Coming Soon, I swear!

This is a quick update for authors and readers currently waiting for certain titles to be reviewed. They are coming, don’t worry! my reading speed isn’t as fast as normal because life is being needy right now.

Sometimes life can be so rude.

rude

I have a few writing projects which need to take precedence over my book reviews. I love reviewing all the fantastic novels I read, but it is a hobby. Writing is my true passion. Passion is where my heart lies, so I need to put some extra hours into my work for the next week or so.

I’ll be back soon, though! These great titles are coming up and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you!

The V Girl by Mya Roberts

Gambit by C.L Denault

Rhuna by Barbara Underwood

The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos by Kristen D. Van Rissegham

Amid Wind & Stone by Nicole Luiken

I am excited about this round, lot’s of fantasy and feelings. It’s going to be fun!

 

 

images

My journey to becoming a Published Author

 

tumblr_n25uxcIWk21rbgp12o1_500

A year and a half ago I was sitting on my couch with my best friend  (AKA husband) passionately displaying my dissatisfaction about a book series I just finished reading.  The ending was, in my opinion, poorly executed and didn’t give the characters justice.

“I could write a better ending than that!” I proclaimed, tossing my wine glass up to the sky.

“Then do it,” Ryan replied.

I laughed at the suggestion and we playfully brainstormed book ideas, most of which were horrible. One stuck with me though, and this character wouldn’t quiet. I opened my laptop at 2 am and wrote this strange, dark character’s story, entitled The Cleanser. It was the first chapter of what would become my debut novel, The Mercy Killers.

I can honestly say I had no idea what a life changing night that was for me.

I wrote like a madwoman for 5 months, then my husband came home from deployment and I put the half finished manuscript away. I wasn’t sure what  I was doing, was this only for fun? Was this something I wanted to pursue?  I wasn’t under any delusions of what being an author truly means.  There is always a chance an author can make it “big” but being an author more than likely means pouring your soul into a manuscript which may never see the light of day, and if it does it can take years of crawling through the trenches to get it picked up. I have two small children and a husband who is often absent because of his job. I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to something that draining for the possibility of no pay off.

But the story wouldn’t go away.images (1)

It was always in my head, building, creating this giant world, and as time passed I realized I needed to write this. Even if nothing came of it I wanted to write it because it brought me joy. So I pulled out the book and finished it.

 

When I typed that last sentence,  it became clear writing was my passion. In some ways it always had been.  I have stacks of journals and songs to prove it.  But this book was somehow different. This made me excited and brought me peace (you can read more about my reaction to my finished manuscript here.)

I didn’t know what to do next, so I blindly entered contests because  I was told they could provide valuable feedback. I entered a few and received some excellent advice.  I learned how to hone my skills, and I completed my edits using the lessons  I gleaned from the contests. I placed  well in them, which helped my confidence.

So now I possessed a completed manuscript! What next? I knew I needed a Query letter, so I signed up for a Query Class. I also tried my hand at a pitch contest, #Pitchmas (read about my experience here, it was eye opening.) The pitch contest went well. I ended up with quite a bit of interest.

That was a shock.

I prepared myself for the trenches.  I was ready for tons of rejections and piles of agent queries that went nowhere. I ended up with solid choices. I did receive a few rejections, but even the rejections didn’t have the horrible bluntness I heard about. Most were incredibly positive.

“Sorry,  I can’t take YA. Could this story be for an adult audience?” ( No, it is NA/YA) .

“I love the first chapter, if the majority of the narrative is from that POV I am interested” (It wasn’t, so we didn’t pursue a relationship.)

“Love your voice! Do you have anything set in the current time period? I am looking for Urban fantasy.” ( I have a voice!?!?!)

I was shocked.

I was overwhelmed.

This was not what I expected.

I did my research, read through my options, and took the advice I was kindly given by the experts who  offered it. I settled on an offer that seemed clean to me. I sent it to my lawyer, who promptly agreed the contract was clean, didn’t have hidden clauses and the royalty agreement was fair.

However, this contract was through a small start up publisher which hadn’t even released a book yet. Signing with a new company was a risk, so I didn’t sign right away.

Instead, I did more research. I spoke to the owner, who was  honest and helpful. I read success stories and stories of failure, some through small pubs and some through the big five. I sat down and tried to figure out what I wanted.  I researched pros and cons of the big five versus a small pub and I seriously considered signing with the new publisher. After all, contracts are hard to get, and  getting looked at by the big five or an established independent publisher can be tough. It wasn’t like a big agent was going to randomly knock on my door!

