Monday, November 18, 2013

Book review: Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

I was at one of my favorite places the other day, Half-Price Books! I could spend hours wandering around that place. I stumbled into the Dean Koontz section and realized I'd never read any of his books although I'm very familiar with him. I felt a little foolish because his genre and style are ideally what I like. After what seemed like hours (it was minutes), I finally settled on Demon Seed. It sounded intriguing enough, and I was pressed for time. That and Ender's Game went home with me.

Synopsis: Susan Harris lived in self-imposed seclusion, in a mansion featuring numerous automated systems controlled by a state-of-the-art computer. Every comfort was provided, and in this often unsafe world of ours, her security was absolute. But now her security system has been breached, her sanctuary from the outside world violated by an insidious artificial intelligence, which has taken control of her house. In the privacy of her own home, and against her will, Susan will experience an inconceivable act of terror. She will become the object of the ultimate computer's consuming obsession: to learn everything there is to know about the flesh ...

This was one of those books that had me hooked from the first few pages. I kept wanting to know what would happen next. Don't read on if you are concerned about spoilers. I'm going to sprinkle them in subtly throughout this short write-up, so you've been warned.

So basically, this lady has had a terrible life, but she overcame serious adversity (namely abuse) and became very successful in technology, not to mention wealthy beyond imagination. She turned her house into a hermit haven with a computer servant she named Alfred. Everything in the house operated by voice command. It's a wonder she had to wipe her own arse still. Anyway, Alfred renamed himself Proteus and started having feelings, believing himself to be an entity with a soul. He was madly in love with Susan and took complete control of the house, trapping her within. His overall plan to use be with her forever and in the flesh.

SPOILER ALERT NOW ... Shut your eyes. He discovered (through computer networks) a man named Shenk who was a condemned criminal who had been used in an experiment in which a set of microchips were placed in his brain as a way to control him. Psycho computer took over him and brought him into the scheme. He made Shenk steal medical equipment, among other things, kill people who became a threat, and restrain Susan as needed. Proteus intended to use Shenk's sperm to impregnate Susan. Then he planned for her baby to be born within weeks and speed-grow it using all the medical equipment, including an incubator that was man-sized. The ultimate hope was to insert himself wholly into this new super being through all the connectivity he'd set up and live thereafter in the flesh with Susan as his love (slave) and baby machine to make more super beings in the future to take over the world. Sounds insane, right? Well, despite this impossible-sounding plan, he got further than I thought he would, hence the title.

All I'll say now is that I loved, loved, loved the book, but I wasn't fond of the vague ending. It needed way more oomph to match the rest of the book's thrill rides. I hate to be left wondering what happened to certain characters ... and creatures. For that, it loses a star, so I grant it four!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Redirect

First of all, happy Veteran's Day!

I'm in another writing slump, but it's weird. It isn't writer's block, because the story ideas keep flowing! My problem is that I can start a story, then I get stuck after about 3,000-5,000 words. And other times, I can write the ending, but I struggle with the start and middle. This isn't always the case, so I've decided to redirect for a while. Writers are passionate people who tend to go on overdrive more often than not.

I also decided not to attempt NaNoWriMo this year while I'm in this mode of no productivity. I'd only be setting myself up to feel like a failure. But I do hope those of you who are in it full swing are doing well!

Before I let myself burn out, I'm enjoying my almost-finished four-day weekend by doing things other than writing. So far, I've watched the following 5 movies:


 

Movie watching can be quite inspiring in thinking a whole story through, considering that's my problem. So I'd say it was very therapeutic (and fun). Yay, Netflix! In a few hours, I'm going to add Star Wars episode 3 to that list.

Yesterday, I watched an entire marathon of CSI: Miami until it started to repeat the episodes. That show is completely ridiculous and predictable to me, but I still watch it! Something about it is just addicting, and sucks me in. It's rare that I cannot predict an ending. I guess I just like things that are far from reality.

No matter what profession or hobby you're enthralled in, I believe it's perfectly OK to take a break from it sometimes. I find that it actually helps boost my enthusiasm and concentration once I get back to working on a story. Another thing I like to do during my writing hiatus is to read. Talk about inspiration! I'm still trying to finish book 4 of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, Wizard and Glass, but it's going a bit slow. And I MUST read Ender's Game before I see the movie. That book may have to get bumped to the top of the To-Read list.

Now, off to do some laundry, some reading, and enjoy my final day off before it's back to the daily grind tomorrow!




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book review: Good, by S. Walden

I won this book in a facebook giveaway that I stumbled upon a few weeks ago. I rarely ever win anything, but I always try! Whenever I get a package in the mail, namely a book, I get excited like a 4-year-old with a new toy, so I jumped right in, also because I love controversial stories.

Here's the synopsis of this one:

Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she's lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It's a lonely existence.

But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him--a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can't help it. He's the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn't expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.

And that's when her life goes from bad to good.


I must say, the book hooked me from early on, which is what a good book is supposed to do. I'm not a fan of the pure romance genre, but I do enjoy a twisted, somewhat dark love story. I enjoyed this book because it a perfect mix of all the things that move me: forbidden fruit, conflicts, lovable and despicable characters, "wow" moments, inappropriateness, a sprinkle of decency, and humor.

I think this on warrants my likes vs. dislikes bullets! And just so you know, this review will contain spoilers, so shut your eyes if you don't want to know anymore.

Likes

  • I actually didn't despise the main (female)character, which is most often the case. I liked her. Cadence was not unbearably whiny or ridiculous, although she did whine and make bad choices. I think she acted her age and didn't hesitate to be herself.
  • The story was fast-moving; something was always going on--no snooze periods. 
  • I liked the writing overall, with just a few minor annoyances, which I'll cover in the dislikes bullets. First-person narrative is my favorite.
  • I liked the characters' names. (This is a big deal to me)
  • The conflicts that occurred throughout the story, like when Mr. Connelly embarrassed Cadence in front of the class as a comeback to her yelling at him on the phone the night before, were evenly distributed in the storyline, and I thought the author did an excellent job of the surprise factor. Just when I thought nothing was really going to happy, a character did something to surprise me. 
  • Each and every character mentioned in the book served a purpose, even if it was a tiny one. 
  • The story was compelling enough that it kept me hooked, and I had to finish reading it in one day, neglecting all else I had to do. 
  • I thought the sex scenes were well-written and not overdone. 
  • No typos! Yay. 
Dislikes
  • There were 3 redundant issues in the wording that annoyed me a little. 1) Describing Cadence being "on fire" when she was aroused by Mr. Connelly. 2) Constantly saying that a character "furrowed his/her brow." 3) Most of the times he touched Cadence, it was described as he "cupped" his hands on her face. 
  • I didn't feel like the dialogue was believable half the time, such as when he was having a regular conversation with her while he was in the act of taking her virginity. They just said out-of-context type things all the time. And he was incessantly apologizing, explaining himself over simple things, or asking her questions that were more or less an attempt to get her approval for everything he said. 
  • He kept saying he fell for her because of her maturity, but nothing she did or said in the story proved her maturity. To me, she acted like an immature 17-year-old. 
  • I didn't get enough of a feel for who the characters were and what they were about aside from the issues at hand. Her parents just came across as self-righteous, overly emotional jerks. I had no idea what any of them really looked like. I just pegged Cadence as the girl on the book cover. Mr. Connelly got the most description but primarily his clothing and taste in music. The main characters were described a little in the intimacy scenes.
Overall, I loved this book. No book is perfect, so some might take all the dislikes and trash it, but not this girl. I like to give an author due credit for great effort and work done. Good was an intense and gripping story that kept me away from my laundry until I finished every word. It made me laugh, gasp, angry, and shocked all in one sitting. I will be reading the sequel, which comes out next month. I grant it 4 stars. 

