Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sidekick Showcase [48] Comic Relief!

Sidekick Showcase, previously known as Sidekick Saturday, is a weekly bookish meme, hosted here by Jaclyn at JC's Book Haven. There are many secondary characters that are as great as the primaries. In some cases, the sidekicks actually steal the show and you like them better than the heroine or hero. Maybe they didn't have enough page time for how great they were. Anyone can play along! I will post my Sidekicks on Saturday, then whichever day during the week that you would like to post yours, you can put your link in on my page. Just do the following:
• Choose a sidekick *or someone other than the hero or heroine* that you would like to put in the spotlight that fit's in the week's topic
• Share a picture (if you can) and information about the character
• Give the title and author of a book the character can be found in
• Please don't include too many spoilers when describing why the character is such a great sidekick

The month of April is all about silliness, comic relief, pranksters, you get the idea. I'm going with comic relief and I don't usually tap into my own books for the Sidekick posts, but Branden Mills from Shadow Town has been on my mind since it's LGBT Month. He's Maggie Lane's best friend and not someone who tells you your poop smells like sunshine. He has this pitchy laugh that gets me every time even though, you know, I'm writing the scenes. He's a bit of a slut. He's secretive, loyal, and hot. And there is no universe in which Maggie and Branden will ever get together. 

“He slipped right by my noticing, Maggie. Okay, I tried waving at him once and I sensed by way of his middle finger high in the air that he wasn’t the friendly sort, but I didn’t think he was a bad person.” 
“Right, me too, except for me waving at him. What the hell, Branden?” He shrugs, but the image of him being flipped off after enthusiastically waving hello has me folding over laughing.

Robyn Jones. Shadow Town: Maggie Lane Chronicles #1 (Kindle Locations 570-574). 

[Damon] stuffs his hands in his pockets. My eyes go straight to that part of his body. Then I notice his jeans for the first time. My eyes dart to his familiar purple rhinestone bedazzled shirt. How could I have been so blind? 
“You’re with Branden. That’s why you’ve been teasing me so much. Man, okay.” I wave at his clothes, shaking my head. I hate my housemate right now. I turn to leave. The relief slash crushing disappointment that Branden snagged this guy for himself is too much to sift through with a witness around. 
“Wait, what?” He dramatically blinks, pulls out his phone, and starts texting. Before I can cuss him out and I’m sure the words would flow without any trouble, the window above the kitchen sink slides open. Branden’s laugh sings through the warm evening air. 
“I let him borrow some of my clothes. That’s all. I did not have my way with him, Maggie.” If I could only shoot lasers out of my eyes. “By the way, he needs your help with his package.”

Robyn Jones. Shadow Town: Maggie Lane Chronicles #1 (Kindle Locations 817-826). 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Think Out Loud [48] Spring Break Good Times!

I'm still catching up after my trip to Colorado for spring break, but here a few stories from my trip...

