IWSG: Do it. I did.

Today I’m releasing my fourth book.

Woo hoo!

And also *don’t look at me*

Well it’s up on. On Smashwords and Amazon and I’m very proud of myself for having gotten to this stage. It’s taken a lot of time, and a lot of effort, and I’m happy I stuck through it all.

I will say Crusade Across Worlds was more difficult to write than the first three, partly because of how the story went, but it had a lot to do a lot with what I was experiencing in my own life at the time. Thank you to everyone who’s read Escape, Plague and Discovery, or who’s offered a kind or supportive word. It means more than you know. Truly.

So, yep, here it is.

Fourth book in the series.

And guys—GUYS—shit just got real.

CRUSADE ACROSS WORLDS - 2500

Fallon has just returned from three months of training and is eager to fight against those who enslaved her. Joining up with Reid and the gang, they set out to prepare for the Vermix’s final attack—a highly prophesied invasion that could mean the possible end to a centuries-long war. But when unforeseen events arise, causing the plan of defense to crumble, it will take everything they have to survive what will certainly become a turning point in the Arizal War.

Find it on Smashwords here.

Find it on Amazaon here.

For all of you terrified weirdos out there like me, I clicked the publish button. And if I can do it, you can too. And if you can’t, read through a few more of these blogs. You’ll find the encouragement you need.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

This is What I’m Reading – Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

First of all, if you don’t know who Jenny Lawson is, 😦

Not that I’m disappointed in you. I’m not. I discovered her through a friend who suggested her debut novel, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and that was a good few years after her pretty popular blog, thebloggess has been online. So I’m behind the times too, just like everything else in life.

I might’ve mentioned her, her book or her blog to a few of you. And I did that because I care. Because there’s (not to get too corny) something magical about reading Jenny Lawson, something that makes you admit to the awkward truths in life and laugh along with them because hey, it’s life, right? Shit’s going to happen. But I’m not going to advertise for her first book here (even though I sort of already did, and you should read it. It’s flipping amazing) or her blog which she maintains on a regular basis—way more than I do mine—but her latest book, Furiously Happy.

FH Cover

I’m blessed enough to say that I don’t suffer from depression. Not to the degree that it affects my day to day life. I do get depressed (like most human beings) and okay, sometimes those bad thoughts creep in that suggest physical pain is better than whatever is going on in my head. But I tell them to shush and I look at my wrist, a personal reminder that whatever is bothering me is not the end of things:

Tat

Yes, I like John Lennon. Yes, I like the Beatles. But the three words suggest more than singing along to the popular song of the most popular band of all time. It suggests a belief that God will take care of everything I can’t. And that helps when my wrist looks like a really good way out, or at least, a way to handle what I don’t think I can.

But this blog isn’t about me; it’s about Jenny Lawson’s second book, Furiously Happy, which talks (in a most clever and humorous way) about dealing with mental illnesses like depression and social anxiety. While LPTNH is a funny memoir about funny things that have happened to her, FH dives deeper into the struggles that come with living with crippling mental disorders. I’ve talked about my fear of getting lost in the world and so Batman usually accompanies me (like on trips to NY for the Writer’s Digest Conference last year—woohoo!) but this is an actual phobia for Jenny Lawson, who, while air-traveling, isn’t afraid of the plane crashing or malfunctioning, but of getting to the airport, around the airport, or taking a taxi to the hotel. Most peoples’ non-worries terrify her and end up taking a physically exhausting toll. In a way, she fears the outside world and interacting with it, which is something we have to do, like all the time. I can’t remember the names for her disorders (I could go back and check the book—it’s all in there) but she also suffers from body image issues, self-harm and severe anxiety and paranoia.

But SHE. IS. HILLARIOUS.

I don’t think I’ve read anything so comically honest about such a dark topic while feeling cheered up about myself and the specks of familiarity I’ve seen in my own life (we artists are a crazy bunch). Not only has Jenny Lawson been blatantly truthful about her personal struggles, but she offers the one thing we need to remember when we feel at our lowest: we are not alone. Through her blog (and books) Jenny Lawson reminds folks suffering from the same mental illnesses that they are not alone in their plight. There is a tribe of us (some more affected than others) who see the dark as much, if not more, than the light. BUT IT’S OKAY. We have the option—the choice—to be furiously happy.

There are *so* many good parts in this book but one worth sharing:

FH lines1

…and because of the dark, she found the light…

I could go on and on about her, her books and her blog but I think you’ll get a better idea if you simply check them out. They may be for you. They may not be. But if you know someone suffering from depression, social anxiety, self-image, self-harm or paranoia, I *highly* suggest you pass along her name. Could be the best thing you do this year.