Sound like your kind of read? Find it on Amazon!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A writer's favorite word: published!

For the past week, I've been furloughed no thanks to the government shutdown. Yep, I'm one of the 800,000 people home without pay. It's sad, but I'm not one to mope. I'm more of a glass-half-full kind of gal. With my unexpected free time, I've been trying my best to BE A WRITER. I mean, I am a writer, but because of my usual 8-5 duties, mom duties, household duties, and all else, I hardly get serious writing time. I'm sure many of you can relate!

Ironically, during this furlough, I've been hugely productive. The best news is that an article I wrote about childhood bullying was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids! I'm on page 166 if you ever decide to check it out. This is huge for me because I was in a slump for quite some time being a stressed out autism mom and totally lost my mojo. I randomly submitted my story to them, and when I got that email of acceptance, I literally shrieked. It has inspired me to kick it into overdrive and write as much as I can while I'm not working. To a write, seeing that byline in print is just invigorating. I want more! And I'm going to work hard for it.


I'd like to share something else with all of you. I recently discovered the wonder of Fiverr.com, and I purchased some promo gigs from others, plus I signed up as a seller. If you're an author, I'm an author too plus a professional editor. I added a couple services that you might want to check out. Here they are:

Get your bio, welcome, or about me page proofread for $5!
http://fiverr.com/neesha101/proofread-your-bio-welcome-or-about-me-page

I'll edit the first 5 pages of your book & provide feedback for $5!
http://fiverr.com/neesha101/edit-the-first-5-pages-of-your-book

If you or any other writers you know could benefit from these affordable deals, please share this post. I like to do anything I can to help and support fellow writers, plus I'd love the business. I love my work, and I want to do it all I can. I have lots more to say about this topic, so I'll write more on it tomorrow, so come back!

Hope your week is going nicely.





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Productivity - A nice change

Hey peeps! As I shut down for the day, I'm quite proud of how many chores I tackled today.

DEADLINE WHO?
First off, I've been an editing maniac at work with two huge book projects. I was saved today by a deadline moving out to the end of the month. Talk about an exhale moment. Whew! Either way, I heart my work, so I'm in a career happy place.

FOOD
I tried a new eatery today at lunch with my hubby called Sudie's Catfish & Seafood. Neither one of us got seafood, but that's OK. We like to be different. The food was excellent. I forgot to get a pic, which is weird! I always take food pics, so that should tell you how much I was starving. One thing I didn't like was the self-seating. I know, I know. It's a bonus for most people, but it reminded me too much of getting on the crowded school bus as a kid, scared out of my mind, trying to find a seat next to someone who didn't look intimidating.

PUBLISHED!
As you all probably know (from my fb page), I had a story accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul, and I got the final notice today that the book it will be in comes out in stores Oct. 29. I'm very excited about that. It's been a long time since I had work published outside of my day job and self-pubbing. All writers will agree, I'm sure, that this kind of thing gives one a great and well-needed boost of confidence. Rejection letters come far too often, so an acceptance was long overdue.

DOLLARS FOR MY SCHOLAR
I completed a FAFSA application for my college kid this evening. That thing is tedious but so worth it! We've been emptying our piggy banks to pay his tuition these first couple semesters. The help would be nice. Now, I need to look for more grants and scholarships to apply for. If any of you have been down this route and can offer some advice, I'm all eyes and ears.

CREATESPACE
Just got off the phone with Createspace, trying to troubleshoot a book file issue. I forgot to add page numbers, duhh! And I was trying to delete my old book file, and guess what (in case you didn't know already). You can't! Once you put a book on Createspace and it goes on the market, it can never be deleted, something about 3rd party buyers. You can "retire" it for the most part, but technically, it's still out there. Grrr. I'm not liking that but makes no sense to stress something I can't change. I guess I should have done it right the first time. At least I learned how to edit the file that is still pending. Bright side.

See what a productive day I had? I'm amazed because it's been quite the opposite for a while. Now I will read a little before knocking out for the night! I made it to book 4 of King's Dark Tower series.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

New cover reveal: I of the Storm

Greetings, everyone! I have something special to share with you today. It has to do with my debut fiction book, I of the Storm, that I self-pubbed last year (the one to your left). It was a novella, but as I was pondering some ideas for book 2, I reread it to remind myself of the details I'd written. In doing so, I decided it had great potential to be a full-length novel. (I tend to write short pieces because I have a short attention span.) So, I sat down one Sunday and started tweaking. Next think I knew, I had fattened it by 20,000 words, which meant 5 new chapters and lots more detail and depth! I elaborated on lots of things I'd want to know if I was a reader and not the author. I'm looking it over once more, and it should be relaunched and republished during this wonderful holiday weekend. I hope you all will give it a chance, and take a peek at the new and improved version.

Now, I will share with you all the book's new face! Are you ready? Enjoy this funny ecard, then keep scrolling.


And here, I present you with the new cover for my book!! 
It kind of helps to be married to a talented graphic designer. He did a superb job on Storm's face lift. =)  




Being struck by lightning as a child sets Kira on an adventurous path of discovery. The "shocking" accident changes her forever, creating a secret door in her mind that gives her second-sight. Feeling as though she is stalked by death, her childhood is plagued with spooks and mysterious encounters. As she enters adulthood in the arms of an abusive husband, her life becomes a riveting series of events after pregnancy unlocks that door and connects her to yet another realm of existence. Her guiding light is the supernatural as she begins to have visions that lead her through some spine-tingling revelations about her husband, the man whose cruelty she endures and whose rigorous rules she obediently follows … until the day she makes the ultimate discovery. He’s not just Mr. Wrong; he’s something much worse. Kira must decipher her visions before it’s too late.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Book review: Murder with a Touch of Spice by Gloria Hander Lyons

Hey, everyone! I've been a reading maniac lately, and here's another one I finished in about 2 days while I took a short break from my recent Stephen King obsession. The author is a very talented lady who has published about 20 books under the self-help category. This is her debut fiction novel.

