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Bon Appetèmpt, by Amelia Morris (Image by Grand Central Publishing).

Bon Appetèmpt, by Amelia Morris (Image by Grand Central Publishing).

Amelia Morris is an award-winning writer, a food blogger, and a cook who knows that those pictures in cookbooks aren’t really accurate of most people’s results. Her first novel, Bon Appetèmpt, is her coming-of-age tale that explores growing up, living creatively, and finding herself.

Growing up in a small town isn’t easy. Especially when both of your parents are doctors, you have an older brother who excels at wrestling, and you don’t have an athletic bone in your body. It’s even harder when you’re five years old and your father has a child with his mistress, causing your parents to divorce and everything in your world to turn inside out.

Despite having two sets of parents and two different families, Amelia had a hard time fitting in. When she decided she wanted to be a writer, she didn’t realize how hard it was going to be. Add in a husband who also wanted to create things, a cross-country move to L.A., and more bills than money, and Amelia’s struggle to find herself turned into an epic battle. Through it all, she turned to her love of good food—and the realities of creating it—to show that those dazzling pictures in cookbooks are truly larger—and more photogenic—than real life. But it’s the small, messy moments that make life worth living.

Bon Appètempt is not a typical cookbook. Sure, there are recipes of delicious food. But there are also the behind-the-scenes messes, mistakes, and mishaps that fill everyday life. Ms. Morris explores the good, the bad, and the ugly in her memoir of her challenging childhood and her growing into the creative life she always dreamed about.

(Galley provided by Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley).


Heartsick, by Caitlin Sinead (Image courtesy of Carina Press)

Heartsick, by Caitlin Sinead (Image courtesy of Carina Press)

Caitlin Sinead is a new adult author. Her debut book, Heartsick, is available now. In it, she combines romance, mystery, and thrills to keep her readers on the edge of their seats. Her next book, Red Blooded, will be available this summer.

Quinn is a senior at Poe University. She wants to enjoy her senior year: hang out with her best friend, party a little bit, flirt with the hot genius she knows, and figure out what she’s going to do after graduation. Normal senior-year stuff. She isn’t expecting to meet Luke, a handsome local guy, at her favorite bar. She also isn’t expecting people’s eyes to start turning purple.

But after a party, that is exactly what happens, one by one. And no one seems to know what’s causing it. As it sweeps through the town, theories pop up, turning the townspeople against the college students in a series of frightening clashes, until no one is safe.

Quinn is determined to find out what’s going on, but soon she becomes the target of the student religious group and their escalating attacks. She doesn’t like getting involved, but Luke’s support is the only thing that gets her through, and she turns to him, despite the secrets in his past and his dying sister—the reason he moved back to town. Soon he’s the only one she can trust. Luke and Quinn must figure out what’s going on—and who’s causing it—before the entire town goes up in flames, taking them with it.

Heartsick is an intriguing story, set in a small college town full of quirky characters. It starts off a bit slow, but soon starts zipping along, full of gripping scenes, unanswered questions, and a few scary moments. The good and bad sides of human nature are on display, and Ms. Sinead digs into these moments, showing why some people do the things they do, both good and bad.

(Galley provided by Carina Press via NetGalley.)

Kissing Frogs, by Alisha Sevigny (Swoon Romance).

Kissing Frogs, by Alisha Sevigny (Swoon Romance).

Kissing Frogs is Alisha Sevigny’s first young adult novel. Ms Sevigny’s website says “A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a trip to Panama Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog.” The result of that trip is her first novel.

Jessica Stone is popular: she has lots of friends, a hot boyfriend, and plans to hit the beach for Spring Break. But Jessica wasn’t always a cool kid. She used to be a really smart, goody-two-shoes type of kid. None of her new friends know about her past, and Jessica intends to keep it that way.

But Jessica’s Spring Break plans come to a screeching halt when she finds out she’s failing Biology. Her only chance to pass: a trip to Panama with the Conservation Club to save the Golden Frog. Like that’s not bad enough, one of her partners on the trip is Travis Henley, who knew her back in her nerdy days.