FH info 1

Well, Goodreads, that’s one book read in 2016 (I’m going to meet this yearly reading challenge, you bastard). I have a few ideas of what to pick up next but I’m always open to suggestions.

Anyone have any?

This is What I’m Reading – Chicagoland Vampires

Vampires again.

I know.

I know.

Believe me, it was not my first choice. After reading Joleene Naylor’s fabulous seven-book (still unfinished) series, I wanted a nice long break from the fanged and want-to-be-fangers. And here I am, book three of a series I’m kind of seriously hooked on (thanks Jamie).

Damn.

I really wanted to read a stand-alone. Something short, quick. Hell, I’d even take a bridge book just to freshen things up a bit. But a certain someone (*cough* Jamie *cough*) offered up a favorite series she thought I might like. Not one to turn down a word of mouth suggestion—also it’d be super awkward if I’d declined as we sit across from each other—I figured sure, why not? A new series by an author I hadn’t heard of? Score. Someone to discuss them with when I’m done? Double score. And the best part–the books are free AND paperback. Hell to the motherfucking yeah. Two things I enjoy most about books other than rad writing and killer stories. Obviously.

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, #1)

Anyway, Chicgoland Vampires. I like.

I like a lot.

A. Merit, our MC, is actually pretty funny. And smart. And stubborn. Yes, most MCs usually claim to have these traits but so few really impress. I’ve read *tons* of heroines who’re whiny and stupid and I kind of don’t care what happens to them. But I like Merit. I feel I can get behind her, support her. And I feel for her during her main struggle of being turned into a vampire against her will (she does get turned to save her life. There’s an attack and it was either become a vampire or die). She can get super-stubborny at times (and maybe that does it for you—I don’t know) but it got on my nerves a bit. Other than that, she’s smart and a fighter and can hold her own in a rough and rowdy group of guys. I like that.

B. The writing is awesome. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of Chloe Neill before because she’s a surprisingly gifted storyteller. Everything is smooth but quick-paced and without going on for ten pages (as some of our more poetic authors do) she keeps her descriptions concise but visual. I knew what everyone was wearing, what everything looked like and how everything went down, clear as a movie. She’s also got a wicked vocabulary and I found myself rereading sentences because I liked how pretty they sounded. That, to me, is how you write a book. And me, as a reader, is how I like to read a book.

C. The story is pretty unique. Yes, I’ve read Twilight. I haven’t read any Ann Rice or Charlaine Harris, but I’ve read a few other vampire books. And I feel they pitch a lot of the same ideas: dark and deadly and mysterious, but sexy. Vulnerable. Victimized. There’s a bit of that too, but overall, I found it refreshing since Merit, who was turned against her will, is forced to drop her prized dissertation and join one of the three established vampire Houses of Chicago, standing in as Sentinel. Of course there’s a bit of heat between her and Ethan (the Master vampire and the one who changed her) so for all you looking for something spicy, there it is. The story is old customs and traditions meets frat-house living in modern times. Oh, and there’re shapeshifters. And water nymphs. And sorcerers and sorceresses. And plenty of good-looking guys with snarky, sarcastic comments. So, if you’re into any of this, you’ll probably dig the series.

Recap:

Awesome MC, great writing, fun story. I like those ingredients. I also like them when they’re sprinkled with hot guys, so, super-win on that account. I’ll be starting the fourth tomorrow (I believe there are twelve books total) which means I have a lot of reading in front of me.

It also means I might actually reach my goal now.

So you can suck it, Goodreads. Go book-shame someone else.

This is What I’m Reading

I’ve decided to try something.

It’s called: This is What I’m Reading.

Any guesses to what it might be about?

So… I’ve wanted to do reviews for a while and… just… never got around to it. But I think about writing them. I think about going home, sitting down and typing them out. Never happens. So. What I think I’m going to do instead is have a weekly (biweekly?) post called This is What I’m Reading. It’ll give you a heads up for some new titles out there and you can hear my honest opionion and judge accordingly to see if this is something you might like for yourself. It’s sort of an ongoing answer to the question my dad always asked before Harry Potter hit the scenes in the 90’s (and maybe even after): What are you reading?

This week and last week and I think the last three months, I have been gorging myself on Joleene Naylor’s Amaranthine series. You’ve probably seen me mention it here a few times. If you haven’t, you’re most likely new to my blog. Hello. And welcome. 🙂 I’m up to book 7, Clash of Legends—the last one in the series SO FAR and I’ve got to admit they’re a bit addicting. So if you’ve got something more time-consuming like children or heroin, go, do that. But if you don’t (or you’re looking to skip out on the children and heroin) I would suggest giving these books a try. It’s one adventure after another with sexy vampires and not so sexy vampires and wars and betrayals and histories and executions and oh man. NO ONE sparkles, but there is some sexiness. A lot of sexiness, actually, which I don’t mind 😉 Characters are great. Story is great. I’d recommend it for anyone who:

  1. Enjoys Vampires (of the non-sparkly nature).
  2. Thrives on sarcasm and smartass comments.
  3. Doesn’t mind cursing, violence or sex.
  4. Doesn’t want to fall asleep.