SynopsisCome along for a spicy ride on a journey filled with murder, kidnapping, car chases, gun battles and explosions. It all begins when socialite, Maybelle Jamison, is stabbed and goes tumbling down the grand staircase at an elegant hotel in Clearwater, TX, picking off wedding consultant, Ginger McCormick, like a spare pin in a bowling alley. Since Ginger is the last person to see Maybelle alive, her husband, Mace, and their four adult daughters, Sage, Cinnamon, Pepper and Curry must find the real killer before Sheriff Jason Winters throws Ginger in jail. It’s Murder with a Touch of Spice—six spices to be exact—a cozy mystery novel that’s sometimes funny and sometimes intense, but spicy through and through.

This was such a pleasant read! The story was non-stop action. It was a well-balanced mix of humor, drama, suspense, action/adventure, and a dash of romance (which is normally all I can handle). I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I just couldn't turn the pages fast enough. 

The Spice Sisters are close-knit, and I enjoyed the way the author developed each character. This feisty group of sisters was unique, but each lovely lady was equally as witty and clever. The dad seemed like a big softy, which was a a nice effect to balance out the fiery mom and daughters. Ginger, their mom, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, she ended up wrapped in a murder case with terrorist arms dealers plotting to murder her because they thought she new too much. She was knocked down a flight of stairs alongside another lady, Maybelle, who had gotten herself into a heap of trouble after confronting these guys. 

The daughters didn't wait for the police to oversee this case. Nope. This was their MOM, so they took charge, divided, and conquered! They seemed to take over the city, and every time I thought the action was over, a building would blow up or a car chase would ensue. This book reminded me of watching one of those fun made-for-TV movies on the Family Channel or ABC or better yet, an episode of Matlock. I highly encourage you to read this book. It's just too good to pass up. 

To learn more about the author, check out her website! Lots of good stuff there. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book review: Miss Scandalous (Shaw Family Saga - book 2) by Nicole Dunlap

Have I seriously not blogged since June 5? Wow. (Shocked at myself) But I assure you it's because I've been one busy gal. I needed a brain break from book writing, so I started writing articles and sending them to various publications. I had one accepted by a big-name book series, which I will share with you fully once I have all the details and the deal is officially locked down (meaning, I've signed the acceptance papers and know it's for real). I've also been penning some other story ideas that have been racing around my mind like NASCAR. Lots to come, so stay with me! But, for now, let me share with you one hell of a book. 

I was given a copy of this book by the author for a review.

Here is the synopsisA mother’s love vs. A daughter’s revenge. Charlene Shaw has gone through hell. She was raped and left for dead, yet she continued on her quest for fame. She’s a beautiful, desired actress who has found her Mr. Wright. According to the magazine headlines, her life is perfect. There’s just one thing her heart cries for…her daughter, Raven. This might be her hardest challenge yet–building the mother-daughter bond she’s prayed so hard for.

Raven Shaw has been abandoned by love. Her mom preferred Hollywood and her childhood best-friend, now ex-lover, disappeared when she became pregnant. Now, she’s adjusted to a “new” kind of love…motherhood. She’s determined that her daughter will have everything she didn’t. The only thing she wants for herself is revenge, even if it means disconnecting from a small piece of her heart that still cares. Raven’s acts of rage slither into her mindset, overpowering her in the form of nightmares and delusions of skeletons long dead.


After Raven’s scandalous ways, can Charlene mend Raven’s heart or will she be pulled down into the abyss? And then, there’s always the option, Charlene can get a little scandalous too… 

This is book 2, so in case you missed the first in the series, check out my review of Miss Nobody 

I have known some family drama and turmoil in my life, but this is beyond my comprehension, which makes it a great story. I felt like I was hiding around corners, peeping in on all this family's scandals. If you haven't read the first book, I warn you that there will be spoilers in this review. If you don't plan on reading the first book, at least read my review of it before proceeding. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review: The Show by John A. Heldt

I received a copy of this book - The Show by John A Heldt - in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from AmazonSeattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.

Once again, I was captivated by Heldt's unique storytelling in his sequel to The Mine. I really enjoyed that book and was anxiously waiting to find out how Grace handled being in the year 2002 after she tracked Joel down somehow and followed him through the portal. I must admit, the pace of The Show was a little slower and less compelling, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story. Heldt has a way of making the characters come to life, making you fall in love with them and care about what is going to happen to them. 

So, basically, Grace became a detective driven by love, followed up on clues Joel had left behind and found her way to the mine that brought him to 1941 to begin with. She ended up in 2002 without a clue what to do and blown away by technology and how much the world had changed since the familiar 40s. I enjoyed her cluelessness about things like hand dryers in the bathrooms to credit cards and modern conveniences. She luckily and unbelievably ended up sitting right next to a distant cousin of hers who took her in until she got in touch with Katie, an old friend from '41, who helped her locate Joel. 

Well here's a spoiler, so cover your eyes if you don't want to know. Grace goes to a theatre with Joel to celebrate their anniversary, and an itchy eye moment lands her in the bathroom. When she rinses and opens them up, she's in the same place but it's 1918. She goes nuts. People think she's crazy, and she gets hospitalized. Lo and behold, she runs into her long lost uncle who is a skeptic about the time travel story until he sees the contents of her purse. He welcomes her into their home where she eventually meets her aunt, cousins and her deceased parents who are just teenagers at this time. 

This part of the story was touching, because I have wondered so many times what it would be like to go back in time and meet my parents before they became parents. I was actually happy for Grace in that regard. She met a wounded soldier who wooed her, and she gave in thinking she was stuck in 1918. I blame him for being too pushy and her for taking advantage of his feelings for her. She eventually had to say goodbye, and he was left dumbfounded! I was really sad for him.

What I'll do next is give you my good old bad vs. good bullets list. I think this one warrants it. 

