Long Grows the Dark is a fantasy novel that took me to a magical place, and introduced me to a tight-knit group of characters who become entwined in a connection between two dimensions in time. Forced into a battle to preserve their land and ruler, their efforts continue to be confounded by past secrets revealed in bits of riddles. Conflicting relationships among the characters, made them feel oh-so-real, causing this reader to wince, moan, and applaud as they struggled to make tough choices. If you enjoy fantasy, adventure, romance, and a roller coaster of emotions, you will definitely enjoy Catherine Labadie's Long Grows the Dark.
A new movement among the #WritingCommunity on Twitter has propelled #IndieAuthors to a new level of acceptance. During the month of April, readers and writers alike have shown their support for indie authors with #IndieApril, posing requests for titles, links, and descriptions of self-published novels. Often selections of one to three books were made from a list of replies, but the mere fact that individuals were perusing titles to make their selections, helped build exposure for a group of writers, who often struggle with the marketing aspect of their novels.
Momentum exploded as the month progressed, and those of us who participated discovered new talented authors that might have otherwise remained unknown. I found it difficult to make a choice among the many intriguing titles and descriptions, but finally purchased several ebooks, and plan to leave reviews for each author.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the level of support from readers and other authors. Suggestions were retweeted, encouraging reviews were posted, and a community of writers began to lift each other up while grappling with their own #WIP (work in progress). Seasoned authors continue to give advice to novice writers, and a shared sense of humor among all eases tensions and frustrations common to the writing process.
In a world where negativity and criticism are abundant, it was refreshing to experience this push-back of positive energy. I want to thank all of my followers @koontz1_ma who have been a part of this journey with me, and hope we can continue to support one another in the future.
What initially begins as a typical day in the life of the nearly perfect Dr. Harlan Alred, soon turns into a tangled web of murder, deceit, and greed, with Harlan stuck in the middle of it all. Frustrated, he is unsure that he will ever find a solution to his crumbling world.
A suspenseful thriller, Dying to Live kept me guessing to the very end. This novel should come with a warning: "once you start it, you won't be able to put it down."
Although this book had been out for nearly twenty years, the politics in this thriller is still current. I enjoyed this fast-paced novel featuring Mark Beamon, a suspended FBI agent, who discovers the death of a grad student is not what it appears.
I had difficulty putting this book down. Stephen L. Smith pulled me into the non-stop action, as the main character, Alex Kontos, fears for his life while constantly trying to outsmart Detroit's Bello gang. What results is a thrilling moment-by-moment game of cat and mouse with an unknown winner until the very end.
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This was an engaging story of a teenage girl, Enzi, with a most unusual necklace that holds a rock, a gift from her mother. When strange events begin to occur, she discovers her family has secrets that lead her to another world in search of answers. Yet her past and present demons may prevent her from achieving her goal, as she winds through a trail of adventure, friendship, and discovery.
The Gwythienian was a definite page-turner for me, as I found myself rooting for Enzi and her new-found friend. Packed with adventure, action, and emotion, it left this reader wanting more.
Okay, it's a new year and many of us are making new resolutions with the best of intentions. For me, it's to finish my sequel to Shards of Trust. However, when I read articles about how to discipline yourself to create good writing habits, I often get discouraged because the suggestions of a set time each day, doesn't work for me. When caring for elderly in-laws with varying needs and doctor appointments, flexibility is key. If you are in a similar situation, whether it's family, another job with hours that vary, or anything in your life that presents variety in your schedule on a day to day basis, then this blog post is for you.
First and foremost, take a good look at a sample week in your life. Is it predictable or does it lean more toward the unpredictable? Be honest about it, because this is for you and you alone.
Second, when do you function best? Do you need to be awake for at least an hour or two, having had a cup of coffee, before your brain can function fully? Are you a morning person who pops out of bed, ready to go, but fizzle out as the day wears on? Perhaps you're a middle-of-the-day person, who can forget about trying to concentrate on anything as creative as writing in the morning or evening. Essentially, it helps to know how you are wired.
Finally, after assessing the above items, make a plan that works for you. For example, my plan is to look at what is happening each day, since it varies so much, then carve out a chunk of time in that day to sit down and write, avoiding late evenings like the plague. Even if that designated time has to be broken into two periods of time, the important thing is my determination to write every day.
When life happens, and your plan fails, give yourself a break. Know that you'll write when you can. After all, if it wasn't for those life events, we wouldn't have anything to write about. Make mental notes of the emotions, people, and scene of whatever has interrupted your writing. Who knows, any one of the three might appear in your next great novel!
One of the perks of writing a novel can be the research that emerges the author in similar real-life settings. Since I enjoy meeting new people and visiting new places, this is a true bonus from my perspective.
Recently, I felt the need for more in-depth research on dog kennels for my upcoming sequel to Shards of Trust, so I reached out to Valerie Snyder at the Animal Inn. I was welcomed as though it was no big deal to have a stranger intrude on her busy day. Not only did she answer my list of prepared questions, but she also provided me with a grand tour of her country kennel.
I made a new friend, Elise, an extremely gentle, though shy, doberman with an affinity for dog treats. She remained by my side the entire visit, most likely hoping for another treat, which she gladly received before I left.
Her owner, Valerie, gave me a peek into the world of dog kennel owners, from starting out in the business to building repeat customers. Also, the tour gave me the visuals that I needed for creating and describing a similar setting in my book.
Sharing some of my ideas for the next book, Valerie helped me to see what was possible and what was completely unrealistic. This is important because, although it is fiction, readers still want to be able to believe what they are reading.
One word of advice, though, it definitely helps to have prepared questions, so that no one's precious time is wasted. Also, do offer to thank them in your acknowledgements when your novel is completed. But why wait? I'd like to thank Valerie Snyder at the Animal Inn for her assistance in helping me to craft my next novel. I look forward to continued research as the number of pages grow and the characters take on a life of their own.
Grandma Scher was the epitome of #patience. As though raising nine children through the depression wasn't enough, those same children, when grown, converged on her home every Sunday, their own children in tow, yet she smiled and hugged each and every one, knowing full well of the chaos to ensue.
Food preparation for such a brood was an act of patience as well. Soup often simmered all day on a back burner of the stove. Noodles for her famous chicken and noodles were made from scratch, using eggs from her chickens.
I can remember watching her slice the floured dough into strips that were then laid out all over her kitchen counters and table to dry. It was so time-consuming that I hopped from one leg to the next, thinking I would have given up in the blink of an eye. But the results were so delicious that I began to understand the slow and tedious process. Patience was not only a virtue, but could produce mouth-watering results as well.
Somewhere along the line, it seems that patience has ebbed from our lives for the sake of convenience. If something isn't instantaneous, we pout. We've been trained on fast-food, drive-ups, microwaves, single-serve coffee makers, computers, phones and other technology for speedy access to info, the flash of social media, and scheduled lives. This is what we wanted - convenience. But at what cost? Has it improved or cheapened the quality of our lives?
This #Thanksgiving, I find myself grateful for individuals who possess the patience of my grandmother: people who take time to do something well; people who mull over all the facts before making a decision; people who pause to think before they speak; and people who are willing to stop and listen. Maybe, if I can quit hopping from one foot to the next, I can learn to be one of these people, too. I sure hope so, but only if it doesn't take too long.