My Top Upcoming Releases of 2018 (for all my fellow bookworms)

There are so many delightful books coming out in 2018, every writer’s or reader’s blog should be doing this. I hadn’t planned on it before, but some of these are just too good to not share. What books are you most looking forward to this year??

1. Fawkes (Nadine Brandes)

Not only does this book sound totally incredible, it is the newest standalone from an all-time favorite author. I loved her previous trilogy – and this is a historical fantasy – so it is an auto-buy. Fawkes releases in July.

2. The Man He Never Was (James Rubart)

Not only do I personally love some of Rubart’s previous work (Well Spring Novels, Book of Days, etc.), but the premise of this story is incredibly intriguing. I think it will have the same impact that his other work did. Plus, it releases in about a month, which is quite exciting!

3. The Ghost Ship (Paul Regnier)

Who doesn’t love a good science fiction from Enclave publishers? Actually, I have yet to read book one of the Space Drifters Series, but since the first two sound so cool, and since I plan to read the series, I decided to put number three on this list. It releases in April.

4. Bitter Winter (Jaye L Knight)

This is the fifth installment into the Ilyon Chronicles Series, and therefore is an auto-buy. No official release date yet, but it should be this year. Oh, so exciting! Seriously, if you haven’t read the series yet, you must. 🙂

 

And there you have it. I’m sure there are a few more books out there I’m not thinking of and I know there are many more that I wouldn’t particularly care to put on this list. 🙂 That’s why you have to tell me the books you are most looking forward to in 2018. It’s going to be a delightful year, isn’t it? Let’s chat in the comments!

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2018 – Highlights and Goals

Yes, and everyone and their cat is writing a greeting to 2018, so here’s another one. (What do you mean you’re getting sick of them?) 🙂

Well, what happened in 2017? Oh, so many things. Some good. Some bad. Some fun. Some a little scary. You know how it goes. But there are a couple highlights I must revisit . . . for posterity if you’re a Princess Bride fan.

2017 gave me my first ever visit to a theater. On a father-daughter date, my dad and I went to see The Man Who Invented Christmas – which I emphatically urge you to take an interest in – just before Christmas. It was crazy cool to see that kind of movie on a ginormous screen, especially since we’re some of those weird people who don’t own a TV and we only watch movies on our computer. 🙂  I found the theater itself a little weird, in a writerly sort of way. The words strange and vortex came to mind, as well as dystopian and story idea. But nevermind all that. That’s coming from the awkward sixteen-year-old who has never been to the theater before last month.

2017 also introduced me to National Novel Writing Month, and as some of you know, I embarked on the adventure that is NaNo for the first time. I hit the goal, and I loved it!

And 2017 also got me started in learning French. Which is fun.

Now for the long-awaited 2018, the year which never was and will never be again. Weird way to think about it. Yeah, so there are some serious highlights looking ahead to the new year. One of them is Nadine Brandes’ new release, Fawkes, which will magically appear on July 10th in the hands of those who pre-order. And seriously, that book looks good.

2018 is also – get ready – the year in which I have set the goal to have something officially published by the end of the year. 🙂 Let’s do this!

2018 is also the year in which there’s a terrific-looking movie coming out. No definite release date yet, but The Reliant sounds seriously good. I’ve read the book and am totally behind the message of faith and preparedness. The story was action-packed in book form, so I have no doubt the movie takes that to a new level. Check out the trailer, people.

And that’s enough for today. What are you up to this year, my friends? Any books or movies that impacted you in 2017? Any you’re dying to see/read in 2018? (And please, somebody tell me I’m not the only one who LOVED The Man Who Invented Christmas.) Let’s chat!

Highlights and Goals – September

So, of course, school has thrown blogging WAAAY off schedule, but I’m back. *sheepish grin* Okay, so let’s just move on and look at August’s highlights:

  • Read James Rubart’s Book of Days. Oh . . . wow . . . just . . . wow . . .
  • Did a ton of tomato canning with my mom. She’s doing the very last batch of canning today so that we’ll have 200 quarts for this winter. 🙂
  • Did some writing. Some . . . not enough. *sheepish grin*

And without further ado – August wasn’t as dull as it sounded, I promise – SEPTEMBER!

