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Friday, November 27, 2015

New Christmas Reads

I’m excited to announce a new anthology that has a TON of new Holiday stories!  13 authors have put together 13 Christmas novellas to read for this Christmas season.  Not only do you have new stories to read for the holidays but we’re also giving away a $75 Amazon gift card, just in time to buy Christmas presents.  Here’s a link to the contest for the Gift Card.  And here's a link to buy this bad baby!

And the lineup for Echoes of Winter:

Book 1: Twelve Days to Christmas by L.A. Starkey
Jessie Young hates the holidaysIts simpleyou seeToo many holly jolly peoplegathered ‘round the Christmas tree.  But the snow starts to fall, and the joy seems like fun.  Only twelve days until Christmas; she can't wait till it's done!


Book 2: Christmas Seasoning by DB Nielsen

Winter weddings are meant to be magical but when her brothers fiancĂ©e turns into Bridezilla, seventeen-year-old Ellie Henderson cant wait to escape from dress fittings, wedding plans and rehearsal dinners. Its anything but happy holidays until she meets the sexy, tempting Simon whose sweet kisses threaten to spice things up this winter.


Book 3: Merry Chris Witch by CK Dawn

Chris Heron is a witch who loathes the holiday season. Whats even worse is getting expelled from private coven school on Halloween and having to attend public magic school, where Santas son is visiting and has all the girls in a frenzy. Fairies, mermaids, elves, even the trolls are swooning over Kris Kringle Jr. All except for one girl, and shes a North Pole mystery that has Chris intrigued. Will he be able to put his prejudices aside in time to see the true magic all around him?

Book 4: Wrapped in the Past by Chess Desalls

Shirlyn travels back in time to ancient Persia where she meets the three magi who follow the Star of Bethlehem. The youngest mage captures her heart; but his silhouette will forget they ever met, unless she leaves reminder that comes with a heavy price.

Book 5: Butterflies in the Snow by D.E.L. Connor

Rose isnt interested in any high school romance, her only desire is to see her Mom and little sister for Christmas, and she will do anything to get to them. But when she steals Joshs prized vintage Mustang car, he embarks on a mission to discover her carefully guarded secret and hopefully win her heart.

Book 6: The Darkest Night of the Year by Tim Hemlin

Bobby Hawthorne loves the magic of the holidays, and for the first time he can share the truth behind the magic with Angelina, the girl that he loves and with whom he shares a special bond. But when the magic literally starts to disappear, along with Angelina, he realizes a sinister force has entered the light of his world and his only hope may reside in a frightened stranger with a dark secret of her own.

Book 7: Cold Hearth by Kelly Hall

Dahlia Dane is back with a vengeance and wants nothing more than to make her brother miserable for his recent betrayal. But when Dominic is captured, and his fate is in the balance, will Dahlia give up what she wants to save him, or will their sibling rivalry survive Christmas?

Book 8: Code X by W.J. May

Seventeen year old Whitney is a child of untapped potential whose only outlet into the world is through her computer and the cybernetic wilderness that she has limited access to. Better than most hackers, Whitney engages in cyber-vigilantism, but also knows that she's more than a little drawn to uncovering secrets. Eventually she's going to get caught, but how many dark and mysterious places can she find before she does?

Book 9: Good Saint Nick by Lu J Whitley

Trying his best to live by the rules at the strict Kringle & Sons Workshop, Nicklaus dreams about what life is like in the outside world. One stormy winters night, Edie steals her way into his life and his heart, and shows him what it can be like to throw away the rules and have some fun. Together, they set off on a wild sleigh ride that will go down in history as the night a legend is born.

Book 10: Soaring by K.K. Allen

On an Alaskan cruise in the dead of winter, Emma and Luke find each other under the aurora borealis, phenomenon that bonds them in the most unlikely of ways. While Luke teaches Emma what it means to soar, she gives him a reason to stay grounded, but as their journey nears its end memories of a forgotten past surfaceschallenging their futureif a future for them still exists.

Book 11: A Spirits Last Gift by Kathy-Lynn Cross

All Juslynn wants is to attend the Snow Flurry Dance, with her secret love, Carter and possibly receive her first kiss for Christmas. Unfortunately, it never came to pass and now she waits for his kiss from the grave.

Book 12: Winter Trials by K.S. Marsden

With Midwinter just around the corner, Mark's Nanna decides that it is time he learnt more about his family heritage. Learning witchcraft shouldn't be too difficult, right?  Balancing school, magic, and the distractions of the gorgeous new guy, should make this a very interesting winter.

