Thursday, June 6, 2019

Book Review: STORM AND FURY by Jennifer L. Armentrout

When I was given the opportunity to read an early copy of STORM AND FURY by bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, I jumped at it! Scroll on down for my complete review.

by Jennifer L. Armentrout
June 11, 2019 - Inkyard Press
ISBN: 978-1335218797

Description from the Publisher
Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

About the Author
# 1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Lynn. Find her on Twitter @JLArmentrout or become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads.

My Review

In STORM AND FURY, Jennifer L. Armentrout has created dynamic characters, steamy romance scenes, and unexpected plot twists. 

Armentrout is a fabulous story teller, and I loved STORM AND FURY. I especially enjoyed the secondary characters - specifically Zayne. The main character, Trinity, seemed a bit scattered and inconsistent, but Zayne was well developed and fun to follow. This was the first book I've read by Armentrout, and I didn't realize beforehand that this was a spin-off from another series. Without having read any of her other books, I was still able to fully follow the plot and characters in this story. And now . . . I want to go and read the other series!

Additionally, even though STORM AND FURY is the first book in a new series, the plot was wrapped up beautifully, and I look forward to the next book. 

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"I wasn't part-Warden, either, and they were like real-life superheroes, hunting down the bad guys, if superheroes were, well, gargoyles."

"Isn't that evil's greatest achievement? It often hides itself in innocence?"

"My iron blade clattered onto the driveway, settling in a pile of demon dust."

[I received a free advanced copy from the publisher via Net Galley, which in no way influenced my opinion.]

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

IWSG: What's Your Favorite Genre?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

This month's question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

My answer: I love writing edge-of-your-seat mysteries and thrillers. My goal as a writer is to have readers say, "I finished the book in one sitting." I want readers to feel so compelled to turn the page that they are unable to put the book down. And ... if they must put it down, because of work or school or other obligations, then I want the story to linger in their minds, pushing them to get back to the pages.

How about you? What's your favorite genre (to write and/or to read)?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Writer CEO One-Day Workshop in Boise, Idaho

When Colleen M. Story (Author, Speaker, Health & Wellness Writer) asked me to share information about her upcoming workshop - I said, "Of course!" Because if you've ever visited her site Writing and Wellness, you already know she shares a wealth of information!

Discover the Secrets of a Successful Author Business at the New Writer CEO One-Day Workshop!

Writer CEO, a website dedicated to working writers and authors, is holding a one-day writing workshop on September 14, 2019, in downtown Boise, Idaho.

In one action-packed day, writers will learn effective book-marketing strategies and author businesses branding techniques. They’ll also discover:

· tips for avoiding burnout and overwhelm

· new processes for determining when to take important business risks

· how to better manage cash flow

· strength-based approaches to building a thriving author platform

· mindsets necessary for a professional author

· how to stabilize your business in a fluctuating industry

The event will feature workshops, giveaways, and networking opportunities. Writers of all levels and genres are invited, though the workshop will be most useful for those interested in getting their work noticed, boosting sales, enhancing organization, improving self-management, and supercharging their results.

Instructors Colleen M. Story and Donna Cook are both professional writers who bring to the table decades of experience in writing and writing-related businesses. After overcoming their own challenges in publishing and marketing, they wanted to share what they’ve learned with other authors, in the hopes of making their journeys a little easier.

“I spent years floundering around unsure how to get my writing business off the ground,” Story said. “I was doing well writing for others, but I wanted to create a business with my own projects, and there was little information available to help me do that. In this workshop, Donna and I won’t be teaching writers how to write—we’ll be helping them get their writing noticed, improve their marketing, find more readers and/or clients, and become the true creative business owners they need to be to succeed in this industry.”

“All I ever wanted to do is write,” Cook added, “but I soon realized I needed to master the business side of what I was doing if I wanted my writing to sell. That meant learning how to market in a way that worked for me, setting up systems that would help me streamline the tasks associated with marketing and publishing, and discovering the mindsets I needed to improve my chances of success. I’m eager to share what I’ve learned with other writers, because I know they make a huge difference.”

The workshop takes place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Boise, followed by an optional post-workshop gathering over cocktails. The cost is $75 per person. For more information or to sign up now, see the Writer CEO workshop page.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Gone Camping!

