‘Tween friendship and a gender place. [Book Review]

Adolescence is a hard time for everyone, you can’t deny it. You’re somewhere between a kid and an adult, expected to walk the thin line between obedience to elders and responsibility for one’s own actions. It’s tough for everyone, but for some kids, it can be even worse.

This is the story of one of those kids, and his struggles to find lasting friendship, deal with his alternative family, and confront a truth about himself that will change his life forever. Continue reading “‘Tween friendship and a gender place. [Book Review]”

Grieving mother seeks solace, finds a mystery that turns into pure horror in By the Dark of Her Eyes. [Book Review]

I’m one of those readers who likes a lot of different genres, so when I find two of my favorites smashed into one book, I nearly always have to take a peek at the story. That’s what happened with the book I’m reviewing today. I saw it was horror… then realized it was lesbian fiction, as well, and knew it was a story I needed in my life.

Ghosts, trauma, and a sexy lesbian contractor? Count me in! I went into this book looking for a great mix of two genres, and I was not disappointed. Continue reading “Grieving mother seeks solace, finds a mystery that turns into pure horror in By the Dark of Her Eyes. [Book Review]”

There’s more stirring in the ‘Glades than pythons and manatees… [Book Review]

Mystery, romance, animals, and a great setting – what’s not to love?

Last year, I went to the Lone Star Lesfic Festival in Austin, Texas to rub elbows with some of the greats of lesbian fiction. While I was there, I met a lot of authors whose books I had loved in the past, but I also met some whose work I had never read before.

Renee MacKenzie is one of the latter. I won her book, Anywhere, Everywhere, in a drawing, along with an awesome t-shirt that I wear to the gym. (Reppin’ lesfic while working out? I think that gives me double lesbian points.)

I finally got around to reading it in late December of 2016, and finished it in the first week of January.

cover of lesfic mystery Anywhere Everywhere by Renee MacKenzie

Book Description

Gwen Martin’s life in the Ten Thousand Islands area changes irrevocably when a mysterious woman moves onto the houseboat once owned by the Martin family.

Piper Jackson is hiding from a very evil man, a drug lord. He wants her dead. Now, she has no idea who to trust, if anyone, in the small SW Florida marina community where she has taken refuge. Her photojournalism job has become precariously deadly. Is she in over her head in her relationship with Gwen Martin and her friendship with Gwen’s brother, Wyatt?

Tracy Snyder is freshly out of drug rehab…again. Will Wyatt take her back? Can Gwen forgive Tracy for the things she did while using drugs?

Without trust, can the budding relationship between Gwen and Piper survive? Or will the answers to the questions continue to haunt them?

Continue reading “There’s more stirring in the ‘Glades than pythons and manatees… [Book Review]”

Problems? 5 tips to save your 2017 resolutions before they crash and burn.

In late 2014, I was overcome with a host of strange symptoms that I couldn’t pin on a particular illness. My face blazed with a blush that wouldn’t stop. My heartbeat was quick and irregular. And – wow – that vertigo. It took my legs out from under me and made me feel like I was losing my grip on the world. Altogether, those symptoms made me feel like I was losing my grip on my sanity.

Of course, I later realized that I had been having panic attacks without knowing it. The symptoms were not the same as they had been a decade before, the last time I was overcome by them, so I didn’t immediately link them to a problem I thought I had shed along with a bad relationship and a series of unfortunate decisions.

a quote by Delilah S. Dawson about solutions, not problems

What happened this time?

I was terrified, but this time it had nothing to do with a bad marriage or a house that felt like it was closing in on me. This time it was all about the choices I had been making in my life and how they conflicted in such an excruciating way with my values.

When I made myself sit down and think about it, I came up with this list. And, more than that, I made myself start following the strategies. Since then, things have started to fall into place easier than they ever have in my life.

Follow this list to the letter or modify it to suit the situation to get you back on track with writing, relationships, diet, or life in general.

1. Make space for your thoughts.

Look at everything around you. What are you holding onto that doesn’t serve you? Get rid of it, and organize what’s left.

If a character doesn’t belong in that story you’ve been stuck on, take them out and see if the story starts to flow.

Diet off-track? Get rid of your main late-night or television snacking weakness.

many things in boxes and cans

2. Get acquainted with ‘no’.

Stop taking on responsibilities that don’t align with your goals and values.

A new idea beating on your brain? Don’t start writing it until you’re finished with your work-in-progress. Jot it down, sure, but don’t let it derail your current project.

Instead of signing up at every open house and PTA meeting, sit back and let others do the baking for once. You might be surprised at how few people notice.

triangles with x's

3. Seek out knowledge.

No matter how many books you’ve read or courses you’ve finished, you can’t ever know everything… and that’s a good thing. Become a lifelong learner.

The character you’re writing seems a little flat or boring? Research hobbies until you find an interesting one that will liven her up. Maybe give her a wacky side job that puts her in the sights of a new love – or a killer, depending on your genre.

Relationship getting stale? Seek out new experiences that you can share with your significant other, then plan an evening, weekend, or vacation in which you both go beyond what you know into something mysterious or beautiful.

image of a girl looking out over a rail

4. Let it go!

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re carrying more than your fair share of stress, responsibility, or guilt. It’s time to shed that weight and carve out a better situation for yourself.