Book 13: The Edge by Fleur Camacho

Laura only wants one thing for Christmas, and its the deepest darkest secret of her heart. When a
mysterious man emerges from a fire in her backyard, can he be the key to unlocking the secret she guards so close?

My name is Fleur.  And this is my blog.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review Rant for Unravel Me

As most of you know, I only write book reviews for books that charge me emotionally.  I don't even write reviews for books that I love.  Only books that force my hand because I just have to get out the emotions I'm feeling inside.

Today I'm writing about Unravel Me.


***Spoiler Alert***
First of all, I loved Shatter Me.  I also love her writing.  It's a very different style and there is a great poetic quality to it.
I love that she can take a psycopath and make him a little bit likeable, a little bit 'human'.

But.

I am sick and tired of love triangles.  Especially when one part of that triangle is a psychopath.  or a stalker.  Just sick.

I am throughly annoyed with characters who are so self absorbed and into their own drama that they aren't even aware of what's going on around them.  Who can't be bothered to help when the lives of others are at risk.

I hate when a main character falls in love with someone who, in the real world, are completely and utterly NOT a person you would fall in love with.  ie: they are crazy.  psychotic.

And yet, Juliette falls for this guy who treats her special.  He is willing to kill anyone else for reasons less than King Henry V, and not feel a shred of remorse.  But he loves her and she can see that he's the way he is because he was abused by his daddy.

Well guess what.  Lots of people were abused by their dads and they don't turn out to be psychopaths.  Like for instance... oh... I don't know... Adam.

Just.  So over it.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Photoshop Artist

It's pretty much impossible for me to write when my kids are around.  Believe me, I've tried.  I've tried telling them "I'm going to work now.  Only interrupt me if it's important."  But the annoying voice of their Stampy videos drift up into my room, or their interruptions for whatever kids find are 'important' just make it impossible for me to delve into the world that I've created.  I must be 100% focused, or nothing will happen.
So this past summer, I started playing around with photoshop.  I found it complicated and never thought that i would really learn how to use it.  But then I found instructional videos on YouTube and have found a new passion.  The best thing is that I don't need the focus to work on photo manipulation like I need when I write.  My kids can be jumping around, looking over my shoulder, singing at the top of their lungs, interrupting me with stories and questions and it doesn't matter.  I can still do it.
It's very hard to tell the things that go into photomanipulated art, and if the artist is very good, then, why it looks like it's a breeze.  There was one artist in particular that I tried to emulate and just absolutely couldn't produce anything similar to them in any way.  After doing a very through search on the internet, I was able to find a single demonstration of the work that this artist put into their work, along with the comment that it took 60 hours to complete.  60 hours!  Well, no wonder mine looks nothing like theirs!  Plus I just don't have the skills -- which is something that I'm working on.

So I wanted to show some of the work that goes into this kind of art.  I'm going to give a very brief explanation of how I did my most recent artwork.  I'm not going to upload large pictures out of respect to the photographers, so that they can't be downloaded. (The website I use is called DeviantArt and strict rules are given for usage.)
First I had to find the images.  I have to look at something that will inspire me, and use my mind to create something out of the picture that I'm looking at.  The picture of the goose was my inspiration.  I loved the elegance of his wings and wanted to use them.  I looked through several pictures of female models, trying to find the right one.  I knew that I wanted one with a bare top, but that didn't show any boobage.  She also had to look 'angelic' and I wanted her to be thoughtful.  I finally found the right one, along with the first background that you see, next to the watch.
I cut her out, using a tool to get the fine strands of her hair, and then placed her on the background.  I worked on her skin tones and blending her into the background - I needed her to look like she belonged in this mythical place, but also that she was angelic.  I also cut out the wings and placed them on her back.  I had to manipulate one of the wings in order for it to look anatomically correct.  
Of course, it looks silly just cutting and pasting pics on top of each other, and so I had to work on blending and shading.  I wasn't 100% happy with the look, so I came upon this dinosaur bone, that I cut and pasted the joint.  And then there was more blending and shading.
Overall I was pretty happy but felt like I was missing something.  So I played around with some background until I was happy with one that I overlayed on the whole picture.  And then I had to play around again with the blending and shadows, etc etc because they looked different with the coloring over top of it.
I wanted her to be in more of a 'heavenly, cloudy' space, so I added the clouds to the background and took a metal ring off the watch to give her a halo.  And it took me forever to figure out how to move the halo so that it was on top of her head instead of circling it (I hope that makes sense).  There's additional lighting around the halo and the wings, to give off a heavenly glow as well as other things that might be too boring to read about.
And here's what I ended up with: 

I really hope you like it and if you want to see anything else I've done you can look at it here.  I know that I really have a long way to go but so far I'm pretty happy with the way things are turning out with me being so new at it.

