Earth Day Book Giveaway

Happy Earth Day, fellow humans!

This weekend only pick up a FREE copy of Syzygy: Transient Phenomena, the first book in J. K. Ullrich’s action-packed Sci-Fi/Cli-Fi series. I’ve read every installment and it’s seriously awesome! Find more of my gushing in the complete book review here. Or just pick up your copy on Amazon right now!


Ash was never supposed to visit Earth. After a genetic engineering catastrophe wiped out civilization, the survivors—inhabitants of a lunar mining colony—planned to rebuild on Mars. That was before a group of rebels seceded to the dark side of the moon, taking critical materials with them. Now conscripted teenagers scavenge the ruined third planet for species to use in terraforming. At fifteen, Ash is the best diver in a generation. But when tragedy strikes, he vows to end his colony’s dependence on its old homeworld at any cost.

Skye has never set foot on Earth. It’s not even visible from the moon’s far side, although the exiles’ mystic leader promises they will return home someday. Skye has discovered something that could realize this long-awaited dream, but she’s an outcast among outcasts, and no one will listen to her plan. To save her people, she might have to betray them.

Worlds collide when Ash and Skye meet, blurring the boundaries between enemies and allies, deception and truth. Their choices could preserve a future for humanity…or finally drive it to extinction.

Fans of contemporary science fiction classics like Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” will enjoy “Transient Phenomena”, the first installment of the “Syzygy” novella series.


Read Ullrich’s thoughtful post about Earth Day and learn more about her work at her website here

Have a great weekend everyone and don’t forget to hug a tree or roll around in the grass today! This old planet could use a little love.


Sincerely, not


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A while back an acquaintance of mine (sort of a devolved friendship with someone I don’t really talk to or hang out with anymore) began emailing, FB messaging, and calling me to reach back out to her about “something”. Seriously, if she were a family member I’d have thought someone died with her dogged pursuit to contact me. My husband, ever talented in the art of reading people, told me, “Yeah, she probably wants to sell you something.”. I thought, naaaaah, you wouldn’t contact someone out of the blue like this for such a self-serving reason. Right? That’s just awkward and ugly.

Well, you can probably guess where this is going. When I spoke with her it was a weird, stilted conversation wherein she talked in this artificially bright voice, dropping questions about details in my life she likely gleaned from social media in an effort to convince me she actually gives a damn about it. I wondered if she thought I was so starved for acknowledgement that I wouldn’t see through this.

“I heard you published a book! That’s awesome!”

She was so impressed she didn’t know the title, that it happened over a year ago, and that I’d published several other works.

“How’s everything going with your husband?”

I guess our cancer scare didn’t come up on her wall when she did a quick review before the conversation.

“It’s been WAY too long since we last got together!”

Yup, the last time was when she came unannounced to my house right in the midst of getting my toddlers down for a nap. The sole reason for the stop was to collect baby clothes my daughter no longer used which I didn’t have ready to go at all. She insisted on waiting and then sat in my living room while I ran around collecting them. She left immediately afterward. No calls followed.

Finally, she’s gets to her pitch. She’s thinking of starting a home business selling products for women for a vendor company but has to watch an orientation video about it beforehand and wouldn’t it be fun to do it with a group of us?? Then afterward we can have a girls night, squeeee! As if I couldn’t spot the recruiting scam from a mile away. Honestly, the fact that she thought I’d see this as a sincere attempt to get together just royally insulted my intelligence.


The sad thing is it’s not like this sort of behavior–using a friendship for purely personal and mercurial advancement–is unprecedented. I’ve seen it before with invites to Mary Kay or some type of Tupperware party. And there are plenty of people who don’t mind it, I’m sure, and even have fun at these things but I wonder if it too easily falls into the situation I just went through–A hamfisted attempt to act like you care about someone in order to get them to sign up/spend money. Are people really so eager to trade in their integrity? We all know that’s done in politics but it hurts to think friendships are treated this way. Am I being idealistic here?

Indie authors are sometimes accused of doing this as well when marketing their books. I’ve seen it–authors following bloggers and then blasting them with spotlight requests on all their social media platforms, unfollowing them just as quickly if they don’t get what they want. It’s a hit-and-run with no interest in actual interaction with said blogger, as if they are just a means to an end, as if their site is run by a book promoting vending machine rather than a living person doing their best. It’s gross. And short-sighted.