I'm off to my happy place. If you need me . . . well . . . come find me. ;)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Coaching & Editorial Prices

While writing novels remains my primary focus, I'm often asked if I offer coaching and editorial services. Yes, I do. Details are below. Feel free to email me at margokelly1 @ outlook . com (without the spaces) to ask additional questions and make arrangements to propel your manuscript to the next level.

One-on-One Coaching :: $100 per hour
In person, online, or over the phone, we’ll discuss where you are on your writer’s journey and where you’d like to be. After clearly defining your goals, I’ll offer step-by-step guidelines for you to achieve them.

Query Critique :: $35
Once your manuscript is polished and you’re ready to seek an agent, I’ll review your query letter and offer suggestions to catch the interest of literary agents. This package includes a second evaluation after you’ve made changes.

Synopsis Analysis :: $120
Many agents and editors require a synopsis with your manuscript submission. I’ll point you in the right direction before you begin, and then I’ll critique your finished synopsis (up to four single-spaced pages).

Submission Package :: $250
This evaluation includes thorough line-edits of your entire submission package, including your query letter, synopsis, and the first 30 pages of your manuscript.

First 100 Page Assessment :: $350
If you’re not certain about your manuscript or its potential, having your first 100 pages critiqued may help give you the direction you need. I’ll provide a detailed line-by-line edit, pointing out grammar and punctuation issues as well as addressing big-picture ideas regarding character, plot, and setting. (I require standard formatting of your pages, including double-spacing and 12-point font.)

Reader Report :: $750
I’ll read your entire manuscript and provide at least a two-page written evaluation of your overarching ideas, including characters, plot, setting, voice, and theme. This package does not include a line-edit, but it does include a one-on-one coaching appointment. 

Full Manuscript Edit (up to 85,000 words) :: $1,000
With this comprehensive service, I’ll read your entire manuscript, providing line-edits and an editorial letter addressing the big-picture ideas. This package also includes a one-on-one appointment to discuss my feedback. (Manuscripts over 85,000 words will be charged at $0.013 per word.)

Complete Package :: $2,500
Starting with a Reader Report*, I’ll offer an evaluation of your overarching ideas and discuss next steps in a one-on-one coaching appointment. Then after you’ve revised your manuscript, I’ll provide a Full Manuscript Edit* along with a second coaching appointment. Finally, after you’ve polished your manuscript, I’ll evaluate your Submission Package* before you query agents and editors. (*Read descriptions above for what’s included.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Book Review: THE NIGHT WINDOW by Dean Koontz

Oh, boy. Dean Koontz wrote a satisfying finale to his Jane Hawk series! Scroll on down for my complete review.

by Dean Koontz
May 14, 2019 - Random House
ISBN: 978-0525484707

Description from the Publisher
A visionary young filmmaker hunted for sport across a vast Colorado ranch by the celebrated billionaire at the heart of a monstrous cabal . . .

A brilliant computer hacker slipping through top-secret databases a whisper ahead of security trackers, gathering the facts to fight the all-powerful perpetrators of mass murder . . .

A pair of brutal operators, methodically shadowing their targets with every cutting-edge tool in the arsenal of today’s surveillance state . . .

A sequence of quiet heroes—everyday citizens—stepping up, stepping forward, intent on countering the advancing darkness . . .

A Vegas mob boss teamed with a homicidal sociopath, circling a beloved boy and his protectors, aiming to secure him as leverage against his fugitive mother . . .

And that fugitive mother herself, ex-agent Jane Hawk, closing in on the malevolent architects of ruin she has stalked as they stalk her, prepared to sacrifice herself to finally bring them down.

These are the people and circumstances of The Night Window, the thrilling new novel in Dean Koontz’s acclaimed Jane Hawk series. Replete—and then some—with the ingenious twists, the spellbinding action, the resonant themes, the sheer heart that have characterized Jane’s journey from the start, The Night Window follows its extraordinary heroine to her long-sought objective, in a stunning, unforgettable finale.

Don’t miss any of Dean Koontz’s gripping Jane Hawk thrillers:

“The spectacular finale to Jane’s story . . . will hit series fans with all the impact of a carefully calibrated hammer blow.”—Booklist (starred review)

About the Author
Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

My Review

THE NIGHT WINDOW by Dean Koontz provides a mesmerizing and satisfying end to the Jane Hawk series.

