Monthly archives "August 2014"

Review- Black Dog Nights Trilogy

Black Dog Nights (Part Two)Black Dog Nights by Ren Monterrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review pertains to the series as a whole as I breezed through this trilogy in a span of two days. They are fast, intense reads that keep you wanting more.

Nicely written and evenly paced, I hated to put it down. The characters are well rounded, interesting, and believable. Ms. Monterrey does an expert job of taking the popular “billionaire alpha male and shy submissive heroine” storyline and making it unique. At times I both liked and disliked each of the characters and for different reasons, but by the end it pulls together making it a wonderful read.

I was literally engrossed. I rarely hand out 5 Star ratings. To get a five star, you must leave me balling like a baby or laughing hysterically. A 4 Star rating earns you a spot on my favorite authors list. So you can guarantee that I very much liked this book and will continue reading the series. I’m actually disappointed that the next installment isn’t already out.

Buy it now at Amazon

 

 

THE FACES BEHIND THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGES

We’ve all seen the ice bucket challenges going around.  Celebrities across the country are donating and bringing awareness to ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrigs Disease.  Every post I see, I like on Facebook, favorite or retweet on Twitter.  ALS isn’t a widely publicized disease and I’m not sure where all the publicity suddenly came from, but it makes me happy when I see one of my favorite artist or athletes getting involved.  The awareness they bring, their time and contribution are all greatly appreciated.  It’s fun and should be, but there is nothing fun about this horrific disease.

crisI’d like you to meet retired Army Sargent Crystal Singer .  This picture was taken the day she left for a deployment to Iraq in 2008.  She’s thirty four years old, is a wife, a daughter, and an aunt.  She is also my sister.

We all have moments in our life that we’ll never forget.  Something that you’ll forever remember exactly what you were doing and how you felt when it happened.  The birth of my children and 9/11 will always stand out for me, as well as memorial weekend in 2011.  It was the day I learned my sister is dying.  I hate to put it out that way and it may sound insensitive, but it’s the cold hard truth.  There is no cure for ALS. The average life expectancy is two to five years.  If you’re lucky you get a little more time, but that’s something we don’t know and must treat every day as a gift.

ALS robs it’s victims of every ability to care for themselves.  Once a vibrant woman who jumped out of airplanes, my sister is now confined to a wheelchair barely able to speak and unable to blow her nose, feed herself, or bathe on her own.  Although her mind is completely intact, she must rely on someone to care for every one of her needs.  I cannot even begin to explain the heartbreak of watching someone you love endure this.  We are fortunate in that the military provides everything she needs because many aren’t so lucky.  That doesn’t mean we should give up though.  Hopefully some day there will be a cure.  Maybe not today or tomorrow or even next year, but someday I hope.

Thank you to everyone that has helped bring ALS to the spotlight, but also please remember the real faces behind this awful disease.

My family will be participating in the Lexington ALS walk.  Any donations are greatly appreciated and go to the research of ALS.

MY WRITING PROCESS: A BLOG TOUR

I was invited to participate in ‘My Writing Process: A Blog Tour,’ by a writer friend and mutual Whataburger lover, W.C. Cunningham. Bill lives in in the wooded hills of Western New York and is currently working on his first mystery/thriller.  You can find out more about him on his blog, W.C. Cunningham, Writes.

Each person who is tagged or asked to participate in this blog tour answers four questions about their work and writing process, then introduce three other writers. This gives readers and writers a chance to meet and get to know writers they might not have otherwise known about.

What am I working on?

I always seem to have more than one story going on in my head, therefore, I’m typically working on more than one project at a time.  Eventually one storyline takes over, demanding more of my attention and I’ll submerge myself into it until it’s finished.  With the recent release of Drive Me Sane and the demands that come along with launching a new book, I am just now picking back up on my writing and currently have two WIP.  One is a modest love story of a couple on the verge of divorce, who feel they’ve exhausted all possibilities of reconciliation.  The other is a bit more spicy and follows along with the music theme of Drive Me Sane, but is not a continuation of a series.

How does my book differ from others in its genre?

There are very few stories that haven’t been told in one way or another, which makes this question an important one for  authors. Putting a new spin on an old idea is the object of the game and it isn’t always easy.  I like to write about female characters that don’t conform to your usual heroine.  Drive Me Sane, had a female soldier suffering from PTSD.  I figured there were enough books about the hot, male soldiers coming back from war and not any that I’d read about a woman.  My current WIP about the divorcing couple has a woman who can drive a race car just as well as her husband can.  And the more spicier story revolves around a high profile musician, but doesn’t actually show his celebrity side much.  I wanted to show that he is normal and ordinary even though he’s well known.  Overall, I think I write average love stories.  I don’t push the limits much or go outside of the box, but I do try to make them unique in my own way.

Why do I write what I write?