We're on the plane getting settled for the flight. I chose my sister and Will to sit in front of me so I could referee...I mean help my sister if she needs it. John sat next to me bouncing around and putting the tray table down every time I looked away. Then I heard Shan tell Will to be quiet. "Sh! I'm trying to pay attention!" I leaned forward. "Stop, Will. I'm following along. Quit. I have to watch!" I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Shannon was freaking out about following along with the pre-flight safety instructions. We've been flying since we were little kids. Heck, every summer the two of us flew alone from Guam to Iowa. Then I looked up to see a hipster type flight attendant doing the typical hand gestures until the woman on the PA system said, "In case of an emergency landing..." and he did a plane going down gesture with his hand. He even whistled as it went down. Shan was frantically flipping through the laminated instructions, batting away Will's pestering hand, and trying to figure out where they were. I covered my mouth but I still snorted. It was a total flight attendants behaving badly moment. He did the gesture 2 or 3 more times. I figured he was looking to collect unemployment for his spring break vacation.
We had one concrete family outing planned, to go tubing on Copper Mountain. None of us had ever been. So we went. Okay, tubing is all of the things you hear about, Fun! Exciting! Whatever else! For me it was dang scary! It's so fast, I grabbed onto the handles for dear life and tried to remember that I love the rush of ... not sure. I couldn't remember what exactly I loved about going fast down a snow packed pipe because I'd never done it before. I did love going up the sides, now I squealed and not screamed at those parts. So after the first time down, I was determined to find the rush, the good, "I love this shit!" kind of thing. The staffer at the top who holds the strap to your tube until you're clear to go down always asks, "Straight or spin." I always said straight. Of course. Then one time he expressed his opinion on that, "Straight? Come on." That's all he said. That's how little baiting I required. Sad. "On my last run, you can spin me." I was shaking my head as I said it because I was totally lying and that's how I lie. He wasn't paying attention to my nonverbal communication at all! So on the last run, "Straight or spin." "Straight?" "What? But you said..." "Well-" He just looked at me. Come on, I'm a grown up. I don't fall for that kind of peer pressure, plus he's not really a peer! "Well, okay, a little spin." "Okay, I'll just spin you a little." Well you can guess I could read into that right quick. My first reaction was "Oh-" Then the cute butthead staffer spun me for all he was worth and Oh...turned into shiiiiiiiiiiit all the way down until I stopped and rolled out of the tube. The whole dang mountain heard me. 
Last story, my awesome friend Bookworm Brandee happens to live 30 minutes away from my dad, so we made a couple plans, breakfast one morning where she'd be the one to pick me up and then the next day I'd drive the boys to her place. One little thing, I didn't have a car. My dad is a very frugal man and boy would he not be happy if I rented a car. The other little thing is I've never asked my dad to drive me anywhere, not when I was a kid, not as an adult. Oh, last thing, I've NEVER driven my dad's car. I was so nervous about this little glitch in the plan, the driving there part, that I talked it over with Brandee. We went back and forth with our options, then I just said, "I'll ask him. I'm a grown up. I'll ask to borrow his car. And I'll call you." I waited until we went to visit my dad's little brother. My Uncle Matt is such a cool guy and my dad just adores him, he couldn't have been in a better mood! And it worked. He hesitated only a second, but the guys were talking skiing and the smiles were all so big. So yay! I snuck away and called Brandee. "It worked. I'm driving my dad's car." "I feel like we're in high school." "I know. Me too. Oh, gotta go!"

You all know about Think Out Loud, how it's an awesome "post anything you want" meme. We'd love for you to join us. It's addictive!

I hope to have another LGBT Month post up next week and at some point I just have to share my thoughts on the Dean Koontz novel Odd Thomas. What a story! So do stop back by, comment, hang out.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

It's a magical world! The Writing Process Blog Hop!

AboutMy friend Cat McMahon invited me to share my writing process and I jumped at the chance. How could I not? I met Cat online from her many wonderful posts about the Pacific Northwest and gluten-free menu ideas. Last year, one particularly compelling video on the Portland Zoo changed my weekend plans. I just had to pack up the family and head south to Oregon for the day. This summer I vow to go on a hike in her neck of the woods. Luckily she's written a couple wonderful road trip books. You can check out her Amazon author page HERE. And be sure to stop by her website, Cat's Stories.

So let's get started...

What am I working on?
I'm working on a few things, but really just one right now. I've been toiling over Soul Twister (Anna 3). My favorite part of this story is that it takes place in the middle of winter. Everything comes to a bloody violent head and I just love it! I'm planning the release date for late May.

I've also been tinkering with a short novella for my Maggie Lane series. I hope to release it this summer with Maggie 2 slated for the fall. Lofty goals, I tell you.

How does my work differ from others in the genre(s)?
As an artist, I'm naturally a visual person, and then add that I'm an avid TV and movie girl. Scenes whiz by in my mind like some show I just watched, but the artist in me notes the details. My stories reflect this odd combination of wanting to tell a story in an instant gratification way and yet slowed down so I can figure a way to paint the scene.