Not that I’m claiming that all or even most Indies are this way. Most Indies I’ve gotten to know are wonderful people who comprehend networking as a long-term relationship thing. They promote each other. They comment on each other’s posts. They correspond. They reply to tweets and retweet one another. Okay, yes, the original move to reach out to another Indie or a blogger might be from personal interest, but the investment in the relationship is what makes it sincere. These friendships are what make this whole self-publishing/writer’s-life thing fun, especially if you’re still trying to get your name out there. I mean, let’s face it, this gig can dole out the punches. You need some pals in your corner.


Needless to say, the concept of sincerity has been on my mind since the yucky fake-friend invite thing. Obviously I didn’t go. I wish I could tell you guys that I told her off in such terms as to make her feel small and ridiculous for being such a disingenuous phony. The truth is it just made me kinda sad and I couldn’t summon the will to do it. Odd really, since I have no trouble with articulation when I see a need to stand up for someone else. Then I come shouldering in, snarling protectively. We can’t be all things at all times I suppose.

Anyway, that’s what I want to leave you with–heavy and potentially cliche as it is for a Monday–the thought that we need more sincerity in this life. Because the truth is when we’re open and genuine with each other the world is simply a brighter place to live in.

The Nightfall Chronicles


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Title & Author: The Nightfall Chronicles (Court of Nightfall – Book One, House of Ravens – Book Two, Night of Nyx – Book 2.5), Karpov Kinrade

Genre & Publication Date: Court of Nightfall – December 14, 2014, House of Ravens – March 31, 2015, Night of Nyx – October 1, 2015, YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Book Description: From Book One: “You think you know what is right and what is wrong? Then tell me if this man should die. He is my enemy. He is to be my end.

He is the one I love.

I have spent my life in shades of grey. I have died and returned to a world of color. I have fought an Angel and lived. I have kissed the Prince of Ravens. I have faced the Lord of Night and made him kneel. I was accepted into the Four Orders, and I created the fifth. I freed the Shadow of Rome. I sat upon the Twilight Throne.

The man asks for my surrender. He asks for peace. He is too late. The girl he knew is gone, and death is in her place. I am Nightfall, and this is my story. You think you know it?

Think again.”

First Line: (From Book One) Some say my story began when my parents were murdered. It did not.

My Take: It’s clear why this series is such a bestseller. Lots of action, a likable protagonist, awesome worldbuilding, interesting side characters, twisty plot, and of course, the supernatural. Looks like Amazon doesn’t have it categorized as Young Adult but it definitely reads like one, particularly with an eighteen year-old MC and a story told in first-person, present tense. (On a side note, is there a rule somewhere that says all YA needs to be first-person, present tense? Honestly I’m dying for a nice third-person, past tense. Lately when I open a book and see an “I” in the first paragraph it feels like I’m on my tenth consecutive day of eating chicken. Sweet Jesus, I would kill for a nice smoked salmon smothered in third-person pronouns.)

As per the usual for a series reviews, most of this will be related to book one with non-spoiler comments about the series as a whole.

Following a short intro preface, the story starts off with Scarlett Night (nice name btw) as a child. Normally this irks me as I’m impatient to get to the “grown-up” version since I know that’s where the story really gets going, but the early chapters of this childhood were really engaging and important to the plot. This is because the MC has such a compelling voice, but partly too because we get some great worldbuilding revealed and an incident that impacts much of what happens later in her life. Plus, it’s nice when a character has a best friend from childhood (Jax) and you actually get to see some of their time together as kids. That really grounded me in their relationship for later chapters.

In this world, there had been a war between mankind and the nephilim (For those who don’t know, nephilim refers to the offspring of the sons of God who mingled with the daughters of man – half angel folk, in other words). The nephilim were defeated but humans known as Zeniths began to appear. These are people who have powers and are considered the scum of society if they test “positive” for that DNA. This here adds our dystopian element and paves the way for some terrible acts committed by the government against this group.

So, adult Scarlett has been color blind all her life. This is disability that I just haven’t seen in fiction before so I really liked seeing the representation and how the authors worked in description without color. Definitely well done on that point. As you read in the first line, Scarlett finds out there’s a lot more going on that her parents never told you about but she only begins to find out about it when they’re murdered in front of her. She nearly dies herself and then wakes up…”changed”. Turns out the nephilim aren’t as eradicated as we thought.