  • Write. What else?
  • School. I mean, of course.
  • Read. As in, Michael Vey 7. 7! Already! The series is finished! Anybody as dying as I am to get my hands on that thing?
  • Do research. I’ve got a couple agriculture/livestock things to research this month for future reference.
  • Find out again what serendipity means.
  • Have Lentil the Cat spayed. Since, uh, she’s in heat again, only this time we have a four-month-old male cat in the house. AND she’s escaped, like, six times through the porch. 🙂

Yeah, so September looks like fun. What are your plans? Is reading Michael Vey among them??? Let’s chat!

By the way . . . on my next post I’ll be talking about a valuable tool for writers that is not the laptop/computer. Nor is it the pen and paper. Don’t miss that!

WIPJoy and a Book Update!

We’re doing something just for fun today – and something for all of you waiting on news of my WIP, a YA portal fantasy entitled One Light Shining. You may have heard of WIPJoy, which has traditionally been a month-long social media thing for authors, but Katie Grace recently did this on her blog – thank you! – so here goes. I’ve handpicked some of the thirty-one questions to answer today with my WIP.

YOUR FIRST INSPIRATION FOR THIS WIP

I love answering this question. 🙂 Technically, the biggest sources of inspiration came through Torrent (River of Time Series – awesome!) and Defy (Blades of Acktar Series – epicness!) Bits of both of those stories greatly influenced the development of this plot.

3 BOOKS THAT GO NICELY WITH YOURS

Well, Defy, of course, but also Resistance by Jaye Knight and Lisa Bergren’s Torrent. Each have similar points to their stories, whether time travel or genre or themes of redemption and restoration and, of course, action.

WOULD YOU RATHER: GET TRAPPED IN YOUR STORY FOR A WEEK, OR HAVE YOUR ANTAGONIST ENTER YOUR LIFE FOR A DAY?

Oo, fun! That’s so easy. Get trapped in the story for a week. I mean, if the antagonist showed up here, I’d have to explain an entirely different world and time period. That would be . . . stressful. Besides, I don’t think he’d like my cats, and well, we just couldn’t have that, now could we?

A LINE INVOLVING A DECISION

First draft here, so you may not see this particular line in the final draft, but here ’tis. A couple lines, actually:

No one in their right mind – even half in their right mind – would consider this a valid plan. But she dragged her eyes to meet his anyway and forced her jaw to let a string of muttered words through. “What do you need me to do?”

CHOOSE AN IDEAL READING SPOT, FOOD, DRINK, AND MUSIC TO GO WITH YOUR BOOK

All right-y, reader, pay attention, because you’ll need this info when the book is finally out of my hands and into your hands.

Reading spot: On a front or back porch, I think, especially in the evening.

Food and Drink: Garlic bread and apple cider. What else?

Music: Ooo, Flight of the Silverbird.

WOULD YOU RATHER: HAVE TEA WITH YOUR ANTAGONIST, OR BE STUCK IN AN ELEVATOR FOR 3 HOURS WITH YOUR MC?

That’s so easy. Tea with the antagonist. I do not want to be stuck anywhere with my MC from any of my stories, past or future. Let’s just get that straight.

WHY DO YOU YEARN TO SHARE THIS STORY WITH THE WORLD?

Because words can change people. They can lift you up, give you hope, remind you that there truly is one light shining.

The main characters deal with a lot of challenges that I believe many people can relate to, self-worth being one of them. There are strong messages in this story of the consequences of one’s anger and the unconditional power of forgiveness.

This book tackles many day-to-day struggles without masking them. There is pain, and in turn, grace. There is hatred, and in turn, forgiveness. There is danger, and in turn, trust. And perhaps one of the strongest threads of One Light Shining – there are actions which seem beyond any redemption, and in turn, His love beyond all limits.

 

And there you have it! A peak into my WIP, One Light Shining. Book Update: I’ve officially begun the editing and rewriting I have to do this summer/fall, and it’s on track so far, aside from being totally agonizing. 🙂

Anyway, let’s get ready to do some reading, eh? Meantime, why don’t you take #WIPJoy on over to your blog? It’ll be fun!

 

Books ‘n’ Strawberries – Such Fun!

Show of hands – who among you consumes books and strawberries at the same time????

