Oh hi, my ignored blog, nice to see you again.

Yes, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy. Yeah, yeah, the old excuse. But I really have been busy with work. Writing, unfortunately, is not my career – right now it’s just a hobby. Then there’s the whole getting the kids outside so they don’t grow up to be creepy, pallid, glazed-eyed teenagers. It’s not as easy as one would think, living in the city. So in my real world, being out and interactive takes precedence.

Buuut of course that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. I just have to get everything balanced out and for the love of God, stop procrastinating and wasting time. It will come soon. I’m even getting fed up with myself. Anyway, I have a couple of book reviews coming, so stay tuned for those. My second novel is calling seductively to me, but I have to ignore it right now (sadface) and work on promoting the first better.

Oh, and I didn’t know it was Easter weekend until today. O.o  

Editing: Final Round

My best friend for life (who is also an author) printed out my story and fixed it up for me. I was expecting a lot of grammar mistakes, weird sentence structure, and plot holes. Turns out, a lot of her notes had to do with the story itself. There are a couple of things I need to add to have the story and characters’ actions make sense to the reader which I totally wouldn’t have thought about. I’m the type of person who will give a minimal amount of detail and elaboration as long as the reader gets the point. But I have to remember that since the story is in my head, I already understand the whole thing. it’s up to me to make 100% sure that my readers do, too.

So the point is, always, always have someone else look over your work before you finish it. The more people with more writing skills, the better but not every author has friends with similar interests or can afford an editor, so anyone will do as long as they put in the time and effort. An avid reader will be able to do a decent job pointing out grammatical errors and suggesting better vocabulary.

So with this printed version, I shall devote this week to changing the computer version and then (sigh) format it to a Kindle-friendly version. Which wouldn’t take up a huge amount of time if I didn’t have a house to clean and kids to take care of (BTW, that groundhog in Pennsylvania will end up in my frying pan, extra crispy, within the next 10 years.* My oldest hasn’t been to school since Friday and we’re probably going to get more snow tomorrow. -__-) After this final round, I am saving it, converting it, and never looking at it again until it’s released. (Yeah, right).

And then next week, reaching out to reviewers like myself, hoping they’ll be interested enough to read/review my very own novel. Eek! I’ll push all the anxiety about that to next week. One. Thing. At. A. Time.

*I don’t really believe in Groundhog’s Day. I live in the Northeast, where winter coat season lasts until May. If we see Spring sometime within the next 6 weeks, there will be an outrage (can’t please everyone).

I have internet.

Finally. I’ve been MIA but now that my internet is back I can you know, keep up with my blog. I tried to update it on my tablet but that was too annoying.

I have another batch of reviews coming and then I have to edit my novel for the third and hopefully, final time and send it to blog people. This is where i’m getting a little bit nervous since it will be the first time people I don’t know will read my book. And of course, the editing….I’m about halfway through and I want to throw the whole thing out the window, haha. 

So anyway, book reviews coming in the near future. 

Oh, and I’m also on page 50 of my new story. Maybe going without internet isn’t such a bad idea. 

Author Spotlight: Marisa Oldham

The Falling of Love (Falling, #1)

Bio: California born Marisa Oldham, now resides in Arizona where she practices her love of writing and photography in both a leisurely and professional fashion.
At the age of fifteen, Marisa wrote her first short story.
Marisa attends The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division where she is studying to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Science – Photography. Marisa has completed both a World Literature and a Creative Writing – Fiction course during her studies.
When asked what genre her books should be categorized as Marisa answers, “Contemporary Romance.”
Marisa has already self-published three novels, part of a three part series she calls The Falling Series of Novels. The Falling of Love, Marisa’s debut novel begins the story of Grace Hathaway, a seventeen-year-old typical teenager who meets and falls in love with Ian Taylor, a rebel, misfit, outsider that is new to her small town. The Falling of Grace, the second novel in the series picks up right where The Falling of Love ended. The Falling of Hope, the third and final novel in the series begins two years after the end of The Falling of Grace.
Marisa has two more novels in the works at the current time, one with a working title of You Have Such a Pretty Face a romance novel that will explore the self-esteem issues of the main female character, societies views on overweight people, and how this makes overweight people feel, with a romantic, witty, and heartwarming story.
The second novel in the writing process does not have a working title at this time, but will be a spin-off to the Falling series where the main  character will be Michelle Hathaway, Grace’s little sister.
Marisa is also entertaining the idea of writing a historical romance based on a photo-shoot she did in 2012 and since she loves to read thrillers, she plans to try to see where she can go with tackling writing a thriller.