Now, I feel it my responsibility to point out the following as far as the nephilim because they aren’t what you’d expect. It’s a small spoiler though so continue at your own risk.

Start Spoiler

As the story went along and I learned more about the nephilim of this world there came a point when I had to stop, close my eyes, and say quietly, “These are not nephilim. They are winged vampires.” Which, I gotta say, I felt a touch misled. Call them winged vampires if you must but not nephilim. Once I reordered my brain I was able to let it go and continue on though. The winged vampires are not like regular vampires so they are distinct, for which I was thankful, but I wonder if some felt misled on that score.

End Spoiler

Aside from a couple of minor things, this series definitely grabs your attention and holds on to it. Good, strong, courageous protag facing immense challenges as she tries to juggle two very different versions of herself and her life. Awesome side characters you can’t help but love and be intrigued by. In a word: Riveting.

The Magical: Really enjoyed Scarlet’s personality. She had that nice mix of strength without annoying snark, empathy without being wishy-washy, and self-sacrifice without being a door mat. She’s a girl I really enjoyed reading about, despite the first-person present-tense;)

The Mundane: Over the course of the series we meet three different guys who fall in love with Scarlett and who she has feelings for as well (sometimes not right away but the seed of attraction is hinted at.) Love triangles bug me a bit in any genre but when the men start lining up it just gets to me. Now I will say that when Scarlett is with someone her thoughts are not straying towards the others. She’s loyal and because of this, it wasn’t a problem.

Summary of Thoughts: Books one and two are Scarlett’s story. Book 2.5 is more of a novella with another character and depicts his point of view during the events of book two. As this is one of those super intriguing side characters, I definitely enjoyed hearing his inner thoughts and views of what went on. Book three is actually from another character’s perspective which I haven’t read yet but plan to. All are available exclusively on Amazon (and Kindle Unlimited). I highly recommend these first installments. Imaginative and engaging, they’re full of action and intrigue. You won’t be disappointed.



Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to more about the authors and their work? Explore their website here

Tale as old as time


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Last week I went with my eight year old niece to see the uber hyped live action remake of Beauty and the Beast.

My opinion? Definitely recommended.

First: It’s clear this movie was made by people who loved the original Disney cartoon. If they read this I would tell them thank you so much for not taking annoying liberties with the story to make it into something new. They understood that nobody wanted new, they wanted a live action version of the original. This they absolutely delivered. In fact, have a look at the trailer alongside the 1991 version:

Awesome, right?? Made with love, I tell you.

Now, they did adjust a few things since we’re dealing with actors and not drawn characters (although, obviously there was CGI) but the changes were great. Wow, were there some serious wigs going on in this thing. They were so over the top — wink wink at French history — that you couldn’t help but enjoy it. At least I couldn’t.

Second: The makers chose their cast well. I loved Emma Watson as Belle, but hands down Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou stole the show for me. You could just tell they enjoyed the hell out of their roles. Considering Luke Evans played the noble and courageous Bard in The Hobbit, it impressed me how he easily switched into the petty and gorgeous Gaston for this one. Well, maybe the gorgeous part wasn’t all that hard for him because, damn.

Third: I worried that Beast wouldn’t have the compelling look as he did in the Disney version, those features of his that could be ferocious at one moment and tender the next, but this too was well done. He looked perfect. Now, the human version at the end played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens put me off totally. He just didn’t…do it for me. Something didn’t quite fit there and he seemed wrong next to Belle. Could be because he does better with the brooding frown than the expression of transcendent joy required at the end. I wonder if they chose him because he was so well known from Downton Abbey but I feel like an unknown might’ve worked better.

So, in all, it was a lot of fun. There were a couple of plot parts that were a bit thin but still it was well executed. The Disney version will forever be the true version for me, of course, but live-action or not, Belle is one of those special characters that grabbed my heart as a little girl. As an adult her song, “There Must Be Something More Than This Provincial Life” takes on a new meaning to me.


Haha, sorry, had to share that one.