Except Travis has changed. Oh, he’s still the annoying prankster Jessica remembers, but he has depth. And Jessica finds herself wondering if she still has depth, or if her obsession with popularity has changed her beyond recognition. Soon Jessica finds herself on the adventure of her life as the group fights to save the Golden Frog before it’s lost forever.

I haven’t done any writing for the last couple of weeks, and yesterday I realized why:  I’m not happy with my setting/society in The Fall.  It’s a dystopian zombie story (although the zombies are more of a side note than anything), and my society seemed too bland and smooth. It’s been bothering me for a while–I have a few handwritten notes about it–but I read a couple of books last week that sort of solidified my feelings about it, so now I have a better grip on what needs to be changed before I get any further in. The setting is very important for this story, and the society is part of that, so I think that’s why I’ve been having problems writing lately:  The Muse wasn’t feeling it.

However, the Muse is quite happy with the stream-of-consciousness thoughts about the setting I’ve been getting down today, so I’m going to continue on with that.

Anyone have suggestions for naming a walled-city after the world ends?

So, my writing has been slipping, as usual.  But I think I figured out why:  writing is a me thing. It’s something I do just for me.  That means that I feel like other things are more important than writing, because those other things have value to other people.  Make sense?  Example:  school is important to me, but other people also see it as important, therefore it takes precedence over writing, even when I’m caught up on school stuff and have the time to write. Obviously, I need to train my brain to view writing as a primary concern.

I didn’t come to this realization on my own.  I am taking Holly Lisle’s How to Motivate Yourself class, and this is the point of lesson one.  I’ve read through this lesson twice, and it’s just now starting to sink in.

So what am I going to do about this mindset of mine?  Change it.  The first way I’m going to do that is by putting writing first, literally. Instead of doing my homework first on my days off, I’m going to get in my page goals.  First part of the day = writing , writing = most important thing.

I’m not sleeping much, so I have plenty of time to put this plan into action.  And I’m going to continue to work through this class, too, and see what else I can overcome.

Write on.

So, last week had its ups and downs.  Up:  Hit my (small) page goals and my blogging goals on Tuesday and Thursday.  Down:  A computer update resulted in me being unable to get online on my desktop computer on the weekend.  (And since using my laptop bugs me when it comes to most things, I didn’t get online.  The horror.)  Happily, through sheer luck, I have managed to get the issue fixed and am now happily using my desktop.  (Yay!)

This week is looking to be emotionally challenging, so we’ll see how it goes.  I haven’t finished my school stuff yet, so my page goals haven’t happened yet today.

So here are some writerly pins I found (and appreciated) on Pinterest:

(Ah, yes.  If only it were that easy...)

(Ah, yes. If only it were that easy…)

(Sometimes I feel like this is the most evocative thing I am capable of writing.)

(Sometimes I feel like this is the most evocative thing I am capable of writing.)

(Yes.  This.)

(Yes. This.)


(Mine are currently only semi-ignoring me.)

(Mine are currently only semi-ignoring me.)



Any writing words of wisdom and/or inspiration today?

You know what’s awesome?  Writing.

Do you know how long it’s been since I wrote anything besides random emails and interminable school papers?  At least three months.

Do you know how happy writing again makes me?  Extremely.

Granted, I didn’t write much.  But school started again this week, and I decided that, in addition to my piles of school work ( I feel like a fifth year at Hogwarts), I would make time for writing.  And blogging.  No exceptions.  No more procrastinating.  Just me and my characters and heaps of trouble.

And you know what?  Once I made myself start, it felt fantastic!  I’ve missed writing so much.  I can never not write this long again.  It’s unacceptable.

How else am I going to capture the magic around me, if I don’t write?  Besides, I have to keep my characters safe from the zombies.


2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

…I obviously haven’t blogged in months. No particular reason except laziness, I guess.  That is going to change.  This week.  No New Year’s Resolutions for me.  Just Things I Intend To Do….