Why do I write paranormal romance?
Because it rocks the planet? The first book I ever wrote (that I greedily keep hidden in my computer) was a contemporary romance. I loved writing it and I love the characters, but the moment I dreamed up vampires, I couldn't stop playing in the land of make believe and coming up with my own type of vamps, shifters, witches, and angels. When my oldest son was in the grips of his autism even before he was diagnosed, I would sit and work through whatever terrible struggle he was having. I spent hours just thinking through a problem until I found my way to a theory/hypothesis. When I started doing this for magical creatures, I swear I was giddy. I wasn't trying to reduce screaming tantrums from two hours to something livable. I was deciding how many types of angels I would have. A lot just so you know.

How does my writing process work?
Usually I have a character hounding me for months before I know her story. It almost feels like the characters tell me their story after a while. But I guess before all that, I'm scouring my daily life for something magical. I don't carry a notebook with me yet (out of laziness), but I catalog life that goes on around me, little things that reach inside and make me smile to my toes...like this woman at Lenscrafters a couple years ago. I still think about her even though we never said a word to each other. She worked in the eyeglasses lab (whatever it's called) and had the most severe natural expression. To most people she looked like an unpleasant person, but I had a feeling about her, and then she caught me watching her and smiled. Oh my goodness, it was the warmest, sweetest smile. I instantly imagined her with her grandkids teasing them in a gentle cooing voice. She'll be a character one day for sure. That's my writing process...oh and reading as much as I can because the only thing better than writing a story is losing myself in someone else's story.

There you have it folks. My writing process. I'm very pleased to introduce you to a couple writers coming up next week on The Writing Process Hop, Athina and E.J. Wesley.

My PhotoAthina and I met in the crazy world that is the blogosphere. I remember one of the first things I learned about her was from a Feature and Follow post about guilty pleasures in stories. Athina mentioned loving it when characters die! That is not me at all and I was crazy about her on the spot. On her blog, Between My Lines, you'll find candid and beautiful pieces about the inner workings of a writer along with great book reviews that really take you into the story. I cannot wait for the release of her adventure-mystery novel Dazed and her YA dark fantasy trilogy, The Wandering Souls Series. She has a poetic style that spins my head, I tell you.
You can find Athina on her BlogGoodreads, and Twitter.



PictureE.J. Wesley, author of urban fantasy, connoisseur of  modestly priced wines, & general life enthusiast...

I found E.J. through a blog hop for his first serial, Blood Fugue (Moonsongs 1), which is free on Amazon...quick, one-click. I won the New Adult Urban Fantasy novelette and discovered a new favorite author. His colorful characters and descriptions of a tiny dusty Texas town blew me away and had me hooked. I'm still hooked. I'm not sure how E.J. manages it, but he also has a fantastic blog/website that is a must check out for any indie author, any fan of New Adult, any-one. He shares his crazy writer moments, shares other people's crazy writer moments, as well as supports the wild cast that is the new face of indie authors.
E.J.'s links: Facebook - Twitter - Blog - Website - G+









Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finally Isaiah's story! robgirlbooks' review of Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3) by Katie McGarry!


5 STARS! I absolutely loved Pushing the Limits. Dare You To was fun and angsty, but Beth messed with Isaiah's feelings, trashed his heart, and lost a couple bonus points as a result. So you can imagine I've been dying to read this bad boy's story! Only when the cover came out I was shocked. That was not my Isaiah. I guess I missed the part where he was a white guy, but in my head, he was brown and beautiful. I didn't really have an ethnicity in mind, or I did. He looked like the car guy from Veronica Mars. Cars, punk attitude, tats, bad choices, see how I made the association?

I had nothing on Rachel other than her pretty image on the cover, but I was so happy to meet her. She puts on a perfect image because she thinks that's her job, more than that actually, she thinks she was born to act a certain way. Acting/lying for so many years will seriously mess you up and it's turned Rachel into one living, breathing panic attack. I have to take a deep breath just thinking about the storm of emotions that built in that tiny body until they exploded! I wanted to give her smiles and good words so she knew she was just right without the pretty hair, fancy gowns, and girly ways. She could be a car freak and grease monkey and be lovable.

