Review: Lovely Vicious

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Synopsis: 

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to the Buttcrack-of-Nowhere Ohio to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing – Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.

The reward: Something neither of them expected.

**This book contains language, some of which may be unsuitable for younger readers.

MY REVIEW

I’ve never written a book review before.  This is my first.  Hopefully I can make it sound intelligent.

Why now?  Why the need to express my feelings of this particular book through the written word—when I’ve never felt the need to do so before?  Well, let me tell you…

Lovely Vicious contains some of the wittiest, can’t-stop-reading, most lol-inducing writing that I’ve experienced in a very long time.

Reflecting on this story made me realize something (many things) about what actually makes a good book.  For me, it’s not whether the characters make the choices that I would make.  Let’s face it, I’m 36 and it can sometimes be hard for me to relate to the actions or feelings of a teenager.  But that did not stop me from loving this book.

It’s about the writing.  The absolute best part of Lovely Vicious was the dialogue.  If for no other reason at all, read this book for the clever one liners and witty banter.  The original humor in this story will have you laughing throughout.

It’s about getting lost in the pages and forgetting everything that’s going on in real life because I want to find out what the characters are going to do (or say) next.  I had a hard time putting Lovely Vicious down.  I had to force myself when it got too late and I had to get up super early the next morning.  When I wasn’t reveling in the creative dialogue and inner monologues of Isis Blake, I was basking in the angst of it all.  Why does Jake do what he does?  Why is he the way he is?  When will they stop trying to hurt each other?!  All are questions that forced me to keep reading.

It’s about living vividly through the eyes of a character whose motives I may or may not fully understand.  Whether or not I accept a character’s choices doesn’t matter because in life, a single event could affect each of us in a different way.  Who am I to judge?  I go into a story hoping to enjoy it.  And how can I fully enjoy a story if I am judging the characters choices, or the authenticity of a scene?  I like to just roll with it and let the author take me on a ride.  When the writing is good like it is in this book, the ride is outstanding.

It’s about accepting the book and its characters for what/who they are.  Everyone has had their heart broken in one way or another.  Do we all react in the same way that Isis did?  Of course not.  Most of us internalize the wounds, pushing the pain deep inside while pretending to be fine on the outside.  But not Isis.  She started a war.  Instead of being passive, or passive-aggressive when it came to love, she got aggressive-aggressive.  Closed off, yes, but in a completely different way than most.  In a vicious-mean kind of way with someone just as vicious.  And that’s what makes their story so interesting.

It’s about the feeling I get when I read.  This book made me happy (sometimes giddy).  And frustrated.  And scared and sometimes sad.  Isn’t that the best thing about reading?  FEELING things?  For me it is.  And this book made me feel lots of things.

Sara Wolf, you have nailed it.  Can’t wait to read book 2.

Five (out of five) Stars

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7 Ways to Help an Indie Author

Most of my previous blog posts have been about my personal journey, or have promoted my book.  Today, I’d like to try something a little different.  Something a little more informative.

Since writing and self-publishing The Fine Line last year, I’ve learned a great deal about book marketing.  My friends, family, and acquaintances–people who are not familiar with the book reading/publishing/blogging community–have been incredibly supportive and have frequently asked what they can to do help promote me and my book.  I have come up with several ideas on how supporters can do just that.  Most are quite easy, most are FREE, and most would only take a few short minutes.

(If you can think of more, I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment at the end of this post!)  

1. Buy the Book–On Release Day

Okay, this one isn’t free.  But it’s the most meaningful.  We all know how important it is to support your favorite authors by purchasing their book.  And with most self-published eBooks being at a reasonable price of $3.99 or less (sometimes even FREE), purchasing your copy can be more affordable than a movie ticket, a Frappuccino at your favorite coffee chain restaurant, or even a pack of gum.  And what’s more rewarding–a stick of gum that runs out of flavor in 10 minutes, or 5-10 hours of a great read?  Also, with the help of Amazon’s “one-click” resource, the purchase itself can be easier than–well–breathing.