I entered a contest called the YA! 2015 Authors.me competition on a whim. I had no idea how much exposure I would receive, nor did  I have a real grasp on who would be reading it.  I did well, in fact I won the whole shebang ( WHAT!?!?!) and a few weeks later I had two different individuals within the literary community approach me with some great advice and interesting proposals.

It was a little overwhelming.

The small publishing house contract was still on my desk, carefully arranged and protected in an envelope, postmarked and addressed.  It was ready to go, but I hadn’t been able to actually sign it. I don’t know why. I had every intention. But every time I picked up the pen this quiet voice would whisper, “Not yet.” I was certain the voice was insane, because book deals are hard to come by and I was lucky to have a publisher who was as devoted to what I wanted as this company was.

You see, I’ve never been a very brave person. I’ve always taken the safest, surest route. This small publisher was safe, and I liked who ran it. I liked the authors. I liked everyone. But all of the feedback from different sources was forcing me to look at what I really wanted out of writing as a career, and my goals became clear.

I wanted to be a hybrid author. I wanted to try to shoot for the stars even when the deck is stacked against me. If I failed, fine, but at least I tried. So, I did a very terrifying thing.

I walked away from a sure thing. images

Was that the best decision for me?

Only time will tell, and probably quite a bit of time. The publishing industry tends to move slow.  I will likely experience some rough moments. I may end up with a small publisher, after all many of them are very good at selling a certain genre. If we are a good fit I will be over the moon. Now, I understand what I am looking for.

Was I scared?

Absolutely. I still feel a little sick thinking about it. It was a hard decision for me to come to, and it hurt because I had come to genuinely care about the people who ran the small publishing company. I was also working on a second book which was perfect for them and needed the type of platform they could provide. Severing our relationship didn’t just mean pulling The Mercy Killers, but it also meant pulling a chance for The Seductress too.

Still, I walked away.

My big, terrifying journey starts here. A journey I could have finished already, and maybe  I should have. I know I’ll  likely receive rejections before I find what I am looking for. But I think intuition is important, and a famous quote echoes in my head whenever I start to doubt myself.

dont-give-up

Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books. It was rejected 38 times.

Stephanie Meyer struggled to get an agent, she was snubbed 18 times, and then went on to get rejected by over a dozen publishers.

The Help got rejected 61 times. Stephen King had a spike of rejections on his wall.  Meg Cabot had an entire bag full of them.

I don’t know if I will ever be as great as the people  I’ve mentioned. I understand it’s not likely. I do have passion. They obviously have talent, and mine remains to be seen. I think it’s there, I just need to hone it.

If I receive 300 rejections? I’ll submit 301 times.

Until then, I’ll keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

lastcover1

Soulless by Ismael Manzano

 

lastcover1

There’s a new author out in the paranormal genre world named Ismael Manzano, and I have to say, he has some pretty cool ideas.

His debut novel, Soulless, is built around the concept of soul brokering, which is exactly what it sounds like, people buying and selling their souls.

Pretty cool, right?

When Soulless was kindly given to me by Fantasy Works Publishing, I was pretty interested even though this isn’t my normal read. Plus it’s a free book, and I like books.

In fact, I loooovvvve books.

bookshelf fuul

When I fist started reading it, I wasn’t immediately hooked. Not because of the story itself, but because of me. I am fickle girl, and if there isn’t a sexy guy in the first ten pages or someone doesn’t die, I tend to want more. I kept reading though, because the premise of this book is so unique. A world where souls are bought and sold is such a catchy concept, and Ismael is obviously talented, so I wanted to see where the story would take me.

Ladies and gentleman, this book took me places.

Murder!

tumblr_inline_ns66oiHgvG1qkug0j_500
Obviously, this is a joke. Real people dying is sad!

The first murder scene was completely out of nowhere (in the good sort of way) and really got the story going. Once this book turned on it’s engine, I buckled myself in and enjoyed the ride.

 

 

 

This book was different, not cliche in the least, and I liked that about it. However, there were a few things I missed that are cliche ( after all, things become cliche for a reason!). I didn’t like the lack of romance and the slight dryness of the main character. In many ways I loved reading a book from an anti-BS heroine who was tough, sharp and independent. I just think she needed one more little layer. Soulless took a few chapters to really get started, but that is common in complex books, specifically series. The originality and hilarious puns made up for it. Plus, there were some really quality descriptions.

“Darkness was descending over the east, turning the taller buildings into mammoth sundials, the shadows stretching taunt as the sun made its sleepy climb down the ladder of the western horizon.”

See what I mean? Quality!

The story builds, and by the end I’d read some really interesting scenes that will stick with me.