Okay . . . maybe nobody. I mean, you’d hate to get strawberry juice on the book, so . . .  Yeah, but there’s a reason I brought up the both of them. I mean, yum.

Reason for the strawberries: We are going strawberry picking tomorrow. Yippee! We found what is supposed to be a real nice farm about an hour away, so we’re packin’ up and headin’ out to stock up for the long winter. 🙂 If you want to hear all about our adventure, I’ll be posting on the Diary on Saturday with the details!

Reason for the books: I just finished reading Athol Dickson’s The Cure. That’s reason enough.

The Cure was a hidden gem and a rare find. And the ending . . .  Oh, the ending! But I won’t betray it, or skip ahead. This book is about a man named Riley Keep, former missionary and presently an alcoholic beyond all hope. At the end of his road, he discovers a packet of “medicine” with a note explaining it to be a cure for alcoholism. But sometimes the cure is more dangerous than the disease . . .

OH WOW, was this story a winner. I was so engrossed and so blown away. Athol’s characters – Riley, Hope, Bree, Dylan, and the list goes on – are incredible. So well-fashioned and so brilliant. His writing is doubly so. And the book just happens to take place in a coastal Maine town, so . . .

You cannot go wrong in reading this book. Amazing.

And so, without further ado, we’re off to pick strawberries on the morrow! It ’tis summertime, after all.

So, my friends, what are your plans now that summer is officially underway? What books are you reading? Do tell!

Writing a Synopsis – How to and How Not

Don’t forget to stop by my new blog, Diary of a Teenage Prepper, for fun homesteading updates!

 

It doesn’t seem like it would be that big of an issue, right? A synopsis just states what the book is about. No problem.

If only . . .

Today, let us delve into the tricks, the how-tos and how-not-tos, of writing a synopsis.

HOW-TO #1 – READ THEM

The best way to figure out how to write a synopsis is to read them. How much info do they give? How much do they withhold? Take note of key words and phrases. Is the title of the book incorporated into the synopsis or left out? Above all, does it make you want to find out what happens? All of these things are critical points of crafting a gripping synopsis.

HOW-TO #2 – PRACTICE MAKES ALMOST PERFECT

I can’t think of any synopsis that is “perfect.” They’re just blurbs, more or less, and perfection is vastly opinion, but anyway – #2. Practice writing a synopsis for your WIP. No matter the stage, write one out and read it over and over again, compare it with the ones you’ve read, read it to someone else. All of these things should help smooth out a synopsis for your work.

HOW-NOT-TO #1 – MAKING IT TOO LONG

I have heard it said that a common problem among authors looking to self-publish is a synopsis that is too long. Just remember, you’re giving the reader a taste, not the entire banquet. You aren’t writing a book report in which every detail must be disclosed. But for that matter, don’t make it too short, either.

HOW-NOT-TO #2 – THINKING IT’S NOT IMPORTANT

A synopsis, in my opinion, is every bit as important as, say, the cover or the first line. It is the invitation for a reader to pick up the book and read it. A synopsis is important. You don’t have to stress over it. Maybe try incorporating a few of these thoughts to get you started. I’ve even used the creation of a synopsis to help in my outlining, and believe me, it does help.

ONE-LINERS AND THE WHAT-IF QUESTION

A grabbing sentence to start off a synopsis can be a pretty great idea. So can a what-if question. After all, a creative what-if setting in a plot – “What if gravity worked in the opposite way?” “What if the sky was orange?” “What if humans were the size of ladybugs?” – can pull a reader in all on its own. So if you’re story has its own what-if, why leave it out when creating your synopsis?

And because she’s one of my favorite authors, I can’t resist sharing her fantastic what-if-question synopsis. Nadine Brandes wrote the Out of Time Series, and her opener for the first of those novels was entirely gripping. Here’s why: “How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?” Who can resist that? I don’t want to know the day I’ll die, so if this character does . . . well, I have to know about it. 🙂

TELL ME YOUR OPINION! What pulls you into a book? Is it the cover? Synopsis? First line? Last line? (I should hope it’s not the last line.) Let me hear from you in the comments! We’ll chat about bookish things.

