Friday, October 7, 2016

Celebrate Marna Reed's Novella

My friend Marna Reed is here to celebrate the release of her Christmas novella, Home Sweet Cocoa.

Hello everyone.
I’m not Beth, but she graciously allowed me to take over her blog for this guest post.
Hi, I’m Marna Reed. *waves*

My debut contemporary romance novella, Home Sweet Cocoa, is Christmas-themed, and while I was “researching” I got caught up in the Pinterest wormhole of ornament decorations. So, naturally, I was inspired to make an ornament for myself!

I can’t take the credit though. I got help from Remodelando la Casa, a blog with this crafty post to make your own reindeer-like wine cork ornament for Christmas. Add that extra personal touch to the tree this year. :0)

Since I didn’t follow the “ingredients” to making this ornament, and to ensure that I don’t confuse anyone, here’s what my items looked like:

REINDEER CORK ORNAMENT

1 seam-ripper (because I was way too lazy to look for an awl, lol)
1 pipe cleaner (I chose blue)
1 pom-pom
2 googly eyes
1 cork
Elmer’s school glue
Some clear tape (you’ll see why…)

1.      I used the seam ripper to poke hole in at the top. Took WAY longer than I thought (ha, idiot me), but once I cut two, even pieces off the long pipe cleaner, the pieces fit perfectly after I dabbed in some school glue.
2.      I glued on the eyes and titled them in front of a space heater. Guys and gals, use hot glue. I found the glue gun expensive, so consider the purchase real hard, but if you’re a crafty person then invest in one.
3.      Since I didn’t bother to purchase hot glue (this would be so much easier!), I had to tape on the pompom nose and googly eyes. It was a mess, seriously. I’m surprised the pictures turned out well (if I do say so myself).
4.      Ta-da! If you preserve, you’ll have yourself one cute reindeer that fits the palm of your hand nicely. Enjoy.

And if you’re a visual person like me, here’s an image breakdown of my process for my corky (quirky?) reindeer, Billy the Blue-Nose Reindeer:


And have fun with it—I did! I decided to make Rudolph’s (totally fictional) girlfriend, Pearl the Pink-Nose Reindeer or Pearl Pink for short. Heehee.


Thanks for checking out this blog post, everyone.

I’m curious though, since I don’t celebrate Christmas, how do you choose your ornaments? Do you have ornamentation that’s been passed down through the family? Do you shop for new ornaments every year, adding one new ornament to the tree per year?

Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to pick your brains!




Friday, September 30, 2016

In Need of a New Goal

The Big Dreams Blogfest is hosted by myself and Misha Gericke. On the last Friday of every month we come together to discuss our progress.

When I started this bloghop, my goal was to make a million dollars writing. At the time, this seem hard but doable. Time went on. Life happened. Things changed. It no longer seemed possible. Like any good author I revised. My new goal was to sell 500 ebooks/month. I wasn't sure if this was possible. But everyone needs a goal. Time went on. Life happened. Things changed. It didn't seem possible. My new goal was to make $1500/month consistently. Yeah. You guessed it. Doesn't seem possible. At this point, I think my goal is to determine what my goal is. I have no idea how to even go about this.

I don't think I accomplished much in September and yet I want to say I accomplished more than I did in August. However, I went back to look at last month's post and quickly realized why it doesn't seem I accomplished much this month. I set no goals!

But here are a few things I did do.

  1. Lost 10 pounds. This is a huge deal for me.
  2. Went off candy. Finally.
  3. Blogged more than once!
  4. Sent a query letter for the first time in years.
  5. Worked on revision of thesis--(Learned about revision)
Goals for October
  1. Lose 10 lbs.
  2. Stay off carbs
  3. Write 3,000 words
  4. Figure out what to put in a newsletter and start writing one.
How are your goals coming? What are your goals for October? Anyone have suggestions for a newsletter?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DIY MFA Review: Who Asked You

"Kaleidoscopic, fast-paced, and filled with McMillan’s inimitable humor, Who Asked You? opens as Trinetta leaves her two young sons with her mother, Betty Jean, and promptly disappears. BJ, a trademark McMillan heroine, already has her hands full dealing with her other adult children, two opinionated sisters, an ill husband, and her own postponed dreams—all while holding down a job delivering room service at a hotel. Her son Dexter is about to be paroled from prison; Quentin, the family success, can’t be bothered to lend a hand; and taking care of two lively grandsons is the last thing BJ thinks she needs. The drama unfolds through the perspectives of a rotating cast of characters, pitch-perfect, each playing a part, and full of surprises."