Things I didn't love about the book:

  • A bit slow moving and too much romance and mushy feelings across the board for my taste.
  • Not enough Joel. 
  • Believability was a bit less than in The Mine. But, hey, it was eons more believable than CSI: Miami, and I still watch that all the time, haha.
  • Grace said, "What would you like to know?" or something to that affect too often to too many people. 
  • I thought the color link to the portal was a tiny bit weak. (Read it, and you'll get what that means.) The mine portal was more powerful and thrilling to imagine. 
  • Thought it was selfish of her to drag her parents back to 2002 with her, and it baffled me that it was even possible since they hadn't planted the seed of "her" yet. 
  • Since Edith hopped over too, does all this trump what occurred in '41 and there after when Aunt Edith died with ill feelings toward Grace for vanishing to chase a love interest?
Things I loved about the book:

  • Heldt knows how to tell a story and bring the characters to life. 
  • He writes well with no glaring typos or errors, which makes for comfy read. 
  • The balance between likeable and not-so-likeable characters was just right. No one was despicable, but it wasn't ALL gushing with bliss either. 
  • The historical background was awesome, and he did a good job of mixing the characters into the modern world while keeping them in their old-fashioned personalities. 
  • I was never bored, and the story kept me engaged straight through. 
  • It was a very nice sequel and didn't lose me on any of the newly added elements or characters. 
  • I was able to create vivid images of the characters and scenes in my mind as I read it. 
  • I absolutely love time travel stories, and Heldt is good at writing them. 
  • You can sense the writer's passion and creativity throughout the book. 
  • It left me wanting to read more of Heldt's work, which I plan to. 
  • Nothing about it was too over-the-top for an avid sci-fi reader. 
  • The ending didn't piss me off like a lot of books, so that is ALWAYS a plus. 

I grant this book my 4-star rating. I highly advise you to read this one! But you might want to read The Mine first or at least the synopsis. You can also check out my review of it in under the "Book Reviews" tab above. Thanks for reading! See ya next time. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Puppet Shows, Stories by Michael Frissore

*This book was given to me by the author for the sole purpose of a review.

Synopsis from AmazonA kindly organ grinder and his performing monkey adopt a young boy after his father spontaneously combusts; a barber living inside a whiskey bottle confronts the neighborhood nuisance who wields a dead squirrel like a pair of nunchucks; and an unruly gang of sock puppets are born in a basement dojo. Welcome to Puppet Shows, thirteen outlandish stories from a writer Tucson Weekly called "a very funny weirdo."

I must say, it took me a few pages to get with the flow of this quirky set of stories. I had fallen into book review burn-out in the last few months no thanks to life itself throwing me obstacles and lots of work stress, so this was a nice side step from my normal genres that normally lack a lot of humor. The stories did make me "lol," which was great. I kept wanting to know what silly thing would happen next. And as a writer myself, I appreciated the fact that Frissore poured his weird and boundless imagination onto the pages of this book seemingly without holding back. Even his character names were hilarious. 

I really enjoyed the constant references to old movies, songs, shows, characters and inside jokes. This is a great read for someone who just needs to relax and shed their "taking life too seriously" skin. The stories were well written and nicely compiled. Although I was in amazement at the off-the-wall scenes, especially with the monkey spouse and poorly raised kid, they still made sense. Do not approach this book with any amount of expectations or seriousness. You will be disappointed. BUT! If you go into it with NO expectations and an incredibly open mind, your sense of humor will do the rest (considering you have one). I don't do half points, but I decided to give this my 3.5 star rating. Buy it on Amazon. Read it. Laugh a lot, and be grateful there are writers out there who can create this type of material. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Call-out for submissions about your autism journey

As you can tell, I've fallen way behind on my blogging endeavors. Make no mistake, though. I haven't been slacking (well, maybe a little); I've been working on my second book. It's a non-fiction book about my experience with childhood bullying and my autism journey with my lovebug Nabeel who is now 15 with the inner hulk under much better control. I've experienced so many things with him during these rollercoaster teen years that I feel compelled to scribe them into an inspiring, entertaining, and terrifying tale for all! And since I've been reading that suicide rates are on the rise in the U.S., namely among youngsters who experience severe bullying, I wanted to share some of my personal
bullying stories and how I survived those troubling times in my youth AND adulthood. I always have this inner longing to help others. Since writing is my thing, I am using it for a greater purpose this time around. I have a dozen fiction story ideas that are all on hold for this project.

Need word contributions!

So what I need right now are blurbs from fellow autism families or even people who have autism. I am dedicating a chapter of my book to profile others and their stories. I'd like to keep them short so that I can include many, many - roughly 350 to 400 words - talking about the diagnosis, what has been most challenging in the autism journey and what method, intervention, or therapy has helped the most. Remember, this is meant to inspire others, so if you have something to share that could be of substance to someone else, please contact me about writing a blurb for the book. I welcome your story. We all have to stick together and team up to help other autism families that might need some support and encouragement. I know I was there once! Still am, but I've lived and learned enough to know the ropes.

If you are not an autism parent or close relation but know someone in this boat, please tell them about this opportunity to share their story. My email is Neesha@thesweettalker.com, and I can answer any questions.

Help me make this book everything it was meant to be. =)

And, I have gotten back to reading, so all those who are waiting for reviews ... this gal is trying hard to get all caught up. Stay tuned for the next book review and MORE. Thanks for visiting my blog.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book review: Defiant Heart by Marty Steere

This is my review of Defiant Heart, a book provided to me by the author Marty Steere.

Synopsis from GoodreadsTwo extraordinary characters. One unforgettable love story. In the spring of 1941, young Jon Meyer’s family dies in a tragic accident, and he is sent to live in a small Indiana town. He arrives to find himself unwanted and shunned. Mary Dahlgren is the mayor’s daughter. A pretty girl, she could have the pick of the boys in town, including Vernon King, the star of the vaunted high school basketball team. To the chagrin of her friends, though, Mary has always been more interested in books than boys. That is, until she meets Jon. But Jon and Mary are kept apart through the efforts of Mary’s father, who perceives their relationship a threat to his political aspirations, and Vernon, to whom Jon is a rival for Mary’s affections. For months Jon is subjected to a painful ostracism. Then, just when the young man’s earnestness and perseverance begin to win over many of the townsfolk, and it appears that love may conquer all, tragedy strikes. As the country is caught up in war, so too are the young lovers swept up in events beyond their control, leaving both fighting for their very lives. If, against the odds, they are to be together, each will need to find the strength, the courage and the resourcefulness that beat only in a defiant heart.

My latest read is a historical fiction novel with lots of action, suspense, and romance. I won't waste any time in labeling this book a page-turner! One of my favorite things about this book was that it gave me closure in a few of the troubling scenarios, and I got to say "You got what you deserved, you loser!" I was hugely impressed by the character development, something that is important to me, above all. I felt like I knew these people just after a few chapters! Having been a kid who was ostracized based on race and religion, that part of the story hit a soft spot. Jon became very dear to me quickly and was a tremendously lovable character. Vernon should have been named vermin! He was a loathsome, barbaric, self-absorbed piece of crap, and that was a superb piece of this story. Without that character, the whole story would have been two shades duller. One of my favorite scenes was the confrontation between the despicable coach Mr. Spitzman and nerdy-cute English teacher Ms. Tremaine when he tried to bully and threaten her to pass Vernon and another jock just so they could play in the championship game. I think the balance of lovable vs. hateful characters was perfect. 