So there you go. That’s what I’m reading. I’m at the tail end of numero 7 which means I’ll have one more to add to my completed books of 2015 even though Goodreads will still bookshame me for not finishing my goal of 30. *sigh*

**I may write reviews for these. Probably not (please refer to first paragraph) but I’d still like to throw out a few of the awesome and not so awesome books I’ve sort of read recently:

Go. Read now:

Evanescent by Gabriella Lepore

Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Eleanor and Park & Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

 

Dude, you have children. And Heroin.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Freefall by Tess Oliver

P.S. I thought about titling this blog “Children and Heroin” but thought people might be disappointed at how little children and heroin are actually mentioned. And I’m honest like that. You’re welcome.

OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD

So, okay. WHO has a review with a follow up author-interview?

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry… *wipes sweat from crazed happy dance*…but I had to. Can I just say OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD because that’s how I feel right now. Insanity mixed with a healthy dose of disbelief. This has been a good week. Like, an amazing week because 1.) I understood most everything I did at work and 2.) my books are currently free on Smashwords until the end of the month so I’ve averaged at least one sale (sometimes 2) a day which beats the last few months of epic nothingness and a choir of crickets. Oh and 3.) The Best Slice of Pie, a new book review blog reached out to ME. This happened about two weeks ago but Monday they sent me a questionare. Like, an author questionare. You know, the kind I’ve read a dozen times over and secretly envied the author who wrote them. And I finally got mine, an ‘interview’ applicable solely to the first book in my series, Escape from Harrizel.

*runs around doing happy dance again*

The sweat is definitely worth exercising my happiness over this tiny little step that projects me just that much closer to the dream of saying ‘fuck you’ to a cubicle and ‘hello lovely’ to my recliner forever.

Look at it. Waiting for me to sink and start writing.

Where the magic happens. Bam.

Where the magic happens. Bam.

It’s weeks like these that keep me going, reminding me that, okay, today is just today. But tomorrow can be something totally better if I work at it. And I am so glad I did. Because this feeling is AWESOME.

Want to read the review? Of course you do. You can find it here, along with the author interview (my author interview) here.

*happy dance ensues again*

Sorry about that. Sheesh. It must be a disorder.

I’ll have to look into that.

And I’m in Love With This Book

“I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”  – Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars

I read this to Batman last night. I stopped reading, looked up from where I sat on the recliner and recited these lines. I had to. It’s just one of those things that you can’t hear just once. At least in your head. This paragraph, like so many others in The Fault in Our Stars, need to be repeated, recited and shared. It’s an insult to them if they aren’t because lines like these aren’t meant to pocketed in memory. They’re meant to be revisited. Over and over again, like an old friend.

I’m in love with this book. Is it obvious? I started it on Sunday night and here I am, Tuesday eve and I wonder how I had time to fall into this great, breathtaking love affair. Now I know you’re wondering if I cried. Pretty much everyone who reads the book/sees the movie cried. I thought I was above giving into those basic emotions when reading about a girl with cancer who falls in love. I told you—I believe it was yesterday—that I’d remain strong and I did. Strong enough NOT to cry at my desk. Strong enough to keep reading when I wanted to pretend there might be a different ending, even though the words were right there, on the page in front of me.

It was difficult.

Sometimes you read something and it stays with you an hour, a day, a week. It’s memorable, but with time, it becomes a series of rough points that you sort of remember. Or maybe it’s the feeling you remember. It’s how the material made you feel, what it got you to think. But even that, with time, will fade.  The characters (and their story) in The Fault in Our Stars will stay with me for a while, I’m guessing.  Because good stories, like theirs, aren’t easily erasable. And I don’t want them to be. They exist in a special place that we, the readers, hold secret. It’s a place where all our best friends reside, a place we can always go to seek refuge from reality and, if we’re in need of it, to chase those feelings that made us fall in love in the first place.

I didn’t cry, but I was at work. I had to force myself to keep reading, even though I was torn. Yes, I NEEDED to know what happened, but I also didn’t want to know. Because knowing made it real and the more words that passed, the closer to the end I would get. And that, in itself, is its own sad crime. I’m probably going to reread it again. Mostly because it demands a second read through, but also out of respect. Magical, lyrical lines like the ones that began this post deserve more than one turn to be heard; read. They deserve to live infinitely.