Let’s take it one step further.  Sure, we know you’ll buy the book because doing so is the best way to support your favorite author, and you’re excited to read their next masterpiece.  By pre-ordering your copy (when available), or buying it on release day, you can help the author move up in the rankings of lists such as Amazon’s Best Sellers, hence making their book visible to other readers who may not have ever heard of said author.  High rankings bring buzz and attention.  Of course, if you missed release day, don’t let that stop you from one-clicking.  🙂

One MORE step further you say?  Awesome!  How about buying it as a gift for a friend?  And if you can get it signed first, even better.  Many authors will sign books that are mailed to them as long as you include a return (postage paid) envelope.  I know I will!

(Please check with the author or representative before sending a book to them.  And don’t forget the prepaid return envelope!  Without it, you may not get the book back).

2. Recommend the Book to Family, Friends, Acquaintances, the Mail Man, etc..

Social media is amazing (see #3).  You know what’s better?  Face to face communication.  Having lunch with friends?  Going to a wedding shower?  Bachelorette party?  Family reunion?  Try making a quick mention of this awesome book you just read.  It will not only “plug” the book you’re trying to promote, it’ll also be a great conversation starter.

Checking out at the grocery store, or post office?  Browsing the book section at your local Target?  Why not make this time a little more interesting?  Talk to someone.  Even a *gasp* stranger.  Participating in friendly small talk with strangers can make everyone involved feel good.  Try asking the cashier this: Do you read?  Or fellow book-browsing-customer this: Do you like (book’s genre)?  Then continue with something like: I just read this amazing book by (author’s name), and it’s only available online.  If they seem interested, write down the name of the book & author for them.

3. Spread the Word on Social Media

If you haven’t followed the author on their Blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever other social media networks you like to participate in, please do so!  If you haven’t signed up for their newsletter (if they have one), go for it!  “Like” their pages and recommend them to your friends.  It’s a great first step.

When the author posts information about releases, sales, contests, or anything else interesting, the best thing you can do is to share their post. Share it on Facebook or Google+, re-tweet it on Twitter, re-pin it on Pinterest.  Every little bit helps.

Want to make it more meaningful to your friends or followers?  When you share the content, include a small personal note about why you like the book, or author, or why they should click on the post.  A short message from you makes a huge difference!   

          (Note: Facebook is weird.  In order to make sure you see all of the author’s posts, click on the “like,” “follow,” AND “get notifications” buttons on their page.  Feel free to ask me if you have questions on how to do this.)

          (Note #2: Because of Facebook’s algorithms, page posts only get shown to 5-10% of page followers.  This means the likelihood of you NOT seeing a page post on FB is 95%.  So when you DO see it, “like” it, share it, and comment on it.  Interacting on the page in this way will make the post visible to more people.)

4. Spread the Word on Goodreads

Goodreads (GR) is a fabulous resource for authors and readers.  The reason I separated this from other social media networks is that there are so many awesome ways you can spread the word on GR.  A few are listed below.  If you can think of more, please feel free to comment at the end of the post!

Become a fan or friend of the author

Nominate or vote for the book on Listopia

Personally recommend the book to your GR friends (Click on the book you wish to recommend, then click on “recommend it” on the top right side of the page. Finally, choose the friends you wish to recommend the book to.)

Nominate the book for a “Group Read” in the related groups that you belong to

Talk about the book in your groups.  Just talking about it brings exposure to the book.  Recommending the book in your groups is great, too!

“Like” the 4 & 5 star GR reviews (Ignore the other ones.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions.)

Haven’t read the book yet, but want to?  Look for someone on GR to do a buddy-read with you!

Post book status updates.  How far are you in the book, and what do you think so far? (And link the updates to your other social media networks)

5. Leave a Review

One of the best things you can do to support ANY author, indie or traditional, is to leave an honest review.  It can be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and/or anywhere else the book is sold.  The more places you post it, the better.  If you wish to include a description, or plot-points, feel free.  However, it’s totally fine for a review to be short, sweet, and to the point.  Simply including what you liked and/or what you wish would’ve been different in a few short sentences is wonderful.  I can’t say it enough…if you liked the book, please review it!

 6. Request or Reserve the Book at Your Local Library

If an indie author chooses to utilize “expanded distribution” with their print books, they make their books available to brick and mortar stores like Target and Barnes & Noble.  That being said, print on demand books are non-refundable in most cases which means the likelihood of a Barnes & Noble stocking an indie book is slim to none.