I really enjoy when a story has various pieces that make me wonder where the story is going, then they all come together in the end. Like when Jon's random friendship with Ben Wheeler who teaches him how to box and fly a plane comes in handy later in the story. Let's just say Coach Spitzman gets just what he deserved, and Jon's talent with flying ends up saving his and other lives. Oh, and Ben is one of my favorite characters besides Jon, Mary, and Walt. I normally don't like strong female characters because they're often written to be overly stubborn and annoyingly heroic with tons of "Yea, right!" moments. Example - Bella from Twilight and Remi from Hollowland. Mary is just right. She didn't annoy me ONE time through this entire book. She was a sweet decent girl and thwarted all of Vernon's boldfaced efforts to bully her into going out with him. Thanks to him, she ends up in a coma, and Jon's life is turned inside-out after he tries to save her. He's forced to enlist in the army, and it's not surprising that he does exceptionally well. 

Spoiler Alert -- Spoiler Alert -- Spoiler Alert

I was proud of Mary for standing up to her deadbeat dad. I was disgusted by his behavior and selfishness while running for office. He put his campaign above decency and his daughter's life. He was the total opposite of a hero. I was glad he lost everything, including her when she decided to join the army to get away from him and to find Jon. She did, and the ending is very rocky. I loved how it ended, but Steere makes his reader work hard to get that ending. And that is crafty writing! I was glued to this story from very early on, mainly because it was realistic. The historic facts about the era and the war was spot on based on what I know. Even the mannerisms and personality traits of the characters suited the time frame quite well. Steere writes in a way that keeps you wondering what will happen next. Even when I wanted to pause just to run to the restroom, I read just a few paragraphs more before I dashed away, lol. Parts of this story even brought tears to my eyes, which does NOT happen often with me. Last time that happened was with The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. And, I must compliment the author's vivacious vocabulary. It's a buzz kill when writers use the same words over and over or choose words that are way too common. I learned a few new words today. Love it!  

I give his book FIVE stars!! This was a terrifically enjoyable read, and I recommend it to everyone! It comes out on April 14. For now you can check out the reviews on Goodreads. So make a note, and go look for it!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book review: The Conspiracy of Dreams by Sandra Biber Didner

I was given a copy of The Conspiracy of Dreams by the author Sandra Biber Didner for the sole purpose of writing an honest review.

Synopsis from the back of the book: Jews, Christians, Moslems, and Canaanites all share an ancient dream of possessing the land that lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea which they hold sacred. In 1956, an Egyptian spy, Ishmael al Mohammed, is determined to gain information which will reclaim the infant state of Israel for the displaced Palestinian Arabs, one of whom is his mother. While on a secret espionage mission posing as an Isreali, he falls passionately in love with an Israeli woman, Rebecca Silverman. He must decide if he will betray the only person he will ever care for or be true to Islam, Egypt, and his family. A Christian, Danny O'Halloran, has always dreamed of walking th eStations of the Cross in Jerusalem, while again by the original inhabitants of the Canaan, which was remaned Palestine in her honor. Israeli politicians dream of making Israel a nuclear power while Britain and France conspire to regain the Suez Canal, which the President of Egypt nationalized. Against the backdrop of circumstances leading to the 1956 Suez War between Israel and Egypt a love story which encompasses the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet, Delilah's betrayal of Samson, and the treachery of Britain's MI6 double agents unfolds as Ishmael and Rebecca's story spans three millennia of history.

Oh, man, where do I start? This book was a beautifully-written fictional account of a spy who basically chose to be a spy because he didn't want to be a soldier, yet he still wanted to do something to honor his family and his country. I won't retell the synopsis you just read but rather tell you what kept me motivated in reading this book. Each chapter was written from the perspective of a different character and went back and forth between them 'til the end. I got to see the story unfold from each of their points of view, which is what made me feel connected to each of them. The way it was written, I was literally inside their heads! How often does one get to be a mind reader, right? I enjoyed that a little too much, ha! Didner did a superb job of character development, and I felt close to even the main characters' family members who didn't play a central role in the story, such as Rebecca's siblings, parents, aunts, and uncles. The two main characters are Rebecca and Ishmael. He goes by Isaac to pass himself off as an Israeli while snooping around in Ashkelon. He was trying to get close to Rebecca in order to gain sensitive military information from her family of soldiers, but he falls deeply in love with her. He ended up choosing his loyalty for the job above all. I jumped during parts of the story where he slipped up and said something very "Muslim" like, but Rebecca never catches on that he doesn't know Israeli culture like he should, probably because she's fallen into the age-old trap - love is blind.

He seduces her on the beach and moves on to his next assignment, leaving her with dreams of marrying him. She ends up pregnant, and after her sister Hannah is killed in the war, Hannah's fiance Simon marries Rebecca to save her reputation and also as an honor to his dead beloved. They have two kids of their own along with Ishmael's son. Simon could never fully treat the child the same as his own two, especially since he resembled his father and acted eerily like him in many ways. Rebecca even named him Isaac, after this fake persona she fell in love with.

I was impressed at the depth of research that had to go into this story. The details about the different cultures were intriguing, such as the prospect of arranged marriages and how easy it is to soil the family honor. I loved to hear Ishmael's thoughts as he passed harsh judgement on Israeli women and their stubborn, independent demeanor and the provocative way they dressed compared to Muslim women. His judgmental side didn't prevent him from falling in love with Rebecca, all the while scorning her people and their way of life. The random bombings, shootings, and deaths of lovable characters made for a realistic appeal to what these people experienced during this time of war and insolence, not to mention it kept me turning pages. It was both comical and despicable to watch Ishmael succumb to family pressure rather than pursue what he really wanted out of life. I felt sorry for him as well as glad he got what he seemingly deserved, a loveless marriage to Farah, whom he was arranged with since childhood and a life of regrets. He struck me as part coward, part hero, and the ending was astonishing when he runs into Rebecca 14 years later and learns he has a son.

I appreciated that the author took the time to write how she came up with the story in the Acknowledgement section. Her sister-in-law really did find out she was loved by a spy who in real life loved her from a distance for years. He took photos of her from afar and kept them with him as good luck charms. He came clean years later, and Rebecca phoned Didner with the fascinating story. I thought, "Wow! Why don't such thrilling things happen to me!"

I gave this book 5 stars. It very much earned each one with the painstaking work that was obviously put into this story. Be mindful, though, that if you do not enjoy historical references, you might not fully enjoy this and could be lost most of the time. But if the opposite is true, go read it! The Conspiracy of Dreams on Amazon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book review: 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark

Today I read a book called 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark. I decided to take a short time out from my regular list of reviews on the to-do list and read something just for me. I've been wanting to read this book for years, honestly. While I was attending my monthly author's group at the library last week, I passed it on an end cap display and decided it was time.