But seriously, these days it seems like the message to girls is that instead of being true to themselves, they should worry about their appearance and whether the good-looking boy thinks they’re worthy of attention. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with a girl wanting to look nice, so long as she’s doing it for herself and her own power, that she doesn’t change who she is on the inside in order to fit who someone else is. Because there’s plenty of examples of that, like the movies that show being true to yourself requires a total makeover, complete with sassy hair flipping, high heels, and a thigh high split in their dress (*cough* Elsa *cough* Sandy Olsson *cough*).

Belle contradicts this model. She refuses to be pinned down by the expectations of society that say a woman’s job is to find a man, that she can’t take care of herself and shouldn’t participate in things that require thought and action. Belle wants more for herself, even if that means people think her strange and mock her. It’s a lonely path but a brave one that we can’t help but admire her for.

This is a story that warns of the emptiness of vanity and selfishness, a romance based on the beauty within, on kindred spirits and mutual understanding.

Tale as old as time? I really hope so.

Hell Squad


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Title & Author: Hell Squad series (Books #1 – #4, Marcus, Cruz, Gabe, Reed), Anna Hackett

Genre & Publication Date: Sci-Fi Romance, April 19, 2015

Book Description: *From Book One: Marcus* “In the aftermath of a deadly alien invasion, a band of survivors fights on…

In a world gone to hell, Elle Milton–once the darling of the Sydney social scene–has carved a role for herself as the communications officer for the toughest commando team fighting for humanity’s survival–Hell Squad. It’s her chance to make a difference and make up for horrible past mistakes…despite the fact that its battle-hardened commander never wanted her on his team.

When Hell Squad is tasked with destroying a strategic alien facility, Elle knows they need her skills in the field. But first she must go head to head with Marcus Steele and convince him she won’t be a liability.

Marcus Steele is a warrior through and through. He fights to protect the innocent and give the human race a chance to survive. And that includes the beautiful, gutsy Elle who twists him up inside with a single look. The last thing he wants is to take her into a warzone, but soon they are thrown together battling both the alien invaders and their overwhelming attraction. And Marcus will learn just how much he’ll sacrifice to keep her safe.”

First Line: Her team was under attack.

My Take: Oooookay, I read four books of this eleven book (soon to be 12 book) series. Usually when I review a series I read everything that’s out but *rubs eyes* I had to stop. I’ve read so much sex with this set that I’m starting to feel like that episode on Friends when Joey and Chandler somehow got free porn on the TV and never turned it off until they noticed it began to warp their minds. So, yeah, in my ongoing exploration of the Sci-Fi Romance genre I read four books in this highly popular series–which I didn’t realize were crammed full of erotic situations. I now understand that I should’ve figured this out by the book covers alone.

But I’m rambling and not reviewing so let’s get it on–I mean, get on it–I mean, get–you know what I mean.

Warning up front: I dig into the XXX rated stuff included in the series so if that bothers you, please skip this review.

The plot, outside of the intertwining, hit on the good Sci-Fi expectations for a post-apocalyptic alien invasion, followed by an alien occupation. A group of military and civilians are hunkered in a defensible mountain military base that the aliens haven’t found. They send out teams to rescue additional civilians, as well as gathering intelligence on where to strike back. They’re trying to figure what brought on the invasion and what exactly these aliens want from Earth, especially when they start noticing that the aliens are abducting human beings. Each book moves the story along and they discover more and more about what’s really going on.

That part of the books is really interesting. If only there was more plot and less bouncing on bed springs, I’d probably have read more of the books but I’m afraid the sex (which wasn’t all that great–we’ll get to that) occupies most of the page space. We’re talking three scenes or more in each book, scenes that take up more time than the actual story itself, especially since these books aren’t very long. To be fair, I will say that the author does really well playing up the longing and tension between the two meant-to-be characters prior to the heaving and panting. I like that their emotions are involved and they actually fall in love. Call me traditional, but I like it when the characters that get together actually have feelings for one another.

The characters are likeable enough as well but the men have a bit too much of the Alpha male for my taste. A little brooding goes a long way. The author offsets this a bit by having the women MC’s be intelligent and capable, but still they fall in love with the possessive, bullish male military archetype. Layers needed there.