However, if you request an indie book at your local library, the chances are very likely that your library will order the book (if the author makes use of the expanded distribution option).  If the library is able to order it through their book vendor, they may just do so at your request.  Why not try it?  The library is a great place for readers to discover new authors (like the one you want to promote)!  And if you’re short on cash, or don’t have an e-reader, the library is a fabulous option.

Browsing your library’s website is great way to find out which books they have available before you make the trip.  If the library already has the book, place it on hold to make sure it will be ready for you when you get there.  If they don’t have the book yet, send an online request.  It’s easy and quick to do from the comfort of your own home.

7. Attend Author Events

Whether it’s a release party, a reading/signing, or multi-author event, you presence and support is what makes the sleepless nights, the time away from family, and the absolute terror of releasing your heart and soul to the world, all worth it for many authors.  Grab a friend, grab your book to be signed (if you have it) and go…have a great time.  It will mean everything to the author you want to support.

 

***Wow!  You made it to the end?  Thank you!  If you liked this post, I’d be ecstatic for you to share it! ***

Prologue and Giveaway!

(THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED AS OF 12AM FEB 10TH)

Today, I feel like doing a giveaway.  I have gotten such positive feedback from readers and I feel truly blessed that so many people have given The Fine Line a chance!  To say thanks, I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of the book.  If you haven’t read it yet, check out the sample below!

WordPress is funny which means the rafflecopter widget does not show up in wordpress.

Click here–> a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter the giveaway.

The Fine Line

What’s it about?  The Fine line is a coming of age story about a girl with a jaded past, who has written off relationships for good.  Boys are fun, but she’s happy being single and independent, and is determined to keep it that way.  When she meets and forms an unexpected bond with Logan Tanner, an illegal street racer with his own trust issues, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about life, and love, and asks the question: Can love have a future?  Or is history destined to repeat itself?

~Click here to see The Fine Line on Goodreads
~Purchase Links:  AmazonB&NiBookstoreKOBOSmashwords
~Author links: FacebookTwitterGoodreads

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Prologue

Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves.  I learned a long time ago that preserving one’s heart means keeping it protected.  Sheltered.  My heart is hidden deep within the secure layers of my soul, where it rests easy with the knowledge that nothing can penetrate its everlasting impervious shell.

Twelve Years Ago

Yelling.  Always yelling.  The hardwood floor in my bedroom chilled my toes as I slid out of my bed to see what was going on.  I wouldn’t dare leave my room, though.  I knew better.  As I tip-toed to the bright crack in the door, something crashed to pieces, and I squeezed Mama Bear tight.

Is Mommy crying?

My hand found a place on the cool metal door knob as I peeked through the crack.  I brought Mama Bear up to my chin so she could see too.  Her soft, fuzzy fur tickled me.  Mommy sat on the floor with her back against the hallway wall, her head in her hands while Daddy stood tall above her.  Her shoulders lifted up and down as she wept.

No, Mommy, don’t cry!

“I want a divorce,” she whispered.

What was a divorce?  Whatever it was, Daddy didn’t seem too happy about it.  He crouched down so that his eyes were across from hers.  Fisting her t-shirt, he yanked her close to him.  With the other hand, he pointed his finger at her, jabbing her as he spoke.  His voice stayed quiet, and I couldn’t hear what he said, but I knew it was something scary.

The door knob made a noise as I accidentally let go of it, and both of their heads turned to look at me.  My eyes widened, and I gasped.  I ran back to bed as fast as I could, quickly covering myself in my blankie.  Oh no, I dropped Mama Bear!  My door creaked as it opened, and light came through the seams of my blankie.

“Olivia?” Daddy said softly.

I didn’t answer.  Mommy was always telling me to make smart choices.  I chose to stay perfectly still and not to breathe too loudly, but it wasn’t easy because my heart was pounding hard.  It was a smart choice, though, because after a few seconds, the door creaked closed. I was safe.  Mommy would be very proud of me.

I peered at the floor, searching for Mama Bear, but she was nowhere to be seen.  Daddy must’ve taken her.  Who’s gonna sleep with me?  I pulled my knees to my chest and held onto them tightly.  Mommy says I’m brave.  Brave girls don’t need silly toys.  Brave girls sleep by themselves.

Eight Years Ago

It’s been a year since Dad told me I wouldn’t be able to spend time at his house anymore.  He said he was leaving to get a new start.  At first, his emails came daily and postcards came weekly, but I haven’t gotten either for at least a month.  Mom says he’s moved on, with his new wife and baby, and that it’s the best thing for all of us.

