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I moved at the end of April, and have not yet successfully managed to find an Internet company that can get us service in the house that is just outside the city limits and in a slight valley (making it impossible to get a signal from the towers).  I need recommendations for satellite internet company!

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City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

City of Heavenly Fire, the sixth and final installment in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, released in May. Cassandra Clare has also written The Bane Chronicles and The Infernal Devices, series also set in the Shadowhunter world. The first book of The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones, was made into a movie, as well.

I am coming.

Half threat, half promise, the words Sebastian left behind haunt Clary as they will soon haunt all Shadowhunters. Along with Jace, she and her friends are the only ones who realize just how dangerous her brother, Sebastian is, just how ruthless he can be. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants: power and Clary at his side. Even when the first Institute falls, the Shadowhunters still refuse to listen to Jace and Clary, despite the horrors Sebastian visits on them, using the Mortal Cup.

Nothing in this world can stop Sebastian, so Clary and her friends must leave this world behind as they search desperately to find a way to destroy Sebastian, who is threatening the uneasy peace between Shadowhunters and Downworlders. With their world crumbling around them, and those they love falling to darkness, Clary and Jace must find a way to put a stop to Sebastian for good, before he destroys everything the Shadowhunters have fought for over the centuries.

City of Heavenly Fire brings all the promises from the first five books of the Mortal Instruments series to life in this riveting final chapter. The fear and despair of the characters breathes from every page, laced with adrenaline and whispers of hope. Love is lost and friends fall as the Shadowhunters battle the evil and darkness of Sebastian and his allies.

The action is non-stop in this final installment to the best-selling Mortal Instruments series. The characters readers have come to love are all here, although not all of them will make it out alive, as the Shadowhunters battle Sebastian in the final face-off.

War of Wings, by Tanner McElroy (Brown Books)

War of Wings, by Tanner McElroy (Brown Books)

Tanner McElroy is a local author who grew up in Lake Highlands, Texas.  His first book, War of Wings, hit shelves March 21st.  In it, he combines biblical knowledge, epic adventure, and angels in the tale of how Lucifer fell, and the first war in heaven.

Life in Heaven is idyllic and peaceful, full of beauty and praise for God.  The angels spend their days in productive work and honoring God.  Everyone is happy.  Everyone, that is, except Lucifer and Gabriel.

Gabriel, the archangel, is bored with his building projects, bored with war games, bored with how perfect everything is in Heaven.  He wants more.  He’s not content with the status quo like his brother Michael, and he thinks he must be the only angel that feels this way.  Then he meets Arrayah, the virtue angel, and he starts to question everything he has always believed.  Soon he’s on the edge of the most profound decision he will ever make.

Lucifer is the highest of the cherubim, admired for his worship songs as well as his beauty.  He’s not content with being the highest of the angels, though.  He wants more:  to be promoted to God’s equal.  But when he finds out that God intends to promote a Son instead, Lucifer turns to reason over faith.  Convinced that he is as powerful as God, Lucifer’s followers divide Heaven as the angels take sides in the first war ever known.

All of the angels in Heaven must choose a side:  their faith and God, or Lucifer and his new ideas and reason.  No matter which side they choose, Heaven will never be the same.

War of Wings is an epic story on the grandest scale imaginable.  The rich details of life in Heaven make a vivid backdrop for larger-than-life characters with desires everyone can relate to.  Though the setting is more than most can imagine, McElroy does a fantastic job of bringing it to life, and his angels are not images of perfection, but characters with real thoughts and feelings.  The glimpses into the different hierarchies of the angels are fascinating, just as his views of life in Heaven are, and even the dramatic Fall of Lucifer and his supporters is drawn in vibrant color for the reader to appreciate.

So, I know I said I was going to do some writing-related work every week and post about it here to keep myself accountable, but…that just didn’t happen last week.  At first I felt guilty.  I had an entire week, why couldn’t I carve out some time for writing?  Then I thought about it:  I was busy last week.  Really busy.  It wasn’t like I did nothing last week.  I just didn’t have enough hours to fit in everything I had to do, much less the things I wanted to do.  I have valid reasons for not getting to the writing.  I may not be happy about the situation, but it is what it is, and I’m in the process of making my life more conducive to doing things I want to do, instead of merely what I have to do.

My (excellent list) of (valid) reasons I didn’t have time for writing last week:

1)  I worked an extra day at the day job.