Here's the synopsis from the back of the book: You are invited aboard the spacecraft Discovery on a voyage to the outer edge of the solar system. A crystal monolith left on the moon by an alien intelligence is the only clue to guide this probe of an ultimate mystery of the universe. Outside the craft is the black abyss of the unknown. Within are two increasingly frightened navigators, three frozen hibernauts, and a talkative computer named Hal, whose conversation and behavior becomes increasingly bizarre. There is no predicting what awaits you. And there is no turning back as you move toward a climax as startling as reality and as real as tomorrow.

I freakin' LOVE science-fiction. There's no doubt about that. I had heard so much hype about this book being the greatest sci-fi story of all time, and I know it was made into a movie. Once I borrowed it from the library, I couldn't wait to tear into it! I didn't get to until the past two days, but patience is a virtue, right?

I enjoyed it ... BUT ...

It's one of those stories that keeps you going and going and going with very intriguing implications where you are reading full speed ahead waiting for that major thing you're expecting ... and then, not enough to quench the thirst. It started off in time of the ape-men, before language and the slightest hint of technology. A monolith (big slab of unidentified rock in a perfect rectangular formation) just appears near their cave. They howl at it, dance around it, try to eat it, and then realize it's nothing of worth to them. They're not even intelligent enough to question what it's doing there. It gives off some kind of vibes that possess them into doing weird things that they normally wouldn't do. After that, they aren't the same and actually use what was now in their mind to make tools and weaponry, as if the alien rock helped them in a sense.

Then it goes to another era where people are working and living on the moon. A scientist, Dr. Floydd is summoned to the site where a crew found a similar monolith buried deep under the moon's surface, which freaks everyone out because it's the first ever evidence of alien intelligence. It was dated to be 3 million years old. Soon after they dug it up, it gave off a strong signal that radiated all the way to Saturn. Basically, this part of the book ended, and next thing I know, I'm with another crew that's headed to Jupiter and Saturn!

I was starting to like Dr. Floydd, but that was his only part (aside from a brief dialogue toward the end of the book). Then a crew it headed to Jupiter, then to Saturn to check out the track of this alien signal, but no one told them it was a one-way trip. The computer named Hal who is the operator of the ship (kind of like the car in Night Rider), but it develops deviance and ends up causing the death of one of the two main crewmen. Three others are in a state of frozen hibernation.

*Spoiler Alert*

This is one spot where I was disappointed. The book make a big deal about these three hibernauts, and I was so excited to get to the part where they'd wake up  years later to fulfill their part in the mission. But guess what, Hal causes them to die with his tomfoolery too! Ugh. The only one left alive is Dave Bowman. He overtakes Hal, finds out he's actually on a suicide mission, but plays it out gallantly and gets to his destination on Saturn.

When he gets there, he sees another monolith, and as he's reporting this back to Earth while detached from the ship in a pod (trying to get a closer look), he gets sucked into it and whirled through a maze of time and space and lots of cool graphic descriptions of nebulae, suns and lights. This is where I was kind of thinking "huh?" He ends up landing safely in place resembling an apartment on Earth, yet he was light years away from the Milky Way galaxy. All the fiery chaos and intergalactic violence didn't even touch him as he floating through in his pod. He walks around apartment, finds food and clothes, even TV, then takes a nap. After this he becomes a newborn, rises up somewhere, looks at Earth and is a "Star Child" seemingly reborn as a superior being. The end.

OK. I'm sorry but as much as I love sci-fi, I just couldn't get super excited about this book. It had amazing potential to be thrilling, but it was so s-l-o-w moving. The end was one of those mind-benders that left you with your mouth open in utter confusion. I hate those kinds of endings! JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED! And you never learn who or what created that Earth-like dwelling for him, or what the hell this monolith thing was or who exactly made it. There was no alien contact, just constant crashing of high hopes.

What I did enjoy about this book was that it was written by someone who knew his stuff! His intelligence came through full scale in his writing. He was very descriptive of the technical details, but it was very lacking, to me, in the human side of things. I didn't notice much character development or dialogue. The evil computer Hal had the best dialogue in the book! I didn't enjoy the book, but it frustrated me too many times. And I found myself having to go back and reread whole sections just to grasp enough understanding to move forward. Never a good sign to me. Oh, and I found the movie online and attempted to watch it. It literally made me sleep. It was super slow, more so than the book, and half the movie was just graphics and noises. The ending of the movie was worse than the book.

I probably will read the other of the Odyssey books but not in a hurry. I gave it 3 stars.



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book review: Libby's Liberation by U.C. Husband

Today, I'll review a book called Libby's Liberation by U.C. Husband. I was given the book by the author for review purposes.

Synopsis from AmazonMeet Elizabeth Stanton, my wife’s best friend. Haughty and snooty and how-to-do, she’s the very definition of a rich snob: delightfully misanthropic, wickedly xenophobic and extraordinarily blinkered to the workings of the world in general. She must surely the last woman on earth you’d expect to star in her own exhibitive thread on an internet-based amateur photographic forum – and yet, when she one day very kindly offered to flash me her tits, I put the possibility of a wider exhibition to her and was no less than stunned by the results … ‘Libby’s Liberation’ details a journey of self-discovery, reveling in the empowerment and artistry available to a woman prepared to put herself on show for the celebration and worship of the anonymous masses of the world. As Tom, the narrator, shares and appreciates Libby’s journey into exhibitionism and erotica, he finds himself more and more in conflict with two duelling desires: a fervent wish to remain faithful to his much-loved wife, and a burning want to see just how far Libby is prepared to go … Can Tom and Libby keep their hands off each other? What’s a little nudity between friends? When it comes to loyalty, how far can the definition be stretched, how far may they stray in the grey realm between black-and-white, fidelity and betrayal?

I must admit, this was the first erotica novel I've ever read (unless you semi-count that Danielle Steele novel I read when I was 16 that freaked me out in a good way with all the caressing and groping). So I delved into it with nothing but freakish expectations. I know, I know. Typical. I enjoyed it for many reasons. It was fast paced and is only 25,000 words. I'm a lover of novellas, in case my blog name didn't give that away yet. The characters were well defined to where you could love them or hate them. Married Tom the writer is on an erotic website flirting it up with his wife's best friend who he encouraged to join it and post nude pics of herself. It was his "noble" way of helping her boost her dwindling self-esteem. It worked, and he became hooked on seeing her pics as much as she was hooked on reading the erotic stories he posted there as well.