Easy.  I love reading romance, but I love writing about it even more.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have some obsessive compulsions.  Organization has definitely always been one of them.  I’m a bit of a freak about it at home and work.  My writing…not so much.  I dive in and go with it.  I’ve never made an outline or written out a plot to follow. I don’t own a character “book” or “bible” as some refer to it.  I am trying to be better about jotting down a list of each character and their physical and personality traits, but it’s not something I do without having to remind myself.  I get an idea in my head and I put it down.  This process probably isn’t ideal for most, but it works for me.   My characters tend to take over my stories and lead me places I never intended to go, so plotting it out before I get there seems like a waste of time.  I feel if you have a story to tell, it will come out and how you go about arriving at the end result isn’t all that important.

I’m a wife, with two active boys that participate in an array of activities and I work full time, so setting aside time to write can be difficult. I get most done late at night and early mornings on weekends.  However sometimes when I have  an idea wanting to come out, my compulsive behaviors take over and I’ll slave away every free moment I have.  Lucky for my family that doesn’t happen that often, but they seem to understand and support me when it does.

Writing and publishing a book has been a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see what the future might hold.

Now to tag three others…coming soon.

Do Reviews Really Matter?

Apparently they do, at least to some people. I’m not one of those that read a review before buying a book. In fact, I never look at the reviews until I’m finished and then it’s only to see if other’s felt the way I did towards it. I’m a title, cover, blurb girl. If the title and cover catch my attention, I’ll turn it over to read the blurb and then if it’s something that catches my eye, I buy it. But never do I look at the reviews prior. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the whole book review thing. This is coming from someone that has done review’s for a couple different sites, but as a reader, I don’t understand why someone would judge a book based on another person’s opinion. We are all different and like different things. Maybe I’m not the norm, but I’d rather try something out and make my own opinion. However in attempting to market my book, I have come to realize just how important reviews are. I’ve previously mentioned the struggles of asking book bloggers to write a review. I’ve received two. One was mediocre. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, they said they liked it. The other was an amazing review, the kind that every first time author wants to have. So, right there goes to show you that opinions differ. However I’ve come to notice that many readers want to see not only positive feedback about a potential book, they want numbers. They don’t want five reviews, because we all know those first reviews come from our friends and family. They want to know what people who don’t know us think of our book. I don’t have a problem with this. I’m not an easily offended person. I know my writing isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and I know there are going to be good reviews along with the bad. So I’ve continued to seek out unbiased reviewers, but it’s not always an easy task. Late last night, I sent another request. This wasn’t aimed at a specific blog or blogger, but a group of authors, readers, publishers and reviewers, whom pick and chose what they are interested in. I received a response today and after seeing the subject I was excited. Yes! I got a hit. But then I read the message and my stomach knotted and my chest heaved in a big sigh. My first instinct was to reply with, “Thank you for your interest, but I’d prefer that you didn’t review my book.” It might sound crazy, but that was my honest reaction. Maybe I should back up and tell you a little about my story so you’ll understand my predicament. The heroine in Drive Me Sane is an army veteran suffering from PTSD after a deployment to Afghanistan. It’s funny that just as I sat down to write this, I read a blog post of a friends that entailed how writing about what you know leads to writing about things you don’t know (Thanks Bill). I grew up near Ft. Hood, Texas so the military has always played a role in my life. I come from a strong military family; my husband served, my sister and brother in law both served, even my dad was in for a short time. I have several cousins and uncles who have also spent time in the armed forces, as well as, many friends who have devoted time as well. As for me, I thought about it once. Fresh out of high school and in my first year of college, I even went to see a recruiter. I was all up for it until I was informed that I’d be showering with other woman while in basic training.  That was the end of that idea. So I have no personal experience with being in the military and definitely no experience with PTSD. And yet, I chose to write about a female character that has experienced those things. It wasn’t the path that I set out to take. I knew my girl would be in the army, but never intended for PTSD to be a part of my story. It just happened that way. I researched the disorder and spoke to people about it, which did help in trying to develop her character, but I’m also a true believer in that if you’ve never walked in someone’s shoes, you truly have no idea how they felt. Which brings me up to point. My response came from a two time Iraqi War veteran. A gentleman whom has experienced the things that I know nothing about, yet tried to convey through words for others to read as enjoyment. Do you see my delimina? I see this going one of two ways: really bad or really good. I knew at some point my book would likely fall into the hands of a female soldier and I’ve always had mixed feelings about that. I worry if I missed something or if I stayed true to fact. I suppose every new author has concerns about these things. So my first instinct was no, I’d rather he not read it, because I’m sure what I’ve written can never stand up to the real thing and the last thing I would ever want to be is disrespectful in anyway. It took me five hours to think about it and respond, because not only will he be reading this from a soldiers perspective, he will also be reading it from a man’s. Please don’t think I’m being biased, but the truth is, romance is generally a woman’s genre. So it does surprise me a little when a man say’s he’s going to read it. In the end, yes I sent him a copy. Because, as a writer, I need to learn to overcome these fears. The fear of offending or completely botching it up.

So back to my question: are reviews really all that important? Generally, I’d say no. But this one? Yes, it’s very important, because it’s coming from someone who, to a certain degree, has lived my story and their thoughts will hold a great deal of meaning to me.