2)  School. (And registering for summer classes, which I wasn’t planning on taking.)

3)  I started packing my apartment in preparation for moving in 3 weeks or so.  (Blech.  I HATE packing.)

4)  Pre-vacation planning and packing (I leave on Thursday.)

5)  Extra schoolwork so I don’t have to do it while on vacation.

To me, those are excellent reasons (not excuses).

I did just sign up for a webinar Thursday with Holly Lisle and Booknook.biz about e-book formatting, so I’m counting that as writing-related for next week…

Also, I took a few hours out to go see Divergent.  I haven’t read the book, but I loved the movie.  I thought it was really well-done.  Also, since my WIP (which currently stands for Work I’ve Paused) is dystopian, the movie got me thinking about the genre, which seems to have gotten big with the success of things like The Hunger Games and The Walking Dead (yes, I’m counting that here).

So, I’d really like to know:  why do you like (or dislike) dystopian stories?

 

busy

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there hasn’t been much going on around here except for the occasional book review.  That is mostly true of my life of late, too.  It’s been 9 1/2 months since my stroke, and I’m still not 100% yet.  To be fair, I may never be 100% of what I was, so I just need to adjust to my new normal.  That has been…harder…than I thought it would be.

Yes, I still work three days a week (3 days that are 11-16 hours each), on my feet in a fast-paced environment.  I love my patients, but it’s overwhelming at times.  Plus, I go to school full-time (online at Regent University now).  I’m taking some great classes, but it is a teensy bit exhausting at times.  I’m trying to start working out again (right now, “working out” means some light walking and strength training).  Writing hasn’t sorted itself completely yet.

I’m trying to blog on something like a consistent schedule (which, let’s face it, right now, that’s once a week, if I’m lucky).  I’m also trying to work my way through Holly Lisle’s Create a World Clinic to get the writing juices flowing again.  But it’s hard.  So hard, sometimes.  Some days, dragging myself out of bed is a monumental task.  On my days off, I should be able to sleep in a bit (where “sleep in” means staying asleep until after 6 a.m.).  But no.  This morning, I was awake before 4 .m.  Seriously?

But yes, that’s my goal:  one blog here a week, and I intend to have some sort of writing progress to report weekly.  And, if anyone has any sort of suggestions at all….I’m all ears.

(Shannon A Thompson, AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc)

(Shannon A Thompson, AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc)

Shannon A. Thompson is an Indie author who has published poetry, short fiction, and young adult novels.  She is currently working on her A Timely Death trilogy. The first book, Minutes Before Sunset, won a Goodreads award for Book of the Month.  Ms Thompson also pens a popular blog giving tips and advice to fellow writers.

Eric Welborn is a typical teenager in some ways—angst, family drama, wanting to do his own thing—but that’s where he and “typical” end.  He lives as a human during the day, but he has another, secret, life as well.  For Eric is also a shade, the first descendant of the Dark, destined to do battle for his people when he turns eighteen. But Eric isn’t sure just how true everything he’s been told about the Prophecy is, and his frustration makes him do things he really shouldn’t.

Like ditch his guard and wander off on his own, where the Light, ancient enemies of his people, could sense him and destroy him before the Prophecy could be fulfilled.  Eric meets a nameless shade who knows nothing about their people—or their world.  As he teaches her, he realizes she’s far more powerful than she should be.  Which means everything he’s thought was true for his entire life is a lie.  Now Eric doesn’t know what to believe, or who to turn to. He just knows the nameless shade is the only one he feels he can trust.

Minutes Before Sunset is a fast-paced, well-written read that will appeal to fans of fantasy, as well as young adult readers.  Ms Thompson has created an intriguing setting that is not your typical fantasy fare, with two separate worlds—the “real” world of high school and prom, and the world of Prophecy and Light and Dark.  She brings both of these worlds to life, and her characters struggle with their lives in both worlds.  Not only is the setting riveting and unique, but the characters are compelling, a combination sure to transport the reader to this magical world.  The second novel in the A Timely Death trilogy, Seconds Before Sunrise, releases March 27th.

Rachel Caine has written several popular urban fantasy series (the Weather Warden, Outcast Season, Red Letter Days, Revivalist), as well as young adult (the Morganville Vampires).  Ms Caine lives in Fort Worth, TX, and will be attending the DFW Writer’s Conference on May 3rd and 4th.  Her newest novel is Prince of Shadows:  A Novel of Romeo and Juliet.