The Sex

All right, I can’t review this series without actually commenting on the wham-bam that went on. As frequent and explicit as things got, those scenes were really…bland. Oh, there was plenty of heat and fervor, but I noticed a lack of description in the subtler things–the stuff that makes it lush and vibrant. Does that make sense? I mean the small intimacies like the scratch of an unshaven cheek or drawing lazy patterns on warm skin or tracing fingers over broad shoulders or even (possibly entering TMI territory) the feel of a man’s weight against you. In other words, the acts were there but vividness of the experience wasn’t. It was also repetitive as hell. Every encounter was essentially the same across the books to the point that I started to wonder if all these guys read the same playbook when it came to moves. For books that are pretty much centered on those scenes, it could’ve used more imagination. In particular there was one move that ALL of them did that read really awkward. I mean, how can he slip his hand there right when he’s slamming–Okay, breaking it off here because that’s definitely TMI territory.

The Magical: I liked the alien invasion plot and the missions they went on. Lots of action and adventure on that front.

The Mundane: Could definitely do with less coupling action but something tells me that people are buying these books for that purpose.

Summary of Thoughts: The first book, Marcus, is FREE on Amazon if you’re curious about the series. I think book one was the best of the bunch because the author was busy with worldbuilding more than in the other books. Simple, straight-forward prose, these stories are good for a quick (and dirty) read. Although without much substance and easily forgettable, they’ll entertain you but don’t expect to be moved. They’re kind of like the literary equivalent of chewing bazooka gum–the flavor is gone pretty quick but it’s good enough if you’ve got nothing better.

I’m giving what I read of the series three stars on the whole for the decent Sci-Fi plot and because I know a lot of my dislike is personal preference. Those who enjoy reads centered on the erotic side will likely enjoy it.

3 Star Rating

Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here


Today Only! FREE Book by A. J. York!


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Some time ago I had the pleasure of reviewing a lovely book called Eliza Bluebell.

The short version: I raved and raved.

The long version: Read my review here

Today Only (Sunday, March 19th) the author is giving it away for FREE on Amazon for her fortieth birthday (Happy Birthday!!).

You can read the first chapter on the author’s website

Or better yet, download this delightful book — It’s free, people, just go for it!

Eliza Bluebell

In the picture postcard village of Blossom Brook, Eliza Bluebell arrives changing the lives of the locals forever. With the help of her playful shadow, Eliza transforms an empty shop on the High Street into the heart and soul of the village. Find out how and read this fantastical story about friendship, butterflies and fairy cakes.

Watch the book trailer!

Grab your copy!!

Retrograde Motion (Syzygy Book 3)


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Title & Author: Retrograde Motion (Syzygy Book 3), J. K. Ullrich

Genre & Publication Date: Science-Fiction/Cli-Fi novella, January 31, 2017

Book Description: ““Whatever’s going on here, it’s bigger than any one of us.”

Ash and Skye’s rogue mission to Earth uncovers a secret with profound implications for their rival lunar colonies. But threads of conspiracy reach all the way back to the moon, and a traitor in their midst is determined to keep the truth buried. With their air supplies running out, Ash and Skye’s only chance is an unprecedented alliance…with one another.”

First Line: Anela says, “Can’t put the first line in here because it would be a huge spoiler to the previous two books. Sorry!”

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

Treading carefully with this review since it’s the third book in the series and some seriously awesome and unexpected things happened at the end of book two that I don’t want to ruin for everyone. This third installment of Syzygy is packed with loads of intriguing twists and turns and some reveals that I didn’t see coming. A new group has come on scene with our two main characters, Skye and Ash, calling into question many of the truths both have believed their entire lives (Excellent job with the science involved in explaining them!). Now they have to figure who is behind the lies and why. At the same time they are forced to make drastic choices in order to bring vital information back to their people on the moon settlements all while trying to evade forces intent on making sure they never leave Earth alive. *pants* There was so much going on I was grateful I didn’t have to breathe through a filter mask like Ash and Skye while reading this or I’d have surely passed out.

Another great ending too, so not what I thought would happen. I had a total, “Whaaaat??” moment. Nice.

The Magical: The evolving relationship between Skye and Ash has me hooked. Enemies in the beginning, they are slowly starting to respect each other’s courage and sense of duty to their respective peoples, despite that those peoples are in conflict. I love the natural pace of this change.