Isaiah doesn't have panic attacks, but he does have a monologue that runs through his head any time he takes a chance in life. It goes something like this, "You don't deserve happiness you piece of shit." I wanted to hug him, but he's not really a hugger. I hated Beth's lingering effect on him, but the way Rachel came into his life and started opening his eyes and his heart made me so happy!

My favorite aspect to this story was the developing romance. Even though the attraction hit pretty quickly, there was so much muck blocking the path to a healthy relationship that I loved the back and forth. I loved the first kiss. Talk about chemistry! I will say that this book had a cast of characters that seriously pissed me off and they weren't even the creeps making Isaiah and Rachel's lives hell. Rachel's brothers and her parents had me growling. Actual growling, people. I'm not sure any book has had me so pissed at side characters before. And the next book stars one of her brothers. I'm totally going to read it because I'm addicted to Katie McGarry, but he's an ass.

There you have it folks. If you haven't started the Pushing the Limits series and you're a fan of YA or NA contemporary romance and wonderful writing and engrossing characters, get reading.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

#LGBTMonth! My first two favorite LGBT movies have a story behind them!

Fighting Dreamer

LGBT Month is hosted by Laura @ Laura Plus Books and Cayce @ Fighting Dreamer.  It runs throughout the month of April and it's here to celebrate LGBT+ readers, LGBT+ authors and of course LGBT+ books.

I wanted to share a little story with you all...I was in college, living off campus with a girl from my art history class. I barely knew her, but one day in class she gave me a sideways look and said, "Hey, you're a transfer student, right?" I nodded. "How do you like the dorms?"

"They just had a meeting about how messy I am. The whole dorm."

"Want to get an apartment together?" We introduced ourselves and a month later found the crappiest, cheapest apartment a mile from campus.

Shortly after moving in, she spent days sleeping and crying and shuffling her feet over our suspect carpet. Deciding this wasn't typical behavior for her, I asked her what was wrong. She didn't want to talk about it. I convinced her I was outside her circle, so I didn't really matter and she could tell me.

She stood there with her hands dropped to her sides, her pajamas ready to walk themselves to the laundromat, and her arty cute hair too oily to be called arty or cute. In a whine almost like a kid complaining, she said, "I'm a lesbian. No one knows. I barely know. I've never even kissed a girl. I don't even know any lesbians."

I jumped to my feet, scaring the tar out of her. "Well, we gotta get you a girlfriend!" She sniffle laughed and I started pacing our empty living room. We had two chairs. No TV. No table. We were pretty sad.

"I don't even know how to be a lesbian."

"Then we get out there and you learn to be the best damn lesbian ever!" She cheered. I cheered. What can I say? We were two over achieving art students.

"There is a dance tonight." I promised to be her wingman. She promised to be social. It was the shittiest dance ever. I'm not sure it was even a dance, just some lame politically correct social gathering with three or four people milling around the snack table.

We hit cool clubs in Seattle, concerts and festivals all over the Pacific Northwest, the video store for movies...Ack! Early independent movies were very artsy. A few times she worried people would assume I was gay. I told her I didn't give a shit about that because I didn't. See, I needed her as much as she needed me. This perfect lesbian quest occurred at one of my lowest points. I was a bit broken, extremely homesick, and very close to quitting school. So close to quitting I did quit. I cancelled my registration for the next semester (without telling anyone).

I never managed to get her a girlfriend. She hopped online and discovered chat rooms, but we did see Indigo Girls (more than once), Ani DiFranco, and Catie Curtis. She filled me in on all the celebrities that were gay but didn't know it. We saw two amazing movies (out of a slew of movies) that remain favorites to this day. She fell in love with a woman she met in an Indigo Girls chat room. I cancelled my cancelled registration. We made it through that time. Aside from her supernatural ability to be messy, we were night and day from each other. But we pulled together. And we made it through that time.