Does finishing that NaNoWriMo manuscript from last year feel like you’re beating a dead horse? Put it in a file to finish next month, next year, or never. Or use it for spare parts instead. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, stories just don’t work out. Don’t become stagnant waiting for inspiration.

Feeling guilty about the cookies you ate last night while you were binge-watching Scandal? You can’t change the past, so don’t try. Figure out why you made the mistake, and plan out – and put into action – steps to help you avoid the situation in the future. Guilt does nothing but keep us feeling bad; let it go, and your health will thank you.

image of a man skydiving

5. Restart.

Everyone has problems. Some of us can vent them in a healthy fashion, but most of us let them out in all the wrong ways. Don’t go to bed with the past 24 hours weighing on you. Talk to a friend, write in your journal, or let your main character scream obscenities into the cold night air. The morning will see you feeling lighter than you have in a long while.

a baby yelling in the sunshine

Make it so.

These tips are easier said than done, but that’s true for most things in life. We all have the best laid plans. But it’s what we do with those plans that makes or breaks us. Don’t let this year be another in which you make goals or resolutions, then let them flounder by mid-February.

Even if you’ve already slipped, there is still time to make a change. Choose the easiest tip to implement from this list, and write it in a place you will see it every day, preferably more than once. Every time you see it, repeat it in your mind, and implement it in a way that seems productive but manageable.

Build momentum. Celebrate your successes, and don’t beat yourself up for slips. Just keep going. Only you can decide what is important to you – and act on it.

Your turn.

Do you have any tips for revamping a life and making the best it can be? Have you turned a sad submission strategy into an ass-kicking, name-taking publishing machine? Share your tips and stories in the comments.

If you want to be notified when I make a new blog post, you can now subscribe! Click over on the side of the page where it says GET EMAILS to be notified when I post. If you also want free books, updates, and special offers not available to anyone else, you should definitely join my mailing list. (There’s a popup for that.)

When BFFs turn lovers, not everyone is keen on the idea. [Book Review]

Though most readers probably know me from my horror and thriller stories, I have to admit that I’m a sucker for a sappy romance. (I’ve even tried my hand at writing a few, and will definitely be writing more, along with horror, thriller, science fiction, etc., in the future.)

So when lesfic author E. A. Kafkalas agreed to let me review her book, I was excited to see what twist she had put on the familiar best-friends-turned-lovers storyline.

cover of lesfic romance Out of Grief by EA Kafkalas

Continue reading “When BFFs turn lovers, not everyone is keen on the idea. [Book Review]”

Lessons from a Plantser: 2016 was a big one!

When this year began, I had a couple of goals in mind. I knew I wanted to grow my readership, publish at least three books, and start some new habits that would help me toward my ultimate goals of being a full-time author with a healthy body and mind.

But as we know, even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry, and I’ve never been much of a planner anyway. So, even though I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do this year, I tried winging it… with mixed results.

Lessons from a Plantser

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year came relatively late, but I think it’s pretty important, so I’m throwing it up front. I got the notice that my domain name would be expiring in October, and had to decide what I wanted to do. Would I simply renew it, and stick with the plan I had through WordPress.com, or would I change to a new service?

The easier way would have been to stick with WP.com. I already had it set up. I had a following. I had posts and pages from two years of trying to make this website thing my online home. I even had a theme I liked relatively well.

So, naturally, I decided to change.

Continue reading “Lessons from a Plantser: 2016 was a big one!”

9-1-1: A Look Back at Terror

whitewashed image of the skyline of New York with the Twin Towers intact

It’s been fifteen years since the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, and when I started writing this post, I didn’t know what the Twin Towers looked like. The image in my head was vague, and the pictures I found weren’t any better.

I had forgotten.

On September 11, 2001, I was a junior in high school. Within a week, almost every young man I knew had signed up for one branch of the military or another, and were excitedly waiting to serve their country in a war that had not yet begun.

I had no real idea of what war was. As a child, I had heard of wars, but they were something fantastical, like a story that had no bearing on my own reality. They were removed from me. A fiction.

When the Twin Towers fell, I lost one of my last shreds of innocence. I grew up a little. My life was changed.

I couldn’t, and still can’t, imagine what it must have been like for those who lost their loved ones there, or in any of the subsequent terror attacks. My heart aches for NYC, for India, for Turkey, for Fort Hood, for Israel, for San Bernadino, for Egypt, for France, for Somalia, for Iran, for Nigeria, and for Orlando, among all the others.

Whether we know it or not, we all feel these losses. Energy is dispersed. Love is destroyed. Life is stolen. Everything changes. The world crumbles a little bit more.

But we can’t crumble with it. We have to stand up and declare ourselves stronger than hatred. We are bigger than the cruelty that lives in dark hearts.

Stay safe and hold your loved ones tight, everyone.

If you want to be notified when I make a new blog post, you can now subscribe! Click over on the side of the page where it says GET EMAILS to be notified when I post. If you also want free books, updates, and special offers not available to anyone else, you should definitely join my mailing list. (There’s a popup for that.)