Monday, July 16, 2018

5 Quotes About Writing

A quick inspirational quote always adds fuel to my tank. Here are five of my favorites:

As usual, you're welcome to share these pictures, but be sure to give proper credit to David Purse for the photos and link back to this post.

Do you have a favorite writing quote that motivates you? Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

#IWSG: Ultimate Writing Goals

Usually, this post goes up on the first Wednesday of the month, but since that is a U.S. holiday, the group decided to post today! So, YAY, it is time for The Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you've not heard of it before, check out the complete details by clicking here.

The purpose of the group is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

This month's question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

My answer: My ultimate writing goal is to rank on the New York Times Best Seller list. That'd be cool. Really. Cool. I have received a couple of nice orange best seller banners on Amazon. That was cool, too! And yes, I took a screen grab (see below). Next on my ultimate goal list is to receive a starred review from a major industry reviewer like Kirkus or School Library Journal. But honestly, I must say, the ONLY goal I had for my first book, Who R U Really?, was for it to help at least one person by making readers more aware of dangers online. Goal achieved. I've received multiple emails and people have told me in person that the book helped them - even saved them. Sure, I could get a starred review or make a best seller list, but will that top having a reader tell me my book changed his/her life? Probably not. 

As writers, what we do matters. Sometimes we get stuck on a negative review and forget the positive reviews. We need to remind each other that what we do makes a difference ... even if only in providing an escape for a reader from a hectic day.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Book Review: THIS HEART OF MINE by CC Hunter

This Heart of MineThis Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW! This was the best contemporary YA I've read in ages. SO EXCELLENT from start to finish.

THIS HEART OF MINE by CC Hunter is a captivating page-turner, love story, mystery, and so much more.

The idea behind the story had caught my attention, before I ever read the book. Can a transplant recipient feel what the donor felt? Many recipients, including the author's own husband, have reported dreaming specific dreams related to the donor, with information the recipient could not have otherwise known.

Throughout this story, author CC Hunter made me feel ALL the feels: love, worry, anticipation, anger, frustration, sadness, fear, and hope. THIS HEART OF MINE was a non-stop roller coaster of emotions.

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"Moving behind the mahogany desk, Eric drops into his dad's chair. It creaks as if complaining he isn't the man his dad was." (page 2)

"[Mom] squeezes me, then lets go. 'I love that scar. It saved your life. You are here because of that scar. Because of it, one day, I'm going [to] be in a dressing room watching you try on wedding dresses.' Tears slip down her face." (page 154)

"We changed the motto for graduation. It was Live for the Day. ... Our new motto is The Art of Making Tomorrows." (page 366)

Thank you, CC Hunter for such a fabulous story. I highly recommend THIS HEART OF MINE to everyone who loves to read.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 18, 2018

Book Review: THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE by Amelinda Bérubé

Oh, I love a creepy, thrilling, ghost story, and I was excited to be given the opportunity to read an early copy of THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE by Amelinda Bérubé. Scroll on down for my full review!

The Dark Beneath the Ice
by Amelinda Bérubé

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Expected Publication Date: August 7, 2018
ISBN: 978-1492657071

Description from the Publisher:
Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity in this compelling ghost story about a former dancer whose grip on reality slips when she begins to think a dark entity is stalking her.

Something is wrong with Marianne.

It's not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn't been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.

She's losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.

But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing's rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has―everything it's convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it's owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.

About the Author:
From Amelinda Bérubé's Goodreads Page, it reads, "I write about ghosts and monsters and other things that go bump in the night. My books tend to include a liberal sprinkling of weird Canadiana and the occasional zombie metaphor. I am an eternal fangirl for YA and SFF, but any book that makes me laugh, makes me cry, or creeps me out will have my heart forever. My very favorites tend to have a thinky, supernatural flavor and don't explain too much. In my other lives I'm a public service editor, a mother of two, and a passionate gardener. I live in Ottawa, Canada, in a perpetual whirlwind of unfinished projects and cat hair."

My Review:

Do you believe in demons? What exactly is a demon? I explore that topic more in this previous blog post of mine: Do Demons Really Exist? I mention demons, because THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE is a terrific, creepy story that poses many questions, one of which is: can a demon cause paranormal activity?

While the opening lyrical prose of this story was beautiful, it also left my mind swimming with confusion, but I trusted there was a purpose, which there was, thankfully.

THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE is a fun-filled ghost story that covers all the possibilities - the occult, religion, psychological imbalance, inner demons, and yes, even ghosts. However, if you don't like scary stories, the f-word, or girl-loves-girl stories, this one might not be for you.

If you like gasping aloud while reading, then dive into Amelinda Berube's fabulous debut novel.

The scariest element of this story was the examination of inner demons, because as a fully invested reader, you can't help but ask, "What parts of me have I been burying and denying? What would I be capable of if I truly accepted and loved myself? And on the flip-side, what am I capable of if I deny myself the love and acceptance I deserve despite my perceived shortcomings and flaws?"

We can't all be perfect ballerinas, but we can be the perfect individual we were created to be.