TLDR: all the pictures in the first picture make up the second picture.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

YA Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles Series.  Find Jesse's review to the first book, Cinder, here.

- -
“Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.”

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Scarlet  is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series. The story continues right where the first book leaves off and introduces some new characters and points of views. Cinder has to break out of prison with some help from a new friend, mean while Scarlet does everything in her power to find her grandmother who she believes has been kidnapped.

I found Scarlet to be a lot more tolerable then Cinder was and I was impressed with the progression of the story. It's slowly starting to grow on me bit by bit. Meyer was able to reinvent a old fairy tale and make it new again. This time take Little Red Riding Hood and integrating it into her unfolding story.

This time around the plot was a bit more intriguing with excellent world building. In Cinder, Meyer was able to recreate a futuristic Beijing and for Scarlet she did the same for Paris. With cool writing techniques and funny dialogues between characters made for an interesting read.

As for the characters some of them were a hit and miss for me. My favorite would have to be Captain Thorne, and my least favorite this time around would be Scarlet. For Thorne I thought he was extremely entertaining with his demeanor and cheeky dialogues. I got a Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean vibe off him, and who doesn't like a little Johnny Depp once and a while. Unfortunately for Scarlet, it was just a disappointment. I didn't find her unique or interesting, her relationship with Wolf was odd, and there just wasn't anything I could connect with her on.

In conclusion Scarlet by Marissa Meyer was a step up from Cinder and I'm still intrigued to see where this story goes in the next installment. Let me know your thoughts on the book below and stay tuned for future reviews coming your way soon!

See ya next time,

Photo credit here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

MY RANT AGAINST WORD

At the very beginning of my #amwriting life, I used Word to write.  Fortunatly I have a Macbook, which has the function on word to use a notebook style of writing, so that helped me keep up with my chapters / scenes, etc.
Welcome to Scrivener.

Photo credit
And then I discovered the WONDERFUL WORLD OF SCRIVENER and my Word docs for my novels went in the archives (to be looked at my researchers a hundred years from now and they will comment, "ohh, so that's what writers used to use).  I love love love love Scrivener.  And I cannot express my joy of the birth of Keith Blount, who hated using Word to write his book almost as much as every other author out there, and decided to program something different.
Now, this may be a very unpopular statement, and maybe even I'll lose some friends over this, but I think that any author that (has the financial ability to buy Scrivener and) is using Word over Scrivener is just plain lazy.  Scrivener has a free 30 day trial.  That's not a month trial, that's 30 days of actual use trial.  So you get to spend 30 days figuring out if you like it.
Let me say this: in this day and age, so many people are used to apps, that we've become lazy.  What??  I actually have to spend time learning how to use a program?  I can't just whisper to it, and it will do everything my heart's desire?  People, everything isn't Google.  And I've heard so many authors that say they've tried Scriver and just didn't get it.
Yes, it's not an app.  You actually have to learn how to use it.  Guess what?? We live in the age of the internet people.  There are tons, and I mean a ton, of websites and youtube videos explaining how to use Scrivener.  Plus they have their own tutorials and guides.
But, I guess maybe those lazy authors get what they deserve because they are stuck with using freaking Word to write their novels.

OKay, anyway (that was an off tangent rant -- sorry Barbara if you're reading this.  You know I <3 you!)...
As I was saying...
I've been fortunate to be able to avoid using Word until.....
I realized that I would HAVE TO WALK INTO HELL TO UPLOAD MY FILE TO SMASHWORDS.
That's right.  You heard me.  I have to freaking format my books in Word.
Welcome to Hell

Photo credit


So, let me take you on my journey so far...

(And I'm sorry if that dude playing the drums is giving you a headache.  I know he's givin me one!)
I downloaded the Style Guide that gives your a step by step guide how to format in word for Smashwords specifications.

Let me take a step back.  Why do I want to use Smashwords?

What even is Smashwords you ask??  