Congratulations to Terry McMillan for creating a deep and rich depiction of recent American history. Who Asked You is a complex exploration of racism both directed at and from the African American community.
Now that we've established what this book is and let's establish what it's not. It's not a pleasure read. The subject matter is deep and dark from a nurse who sexually abuses her disabled patients to drug addiction. The book is fiction but reads like non-fiction. (So if you like non-fiction it may be a pleasure read). And if you're looking for romance, you're in the wrong place. This book is not marketed as a romance, but since this is "romance world" I feel like I have to be clear.
This is not my usual read. I read it for my Romance & Women's Fiction Class. Still at about half way through I would have finished it anyway because of the characters. Each one was fully developed and somewhat unique. A LOT of characters had povs which made the narrative hard to follow--and made it read more like non-fiction--but to have that many pov characters and have them read authentic is an impressive feat for any writer.
The only thing I really didn't like about the book was Nurse Kim. In her first POV section she graphically describes a sexual encounter with a man who though doesn't seem to object couldn't legally consent. He's also married and the relationship is inappropriate since she's his nurse. I do not like graphic sex scenes. But I REALLY do not like graphic sex scenes involving non-consenting, disabled old men. #Gross. The bigger problem with this scene is that it serves no purpose. It never comes up again. When Mister gets eczma and has to see a doctor I thought for sure he had herpes and Nurse Kim was going to get caught. Nah. Just eczma. It really never comes up again, and Nurse Kim is otherwise a likable character. But I was never comfortable with her and dreaded her sections for the rest of the book, because of that one scene that didn't add anything.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Thoughts on Marrying Winterborne

"A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne"

Wow. Just wow. Okay. I can breathe now. So this is not clean romance. My clean romance fans, I apologize. But wow. I loved it. I didn't expect to and I would have liked to see fewer and less graphic sex scenes, but the romantic tension was exquisite. Rhys would do anything for Helen and she loved him as much. I usually prefer sweeter romances because in mainstream romance the sex usually becomes the action and there is less focus on the romance. I think the sex and the romance got equal play here (and as I've said for my tastes that wasn't neccessary) but it did nothing to take away from the romance and in a way added to it.
Helen discovers she is the daughter of Rhys's biggest enemy and is advised that it would hurt him to know. Still, she doesn't want to keep a secret/lie to him. And then she learns she has a little sister which she can't expect Rhys to care for. So she plans to go away alone and raise her younger sister. Rhys is a good man, and given his birth to a poor Welsh family and the way people look down on him in spite of him being self made and rich, I thought concerns of his thoughts on her birth were overplayed. And Rhys did not let me down!
It's not my typical book, but I picked up the first in the series today.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thoughts on Windchime Point

"When life gets complicated, New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods proves family—and love—can make all the difference
Facing a personal crisis, ambitious and driven Gabriella Castle retreats to the welcoming arms of her family. Everything she's worked for has been yanked out from under her, and she seeks the serenity of her grandmother's home on the North Carolina coast. With difficult decisions to make about her future, the last thing she wants is an unexpected love.
Wade Johnson fell for Gabi the first time he saw her. It's not the only time he's found himself in the role of knight in shining armor, but Gabi isn't looking for a rescuer. To get her to stay, Wade will need a whole lot of patience and gentle persuasion…and maybe the soothing sound of wind chimes on a summer breeze."
This was a cute book as you can probably tell from the synopsis. Gabi has been working in a demanding profession and after losing a job she heads back to the small town her grandmother lives in to do something thinking.
But I had a hard time believing a person as smart and driven as Gabi would not sue for being demoted due to being pregnant and unmarried. And say she didn't want to sue, her personal relationship is none of her employer's business. Why not just start wearing a ring? Duh. I found this whole premise completely unrealistic. I actually went back and checked the copyright date thinking maybe this was written in the early 90s. This was a lack of research. That being said the book was cute with strong familial relationships in addition to the romance. And Wade seems to have a thing for pregnant women making for good romantic tension. The book also has a plot line of Gabi trying ot determine who she is and how she will navigate the world which I thought was interesting. This is a solid 3 stars, but I did this as an audio book at work. Given the problems with the premise I'm not sure I would have read the whole thing. Still I loved Cora Jane (Gabi's grandmother) and her sisters, so I picked up the first book in the series on audio today.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thoughts on the Lightkeeper