(A Fairy Tale, by Shanna Swendson, NLA Digital LLC)

(A Fairy Tale, by Shanna Swendson, NLA Digital LLC)

Shanna Swendson is the author of the Enchanted Inc. series, a humorous, breezy fantasy series about an unmagical girl who moves to New York City and finds that the city is far weirder when you see things that no one else can see. Her newest novel is A Fairy Tale, the first book in a new series about fairies, New York City, and family.

Sophie Drake is a ballet teacher in a small Louisiana town. It’s not a glamorous life, but it’s safe. A long time ago, Sophie danced with the fairies, learning to dance like the Fae: full of magic and wonder. However, the Fae wanted more than dancing. When they tried to steal her little sister, Emily, Sophie walked away from them and into her safe little small-town world.

Now Emily is missing again, and Sophie knows the Fae are responsible, so she heads to New York City, determined to find Emily and bring her back. But there is more at stake than Sophie realizes. A rebel queen wants to rule all of fairyland, desperate to take over for the missing queen. She wants to unite all of the fairies and conquer the human world. Emily is merely a pawn in her game. But Sophie is having none of it. She‘s going to save her sister, no matter what it takes.

With the help of a wounded cop searching for his own missing person, two eccentric elderly ladies who know more than they should, and the laziest bulldog imaginable, the small-town ballet teacher goes to battle with the Fae. Be warned: these fairies aren’t Tinkerbelle. Winsome and sly, they are cleverer and more powerful than Sophie imagines. Then again, so is she.

Shanna Swendson’s writing style is light-hearted, but fast-paced. Her characters are distinct, and so realistic they seem to step off the page and into reality. Swendson seamlessly blends the magical Fae and their realm with the sometimes-fantastical world of law enforcement, Broadway, and New York City, to create an intriguing world that draws the reader in and doesn’t let go until the last page has been turned.

(Galley courtesy of NLA Digital LLC via NetGalley.)

I may not be participating in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of some of the things I learned over the years I did participate (I feel pretty ancient after that statement).  Sure, it’s a crazy frenzy of pouring thousands of words straight from your heart to the page (or the screen), but that doesn’t mean it’s all impulse.  Here are a few of the things I learned from NaNo.

1)  Have a plan.  This doesn’t mean you have to have a detailed line-per-scene outline complete with character names, descriptions, and complete family history going back ten generations, but it should probably be more than “Write about apples.”  (Why apples?  I don’t know.  That’s what popped into my head.  Thanks, Muse.  Such a smart-Alec.)  My personal favorite is a brief 2-3 sentence synopsis of the major scenes, plus a mention of anything that pertains to that scene that the Muse might give me (Like, “It would be really funny if the story opened with her tripping and almost falling into the casket in the middle of the funeral.  Flashing the audience would be great, too.”  Again, thanks, Muse.  True story.).

2)  Have goals.  Goals are pretty important in writing, I’ve found.  How else are you going to write 50,000 in 30 days if you don’t know that you need to hit 1,667 words per day?  Word count goals no longer work for me (at least not currently).  Now I go with pages.  My goal may be a paltry 2 pages per week right now, but it’s a goal.  (Don’t judge me.  I have a lot going on, and my days only have 24 hours in them.).

3)  Have friends.  By “friends” I mean “fellow writers you can talk to.”  Trust me, non-writers do not get it.  Just because I’m a writer does not make me a poet.  Or a biographer.  (The two most common “You should write–” suggestions I get.  Why would I want to write about your life?  Yes, you’ve done some stupid things, but it’s really better if we don’t publicize them…).  If you hit the wall while writing, writing friends are a helpful support group, always available for hand-holding, pep talks, and/or moving the bottle out of your reach.

So, there you go.  A few helpful tips   Now, back to your keyboards!  Those 1,667 words aren’t going to write themselves (probably).  I’m off to work on my plan (since the Muse hasn’t seen fit to grace me with one for The Fall yet…).


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