I was glad to have Kevin.  He loved me and Mom.  Happiness didn’t even begin to describe how I felt when Mom told me he was moving in with us.  If he lived with us, it would mean I would get to see magic tricks and laugh at his stories every day.

Mom told me about the accident last week.  Kevin had gotten hit by a drunk driver.  I knew something was wrong when she dropped the phone on the floor and began sobbing.  I had seen her cry before—but never like that.

I stayed with Nana for five days after that call, and when I returned home, Mom took me into my room, sat me down on my bed, and broke the news.  The funeral service had been the prior day.  Mom thought it would be best if I didn’t attend because it would be too difficult for me.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  I couldn’t get the thought of Kevin, being buried deep in the ground, out of my mind.

The next morning, I thought a lot about the way things work, and I figured out that nothing’s forever.  Nothing.  I had to be strong.  Brave.  I hated being sad.  I hated crying.  I vowed to find a way to make sure I never felt this horrendous feeling ever again.

Three Years Ago 

I looked around our heated garage as Adam poured the amber liquid into our little glasses.   All the tool chests and auto supplies had been packed up and hauled out.  He filled his glass to the brim while mine was only filled a quarter of the way.  He said I couldn’t have a full glass because I was only fourteen.

Hanging out with Adam came naturally.  It was easy.  He was much younger than Mom, but I was under the misguided impression that they were in love, regardless of his age.

Normally, the whiskey we shared was in celebration of an accomplishment.  A new paint job, installing the new engine, fixing the interior.  I had spent most of my evenings and weekends for the last three years watching Adam restore his 1968 Pontiac GTO.  He bragged to people about how much I helped him, but really, I just watched him work and handed him tools as we talked.

Today, we toasted goodbye.  It would be the last time I’d ever see him.  My throat burned as the liquor flowed down it, but I welcomed the feeling.  It reminded me of good times.

“I’m gonna miss you, Sweetie,” he said with tears in his eyes.  “I asked her to marry me, you know.  She said no.”

Anger quickly flooded my system, washing away the heartbreak.  How could she say no?  It had taken me over two years to let my guard down around him.  Two years to break the vow that I had kept for so long and let myself feel again.  She was making him go away.  This was her fault.

I watched as Adam rolled his refurbished car down the driveway and out of my life.  Without thought, my body stormed into the house in search of my mother.  I found her staring blankly out the living room window.

“How could you say no?” I screamed.

“Livie, what are you talking about?”

“He told me, Mom!  He told me he asked you to marry him!”

Her shoulders sunk as she let out a breath.  Her expression turned angry.  “Did he tell you he was seeing another woman?  Did he tell you that he asked me to marry him only after I found out?”

My heart stopped.  My mind barely comprehended what my mother had just told me.  It couldn’t be true.  Adam loved us.  With regret in her eyes, she rushed toward me with open arms.

“No.”  I held out my hand.  “NO!”  Tears spilled out of my eyes as I ran to my bedroom, locked my door, and flopped belly down onto my bed, sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow.

Why does everyone I love have to leave? 

Never again.  I’m done.  This is the last time I will ever have this feeling.

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If IMDb says I’m an actress, does that mean I am one?

Last fall I lost 2 people, who were close to me, to cancer.  One was an uncle-in-law, the other was a co-worker.  Both were way too young.  Both left behind young children.  I learned an extremely important, crucial, valuable lesson from them which I will forever be thankful for.

After losing them, I came to a realization.  One that everyone always talks about, but never really hit me.  Life is short.  Today really could be our very last day her on earth.  I’m young(ish)!  I have small children!  It could happen to anyone at any time.  It was a slap in the face, a light-bulb going off in my head, it was as if someone had shaken some sense into me, and I started to ask myself…If I died tomorrow, will I have been content knowing that I have done all I wanted to do in this life?

Of course not.  I would like to meet the person who says yes to that question.

So then I thought…”What do I want to do that I haven’t done?”  and I said to myself, “Being in a movie would be cool.  Other people act in movies, why can’t I?”  (This was long before writing a novel came to the forefront of my mind).

So, I did an internet search and found out that it’s very difficult to get information about an audition if you don’t have an agent.  And if you don’t have experience, an agent won’t even consider representing you.  And you can’t get experience without…Well, you know.  It’s a vicious cycle.