"When his pregnant wife dies in a shipwreck, Jesse Morgan gives up his wealth and place in Seattle society. He relegates himself to a tiny community where he dedicates his life to protecting others from the ocean. As keeper of a remote lighthouse along a dangerous coast in the Pacific Northwest, Jesse rejects all social contact so that he can brood about his loss. When the sea tosses up a beautiful pregnant woman, the lone survivor of another shipwreck, Jesse finds he has a second chance at life and love.
Mary Dare is an outspoken Irish woman who takes poverty, single motherhood, and death in stride. She brings vitality, passion, and joy to Jesse's life and forces him to face his guilt and unhappiness. Mary's honesty and compassion transform Jesse, and together they find beauty in a simple life."

The best thing about this story has the be the setting. It is another character in the book and adds to the conflict. (At this point, I think the Pacific Northwest must be amazing because one of the few other books I've said this about is Twilight also set in Washington state.) The other strength of this book is the complexity of some of the supporting characters. I loved the Icelandic couple and how Wiggs used them to weave folklore into the story to foreshadow the plot. I also loved the old lady who set up a house for struggling strangers. And it was a sweeter romance.
But you know my thoughts on books are rarely one sided, so I have to get to what didn't work. Everything else. Jesse is just not the kind of hero I can fall in love. And there were moments when I couldn't blame him, because Mary was that annoying. He found her on the beach, saved her life, and let her stay in his house. And she acts like she owns the place. She has certain expectations of him and their relationship (something that only exists because he saved her from death) which she has no qualms making clear. It comes across like "You saved me, now you have to marry me." WTF. Really. For a moment, I actually hoped she would die in childbirth. I thought taking care of a baby would give Jesse what he needed and I didn't like Mary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Thoughts on A Brother's Honor

"The Granger brothers left behind their family's Virginia estate and the bad memories it holds 151 years ago. But their dying grandfather's request brings them home: to a failing business, a legacy of secrets and a deathbed promise to make things right.
As the eldest brother, attorney Jace Granger is determined to take responsibility for Granger Aeronautics, his family's failing business. But the years of mismanagement seem impossible to untangle. As CEO, he hires a consultant to turn the company around. Smart, sexy Shana Bradford is the right person for the job and the right woman to turn Jace's world upside down.
But the passion between them is jeopardized when old secrets begin to emerge. A woman from Jace's past suddenly reappears. And an explosive discovery changes everything Jace thinks he knows about his mother and his father, who was convicted of her murder.
Jace Granger tried to leave his family history behind once before. But this time he needs to face the past or risk losing his future.
Three brothers. One legacy. A lifetime of secrets."

What I liked
I liked the relationship between the brother's and how each Granger brother seemed unique.
I also liked the relationship between Shana and her sister, although I thought the relationship between the girls and their dad felt forced.

What I didn't like
Define romance. If we're talking emotion this never hit the mark. If we're talking pure physical attraction--which I would define as lust--this fit the bill. Until the last 15% of the book the attraction between Jace and Shana can be defined as lust then after they've been sleeping together they decided they're in love with each other, but neither will admit it. And while we're on this while I pointed out that each brother was unique, every man in the book seemed to have a fettish for legs. I have no idea why but this annoyed me. And Jace's ex-wife was over the top. But I think my biggest problem with this book is that most of the book seems to be pointing to uncovering who murdered their mother so that the Granger Brothers' dad would get out of prison. This never happened.