Rachel and Megan are two specific characters who intrigued me.

That said, this is a prequel. It is a means to answer questions that won’t be answered in the first book. It is a way for us to get to know the main cast before the main cast is actually addressed. For a prequel, it wasn’t bad.

I am intrigued enough that I want to read the first book.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #22: Last Summer by Lexi Ostrow

After four years, Leslie and Jacob the typical high school sweetheart romance. Only instead of staying together, they’re each headed to different sides of the country for college. Parting ways after the summer ensures no broken hearts from distance, studies or even other people. One summer is all they have left—if they can bring themselves to say goodbye when it’s over. 

I received a copy of Last Summer from the author, Lexi Ostrow, for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and my opinion alone. I wasn’t compensated for this review.

Last Summer is a quick short story about the last summer of two just graduated teens, Leslie and Kenner. Kenner is making plans for college in California whereas Leslie will be in New York. The four of them have been dating the four years of college and are now going to be separated. In a desperate decision, Leslie announces her plan.

What follows is a series of moments where the teens fight, make up, and then work on their relationship. This story is very short and only shows a tidbit of their growing love for one another. It does end on an epilogue, but I won’t get into that.

All in all, the story was cute. I would say it makes for a great reading palette cleanser. The romance was adorable and despite being a short story, the characters were believable. Honestly, that’s what I like about Ostrow’s work. Her stories can be short or long, but you’re going to find something to relate to the main leads.

My only criticism to this is that we don’t have a longer romance. We aren’t seeing the older Leslie and Kenner. I want to see that. But, that’s just me trying to find some bummy thing in this story. I definitely recommend those who just need a little bit of fluff in their lives.

Final rating: 3/5

Book #21: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work.

My friend Mack and I decided that we would tackle a classic a month. Okay, really, she decided and I loved the idea and piggybacked on it and now we’re doing the buddy read. The first month of us doing it was March and our book was Persuasion by Jane Austen.

I have been wanting to read this book for a while now. In fact, I’m almost done reading all of Jane Austen’s books. Anyway, I was excited to open this book and read it.

The story is about a young woman named Anne who had, eight years previous, ended an engagement with a young Naval Officer. She was persuaded that the engagement and eventual marriage was not only disadvantageous, but also would leave her penniless if something were to happen to him. Now, at the beginning of the story, Anne is nearing destitution if her father and older sister can’t stop their frivolous spending.

Luckily, the family has banded together and found a way of curbing the spending, gaining an income, and still present themselves as high societal folk. It’s called moving to Bath and putting the country estate on lease.

In a series of meetups, Anne and that Naval Officer, Capt. Wentworth, are pushed into getting to know one another again. There is, of course, other characters pushing and pulling the main leads in different ways, but Anne still has those feelings for Wentworth.

This book is different from Austen’s others. Instead of a younger eligible female lead, Anne is 27 and is very close, if not already, into spinsterhood. Anne does have that intelligence that Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice takes pride in, but she doesn’t seem to let her own vices get in the way. Anne reserves judgment and, even when she has made a decision, can reevaluate how she feels about a person. I liken Anne the adult and more mature version of Austen’s characters.

Likewise, the romance in this book is more mature than in the others. In Emma, our female lead is oblivious to what is in front of her. In Pride and Prejudice, it’s very much the same. Anne, though, knows her feelings are still there and doesn’t act on them until she is sure Wentworth feels the same.

This isn’t my favorite of Austen’s books, but I do think it’s close to my second favorite. I think if I was to list the favorites that I’ve read so far, it would be: Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion (tied with Emma), Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility.

It is a definite read for a Jane Austen fan and I do think I’d reread this book. Next month, April, we are doing Pride and Prejudice. It’s a reread for me and I won’t be reviewing it.

Final rating: 3/5

Writing Wednesday: Getting a Schedule Down

As much as I hate to say this, it’s true. Writing is a job. It’s becoming more and more a job I want to pursue, but trying to find that sweet spot of writing time is difficult. All of the authors I follow or am friends with have found their own special time for writing. And me?  Well… I’m still trying to figure that out.

I could say that a big part of my problem is that I keep pushing aside my writing for the household chores. Which is true to a point. Essentially though, it’s that I’m just bad at time management. I’ve heard a PA would help with that, but I don’t have the funds for something like that and a strictly virtual relationship with someone doesn’t help with the accountability part of it.

I have found that I tend to be more active in my writing at around 1500 (3pm) all the way to about 2000(8pm). In fact, as I’m writing this, it is 1632. See? I’m an afternoon writer.

In some ways this makes sense. I’m usually done with my household chores at around 1300 (1pm) and I tend to take a little nap before picking up Bug from school at 1600. Or, in days I’m hanging out with my main girl, I’m home just before it’s time to get Bug and I’m still writing at this time. However, this doesn’t help with dinners.

I’m currently trying to get into a speed where I just do a ton of weekend cooking (with Will’s help) and we just eat leftovers throughout the week. This actually seems to be a great idea. However, there are still days where a meal has to be made.

Again, it seems all I need to do is figure out this schedule thing.

I have started my planner and have been doing better with that, but ultimately this schedule thing is killing me. I hope I can find a way to get my writing down to a point where it’s not only a job, but something I can continue consistently.

So, what’s the point of this post? Really, it looks like it’s just me trying to verbalize virtually how I’m going to plan my writing.  For that, I’m sorry. However, time management is important in any job. Writing just happens to be one of those.

I do have some plans on helping with my time management though. So, we’ll see how that goes. For now… I’m just going to have to keep doing how I’m doing it, but revise accordingly.

Book #20: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

I was actually hesitant about this book. It’s very pink cover and content about beauty makes it look like it would be a very feminine book. Not that femininity is a bad thing, it actually isn’t, but I feel that aspect of a person (especially a female) is looked down on.

I have to say, this book is feminine, but strong. It’s a perfect mix between the two. Beauty is important in this world. Everyone looks the same and they all hate it. Imagine a world that is vibrant in color except for the people. That is this world.

I imagined it like that scene where Dorothy is in her brown and grey cabin. She’s walking around, wondering what happened to Auntie Em, and then she opens the door. The world is bright, vibrant, and magical. That’s the world of Orleans.

There is a small group of girls who can use magic to transform people into beautiful people. The magic isn’t free of pain nor is it free in general. It’s almost exactly the same as plastic surgery only it doesn’t last. You’ll eventually go back to your grey pallor.

Now, you’d think with all this beauty and color that the world itself may be free of corruption. You’re wrong. In the midst of all this, it’s actually dark. The contrasting views of physical beauty and the inner darkness of people is palpable.

I honestly really liked this book. I was at first pulled in by the magical and colorful world and stayed because of the hidden corruption of the Orleans world of beauty. I’m definitely going to be picking up the second book.

Final rating: 4/5