Exciting News – Blog Launching – the Diary of a Teenage Prepper

We’ve got some exciting news circulating today. I’ve launched a second blog, this one dedicated to my “diary” of our homesteading journey. The original, this one, will remain completely active for my writing, but I will be posting once weekly, on every Thursday. Our blog series, Musings of a Goat Herdess, will be transferred to the new blog.

I encourage you to check out and share Diary of a Teenage Prepper!

The unique thing about the diary, is that it documents the journey of a sustainable homestead from a teenager’s prospective. I hope it will inspire its audience and shine a light for those searching.

Want to show your support? I’d welcome it! If you’re interested in helping launch Diary of a Teenage Prepper, please become a follower and/or recommend the blog to friends. Leave a comment with your honest feedback, or like the posts that interest you. Whatever the form it takes, your support is so much appreciated!

I’ll be doing a follow-up post for this on Thursday, and from there I will enact the weekly blogging schedule. If you are curious, the diary will be updated anywhere from daily to weekly, depending on what’s happenin’ on the homestead. 🙂

Thank you all in advance for helping to launch this new blog, and thank you all very, very much for the support you’ve already shown in my launching of this blog.

Tell me – what sorts of things do you hope to see on either of these blogs? What writing- or reading-centered posts do you like best? What homesteading posts? Your feedback is invaluable!

Don’t forget, drop by at the Diary of a Teenage Prepper today! HERE

A Free Short Story – Enjoy!

Happy Memorial Day to all of you! Today’s post is going to be simple, but since I was running out of ideas – and time – I decided to share something special. And free. And who can resist something free? This special free thing is a recent short story I penned for Faithwriters, under the challenge topic “Entertain.” The said story took third. 🙂

Enjoy your free short story, my friends, and come back for more! June is just ’round the corner – will someone please tell me how that happened? – so you will be seeing the next Highlights and Goals post for this new month. It’s bound to be exciting!

Meantime, I’ll stop chattering and you can get on with your free gift.

 

Bloodstained

The crowd’s roars and jeers, deafening in their ceaseless echos, pierce my ears and shatter my resolve. I glare right back. Do they think I want to be here? Fighting to appease them? Dying to amuse them? Or do they think I’ll kill the man sent out in this arena to fight back?

Heart stuttering, I turn my head from the innumerable screaming humans and close my eyes. My palms are sweaty. They are laced with sand and grit. Will my blood soak into this sand today, or will it be the blood of the opponent?

Panic lances my chest, and my eyes are thrown open. Of course I will not murder. I will not be forced to kill. A slave I may be, but my conscience and eternal judgement belongs not to the man who owns me. Besides, many of these wretched games end not in blood. Sometimes the crowd will call for mercy, or so I’ve been told by lucky survivors. Or . . . perhaps unlucky.

For they are the ones who must do it again, again, again, while the blood of others gathers on their hands, an indelible stain.

The Romans’ cries explode in furious cheers. I look towards the entrance. This is the man they expect me to kill? We are similar in height and in build, but he must be far older than I, and he brandishes his sword like it is an object to which he can command to do his bidding and it will obey. Aside from that, I can see how the crowd treats him. Not with the jeers with which I was beckoned in, but with the exhilaration and flamboyance through which one might welcome their hero.

A rock settles deep in my stomach. I was not sent here to kill. I was sent here to be killed.

They don’t know who am I. What I’ve done. What I’ve run from. In defense of what I love, I’ve killed more men than I wish to count. But in cold blood? For sport? For the amusement of an audience? Never. And never shall I.

For several jarring minutes I find my stride, deafened by the crowd, shaken by the force of our weapons. I judge the man’s skill. He’s good. He’s a killer. But he’s not a fighter.

As the battle escalates, I feel the heat of it burn in my blood. My hands are quick to remember reflexes, instinct, precision. I can feel the attention of the crowd sway with their loyalty as their hero begins to tire. He has fought for too long. Against myself, a fighter young in years, he weakens. This is no casual slave he fights.

And here my conscience returns. I am soaking in the perfidious attention of the crowd. This is what I’ve run from. This is what I threw away with my past when I abandoned the emperor’s service. It is far too simple for me to regain it now.

Perhaps this is what I was brought here to learn. I could never truly change.