The Capulets and Montagues live for one reason:  power.  They don’t care how they get it or who they have to kill.  Their children aren’t people, they’re pawns in a game of chess to be used to cement alliances and show prestige.  What they want doesn’t matter.  Only the family matters.

Benvolio Montague knows how little value his family—especially his domineering grandmother—places on him.  His job is to protect the family’s honor, do as he’s told, and keep his cousin Romeo safe.  During the day, Benvolio follows the rules.  But at night, he roams Verona as the Prince of Shadows, stealing from his enemies and doing as he pleases, sometimes with his friend Mercutio at his side.  But one night, the Prince of Shadows encounters Rosaline Capulet, destined for a convent, and everything changes.  Rosaline isn’t like anyone Benvolio has ever met, and he and the girl who wants more than her family has given her forge a connection.

Mercutio hides a dark secret as well, a secret that will forever haunt both families.  Benvolio’s job is to keep Romeo—the family heir—safe, and prevent him from doing anything foolish.  Safety is one thing.  But when Romeo’s rash actions embroil the Montagues in a bitter clash with the Capulets, only the Prince of Shadows can keep tragedy from destroying both families.

Prince of Shadows follows Shakespeare’s storyline, but focuses on Benvolio, Mercutio, and Rosaline.  The ill-fated Romeo and Juliet are minor characters at best.  Ms Caine brings fair Verona to life, and the lives of the Montagues and Capulets as well.  She uses Shakespeare’s famous lines, interspersed with more natural dialogue, to incorporate the play into her storyline.  Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy, but Prince of Shadows explores the behind-the-scenes action, delving into the secrets in the shadows, and exploring the darkness there.  This is not your mother’s Romeo and Juliet!

the summer I turned pretty coverWith the flurry of madness surrounding the holidays over, the next big thing to look forward to is summer.  Summer:  warm weather, lazy days, sunshine, summer love.  Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy includes The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer.

For Belly, summer means Cousins Beach.  Every summer for her whole life, her family has spent summers there with the Fisher family, Conrad and Jeremiah..  But this year will be different.  Belly just knows it.  She’s finally grown up now, and Conrad will finally notice her.  She’s been in love with Conrad her whole life, but he has always treated her as a little sister.  This year, everything will change.

And things do change.  Now Belly has what she always wanted:  a relationship with Conrad.  At first, it’s everything she always dreamt it would be.  But Conrad starts pulling away, and the pain is more than Belly could have ever imagined.  Now all she wants is to put Conrad behind her.  When Jeremiah calls to tell her  that Conrad has disappeared, Belly has to decide if she’ll let him go forever, or help Jeremiah find his brother.

Belly has put Conrad behind her.  She’s been with Jeremiah for two years now, and everything is great.  When they decide to get married, Belly’s happiness is complete.  Or almost.  Because as the fateful day draws nearer, she realizes things are still unresolved between her and Conrad, and she realizes that no matter which one of the Fisher boys she chooses, she’ll have to break one of their hearts.

Maggie Stiefvater is the best-selling author of the Shiver trilogy—about werewolves—the Books of Faerie—about homicidal faeries—the Scorpio Races—about an aquatic death race. Her new series, The Raven Boys, is about a group of teenagers on a quest to find a lost legend. The second book in the series, The Dream Thief, hits shelves this month.

Although the magical forest of Cabeswater and its ley lines have been woken, the group’s quest to find legendary Welsh king Glendower has not ended. Gansey’s obsession with the vanished king has not abated; it has only grown more intense. But the search has faltered with the disappearance of Cabeswater. The forest’s disappearance is not the only stumbling block the group faces. Noah, whose appearance depends on the very ley lines themselves, fades in and out of the group without his control. Ronan’s dreams have their claws firmly enmeshed in his reality. Dreaming objects into reality is one thing, but bringing monsters with him is something else. And Blue, daughter of the town psychic, is caught between her feelings, and the prophecy that says if she ever kisses her true love, he will die.

There is a Grey Man in town, on the hunt for the Greywaren; an object that allows its user to take objects from their dreams. The Grey Man, taking orders from his mysterious employer, isn’t the only one looking for the Greywaren. There are other strangers in town, even more dangerous than the Grey Man.

With a dark, atmospheric tone, The Dream Thief takes the mystery of Cabeswater and The Raven Boys down an even darker, more twisted path. Secrets are revealed, mysteries deepen, and hearts are broken in this second book in the series.