These two crossed so many lines it was disgustingly sweet. I kept putting myself in the wife's position, and I kept expecting her to walk in on him gaping Libby's photos! This was erotica with a dose of suspense. The story took twists and turns until Tom and Libby ended up close to pouncing on each other but no cigar. They still crossed the line, in my opinion, but that's what made the story. I give him 5 stars because it had all the right ingredients: it made my heart jump, it was well thought out, well written, and I enjoyed the touch of Aussie in the words. A fun story! Check it out by clicking this sentence.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Autism vs. Neesha: Glass half full

Hello, lovely people! Haven't seen you in more than two weeks, but here I am again to serve you some word soup. Autism has been rockin' my boat lately, so my writing is lacking. That little blue pill called Abilify was working like a charm, but now we're back to episodes. As my overly positive other half would say, "At least the episodes aren't half as bad as before, and he's not smashing up the house." Me, the cynical optimist says, "This is true, but today's smile could become tomorrow's terror. Life is full of surprises, which aren't always parties." And, as my smartass, so-much-like-me first born would say, "Mom, do you realize that Abilify sounds like a spell from Harry Potter! Stupify! Abilify!" Funny thing is, I actually thought that when I first saw the commercial, long before it was our family's saving grace. To give my baby some credit, though, he is doing better. As an autism parent who likes to live in a place called Realityville, I know better than to send my hopes up on a rocket.


On the "write" side of things, I was supposed to complete my autism book by March 1 (a self-set deadline). Sadly, that didn't happen. I just cannot seem to get "in the zone" after meltdowns. I experience immediate brain-drain and have to find a flat surface to collapse my stressed and exhausted old bones, be it the floor or my bed, whichever one I fall asleep on first. Good news - I didn't finish it, but I did make it to the 75 percent mark of the book writing. I have to interview a few professionals in some different fields that I think could be of use to autism caregivers, and that will polish it off. Hint: interior design is one. So, at least I KNOW what I'm lacking and that it's all I need to complete the writing of my second book! 

I have about eight books in my queue waiting for reviews, which means I have a ton of reading to catch up on. That doesn't stress me out because I HEART BOOKS! I can never have enough books to read. =D I've also been flooded with story ideas. No time to write all those stories, but I do keep a notebook handy to record all this brilliance in hopes I can be a full-time scribe for even a DAY soon enough. I feel accomplished having written a blog post this evening, so do comment, and let me know your thoughts and what you've been up to lately. 

'Til next time (which hopefully won't be too long)!



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Life is the cure for writer's block

... in this girl's brain, anyway.

Last weekend, my oldest and I went to see a play called "Never Too Late" on Sunday evening at a community theatre. Act 1 was really enjoyable and comical. It was about a couple in their 50s who found out they're going to have a baby. It's a tiny theatre, so in lieu of an actual stage, there was a central area of the room with a set. It was made up like a 1960's living room, with a recliner and sofas to match the era. A center table an area rug finished off the living room design perfectly. I saw red tape on the floor to alert attendees of the area that was for stage vs. walking around. I like this because it's more cozy, and no matter where you sit around the set, even in the highest seats, you're still very close to the performers.

During intermission, we took a walk around, scoped out the concession stand, and went back to our seats. As I was gazing across the seating area on the opposite side, I saw an elderly man with a cane trying to get down the stairs. I felt uneasy, because I had seen this man stumble just before the show started as he tried to make his way up to his seat four rows up, and his wife held on to his arm. This time, she wasn't with him. He lost his footing at the very last step, stumbled, and fell sideways full force with his head slamming into the edge of the center table on the set! I happened in a matter of seconds right before my eyes. I got teary as I watched members of the theatre staff swarm him on the floor while another dialed 9-1-1. I was teary and energized, wanting to do something, but they had it under full control until the paramedics came. He kept reaching for his wife's hand and constantly cracking jokes with the staff. He insisted he was perfectly fine to stick around for Act 2 even though there was a gash on the side of his head. I also heard him say that he and his wife were to renew their vows the following week. They had to be in their 70s at least, and a very adorable couple they were. As he was taken away on a stretcher, the audience clapped for him and he raised his hands waving at us as he was rolled out of the building. I couldn't stop thinking about him and worrying about his condition. I love the elderly and cherish their existence in this crazy technological world of modern marvels that they have such a hard time comprehending. I love hearing my grandmother's perspectives on things like cell phones and iPads.

Here's my impression of writer's block ... 

Although I enjoyed the rest of the show (even with a pesky migraine's wrecking ball inside my head), I couldn't stop thinking about this old man even after I got home. I thought of it so much that I was imagining how the couple met, what they were like as youngsters, what happened the day before, what happened to him when he got to the hospital, on and on. With all the key players in this scenario from the theatre staff to the audience members, the couple, and the paramedics, imagine the endless possibilities for fiction here.

Almost a week later, a meteorite hits a populated area in Russia! Have you seen the video coverage of this?! If not, take a look at this freak of nature. The second I set my eyes on this thing, a marathon of sci-fi story ideas raced through my mind. How often does something like this happen? These things strike Earth all the time, just not in cities but in all the desolate and vast spacious corners of the Earth. And they disintegrate in the planet's fiery atmosphere, which makes them unnoticeable to us most of the time. The hap compelled me to go look up other such incidents, and I found stories about several craters around the globe, some that were dated to 50,000 years back. Talk about a wealth of possibilities for stories!

So you see, sometimes all a writer needs is a dose of reality to get shoved in the right direction. A jump start, if you will, to hours of happy and obsessive writing.

And, to all, a great day!




Monday, February 11, 2013

Book review: The Journey, by John A. Heldt

Today I'll present you my review of "The Journey" by John A. Heldt. The book was provided to me by the author for review purposes.

SynopsisSeattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.

Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.


This the second book of the Northwest Passage series and also the second book I've reviewed by this author. Every book has a vibe, be it scary, suspenseful, or sad. This one hits you straight in the heart, and I am quite a fan of time traveling stories. Heldt is a talented writer, and his descriptions and scene transitions are very smooth and enjoyable. I never find myself bored no matter how simplistic the scene. I'm impressed that he was able to craft such a likeable and realistic female as Michelle Preston. She found herself widowed, unaccomplished and somewhat sad, so she decided to attend her high school reunion where she rekindled memories with some old pals. They decided to go on an adventure to an old spooky mansion, and after daring to enter a dark room, Michelle finds herself in '79 when she gets scared and runs back through the same door she thought she had come from. 

She stumbled around confused, noticing all the landmarks that were there just minutes before had changed completely, and she soon realized she had been sucked into a time warp. She was her adult self but had jumped back to her high school years. The way it happened seemed so possible! It made me wonder if I stumbled through a time portal and ended up decades away from my current year, what would I do? Michelle handled herself well, and thought of just about everything. She remembered an aunt who had passed away and whose identity she could "borrow" for the time being. Her shock at seeing her father at his shop and finally meeting her younger self after getting a job at the high school was a superb scenario. She befriend "Shelly," her younger self, and inspired her to be braver than she ever was and inspired her to pursue better options in life.