Of the five book series, there were a couple of installments that left me less than satisfied as Jane Hawk's point of view became less and less of a focal point. So, understandably, I was concerned going into this finale that I would be disappointed with the series' end. Thankfully, Koontz wrapped up the series wonderfully by giving less time to the evil Arcadians' warped minds and more time to the heroes of the story. And there were multiple heroes. Jane did not save the day by herself. Don't worry, I won't spoil the story for you. I do wish Jane had managed to find a way to save the day on her own, but she needed help, and it was terrific to see good people band together to fight off the bad people. And there were plenty of bad people - practicing "random acts of cruelty," misogyny, sexual impropriety, murder, and so much more. (Yuck.) But I love how Koontz makes sure that in his books, good wins over evil in the end. 

A few of my favorite lines from the book:

"Hollister turns in his chair to watch the first snowflakes, the size of quarters and half dollars, spiraling out of the low clouds like some jackpot disgorged by a celestial slot machine."

"Evil is always stupid."

"The wealth of stars conjured in her imagination an evil, glimmering constellation of junction points in a nanoweb secreted in the darkness of a skull, and thinking of the mission ahead sent cold tremors through her."

[I received a free advanced copy from the publisher via Net Galley, which in no way influenced my opinion.]

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Joshua David Bellin's ECOSYSTEM Trilogy

If you've never read Joshua Bellin's books - what are you waiting for? A sale? Okay - here you go! Bellin's Ecosystem trilogy is on sale from May 2 through May 6, with each of the three Kindle e-books discounted from $2.99 to $0.99.

I'm a big Bellin fan, and I'm happy to recommend this series to you.

In a far distant future, Earth's environment has mutated into the Ecosystem, a collective sentience that has pushed human beings to the brink of extinction. Only those individuals who are born with the psychic power known as the Sense can negotiate the Ecosystem's deadly maze in search of the food, water, and fuel their people need to survive. When Sarah, a seventeen-year-old Sensor with a grudge against the Ecosystem, sets out to avenge her mother's death, she learns more about the Ecosystem--and about herself--than she ever bargained for.

Book One: Ecosystem

Miriam, an apprentice Sensor, is lost in the Ecosystem, and Sarah sets out to rescue her. Joining Sarah is Isaac, a boy who claims to possess knowledge of the Ecosystem that will help their people survive. The harrowing journey to find the missing apprentice takes Sarah and Isaac into the Ecosystem's deadliest places. And it takes Sarah into the unexplored territory of her own heart, where she discovers feelings that threaten to tear her--and her society--apart.

Book Two: The Devouring Land

When Sarah’s village is overrun by monstrous creatures from the Ecosystem, she shepherds the survivors into the forest surrounding the village. Her own Sense badly damaged in an earlier attack, she must fight through a host of new threats in hopes of discovering the place where her mother was born, rumored to be home to a community of healers. But the City of the Queens is haunted by a dark secret of its own, and Sarah will have to learn the truth of her lineage in order to save the people she loves and protect the world she knows.

Book Three: House of Earth, House of Stone

The City of the Queens is under attack. Sarah is forced to flee into the treacherous mountains to the far north, where she hopes to gain allies to contest the power that assails the city. But to wage this final battle, Sarah will have to overcome an ancient curse that threatens not only the survival of her people but the existence of the Ecosystem itself. And she will have to decide whether to save Isaac, the boy she loves, at the cost of losing everything else she holds dear.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

IWSG: Language has Power

The first Wednesday of the month means it's time for an Insecure Writer's Support Group post!

This month's question: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

My answer: WOW! What a terrific question! I learned early in life that language had power, because growing up I was a witness to and victim of the verbal abuse that took place in our house. Later on in my life, as a freshman in college, I watched a hypnotism show where the hypnotist told everyone still under his influence how to vote in the upcoming election. (Yikes - read the whole story here - and this was the inspiration for my novel, UNLOCKED.)

How about you? 

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Revising Your Story

Below are a few of the slides from the workshop I taught at the Idaho Writers' Conference, April 27, 2019. If you're interested in this workshop or any of the other workshops I teach, click on the "appearances" tab above for more information.

Here are a few snapshots from the wonderful two-day conference:

Monday, April 15, 2019

Library Workshop - Outlining Your Story

Saturday, April 13, 2019, we had a terrific time joining together as writers to discuss various ways of creating an outline for our stories. Below are a few slides from the presentation along with a couple snapshots. Libraries and librarians are the BEST.