(Galley provided by scholastic via NetGalley)

I want to start writing again.  I haven’t written anything–apart from a handful of blog posts–in six months.  I want to.  I’m just…scared.  My world is not what it was six months ago.  I’ve changed a lot.  I almost died.  Rediscovered my purpose.  Decided to link my dreams with that purpose.  I’m actively taking steps to make both dream and purpose a reality.  I’m changing schools and majors (two of those steps).  And my writing is another one of those steps.

But starting to write again is scary.  Coming up with an idea worthy of all my changes is intimidating.   And the thought of failing is terrifying.  Which leaves me mentally–and creatively–paralyzed.

Any ideas to get back on the horse again, so to speak?

 

 

So, I meant to finish up my story a while back, but as it turns out, one of the side effects of a stroke is being tired—like really tired—all the time.  When you add in work, school, and doctors’ appointments, that means I’m drained the majority of the time.  If you missed the first part of my story, you can find it here.  But here goes….

 

I woke up the next day, a little before noon.  I was intubated and my hands were restrained (I had my appendix taken out when I was 11, and I might have pulled out the tube when I woke up.  Having the tube put back in while awake = not fun.) Anyway.  I knew right away I was in the hospital, but I had no idea why.  My parents and Baby Brother were there.  Obviously, I couldn’t talk, but I remember them talking to me, telling me they’d take the tube out soon.  She also told me “Bubba is here.  And he brought your nephew.”  I was coherent enough to think:  “Why is he here? He lives 600 miles away!”

 

The next think I remember is my mom bringing in one of my friends from work, who was crying her eyes out.  Then, later, some of my friends from my old job.  I had my contacts out by this time, but I recognized their voices.  Turns out, they’d been at the hospital with my family most of the time.  The Saint was in NYC, but one of them called so I could “talk” to her, reassure her.  Then the Cynic and another close friend of ours.  My family, of course.  They were almost always by my side.  And later that evening, the Diva and “our” husband, who were some of the first people my mom called.

 

The next day, I was a little more with it.  Some women from therapy came to get me up, and were shocked I could walk by myself.  I got to meet my nephew—he was 4 months old then—and he is SO cute!  Most of my hospital stay is a blur.  I slept a lot.  I couldn’t use my right hand much at all.  I started learning how to eat left-handed.  I had a lot of visitors and phone calls (many of my patients called to check on me).  I got out of the hospital 5 days later and went home with my mom.

 

I cannot image how difficult the day of my stroke was for my friends and family.  At the hospital, they gave me tPA (the stroke drug), but it didn’t seem to help.  Actually, my symptoms worsened.  Late that night, the doctor told the nurses that something else was going on, and he was going in.  He told my parents there was a 98% fatality rate for my condition.  IF I lived, they didn’t know if I would wake up.  If I somehow woke up, they didn’t know what condition I’d be in.  I woke up about 12 hours later, able to see, talk, and move.  I knew who I was and who everyone around me was.

 

As it turns out, I had two clots in my brain and a tear in my left vertebral artery.  I now have four stents there, and I’ll be on aspirin the rest of my life. I have reduced sensation on the right side of my body, but it’s improving.  I have tingling pretty much all the time on that side.  2 ½ weeks after my stroke, I was back in the E.R. (at the orders of my neurologist’s nurse) because the tingling had gotten worse and I’d had a mild headache for two days.  They think the right artery had dissected as well, but it was so small they could only treat it with medications for a few days.  I stayed in the hospital 4 days that time.  Since then, I’ve had an angiogram to check on my stents (they looked great).  I started working again (14 hour shifts are tough under the best circumstances.  Now…I don’t even have the words.)  The school semester started.  (I did switch to online classes this semester—French, German, and Spanish 2.)  I went back to the E.R. a week ago with some brief vision changes (doctor’s orders), but everything is fine.  Stents are great, no signs of stroke.  I’ve had blood work and other tests done, and none of the doctors know what caused my stroke.  My neurologist calls me a miracle.

 

Let me say this:  no matter what your personal beliefs are, I know that the only reason I survived is because of God.  He was there with me–giving me that feeling of peace—through it all.  There is a reason I had the stroke, despite being “too young” and there not being a cause.  God has a plan for this, a plan to prosper.  There is no doubt in my mind.

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