What all have you written? Include everything:
The Falling of Love (book 1), The Falling of Grace (book 2) and The Falling of Hope (book 3)

Where can we buy or see them?:
Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and LuLu.co

Tell us a little bit about your main character:
When the series starts Grace is a young and niave 17 year old girl who had lost her parents at a young age and is being raised by her older brother. She is an artist and also dreams of becoming a model. By the end of the series Grace has been through many more difficult life changing experiences and she is in her early thirties. I would hope that my readers will see the growth in Grace with each different novel in the series.

What are you working on at the minute?:
A book with only the title of Michelle’s book for the moment, until I can come up with a better title and a book called You Have Such a Pretty Face

What is it about?:
Michelle’s book is a spin-off to the Falling series where the main character is Grace’s younger sister Michelle (she’s been very popular with my readers)
You Have Such a Pretty Face is about a young, big, beautiful women named Phoebe who is a fashion photographer and she falls in love with a male model. It will deal with the mindset of a larger person and how it effects her life, but also have lots of juicy drama and romance.

What genre are your books?:
This is always a difficult question for me to answer. They’re not exactly romance with lines like, he dove his head between her mounds of flesh, and they’re not exactly erotica because each novel only has about five graphic sexual scenes. I like to call them love stories, because to me that’s what they are. I’ve been told they are either women’s fiction or contemporary romances.

What draws you to this genre?:
I’m a sucker for a good love story! I also like to read about drama, since I like to keep my life as drama-free as possible.

Do you have to do research for your books?:
Yes. I had to research many things for my books. When I read I like to escape and some of the places I would like to escape to would be Italy and France so naturally I write about these places in my books. To do so, I had to do a lot of research. For the book I am currently writing I have had to do a lot of research as well, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I won’t tell you what I’m researching. 😉

When did you decide to become a writer?:
I wrote my first “book” (probably more like a novella) when I was fifteen and after that I only wrote for college. I’ve had stories in my mind almost my whole life and I got bored one day and decided to start writing. Now I’ve written three novels and I’m working on two more, and I have ideas for more in my mind.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?:
Yes, I try to write books that are at least 60,000 words.

Do you work on an outline or plot before you start writing?:
I am an organic writer. I never use an outline and besides the basic core of what my stories are, I never really know what I’m going to write until I actually write it. I just wrote something major in Michelle’s book that I never dreamed I would have happen, but there it is.

What is the hardest thing about writing?:
Editing! It is the most tedious task and once you’ve completed writing your story all you want to do is share it.

What is the easiest thing about writing?:
Writing…for me it’s so easy to just sit and write for hours on end. Once my mind is flowing with dialogue and plots I just keep going.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?:
It depends on if I am working full time or not. I wrote my first book in about two weeks. The third took a lot longer because I was working.

Do you edit your book right after you finish or let it sit for awhile?:
Right after because I’m so anxious to get them to my readers and I get asked a lot about when the next book is coming. Although I start editing right away, it takes months!

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?:
Christina Campbell, Lulah Wolfinger and Frankie Fraiser. Lulah Wolfinger and Frankie are two of my readers who always have an eye for catching my errors. Christina was recommended by a friend.

How are you publishing this book and why?:
Self-pub. I never imagined I would be sharing my book with the world or that I would have fans of the book in Europe. I write because I love to, not to make money so the speediness of self-publishing appealed to me. In addition, no one is going to try and change my stories if I publish them myself.

How do you market your books?:
Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. I’m a marketing nightmare!

What do you do to get book reviews?:
I pester my readers on Facebook 🙂 I am also part of a group on Goodreads that is specifically for authors and reviewers. I also love to share my work with other authors because I believe they see things that readers don’t.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?:
Just do it! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or that you’re not good enough. Write a story you love and nothing else matters.