My first two favorite LGBT movies are Beautiful Thing and The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love.


Do check out these movies. Teens finding love, fighting love, fighting the world together. Throughout the month I'll be posting more movie love. I have designs on reading Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan and I just learned I won Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Yay!! I'll share those reads with you too!


You can sign up through April. We'd love to have you join us! Just click on the cool picture.





Monday, March 31, 2014

Vacation!

I won't be around this week because it's spring break for my boys, and for me I guess since I work in the schools now...whoo hoo spring break! Anyways, I'm not bringing the computer along. Craziness, I know! And I'm not much of a cell phone girl. I have one, but there aren't any numbers programmed or games or whatever else people have on their phones. So I will be completely offline. Can you tell this is dramatic for me?

Have a great week everyone! Oh, anyone interested in my monthly theme songs, April is all about silliness. Silly videos, lyrics, title, story behind why you love the song so much, whatever! When I return, I'll have a review for Crash Into You and my first post for LGBT Month.
This was last spring break at the airport. I'm hoping for a few less fits. No skiing, but definitely tubing. Oh, and I told my dad I was going to slaughter him at cribbage.

When life's kicking your butt, how about a theme song? [4] Silliness!

Ally McBeal knew what she was doing with her baby dancing theme song, Hooked on a Feeling. Let's give it a shot. I think it's working because my kids are scolding me more than usual for all my singing and dancing. We all need to sing and dance a little more. 
So spring is here along with torrential rains and kids who refuse to wear their coats anymore. I think silliness is in order. I'm choosing Folding Chair by Regina Spektor. I love singing along to this song. Check out a few lines..."I've got a perfect body, but sometimes I forget. I've got a perfect body 'cause my eyelashes catch my sweat. Yes they do. They do-oo-ooo...." I love that!
Do you have any songs that pull you into silliness? I'd love to check them out, sing along, maybe do a weak thumbs at my hips dance in the kitchen while I cook. I hope you all have a fantastic April! Here are my mom and sister's silly songs.
Mushaboom by Feist is one of my favorites, but I just saw the video for the first time. Totally oddball silly! So of course it's my sister's pick.
I accidentally listened to this song with John in the car. Maybe I forgot he was there, that was until I heard a little voice sing, "I don't care. I love it!" So of course this is my mom's pick!
DISCLAIMER!
(These are not my kids, but they have the exact same reaction to this song. They could be fighting and driving me crazy and then I put on Watermelon Meow Meow by The Imagination Movers and magic!)

You can find April's Youtube playlist link HERE!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sidekick Showcase [47] Chasing the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

Sidekick Showcase, previously known as Sidekick Saturday, is a weekly bookish meme, hosted here by Jaclyn at JC's Book Haven. There are many secondary characters that are as great as the primaries. In some cases, the sidekicks actually steal the show and you like them better than the heroine or hero. Maybe they didn't have enough page time for how great they were. Anyone can play along! I will post my Sidekicks on Saturday, then whichever day during the week that you would like to post yours, you can put your link in on my page. Just do the following:
• Choose a sidekick *or someone other than the hero or heroine* that you would like to put in the spotlight that fit's in the week's topic
• Share a picture (if you can) and information about the character
• Give the title and author of a book the character can be found in
• Please don't include too many spoilers when describing why the character is such a great sidekick

This week I'm casting the sidekick character who can't stop chasing the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Algaliarept from Kim Harrison's The Hollows series, or Al, or scary ass demon who's definitely evil and yet I really like him, can't stop chasing Rachel Morgan. She's his pot of gold, or what she'll bring to his existence is, and I don't think it's just a pride thing. Al's no fluffy leprechaun equipped with a staff and charming Irish accent, though he'd be happy to offer that image if you're deathly terrified of leprechauns. He's mean like that. Their first encounter changed the course of Rachel's life and because he became hooked on the idea of owning her soul, it changed the course of his life too. I like Al. 