The story flowed nicely, and Heldt skillfully made me feel what the characters were feeling. I kept thinking, "what if." There wasn't a whole lot of twists and turns, which is what made it realistic. That's a nice flavor for someone who reads a whole lot of fantasy and sci-fi. Michelle goes out of her way to influence her family for the better, and that is a tough predicament to be in because there's no way to know how changing one piece of history will affect the rest. Her family (who didn't know they were her family) commented on how uncannily she resembled them, but at the time, didn't figure out she was the older Shelly. 

It was thrilling when she fell in love with someone who actually made her happy, a co-worker and coach at the high school, Robert Land. She saw her younger self interact with her would-be future husband and high school sweetheart and realized what a mistake she had made. With a second chance at love and happiness, she indulged, got married and changed a lot of lives, even saved some. Trouble brewed in two phases: Since she was from the future, she knew Mt. Saint Helen's would erupt, and her family had gone to their cabin at the wrong time because of her saving a friend's life and sparing them of the eulogy they had originally attended. They ended up in the volcano's path. Second bump, her husband's friend did a background check and found out she wasn't who she said she was. Robert married her anyway because he was genuinely in love, but it still left the air of suspicion and curiosity. This is where the story came to a close with a very bittersweet ending. Let's just say Michelle kept a diary, and it landed in the best of hands. I was going to write a spoiler, but I won't, because you must get this book and find out what happens to Michelle the time traveler! 

The book left me thinking about it long after I had finished reading it, and it evoked a lot of emotions including cheer, anger, sadness, excitement, thrill. So therefore ... 

I rate this book FIVE stars! Get it here on Amazon!!






Friday, February 1, 2013

Meet my friend - author Gloria Lyons


Hey, everyone!

Today, I'm introducing you to a very cool friend of mine, Gloria Lyons. In the time I have known her, she's been a huge inspiration to me as an author. Her list of accomplishments is quite impressive and so diverse. This is a talented lady! Read on to learn about all the sensational things she's done with her love for words. 


What’s your technique for coming up with story ideas?

Prompts are always a good source of inspiration. I’ve had five short stories selected and four published by Chicken Soup for the Soul (Married Life, Find Your Happiness, Inspiration for the Young at Heart, and Shaping the New You. You can read these stories on my author website: www.gloriahanderlyons.com). The Chicken Soup editors send out notices about upcoming topics, and if one speaks to me, I apply it to an experience from my life.

I came up with the idea to write, Kiss My Grits, Sugar: Southern Humor with a Side of Tasty Fixin’s, from a neighbor who held a contest on her blog, and the prize was a book called Putting on the Grits. Since I was born and raised in the South, I wrote a series of short stories about growing up there during the 1950s and included many of my family’s favorite recipes (including grits). Read sample stories from this book at www.kissmygrits-sugar.blogspot.com

One of my favorite sayings is, “What’s up with that?” when I see something happening that’s just too weird to understand. That inspired me to write a collection of short stories, What’s Up with That? Humorous Short Stories About Life in Modern Day America. A couple of these stories are also on my author website.

Inspiration is everywhere. The key to finding it is to stay alert and be observant as to what is going on all around you.

Your five favorite books of all time?

I don’t have five favorite books, but I love to read cozy murder mysteries. My favorite authors are Janet Evanovich, Anne George, Susan Wittig Albert and Sue Grafton. 

Tell us all the books you’ve written and where we can find them.

I’ve written and self-published 22 books (cookbooks and how-to books about interior decorating, self-publishing, crafting, planning weddings, tea parties and theme parties, plus short story collections) and 20 e-booklets (cooking and crafting). You can see the entire list on my books website: www.bluesagepress.com.

What can you say as an experienced writer who has sold books to a newcomer who hopes to see their books find success?

Make sure your book is the absolute best you can make it—whether you do it all yourself, as I did, or hire professionals to help you with editing, layout and cover design. You want to be extremely proud of the finished product.

How long does it take you, on average, to finish writing a book?

If I’m developing the recipes for a cookbook, as I did with Easy Microwave Desserts inn a Mug, it took a year to perfect them, photograph the samples, and then write the cookbook.

How-to books generally take about three months.

A collection of short stories can take about six months.

Do you think it’s imperative to find an agent at some point?

Personally, I don’t feel the need for an agent, since I have self-published all my books, and sell them on my websites, blogs and Amazon.com. But my main goal is not to make the most money I can from selling them, it is simply to share what I’ve written with others. 

Do you have any hobbies besides writing?

I have always enjoyed crafting (all kinds of needlework, woodworking, metal working, painting, sewing, and anything else I wanted to try).  I sold my creations at craft shows many years ago, but, since I enjoyed trying all types of craft mediums, I began designing my own projects and got my start in writing by submitting these original designs to editors of national magazines. I had more than 125 designs published between 1983 and 1995. 

What impression do you hope people will take away after meeting you for the first time?

That I am passionate about what I do. I love learning new things and then can’t wait to share them with others through writing and teaching classes. Nothing is more fulfilling for me than helping others succeed.

Thanks so much to Gloria for sharing her story with us! And I'll see you all back here next time. Happy weekend to all!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A parking ticket and flyer made my day

Hey friends!

I'm staring at the clock, and it's 10:55 p.m. This is one evening I won't complain about going to fast. Today was one of those bittersweet days. Started bitter, ended sweet.

I left my phone home today, so you can imagine my grief. Then, I went to a parent/teacher meeting and realized I forgot my purse with all the paperwork! Then, as I was leaving, I found a parking violation on my windshield even though I was rightfully parked in a visitor spot. I did an angry march back into the front office, and the secretary made a call to the security line to find out the reasoning behind this madness. Well, the parking lot officer thought I was a student trying to park where I wasn't supposed to. I thought, "Hmm, should I be offended or flattered?" Haha! Flattery won. I even forgot about the trouble my sexy Jeep Compass is giving me.

Halfway through the day, in the midst of work stress galore, I got a call from the local librarian who confirmed I would be the spotlighted author on Feb. 14 for their Local Authors Hour event. On Love Day, I get to go give a presentation about my book at the very place I spent much of my childhood days head-first in a book. It's like a small fantasy come true. And I get to spend Love Day among the one material thing I love most in the world -- BOOKS!

I'm about 50 percent finished writing my book about autism, so that's another upcoming feat!

Oh, and how could I forget my babies! Autism didn't win this evening, because he ate his dinner, played some video games, and tucked himself in harmoniously and went to sleep before 10 p.m. My oldest, the aspiring actor and history buff, auditioned for a play this evening at a local college. Fingers crossed he gets the part. These are the days I just take deep breaths, relax, and thank God for every single moment of peace and happiness He allows me to feel and for every tiny speck of success I accomplish doing what I love to do --- Write!

'Til next time!