Website: http://www.marisaoldham.com

Blog: http://thefallingseries.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefallingseriesofnovels?sk=messages_inbox&ref=hl

Twitter: mothphoto

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authormarisa

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/marisaoldham

Book Links: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Marisa+Oldham&search-alias=books&text=Marisa+Oldham&sort=relevancerank

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MarisaOldham

I would like to thank Marisa for her time in completing the interview. Stay tuned for my review of The Falling of Love coming in the near future.

A synopsis among other things.

First, I would like to say thank you to everyone who is still following me after I’ve been kind of driven off track a little. I know I am not updating as much, but I am still reading books for review, still working on publishing my novel, and starting the second one (yay!). Oh, and of course working, taking care of my sons, and preparing to visit family. Yes, I am insane. I know. 

So I think it’s time to reveal the synopsis to my own novel, Angry Blonde. Here we go! 

Forced to take immediate control over her life, Wylie recounts the haunting chain of events that led to her fall from grace.
She explains how she met her modern-day knight, how she eagerly grabbed his hand to join the descent down his crime-infused rabbit hole. She delves deeper through the winding tunnel of her traumatic adolescence, hoping to rid herself of her sins.
Angry Blonde is the confession of a girl who must learn how to create love and safety from fear and hatred.

Ta-da! If you are interested, I’m planning on releasing the novel in early March. I wish I had a set date that I can keep throwing at everyone but I don’t yet. Stay tuned for that and other updates. 

Author Spotlight: Milena Veen

Just Like a Musical

Bio: Milena Veen was born in Belgrade, Serbia. Her first piece of writing, a poem about a walking cherry, saw the light of the day when she was seven. She’s been writing ever since.
Milena graduated from University of Belgrade with a degree in psychology. She lives in a little European town with her husband and a mute cat. When she’s not writing, Milena spends her time reading, riding her bicycle, and listening to music. She prefers clouds to sunshine and coffee to tea.

What all have you written? Include everything:
I’m just beginning my journey as a writer. I published my first novel, ‘Just Like a Musical’, a couple of weeks ago.

Where can we buy or see them?:
My book is available on Amazon. Readers can also download a free excerpt from Goodreads.

Tell us a little bit about your main character:
Ruby is seventeen years old. She’s a dreamer, she loves music and old movies, and she’s a bit old-fashioned. Ruby’s trying to find her place in the world, and that’s not easy for her, especially if we take into account her overprotective mother. But she will find strength in her relationship with a charming old lady who lives across the street and a quirky boy who has family issues of his own.

What are you working on at the minute?:
Apart from promoting my first novel, I’m thinking about the next one. I haven’t started to write yet, but the characters are slowly forming in my head. It’s important for me to let them come to life and understand them before I put them on paper.

What is it about?:
I’m not sure yet, but I’ll tell you when I find out.

What genre are your books?:
I write contemporary fiction. Both adults and young readers can find something appealing in my book, but my main characters are in their teenage years.

What draws you to this genre?:
I’ve always enjoyed reading realistic fiction, and adolescence is a period which I think is the most important in one’s life. I try to create young, realistic characters and put them in situations that my readers would find familiar and relatable.

Do you have to do research for your books?:
I had done a lot of fact-checking while writing ‘Just Like a Musical’. Some things were easy to find, but some of them really gave me a headache. I even had to delete a couple of lines because I found so many contradicting information.

When did you decide to become a writer?:
It wasn’t really a decision. I’ve been writing in one way or another ever since I was little. As for my first novel, I just woke up one morning with that burning feeling in my chest, and all the words begging me to write them down. So I just had to do it, it was inevitable.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?:
I used to when I began to write, but I realized that it takes away from the quality of my writing, so I gave up. I guess it works for some writers, but definitely not for me.

Do you work on an outline or plot before you start writing?:
I scribbled down a very vague, undetailed outline before I started writing ‘Just Like a Musical’. I changed so many things along the way, however, that I would say it was more something like a general sentiment written down than an actual outline.

