The VRW Awards Luncheon

13437205_505607996290794_2014791379_n(1)Guys, I got invited to a tea party.

A real life tea party!

The Virginia Romance Writers throw a luncheon for the Finalists of the HOLT and the Fool For Love contest every year. My novel The Seductress made the finals! It’s the first event of this type  close enough for me to make, so  I was ecstatic.

 

13398640_1573136029656913_1584713122_nI got to dress up, eat amazing food, and listen to some really great advice from Cynthia Holt Johnson and Carolyn Greene.  I had the pleasure of sitting at their table during this event, and I am so glad I got to know them.

Cynthia is full of bubbly energy. She radiates an enigmatic aura, and has a style that simply defines her. Her impressive history with the RWA includes a seat on the national RWA board of Directors and several terms as the President of the Virginia Romance Writers . She is working on a book set in the same area of Florida I was born in. I am  looking forward to it’s release.

Carolyn is so kind and insightful. Conversation with her is a treat. She is a two time HOLT winner, a Rita finalist, and has published multiple romance novels with several publishers, including Harlequin.

These amazing women are best friends, the kind that makes other girls envious, and both of them gave me advice I hope to live by- Be Audacious!

Thank you ladies. I plan to be.

My first audacious move is to brag about myself. I know, I know, it sounds so bad doesn’t it? But I am going to be a go-getter, so here it goes.

The Seductress won the Fools For Love Paranormal Division!

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I am so grateful and flabbergasted my novel was awarded first place. Thank you to the VRW for putting on this event, and to the women who organize the contest. You are appreciated, and the party was excellent!

I was fortunate enough to receive a full manuscript request, which lit a fire under my little butt to get this novel polished up and completed. I can’t wait to see where The Seductress goes. No matter where it ends up I plan to make the ride quite enjoyable.

Congratulations to all the other winners of the 2016 Fools for Love Contest and Holt Medallion! You guys are incredible!

Until next time,

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Fool For Love Winner Logo

 

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Guilt

Tighten your lips
Tighten your belt

Tighten your stitches-

But don’t bleed.

 

Beg for your wants

Beg for your hopes

Beg on your knees-

But don’t need.

 

Heighten your goals

Heighten your dreams

Heighten your ambitions-

but don’t fall.

 

So we sew,

And we staple,

And we burn when we’re able,

And it cauterizes into scars we are sure no one can see.

 

One more layer,

A lying smile,

A lying laugh to hide a thought

That hides the track lines from a past we never get to leave.

 

But we all have them

Running up our arms,

Buried beneath skin,

Under sleeves of lovely silk.

 

The Winners have their losses.

The Triumphs have their falls.

The Saviors have their sacrifice

The Survivors have their guilt.

 

 

 

The Publishing Industry is Subjective

If you are a writer who’s ever pitched a novel, or simply googled insight into the publishing industry, chances are you’ve heard this before.

I know I’ve heard it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even accepted it. But it wasn’t until this past week I truly understood it. The following experience gave me a different view on those words.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to judge the first round of a writing contest. It was a simple “answer these questions, see if you qualify, and you can judge” sort of thing, but I was still looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see what the contest process was like from the other side! I opened the entries with excitement, read through them, made notes, and instantly attached to a certain story.  A week later I reread my samples, focusing on the technicalities and quality of writing. I carefully considered, tried to provide helpful feedback, and sent my judged files back to the contest coordinator with a sense of satisfaction. My judgments were fair. Every score I gave could be justified (at least by me!).

But here’s the crazy thing-

I didn’t give my favorite story the highest score.

Why? Because technically, it wasn’t the best. The highest scoring story flowed better. The sample was flawless. There were no mistakes, no awkward phrasing, and no grammatical errors (that I picked up on). It was simply  well written.

However, something about the second ranking sample spoke to me. The characters grabbed me, and the story drew me in. I wanted to read it.