I will say, on a side note, that maybe I took an extra liking to the book because part of it takes place in Amsterdam, which, in my opinion, is a highly magical place. I’ve been twice (once in 2007 and again in 2010) and everything described of the canals and the bikes and the row houses is extremely accurate. (The author, John Green spent a few weeks in the city to write it). Hazel Grace and Augustus even visited the Anne Frank House which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice as well.

Because I can’t physically impart the emotions and love I feel for this book and DEMAND you start reading it today, I’ve included some pictures from my own trips. Hopefully you’ll get to the city. And what’s more, you’ll pick up this book and fall in love with a story you won’t easily erase. Hopefully, Hazel Grace and Augustus will stay with you in your secret space like they are (and will remain) with me.

 

Your basic AMAZING street view. Yeah. Heaven.

Your basic AMAZING street view. Yeah. Heaven.

And another angle.

And another angle.

Breathe it in.

Breathe it in.

The several bikes that you will find EVERYWHERE.

The several bikes that you will find EVERYWHERE.

The Rijksmuseum which is mentioned in the book.

The Rijksmuseum which is mentioned in the book.

So pretty.

So pretty.

Another big building. Awesome.

Another big building. Awesome.

The magical, beautiful night.

The magical, beautiful night.

And the Anne Frank House monument thingy.

And the Anne Frank House monument thingy.

Read it.

And fall in love.

No More Wave Reading, Okay?

I’m trying to read more. It’s what a writer should do. But to be honest, I’m what’s known as a “wave-reader.” You probably haven’t heard of this and that’s because I just made it up. But it means what it sounds like it means. I read in waves. A few months on. A few months off. I’m sure that’s a poor example of what a writer should do. But this is a blog of honesty. And there it is. I’m a wave-reader so sometimes I go a while without a book.

Now you know.

I’m trying to change this. I’m on my third book after I decided to ride the tidal wave and start my plunge into the literary world again now that, you know, I’m trying to be legit and all. So reading is sort of required. (Yes, I know it’s not really required but I think I should be swimming in the pool rather than sitting on the edge with a toe in. I don’t know what’s with all the water analogies I post on here. Maybe it’s because I really want to be a mermaid.) So I started reading Taint by S.L. Jennings, and that decision mostly had to do with the fact that I giggled at the name every time I saw it on a reader’s book blog. (I’d post a link to it but APPARENTLY the link thingy isn’t working because I spent my ENTIRE break trying to make a link to the Goodreads page but the universe has scorned me.) I’d recommend it for anyone who likes quick, fast romances… er…erotica with a somewhat love story weaved in. Also for anyone who enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey as it has mucho sex topics/scenes. It was a quick read; I finished it in a day and moved onto the last book I was reading which was Femme, by Delia Strange.

Femme takes place on a planet where men are slaves to women and to the touring Earth heroine, Kaley Blackburn, it’s not what she expected. This was a good book. It questions the flaws of would-be utopias and the struggles of friendship and love. Mrs. Strange, like me, is a fellow indie author, except (and as I put in an email to her) she’s got her shit more together than me. (This is where I was going to put in a link to her book but… you know… life and all. Instead: http://www.deliastrange.com/).

And, although it pains me to say this, I selected my next book based on the MOVIE TRAILER I saw for it. I know. I’m that person. We all can’t be amazingly perfect enough to stumble upon the book first and then get excited about the movie. Sometimes we do things backwards.

So what am I reading you ask?

The Fault in Our Stars, because I’m a sappy girl and I love a good romance. And apparently, a good cry, because that’s all I hear happens when you read the book/watch the movie. I’m a little less than halfway through and no tears yet. But that’s probably because everyone is still alive. Yay. Actually, there’ve been a few laughs so I guess I’m really going to loose it when it ends because I like the character. *deep inhale* I’ll be strong.

I’m still struggling with the content of this blog. I was thinking maybe I’d throw in some hardcore book reviews but I’d have to do some research on them since I never review things. I start out with very clear, concise idea of what I liked and didn’t, and they blur into a conversation with myself about something entirely different and I know I’ve just pissed the reader off. I can *try* to be more level headed here and only do reviews on books that I simply *must* share with the world. Should we do that? Are we all in agreement that that is what we shall do?

You’re nodding your head, aren’t you?

Okay, then! Book reviews for either really, really, amazing, spectacularly AWESOME books or the worst kind ever. The ones that make me want to face plant to spare my eyes the pain. Oh this has happened. It has happened a lot. But I will try not to do that and focus on the good reviews. So, we can all enjoy the world of literature together.

I’ll let you know how The Fault in Our Stars goes and then, of course, what the outcome of the movie is, since I’m OBVIOUSLY seeing it. After that, any book suggestions? I still have a while to wait for the next (and last *tear*) book in the Lux series to come out. What are you guys reading? Any suggestions? A book of your own perhaps?