Smashwords is a website where you can buy books.  Plus they will send your books out to Nook, Apple, GoogleBooks, Sony.  They use their magic fingers, plus their magic contracts, to get your books into their online stores.  So all you have to do is upload your file (yes, you got it, your freaking Word file) and they'll do all the distribution work for you.
Lots of authors only use Amazon.  Not only are they missing out on potential customers, but the ebook world outside of the United States is about to EXPLODE and guess what??? Amazon is NOT the most popular book downloading site outside of the US.  So if you want to be placed and ready for that explosion, you'd better be on other sites.
If that isn't enough reason to use Smashwords, I'll give you another great reason.  Currently, Amazon only allows you to give your book away for Free for 5 days every 90 days.  Plus you have to stay exclusive to Amazon in order to do this.  However, the loophole to this is that if you have your book Free on any other websites, they will put your book for Free on their website also.
Now, I love Amazon.  They're always very patient with the dumb side of me and willing to hold my hand to explain things.  But I don't ever want to be in a position where they own me.  I want my own readers, my own fans.  Not just Amazon's readers, Amazon's fans.  (It's not like I have to make a choice between the two.  I'll take both.  For reals.)
And guess what?? Smashwords let's you price your book for free.  Yaaay!! Hallelujah for book readers everywhere.  It's free right now.  See?  I've had it upload for just a couple of days and it's already been downloaded 119 times.  And I didn't even do any marketing.  That's pretty great for a newbie author like me.  Right now -- not free on Amazon.  Tell them to get a clue will ya?  (Seriously.  Tell them it's free on Barnes and Noble.  Just go to my page and click on 'tell us about a lower price.'  If enough people tell them, they will change it)

Can I get any more distracted??
Okay, back to my original rant!!!
So I did every little baby thing that Smashwords told me to do.  Plus I did all the things that other websites told me to do.  I took out all my formatting, blah blah blah blah blah.  I'm not going to go into all that stuff because it's the most boringest thing ever.  One hard part was actually the emotional part -- letting go of all the good stuff that Scrivener does for you and realizing that I can manually put it all back in.
Anyhow, I did everything, and uploaded it.
And wow!  Was I excited because their automated program said that I was good to go!  Alright!!  All that sweat was for something.
(Yes, can you tell that that's not the end of this story??)
And then.. oh.  I got a message.  Okay, let me click on this link...  Oh, phew!  It just says that it doesn't want me to capitalize my book series name.  Okay, that's not hard to fix and wow!  Was I even more ecstatic that that's all the comments that they are going to give me?? Well, let me pat myself on the back here!!  I'm super awesome!!  I totally rock!!

Oh wait... what's this?  Another link to click?  You mean they don't tell you everything at once?  They only tell you One Thing at a Time???  Well, that doesn't seem very efficient.

And the blade falls... Let me show you what they said:
For those of you who can't read that, it says I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All those hours spent formatting my book -- to Smashword's exact specifications-- were for naught!!
And I love their suggestions.  Guess what guys?? I did that already.  And apparently your eyes are different than mine cuz I don't see nothin wrong with my 'font size's.

And so.. I'm back to struggling with the HATED WORD.  And I'm being so meticulous that I keep messing myself up.   You pretty much have to go over every single damn line a million times to make sure that it's done right.  Okay, not really, but that's how I feel about it right now.  Word puts in formatting even when you don't want it to.  You have to manually tell them -no thanks- and even when you do that, it still thinks it's smarter than you and adds it's own formatting.  You have to check every line and make sure you don't have a two spaces and a return between paragraphs, because that might be interpreted as a big old huge page break if it's placed in a magic spot.  I had to take out all my italics -- so every single thought that my main character thought had to be taken back out and put back in (thank heavens for people on the internet who tell you how to do that in mass so you don't have to do it line by line).  All these little tiny things that you wish there were tiny elves who could read all the lines and do the work for you.

And, oh, isn't it handy that are are people who are so willing to help me?  Sure, just hand over $50 per book (which if this doesn't work, then I just might have to) and we'll make it all better.
We're here to help the small guy.
Which, by the way, the whole Scrivener program costs less that that and you get to keep it forever!!  and it formats alllll the books -- except for Smashwords.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Peace

Stepping out
Looking to find
Is everything OK am I really here?
Remembering the past
Ghosts that flint through my mind
Like cold winds that chill my bone
Certain things
That trigger them:
An angry face, harsh words
the sound of a belt whipping through the air
Send my mind
And emotions
Reeling to the past

It breaks open the ice I have been storing it in

Those feelings,
They are longer needed
I make who I am
I acknowledge them
And move on
I have safety here. And love.

And my child will never feel the torment


  Of violent and unspoken love.