However, I did find an audition for an independent film, without the help of an agent.  I had a lot of fun with the cold read, and got a callback, and after the callback, I was offered a small role.  Cool, huh?

The shoot was earlier this week, and since the role was a very small one, it was very quick.  The entire process was such an incredible learning experience and I am truly, utterly, deeply grateful to have been able to do it.   Thank you to Brandon Colvin and Moss Garden Productions for giving me a chance!

For more information about the film, go to Sabbatical’s website – click here.

To see the film’s IMDb page, click here.

Here are some thoughts I have been pondering about this experience:

LESSONS LEARNED:
1. It takes a lot of people to shoot a scene in a film.
2. The cast and crew of Sabbatical are pretty freaking cool.  They know how to make a newbie feel comfortable.
3. I get nervous in front of a camera
4. I’m much better at reacting to an actual person than I am at acting at a camera
5. Ask questions!  If I don’t get something, I need to ask questions until I do.  Ask, ask ask. 
6. At the end of the day, no matter what situation I’m in, I am able to come back to a loving home, to a husband that makes me feel awesome (even when I am feeling less than awesome) and kids who make me smile and laugh.  In the grand scheme of things, this is the only thing that truly matters.
7. Those 2 special people, who taught me such an incredible lesson, will forever hold a cherished place in my heart.
THINGS TO DO:
1. Get in front of a camera more so I can get over that weird, deafening, heart-pounding thing that happens when you stick a camera in front of me (Lisa G. where are you?  I need some tips!)
2. Remember to ask questions.
3. Thank my husband and kids every day for their love, support, and encouragement while I live out my cockamamie dreams.
4. Keep bringing my cockamamie dreams to life.
I LEAVE YOU WITH TIM MCGRAW

What’s Your Passion?

I came across a quote the other day:

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” – T. Alan Armstrong

I can’t tell you how nervous I was when I “let the cat out of the bag” and told you all I was writing a novel, because the thought of people actually reading what I’ve written kinda freaks the hell out of me.   But the truth is, since I’ve started this project, I’m excited, charged, renewed…I’ve found that I truly enjoy writing.  It’s an adventure!  It’s something I’ve become passionate about.

Of course, we all have many things in our lives that we find passion in, including our relationships with our loved ones.  But what’s that one far-fetched thing that you always wanted to do, but never did because of “this” or “that?”  My advice?  Do it.  Make it happen.  Even if it freaks the hell out of you.

And have some fun with it!!!

Eleven Little Words

A few months ago, I read one of the best books I’ve ever read. I laughed, it was sexy, I cried, and I got furious (I may have even smacked my husband in the arm at 2am screaming “WHY?!”). It had everything. I liked it so much that I sent the author an email telling her how much I loved it, and included a short blurb with a few ideas I had for a story. Mind you, it’s very uncharacteristic of me to do something like that. I clearly knew there was no way this famous best-selling author would respond but it didn’t hurt to try and low and behold, she did reply with eleven little words.

“That’s a GREAT story! You should definitely write it down!” ~ Awesome, Famous Author

That was it. Who knows if she meant it or not, she could’ve just rolled her eyes and said it to be nice, but those eleven words triggered a motivation in me that I had kept buried under excuses for way too long, and the excuses started to morph into reasons why I should do it. Other people write books…Why can’t I?

So, for the last few weeks, I have spent every free moment (which is not much considering my job, kids, and household to take care of) at my home computer, plugging away at my story. My husband thinks it’s awesome so far, but he’s a little biased…Cuz he loves me and all. He has been an incredible support, helping with the kids and around the house, while I write. I’m couldn’t do it without him.

I didn’t want to tell anyone at first, in case my book sucks, but Don (my husband) made a great point. He said, “Don’t say that. It will only suck if you let it. And you won’t let it.” And he’s right. For those of you who do not know me very well, I’m a little OCD. I obsess over things. I will not release anything until I am 100% happy with it. It may mean you will not see my book for a very long time, but it WILL happen.

I’m blogging for 2 reasons:
1. It’s something to write when I have writers block. Gotta keep the juices flowing, you know.
2. If other people know about this, I can’t give up on it.

BTW, my book is a fictional romance (New Adult Contemporary). I’m a sucker for romances. Blurb coming soon.