“From the back came an unearthly, satisfied chuckle. All I could see in the rearview mirror was a dark shadow with red goat-slitted eyes. Fear slithered through me.
Shit, I have a demon in my backseat. What in hell am I playing with?
“Good witch,” Al said, his voice coming from nothing, and I stifled a shudder. “You’re starting to understand.”
Kim Harrison

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I wanted more Ford Aston from the second Rook met him! robgirlbooks' #COYER Review of Taut by J.A. Huss!

4.5 STARS for Taut: The Ford Book (Rook and Ronin spinoff) by J.A. Huss. Emotions have taken over Ford Aston's cold steel heart. Poor Ford. Not only did he fall for his friend's girl, but she did not fall for him, not the way he wanted. What's a guy to do when can't have what he wants? Run away! I was not happy with Ford at the beginning of Taut. I still loved him, but in a tough love, slap upside the head kind of way.

Luckily, Ford runs straight into a blizzard in a place that promises to pull him to a past he's never come to terms with. And even better than facing your demons, is meeting someone so messed up you forget life sucks so bad. Stranded and desperate Ashleigh is such a hard case, we can only hope Hero Ford has a chance to truly shine.

I had the hardest time getting to know Ashleigh. I blame Ford entirely. He offered a helping hand at the same time buried his head in a stinking pile of self-pity. Hard to get to know someone when you don't give a shit. I loved watching him go from oblivious to curious to way out of his comfort zone. 

Despite not being able to really connect with Ash for a good portion of the book, the girl cracked me up more than once. I thought she was perfect for Ford, strong, vulnerable, broken, and fully aware of her worth. She was far more compassionate toward Ford than he deserved and I loved her for that. And holy cow, the two of them had off the charts chemistry! The sex scenes...talk about bold. 

I thought Huss did such a great job unraveling the layers so that we realize what we see is what we get and we're never seeing it the way it actually is. I know that doesn't make any sense, but that's Ford, he's an oddity. Taut is a standalone, but I say read the whole series so you meet Ford the way Rook and Ash did. The journey is a great ride.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Think Out Loud [47] Best serenade ever!

I'm a brand new substitute para educator. Each assignment is a different school, a new set of tasks, and an early morning drive! I love it, especially the drive because I'm nervous and doing my best not to get lost. It makes everything I see vivid and new and worthy of charcoal on paper. 

There was something very special about last Friday's job. First off, they didn't know the school put in a request for a para sub. They wanted a long term para to work one on one with a child with autism. As I waited for them to figure out what the heck to do with me, I got the chance to observe the sweetest kids ever. Really, I fell in love with them by the time the first bell chimed. The teacher decided not to introduce me to the boy with autism since I was a one-day sub. I shrugged off my disappointment, but then the call came in at lunch time. The teacher (who totally rocked by the way) had a meeting and asked me to watch the boy while she was gone. 

So I sat across from him while he tumbled on the couch playing with his Legos. After a few minutes, I recognized his chatter because he was reciting the same lines my son kept reciting last year. "Skylanders! I know this game. Chaos controls the weather!" He looked at me, full on looked at me. I moved to the edge of my seat and played along. He bounced to the movie Frozen and started saying lines. I was having the best time when suddenly he stood right in front of me, threw his arms wide, and sang, "Let it go! Let it go!" My whole body felt like it was flying, that's how wonderful it was! After he sang that song, he moved on to another one. When he got too loud I told him to bring it down and he did. When he took off his socks because he was getting carried away by then, I told him to put them back on. "But I hate wearing socks." It was glorious! In the midst of behavior that typically separates himself from his world, he stopped and communicated so clearly how he felt. 

I'm not sure how much I contributed to his world, but he will be a part of mine for as long as my memory holds. 

This is where I tell you Think Out Loud is such a cool meme that you should get on it and join. I also like to tell you we're cool people. We are. Come on, hang out with us.