The Mundane: If I had to point something out it would be that the first handful of pages felt a touch on the slow side. Didn’t matter in the long run though because I knew I’d suddenly be falling through the pages, which I did.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this novella is $1.99 exclusively on Amazon. Be sure to check out my reviews of the first two installments if you’re new to this series: Transient Phenomena (Book One) and Opposition Effect (Book Two). Syzygy is such a unique story. I really haven’t read anything like it and I read all the time (Face-in-book syndrome, right here). Part Post-Apocalyptic, part Dystopian, all Science-Fiction, it’s a blunt confrontation with the mistakes of mankind and the slender hope for a future–if we can learn from the past.

If you’re on the hunt for good Sci-Fi, pick up book one today!


Many thanks to author J. K. Ullrich for providing a copy of the book to review!

Want to learn more about this author and her work? Explore her website here

The First Rule of Writing


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Have you ever watched any of the Gordon Ramsay shows? If you haven’t, you’re missing out because the guy is entertaining as hell. Some of the insults he hurls at the cretins in the kitchens have me wheezing with laughter. Granted, it must take courage to work with him because he’s like a General commanding an army, shouting out orders and scaring the bejesus out of the new recruits.


He’s abrasive, he’s impatient, but we forgive him for it because he’s passionate and let’s face it, he knows what he’s talking about.

But there’s something else I noticed about him outside of these on-screen antics: He is constantly tasting new dishes. He also does a lot of traveling to eat in places renowned for their food. Not just five-star restaurants, but tiny family owned places famous for their cooking. He does a lot of research into ingredients, where they came from, how they’re grown. Why does he do all that? Because in order for him to keep the magic in his cooking, he has to continue to observe and learn how others do it. He has to taste it and see it to know it.

I’ve found the same to be true for writing so I thought I’d pass along what I’ve learned. A sometimes overlooked but vital component in the writer’s journey is that they must continue to read to keep their writing vibrant and original. Why?

Three main reasons:

  1. It gives you a front row seat to effective storytelling and narrative, characterization and dialogue, tension and pacing.
  2. It expands vocabulary (Does anyone else have a little book into which they jot down cool words they want to use?)
  3. It reinvigorates the imagination – Have writer’s block or stuck in a scene? Reading can loosen that knot faster than a tenured sailor on a clipper ship.
  4. Okay, here’s a bonus part to this: It’s fun!


Has anyone else ever been reading a book only to stop, scratch your head, and wonder if it was written by an author who doesn’t read in the genre they’re writing or maybe at all? I see the emotion or setting they’re reaching for but they just can’t seem to effectively articulate it. I can’t help but feel this is because they haven’t seen how it’s done. One can argue that it’s a matter of talent but I feel it is more inexperience coupled with a lack of investment in learning. Pouring over books on craft is important to know the tools to writing, but reading novels/short stories/novellas demonstrates how to wield them.

But I don’t have time for reading!

Obviously, to be a writer you have to actually write books and time is limited–especially for those doing this gig on the side–but really, one has to make the time for it. I wish I had a more eloquent (or diplomatic?) response to this. Reading time is not wasted writing time. The mind is working on one’s own writing while doing it. And step AWAY from Netflix. Watching storytelling is not nearly as helpful as reading it on the page—I’ve had to beat back my lazy side when it tries to win this argument with that logic. Resist!!

Read Effectively

It’s fun to sink into a story, but a mentor of mine pointed out that it’s important to pay attention as well. I love dissecting how a book made me feel the way it did, figuring out what the author did (or didn’t do) to grab my attention. My internal monologue goes something like this: “Hm, I liked that side character. Why? How did the author make him/her distinct from the others? I’m dying to read more about the romantic subplot. How come? How did the author hook my heart?”

I observe it, take notes (yes, I’m a big nerd. are you really surprised?), and mash all that literary goodness into my own work my own way. If only dissecting frogs were this fun, I’d have totally snagged an A back during my bio/chem lab.

The biggest realization I’ve gotten from reading? Writing is not all “learn by doing”. It’s also “learn by observing”. Personally, when I’m not writing—or changing a diaper—I’ve got my face in a book. With eBooks priced at $2.99 or less (or on Kindle Unlimited or even free a lot of times), cost isn’t the barrier it used to be for this crucial aspect in a writer’s life.


All. The. Time.

The first rule of writing for me is this: Read. Read widely and voraciously. Think like a chef. Words are the ingredients. Spend time with them outside of the kitchen.

Any writers out there live by this one? What other fundamentals help you along in your writing?