What is the hardest thing about writing?:
I have a day job, so the hardest part for me is to wait for eight hours before I get back home to write. I also find the post-publishing stuff pretty hard – marketing, promotion, finding your target audience.

What is the easiest thing about writing?:
Everything was easy for me as long as I had enough time for writing. I didn’t have writer’s block, I didn’t struggle to find the right word… But maybe it’s because this is my first book.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?:
It took me about nine months to write this one. We’ll see about the next.

Do you edit your book right after you finish or let it sit for awhile?:
I’m very impatient when it comes to editing. I know that I should let it sit for a while, and I do, but that doesn’t prevent me from peeking inside from time to time and thinking about all the things that should be changed.

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?:
I hired Christie Stratos from Proof Positive to proofread my manuscript. I had read excerpts from the books she had worked on before I decided to hire her, and somehow I knew that she was the right person for me. I must say that she did an amazing job with my debut novel.

How are you publishing this book and why?:
I have decided to self-publish my book even before I started writing. It’s the path that seems frightening, but it’s also exciting. Everything is in your hands. You’re free to do whatever you want with your book, but you’re also the one who bears the responsibility.

How do you market your books?:
I try to reach out to book bloggers who are interested in contemporary YA. I’ve booked a book tour for late February / early March. I’m also trying out different book promotion sites like Story Cartel, Awesome Gang, etc.

What do you do to get book reviews?:
All of the above. And let me tell you, it’s a hard work, way harder that writing a book. I’ve been warned about this, though, so it isn’t a surprise.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?:
Hire a professional proofreader. No matter how good you are at grammar or punctuation, you need a professional to look over your writing. Also, be true to yourself. Don’t write what people expect you to just to please them. Write what you feel.

Blog: milenaveen.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Milena-Veen/550035575079139?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/milena_veen

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/milenaveen/

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Milena-Veen/e/B00HBRGGQ2

Book Links: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18656484-just-like-a-musical

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7336308.Milena_Veen

I would like to thank Milena for her time in completing the interview. Stay tuned for my review of Just Like A Musical coming in the near future.

Book Review: Merry Christmas, Henry

Title: Merry Christmas, Henry
Author: Aubrey Wynne
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Melange Books, LLC
Pages: 40
Format: e-book

Synopsis: Henry, a shy and talented artist, moonlights as a security guard at a museum and loses his heart to a beautiful, melancholy woman in a painting. As his obsession grows, he finds a kindred soul who helps him in his search for happiness. On Christmas Eve, Henry dares to take a chance on love and fulfill his dream.

My rating:
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Characters: The two main characters are shy, withdrawn Henry and his friend Melinda. Henry is a kind, gentle middle-aged man who lives alone in a studio near his place of work, an art museum. I liked him immediately because although he preferred to spend his time alone, it was clear that he cared about the people he did come in contact with on a regular basis. Melinda is the owner of the museum and Henry’s closest friend. She wants Henry to interact more, but understands him well enough to figure out that it may not happen.
Plot: Henry prepares to spend the holidays just the way he likes them: by himself, with a painting in the museum of a solemn woman in a bleak background. As Christmas draws nearer, he decides to add a few touches to the painting to add a little cheer around the woman that he is madly in love with and has named Rebecca. Pretty soon, he notices some odd things about his beloved painting…until Christmas, when something unexpected, but welcomed, happens. Merry Christmas, Henry is a cute, cheerful little tale about one man finding the companionship he deserves. The novel was interesting from beginning to end. The only thing that confused me is that sometimes the author and her characters would refer to Henry as Hank, and I wasn’t sure why. I assume Hank was his alter ego, one created to help him paint, but it wasn’t explained.
Writing: Wynne’s talent shines through in this novel. Her descriptions are vivid and not too wordy. Henry and Melinda are suffeciently developed, easy to like characters. The story was told in just the right amount of pages – any longer would have been dragging and any shorter would not have been enough.
I recommend Merry Christmas, Henry to those in need of a pick-me-up during the holidays, which can be lonely and depressing for a lot of people. This descriptive, sweet story will bring a smile to your face at the end.