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"It was quiet, but a comfortable quiet, a book-and-a-blanket quiet."

"We spent the second night on the beach watching a meteor shower. It was cloudless, moonless, the sky alive and infinite. Looking up into it made gravity seem precarious, like you could lose your grip on the world and tumble into the air."

[I received an early copy of this book for free from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. This is no way influenced my opinion of the book.]

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


I love the publisher, Hay House. They put out engaging and thought-provoking books, so I was excited when I had the opportunity to read Matt Kahn's newest book, published by Hay House. (Scroll on down for my complete review.)

Everything Is Here to Help You: A Loving Guide to Your Soul’s Evolution
by Matt Kahn
Publisher: Hay House
June 5, 2018

Description from the Publisher:

Everything Is Here to Help You offers an emotionally supportive way to shift out of the inner war of ego, and into the illuminated presence of your soul. Redefining the spiritual path for the modern-day seeker, Kahn offers original, innovative ways to resolve fear, unravel judgments, and learn how to view life from a clear, expanded perspective. Kahn breathes fresh life into all aspects of the healing journey to usher in a revolutionary and loving approach to personal growth.

Each chapter highlights Kahn’s most cutting-edge teachings and loving wisdom. From teaching you how to unravel blame by exploring the four stages of surrender, to providing step-by-step energy clearings and recited activations to amplify the power of your consciousness, Everything Is Here to Help You offers a clear road map to explore the magic, mysteries, and miracles that reside in every heart. Including engaging questions to contemplate, as well as energetically encoded mantras to experience our unlimited spiritual potential, Everything Is Here to Help You will allow you to explore a deeper reality, daring to view your life through the loving eyes of Source and opening yourself up to life’s miracles.

About the Author:

Matt Kahn is the author of Everything Is Here to Help You and the best-selling book Whatever Arises, Love That. He is a spiritual teacher, and highly attuned empathic healer who has become a YouTube sensation with his healing and often humorous videos. His more than 10 million YouTube channel viewers are finding the support they seek to feel more loved, awakened, and opened to the greatest possibilities in life through the invitation to join the “Love Revolution That Begins with You.”

My Review:

First of all, the cover of this book is so inviting and calming, it immediately drew me in and made me want to read the book. Whenever I read a non-fiction book, I start by reviewing the table of contents, and then I flip through the pages to scan the subheadings and text boxes. Everything is Here to Help You is set up in an easy to follow format with subheadings that are self-explanatory and text boxes with guided exercises.

I must admit, I was a little concerned when I read on the very first page of the introduction that the author, Matt Kahn, walked out of college and "...boldly declared the Universe [his] university of higher learning ... guided by an irrefutable force of inner knowing" (page xi). This concerned me, because I feel strongly we need to take someone's credentials into account before blindly trusting everything offered as advice from that person. With that being said, I also believe when someone truly approaches life from a place of love and charity ... good comes from that. So it's up to each of us to read, ponder, and decide what truths can be found in any book.

One of the most profound concepts I read in this book was "An Upside to Disappointment." Kahn explains, "From the soul's perspective ... the role of disappointment is to liberate our consciousness from the dream of expectation, so we can remain open to the fate of life's infinite possibilities" (page 45).

Huh. Disappointment liberates us from expectations. That blew my mind. Or ... it opened my mind.

Everything is Here to Help You by Matt Kahn made me stop and consider ideas in a new way. While I didn't agree with every idea presented, I was moved by many.

In some spots, the language was a challenge for me to follow. For example, "When guided by the negative reinforcement of our ego, goals remain positive, while our focus tends to obsessively scan for any shred of inner discord" (page 4).

Sometimes, with books like this, I need to read it more than once to gain the most benefit from it.

If you enjoy books about self-love, energy fields, and evolving your spirit, Everything is Here to Help You by Matt Kahn is a book to check out.

[I received a free copy of this book from FSB Associates, which did not influence my review.]

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#IWSG: More Challenging - Book Titles or Character Names?

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is time for The Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you've not heard of it before, check out the complete details by clicking here.

The purpose of the group is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

This month's question is: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

My answer: Book titles are MUCH harder for me to conjure, while playing with possible character names is a huge adventure for me. For example, my current project features rugby players. I researched various rosters of rugby teams around the world and compiled a large list of possible names for the story's characters. So. Much. Fun.

What about you? Which is more challenging, coming up with book titles or character names?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Camping in the Boonies

Oh, every year, I look forward to heading to the hills. My husband and I love, love, love to camp in the boonies, where we are alone with nature (and our dogs). The only sounds to be heard are those of the breeze blowing through the trees, the water rushing over boulders in the river, and an occasional chipmunk scampering up a tree. Well, there's also the sound of our little dog Rascal begging for the ball to be thrown again and again. He equates camping with an endless round of playing fetch. My husband and I equate camping to peaceful rejuvenation. No internet. No cell phones. No technology, except for our Kindles. We each have our own hammock, from which we strive to read as many books as possible.

So, if you need me, I'll be in the mountains for a while. ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

#IWSG: Spring Fever = Writing Fever (or not?)

