Review: Lullaby of Flames

Finished 4/9/2020

I went in completely blind on this short story, which is how I prefer to experience a story to be honest, so I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t expect our teenage lead, Cori, to fall down a pit into Hell.

This story took a number of unexpected twists and turns, and had a number of characters I really enjoyed, such as Rigel and Lilith. Cori was great from beginning to end though despite her big mistake, and speaking of, wow this ending!

Candace Robinson’s stories are always so creative and this was no exception. I seriously don’t know how she dreams up these stories, but I’m here for them!

This is a great read for fans of the 80s films of Legend or Labyrinth! Especially if you enjoy being taken by surprise.

My Rating: 5/5 stars… that ending!

Being an Author in Quarantine [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Lately it’s been difficult for me to focus on writing sometimes. I had my short story, “La Femme en Rouge” released in Masks on March 31st, and my novel, Broken, was released on April 7th. My mind has felt like it’s been in a million places lately trying to keep up with all of my deadlines, needs, and coping with the “current situation”, as it’s been politely referred to in work meetings I’ve attended.

I recently read Morbid Smile’s article on Bujo and the Art of Staying Sane Through Quarantine, and I thought about how much having a bullet journal has helped me during this perilous and unprecedented time. I wanted to share a few other things that have helped me since I know other authors are struggling with this right now.

This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, a monthly hop hosted by authors with helpful information for authors. This can be anything from writing advice to publishing recommendations or even to hosting author booths at conventions. Take a look at some of my previous posts, and make sure you also check out the other author posts this month! I’m always amazed at the breadth of knowledge and the amount of tools and information I didn’t know before.

BuJo

Morbid Smile was absolutely right on the benefit of keeping a bullet journal. Usually I would only lists tasks that I’m trying to get done, like work on edits that have a deadline or writing a blog post, but lately I’ve been adding items to that list like working remotely for my day job, or doing the dishes, or cooking. Even if I don’t get as much done in my writing world as I want, I still feel accomplished because I have done things that need to be done.

Although my event schedule for the year has now been mostly scrapped, I also have trackers for books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, and words I’ve written. Sure, I won’t get to be a vendor at a number of conventions I was hoping for this year, but I can see what new movies I’ve watched.

Virtual Author Events

You’re not the only author who is dealing with isolation right now, and therefore there is a ton of free material out there to help authors. From free writer conventions you can attend–Smashwords is holding a free Author Day as a virtual convention, for example.

Also this month Camp NaNoWriMo has started up! This is a wonderful way to get thrown into a cabin with other authors and you can all help encourage each other to reach your goals. Also you can set your own wordcount goals, so if you’re aiming for 50k or just 10k, this is a great way to motivate yourself.

I’ve seen authors streaming their word sprints live on places like Youtube, so you can participate along with other people and feel like you’re at your local cafe. I’ve seen authors reading from their own work to help provide options for all the parents teaching from home. The possibilities are really only limited to your imagination and creativity. We’re authors–we can do that.

Reading

Speaking of books, I’ve gotten so much reading done while I’ve been isolated. We just hit day 30 here in our household, and I find myself binge reading more than I used to. I simply have more time and a less pressing social calendar with folks outside of the home. This is great during those quiet times either late in the evening or early in the morning when most people are still asleep. Diving into some good books has tremendously helped my mood especially when I’ve felt really down or frustrated. Many publishing houses, including mine, are having sales on ebooks to help readers deal with the struggle of isolation right now, and I personally really appreciate it!

Talking with Fellow Authors/Artists

Pull up Zoom and open a chat group with a few author friends you know. Schedule a happy hour with them. Bring your current work in progress and read a few paragraphs aloud, or just talk out a snag in your manuscript. Just because you’re not in a physical space together doesn’t mean your meetings have to end.

Our first virtual meeting with our local Horror Writers Association group is this weekend, and we’re doing it over Zoom. It’s great cause now I don’t have to drive an hour to make it to the meeting, and I get to pet my cats while we talk about books. It’s a win-win situation, especially for my cats!

I hope all these ideas have inspired you on ways to help deal with being an author during this time. And if you don’t feel like writing or socializing or even reading, and just want to binge another series on Netflix right now, that’s fine too! There’s no pressure to be productive during this time because we’re dealing with a pandemic that is affecting the entire world. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to just exist at times. Zone out, look at the trees, pet a cat. Sometimes that’s the best way to help ourselves.

We don’t have to define ourselves by our productivity. Let that sink in sometimes, authors!

Review: Zombie Road

Finished: 4/5/2020

I love dystopian novels and I enjoy zombie books, so I knew I would probably enjoy Zombie Road, the first book in Simpson’s intense Convoy of Carnage series. We follow a group of truckers at a truck stop in Nevada and watch how they revert back to their military origins when a zombie outbreak takes out most of the world in a 24-hour period.

This book is hard to put down once you start. As you switch from Gunny and his friends in a truck stop in Nevada, to his wife stuck in an upper floor of her office in downtown Atlanta, and to their son trapped in detention in High School, the intensity is ramps up quickly. Simpson has an incredible hand for action and for mixing undeniable humor in his worlds.

These chapters are short and sweet which keeps the pacing flowing smooth and maintains a high level of action throughout. I was reminded of George R. R. Martin in how I hated switching away from a perspective, but by the end of the chapter I was invested in this new character and didn’t want to switch from them. He has an incredible way of defining characters and coming up with nicknames for them that stay true to their character throughout the story. His pacing is so great though that at almost 400 pages long, I had no idea each page flew past so quickly because I was so engrossed in the world.

An excellent starter in a series that is going on seven installments right now. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more in his series!

In real life, Simpson is a truck driver, and as you read this he’s probably running urgent equipment and supplies across the country to hospitals and doctors who are in dire need right now. He’s a true hero.

My rating: 5/5 zombie head shots!

Happy Release Day to Broken!

Wow, we are finally here, Broken, Book 2 of the Stolen series is now out in the world and I’m so excited (and nervous)!

We left Shaleigh off at a bit of a cliffhanger in a place that is definitely hostile and with an uncertain future. In Broken, things get darker as we follow both Shaleigh and Colin as they try to survive.

My publisher, Parliament House Press, has decided to lower the cost of all its ebooks to help support those who are struggling due to the coronavirus, and that includes both Stolen and Broken. Both books can be obtained for the low price of $0.99 right now. We all need books and the arts in general to help us through this difficult time right now, and all of the authors agreed that we wanted to help in any small way we could.

I hope you enjoy Broken! Stay safe out there and escape into a good book for a while. It’s certainly helped me lately.

Where to Find Stolen and Broken:

Stolen – Amazon

Broken – Amazon

Broken Paperback – The Parliament House

An Early Peek at Broken

We’re only two days away from the release of Broken, Book 2 of the best-selling Stolen series! I’m so thrilled to be able to share with you an early peek of the first two chapters of Broken.

Find out what happens with Shaleigh, Teagan, Mawr, and Colin. Experience the adventure. Beware the madness.

Read the First Two Chapters of Broken Now!

Also I’ll be doing a live chat tomorrow on Twitter! I always enjoy these cause it’s a fun and easy way to answer questions that readers and aspiring writers might have.

Join me Monday (4/6) on Twitter at 3 PM EST for a live chat. Make sure you follow the hashtag: #ParliamentWitchingHour to make sure you don’t miss anything!