This book  will appeal to male and female audiences,  something I think the industry needs more of.  That was a big plus for me. I’d give this book 3.75 stars, but  I round, so four stars for Soulless!

I’d recommend this book to reader who like mystery and action. Grab your copy here!

And if you read it, don’t forget to write your own review. Ismael is a break out author, and reviews are the second best way to support them! Buying their book is a close first!

 

 

House of Kings

Come to me, you beautiful book!

house of kings

 

The House of Kings cover nails the series vibe with the sultry, mysterious vamp king and the strong, beautiful Alivia dominating the front.

I hate spoilers, so I’ll just give a little overview of the excitement level in this book. There’s death, Kings and lost love. Lies and speculation snowball into heartbreaking danger and threats.  Old flames die off, then disappear, then come back, and new flames shine … brighter? There’s love, lust, temptation, and did I mention the heat in this book is smoking?

Damn-hot-fanning-

But House of Kings is also full of sticky, bitter, complicated angst. Alivia’s heart is shattered into a hundred little pieces, which gives her a few scars. she finally wakes up as her new self, which awakens parts that are vicious and flawed. It was hard to see Alivia struggle, but I also think it was necessary.  Characters need flaws in order to create depth and show growth. I think Alivia is going to be redeemed in the next book, along with another key character that might of made some mistakes too…

But no spoilers!

King Cyrus is such an interesting character. I love the dark guys. Raheem is sexy walking, and Ian is, well, he’s Ian.

I do want to warn you. Keary likes to cut a story off at a high stake point. She wants to guarantee her readers come back, and she is a pro at carrying out her mission. As much as I loved the book and the ending, the suspense is not fun. The ending is a sharp drop off a helluva tormenting cliffhanger.

So, I’m ready for the next book. When is the release date?

Does anyone know?

I need to know!

4.5 stars for Keary Taylor’s House of Kings! As much as I loved this book, I think some of the supporting cast could be fleshed out a little more. I received an ARC from the Author, and I am so happy I didn’t have to wait as long to read this book!

But now I need to wait longer to read the next one. I see a downside there, but I’m not complaining!

Grab your copy of House of Kings here!

 

House Of Pawns – Plus new releases!

Tomorrow is a big day for books! Tons of great titles are releasing March 8th, Including Ismael Manzano’s  debut novel Soulless and Keary Taylor’s highly anticipated House of Kings. I will be posting reviews for both books over the next few days, as well as a few other titles, so I wanted to write a quick review of the second book in Keary Taylor’s House of Royals Series.

house of pawns

Although I don’t love the cover as much as House of Royals lovely front, the gorgeous raven and great title still grab me. The pictures fits perfectly with the series’  dark, mysterious, yet current themes. It’s a great cover.

But enough about the outside. Let’s get to the part that counts, the inside!

I can’t delve into any plot details because it could easily spoil the surprises Keary places in the nooks and crannies of her work, and this series needs to be enjoyed spoiler free!  However, I will discuss  how I felt about the story, which can be summed up in two words.

so good.gif

House of Pawns picks up right where its predecessor left off, pulling us directly into Alivia and Ian’s messy, politically charged vampire world. Keary Taylor did an excellent job of maintaining  the story’s flow while also keeping the pacing appropriate for the beginning of a book. She kept it moving right along, and the big bang I always expect from her at the end delivered.

Spectacularly.

It left me scrambling for the next installment, to hell with the time on the clock!  (It was 12:33am). Thank goodness I had the next book primed on my kindle, I needed my fix! I am really thankful for my advance copy from the author!

Keary does a great job of layering plot hooks. She doesn’t reveal the answer to a question without hooking her readers with two new ones. The tension between her characters is hot, messy, and oh so good, but her novels carry more than heat, they carry real story arcs. She expands on the secondary characters and even adds some new characters, and those characters are pretty intriguing.

Especially Raheem.

But wait, I said no spoilers!

The first book was good, the second one was even better. The third book is coming tomorrow, and since I have already read it I will tell you all right now, it’s the best in the series so far!

I can’t give this book 5 stars because there were a few times I felt like the story jumped from a scene or relationship too abruptly. I also loved the next book even more and I save my five star rating for my all time favorites. Guess what my rating for The House of Kings is?

This book deserve a solid 4.25 stars, which is pretty darn awesome! Keary Taylor, you have officially written one of my top three all time favorite vamp series! You do your job well!

Grab your copy of House of Pawns here, and I’ll go ahead and include a link to House of Kings as well. If you have a thing for strong women and broody vamp boys, you are going to need it!