Oh, spring is in the air; flowers are blooming; gardens are growing; birds are chirping; and writers are holed up in their offices writing, revising, and plotting their next stories. Or are they?

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is time for The Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you've not heard of it before, check out the complete details by clicking here.

The purpose of the group is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!"

This month's topic is: Does springtime inspire you to write more or not?

My answer: Generally, the inherent "new possibilities" of springtime inspire me. Those daffodils that were dormant all winter, and could have chosen to die, push through the tough dirt and rise and grow and stretch for the sun, and then when they are ready, they bloom in their full glory. I find that incredibly inspiring. I choose to believe, that I too can push through the tough "dirt" and rise and grow and ultimately bloom. So, yes, springtime inspires me to write more.

What is your answer?

Spirit Quote

seaon of rebirth

Rachel Carson Quote: “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review + Giveaway: Ecosystem by Joshua David Bellin

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read and review Joshua David Bellin's newest book, Ecosystem. I've been a fan of his for years, and his latest fictional adventure does not disappoint! Scroll on down for my review and for a chance to win this terrific book.

by Joshua David Bellin
published April 22, 2018

Description from the publisher:

Seventeen-year-old Sarah is a Sensor, gifted with the ability to survive within the sentient Ecosystem that swept away human civilization centuries ago. While the remnants of humankind huddle in small villages of stone, Sarah uses her psychic connection to the Ecosystem to travel freely in the wild in search of food, water, and fuel. Sarah doesn’t fear the Ecosystem—but she hates it for killing her mother when Sarah was a child. When she hunts, she hunts not only for her people’s sustenance but for revenge.

Then Miriam, an apprentice Sensor, is lost in the Ecosystem, and Sarah sets out to rescue her. Joining Sarah is Miriam’s beloved, 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.

A thrilling fantasy adventure from the author of Freefall and the Survival Colony series, Ecosystem is the first book in a YA trilogy that includes The Devouring Land (2019) and House of Earth, House of Stone (2020).

About the author:

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, he is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. His new book, the YA fantasy Ecosystem, released on April 22, 2018 (Earth Day). Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

My review of Ecosystem:

If you’re a huge fan of Joshua David Bellin, like I am, be warned that his newest book, Ecosystem, utilizes a significantly different narrative voice than the ones found in his previous novels, in large part because his previous books were science fiction and Ecosystem is more in the fantasy realm. Consequently, I recommend you cleanse your palate, clear your mind, and control your phobias before jumping into the jungle underbrush of Ecosystem. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Ecosystem by Joshua David Bellin is an exciting escapade that delves into the notion of rules being rules because they’ve been passed down from generation to generation and teens pushing beyond their societal boundaries because they believe there’s a better way, which conjures in my mind notions of both The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Once I settled into the narrative voice of Ecosystem, I really enjoyed the storytelling and word choices. Instead of calling plants commonplace names such as primrose and wisteria, Bellin gave them menacing names like poisonrose and histeria. Instead of sycamore tree, it was sickenmore tree. As much as I love going camping every summer in my beloved state of Idaho, I would not want to take a day trip through Bellin’s Ecosystem! Yikes. Everything, it appeared, was out to kill the humans in Bellin’s fictional forest.

Bellin paints detailed imagery throughout the story, for example:

“I stand amid trees many hundreds of years old, their branches trailing lattices of moss, their bark carved into antic shapes like deeply wrinkled faces. Ferns with spatulate leaves form beds between tree-trunks, while a few downed giants wave earth-brown roots to the sky.”

Even though Bellin’s writing is beautiful, the reader (and characters within the story) must remember, “The Ecosystem is a parade of horrors, and anyone who forgets that is asking for her own death.”

Ha. I love a good horror story.

From the book:

“I slice the monster from blunt head to a third of the way down its back. It has no throat to make a sound, but its body buckles in agony, the viscous liquid that passes for its blood spraying me as it writhes across the floor. Not dead, though. Urthwyrms can suffer far more damage than that and live. Cut them in two, and you’ve only doubled your enemy’s strength.”

A few other favorite lines from the book:

“The words I might have offered him stick like thorns in my throat.”

“The forest didn’t need to lift a finger to kill me. All it had to do was sit back and watch me kill myself.”

“They told me I was too bold . . . That is what the timid call the brave.”

While Ecosystem by Joshua David Bellin is great romp through the forest following Sarah’s compelling quest, the story also takes a fascinating look at relationships, responsibilities, and expectations between people, nature, and society. 

Ecosystem is the first in a new series by Bellin. It reads as a standalone book, with the major plot threads tied up at the end, but Bellin left a few unanswered questions to tease my curiosity into wanting to read the next book as soon as possible.

I recommend Ecosystem to anyone who loves a great adventure story, anyone who loves the outdoors, and anyone who loves to hate monsters.

(By the way, as much as I love a scary story, I’m glad I read this in the comfort of my home instead of while camping in the boonies, where there are creepy crawlers and twisted trees and swampy marshes.)


Read what others think of this new book and read an excerpt by checking out the Ecosystem Blog Tour.

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Ecosystem:

a Rafflecopter giveaway