Title & Author: Weltanschauung, Vikki Patis

Genre & Publication Date: Short Story anthology, November 4, 2016

Book Description: “The harbinger, the oddball, the remaining twin… Weltanschauung seeks to open your eyes to different stories, set in different worlds and at different times, but with the same theme in mind: to make you question your worldview.

This collection of short stories traverses genres, introduces a variety of characters, and shines a light on some of our deepest fears.

Challenge your perceptions.”

First Line: (From the first story: Zombie) The air around him was hot and close, the shadows lengthening by the second.

My Take: This book was provided by the author for review.

For those of you wondering about the title, no, it’s not just a collection of random letters strung together. It’s actually a German word meaning “world view” or the philosophical/life view of an individual or group. It’s a perfectly chosen title actually since each story travels down the oftentimes dark road of a character’s mind and the world he/she experiences. A shame English doesn’t have a succinct term for this like the German language — but then again, French needs two words (peu profond) to say the word “shallow”, so there you go.

I’ll admit up front that this is not my usual type of read. It’s quite a bit darker than my tastes normally run, which is why I continued to reflect back on the title as I went along. Each character of the five short stories starts out in a comprehensible setting, whether they are moving through a self-imposed routine, or living with trauma, or working within a warped reality and rigid beliefs. Then events intervene, things escalate, and the macabre rolls onto the stage. At turns grisly and unnerving, these stories don’t pull any punches.

I think for this reason I both liked the read and didn’t, but I also believe that was the point. Delving into the minds of these characters, their perspectives and their “world view”, isn’t something to be enjoyed so much as experienced. Unfiltered weltanschauung, if you will, and the book delivers on that promise.

The Magical: Chilling and thought provoking, the tales definitely hung around in my thoughts well after I finished them which doesn’t often happen. They also had me suspiciously eyeballing shadows and that weird guy who sometimes hangs out in front of the grocery store in my neighborhood.

The Mundane: Oddly, the gloomy nature of these stories (which is the book’s strength) is also what bothered me most, but that was the idea. It says, “Challenge your perceptions” right there in the description.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently the book is $5.00 on Amazon, or free if you have Kindle Unlimited. I have a hard time rating this one because while the stories disturbed me I also know this is exactly what they were trying to do. So, the thesis of the book definitely hit its target but it also made me feel like the volunteer from the crowd who stands in front of a bullseye with an apple on her head. The professional knife throwing Carnie gives me an enormous thrill but I’m planning on a trip to the bar after it’s over.

I’m giving this one three and a half stars — three for my personal opinion/preference and an extra half because I know those with darker literary tastes who enjoy an unsettling read will love it. If that’s you, pick this one up today.


Many thanks to author Vikki Patis for providing a copy of the book to review!

Want to know more about the author and her work? Check out her awesome website and blog over at the Bandwagon where she discusses Fiction, Feminism, and Fibromyalgia.

Vote for the best stories of 2016


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It’s time to vote for best short story/novella and novel of 2016! The voting base this year has been expanded so have a look to see if you can cast your ballot for the winners!

You can check out my nominations in a somewhat bumbling post here

Also, a reminder that the book giveaway that I’m sponsoring in honor of Teen Domestic Violence month ends tomorrow. If you’d like a chance to win one of the awesome books I’m offering, have a look here (Look toward the bottom of the post for the giveaway info)

Happy voting and Happy Monday!!

Planetary Awards

We’re expanding the voting pool for the awards this year, so read this entire post to find out if YOU are eligible to vote.

But first, here are the 2016 stories nominated by book bloggers across the internet:

Short Stories / Novellas

“Athan and the Priestess” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Thune’s Vision

Awakening” by Susan Kaye Quinn

“Edge” by Russell Newquist, found in Between the Wall and the Fire

“The Gift of the Ob-Men” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova #1

“The Glass Flower” by George RR Martin, found in Volume 2 of Dreamsongs  [DISQUALIFIED]

“Images of the Goddess”by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova #2

Paper Cut by Aeryn Rudel, found in Issue 1 of Red Sun Magazine

“Purytans” by Brad Torgersen, found in the July-August issue of Analog Magazine


Arkwright by Allen Steele

Babylon’s Ashes by James SA Corey

The Girl with Ghost Eyes by MH Boroson…

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