What’s really puzzling is if I were to summarize the story lines, the highest ranking book had a better plot. More happened. It moved at a quick pace. But there was something about the second place book I loved. I don’t know what it was. I can’t explain it. It simply connected with me.

As I ponder this experience  I’m blasted with an understanding I thought I previously grasped, but obviously didn’t.

The love of a book is subjective.859697

My judging experience opened
my eyes to a new side of things. I’ll probably need to reread this post in the future to remind myself, but I finally understand. If  I were an agent, I wouldn’t have requested a full for an arguably well written book, simply because it didn’t speak to me.

This taught me how important it is to find people who connect with your work.  If my writing is good, and I constantly strive to improve my craft, eventually I will find the right people to help me get my book out there. A big part of success is commitment.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. jessica grace kelleyt signature

Until then, I’ll keep writing

 

 

 

Book Review! Gambit by C.L Denault

 

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I am back from my hiatus!

I’m not going to lie, it was nice to have a month that was book free. The last few books I  read were a bit of a letdown, and I was overwhelmed with work for my personal projects.It was nice to focus on my own work. I began to miss reading after a week or so, but I was leery because of the rough, weak story lines I had read before my NovelVaca ( ooh, look, a new word!). Luckily, the first book I read, Gambit by C.L Denault, immediately hooked me on books again.

It was that good.

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The premise is classic Dystopian, one of my favorite genres. There were a few new ingredients in this Dystopian universe, which included cat/children “rippers”, AKA feline killing machines, and physically enhanced soldiers.

Okay, that last part is not a new concept, but it was very well done.

The world is a mix of old charm and futuristic fantasy, which goes together much better than you would expect. Think bacon plus chocolate- Great separate, decadent together. The world building is solid, not overdone, and not slapped in front of you with a word paint brush in a single paragraph ( this is called info dumping, I detest it!) . The prose was beautiful. C.L Denault is a talented storyteller and writer, and the possession of those two talents is harder to find in an Author than people might believe.

However, all the things above are not the reason I loved this book. Yes, the world is interesting. Yes, there are unique factors. But the characters stole my heart. Willow, Reece and the supporting cast were exceptional.

Willow is a 16 year old girl who grew up in a poor, yet happy family.  She acts like a teenager, which is great, because that’s exactly what she is. Her life wouldn’t support an overly mature attitude, so I appreciated the realistic take on her. Despite her immaturity, she is a strong, promising character that I am sure will encompass her potential by the time this series is complete.

But she wasn’t the star of the show.

My favorite character  is Commander Reece- a terrifying, harsh, amazingly enigmatic man who any girl would fall head over heals for, despite his streak of danger (let’s be honest, it makes him better!). He’s the first male character I’ve fallen for in ages. It was  wonderful to feel that way about a book again!

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I also enjoyed the supporting characters, Asp, Tem, Morry, all of them! They had their own unique personalities, which is so refreshing. Many books have filler characters that are just there, saying lines. Not these guys! They were dimensional and alive.

There were a few times I looked up from the pages with an “eh” attitude, but now that I’ve finished the book I can’t remember why I felt that way. The positives completely overtook those few moments, and I will be waiting for the next book with anxious impatience.

So, I am going to give this book 5 stars.

That’s right. I said it. FIVE STARS!!!!!!!

I am not saying this book is perfection, or a great piece of artistic mastery that will be studied for ages, but I truly, completely enjoyed this story. To me, it was awesome, and I might even read it again.

WHICH I NEVER DO!

This book will be bought by me in hard copy, and go on my favorites shelf, right next to the Shatter me Series, The Selection series, The Razorland series ( and Emily Grifin’s novels, and The Giver, and Rebecca … you get the idea). To put that in perspective for you guys, I haven’t bought a hard copy since 2014 .

Yeah.

And if C.L Denault could autograph it, that would be amazing…(I can dream!)

If you like romance, Dystopian, or just fantasy in general, grab your copy of Gambit here!

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*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

 

 

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!