Gods of Rome and of Heaven . . . I enact a vicious counterstroke and try again. God of Heaven, if this is how I am to end, a murderer and tyrant, strike me dead here and now.

The man before me, his forehead bathed in sweat and furrowed in exhaustion, stumbles upon the sand. I look to the crowd, awaiting their decision.

Almost as one, they call for me to slay him. I think I hear a few cries for mercy, but they are swallowed away by this bloodthirsty chant. I feel stone around my heart and soul. It would be easy to end this now. To become the hero of these people, to expunge their former distaste and repulsion, to give them the show they want to see.

But do I truly desire to be the revered one of a bloodthirsty, shameless people?

Their chants become louder. My heart throbs. My fingers tremble around the hilt of my sword. I have not been struck dead yet. Perhaps this is not meant to be the end, nor how I will ultimately finish this race. There is sand still slick on my hand, but will there be blood?

The crowd screams as one. Shudders travel down my spine, into my fingers.

My decision is made.

 

How did you like – or maybe you didn’t like it at all, and that’s okay too – your gift? To read more of my work in short stories, you can follow THIS link . . . or THIS one! God bless you all on this Memorial Day.

Bookish Things – a Review of Winter Haven by Athol Dickson

I didn’t post yesterday because it was Sunday – I don’t blog on Sundays. That’s the one day of the week to just . . . rest. I don’t even write on Sundays. But anyway, I’m back now, and here is today’s bookish thing: a review of one the best books of the century.

There, done. I reviewed it. The “best book of the century.” Bye.

Ha, ha. Whatever. Okay, for a coherent review, read on. I’ll have more to say about it now than I did on Goodreads. Blog reviews are more fun.

Here goes. Okay, so my mom read this book last year and absolutely loved it. I couldn’t resist getting it out of the library this year, since I was behind on my reading goal anyway. Thanks to my own procrastination and schedule, it took longer than it should have to finish reading, but that was no fault of the story. I’ve never – never – read a book or a style of writing that held me so fully to its prose.

Winter Haven takes place in Maine – sweet! – on a tiny island way off the coast. It follows the story of Vera Gamble, a young woman who has just learned that her brother, who ran away thirteen years earlier, has been found dead on the island of Winter Haven. She leaves Texas to take the body home, but what she finds is far from what she hoped.

Her brother hasn’t changed in thirteen years.

As Vera awaits resolution to the mystery, more are mounting. She is being followed by the most terrifying noises that no one else seems to hear, hallucinations she had as a child are returning with a vengeance, a widow is preaching stories of witches and shipwrecks, and a mysterious man living alone on the other side of the island seems to know more about a lot of things than he’s letting on.

In the words of the synopsis, “. . . will Vera’s desperate questions lead to answers, or will her story become one more dark Winter Haven legend?”

*eerie drum roll*

You will have to read it to find out! But I mean, really, this thing is aawweessoommee!!! Please forgive the fan-girl-y reaction, but I can’t help it. Athol Dickson is a genius of the written word, and Winter Haven is without fail the best book of the century.

So why are you still sitting here reading my blog? Go. Read. It.

Ahem. Well, now that that’s over with . . . I have nothing more to say. You are reading it now, aren’t you? Of course you’re not. You’re reading the review. Well, I must direct you. If you’re not convinced, go to Goodreads and read those reviews. Ignore anyone who batted it down.

If you’re already convinced – as I know you are, my friend – go to Amazon and buy it!

Okay, done. That’s Winter Haven for y’all. I’m on my way to put it on my book list on the For Readers page.

. . . *whispers* are you reading it yet???

Musings of a Goat Herdess – Sneak Peak!

Welcome one and all! As a quick recap, Musings of a Goat Herdess is one of my current WIPs. I’ve decided to start this off as a blog series – yay! – which means I’ll get into a schedule of releasing a “chapter” at a time as a blog post. This is the first, and these posts will be done twice a month.

If all goes well – the writing, the feedback, etc. – I will move forward at some point with officially publishing Musings of a Goat Herdess, which, if you haven’t seen my last blog post, is essentially made up of my homesteading experiences with my family, our journey, with the focus on my task of being a “goat shepherd” and some of the discoveries I’ve made along the way.

Sound like fun? Well, I won’t ramble today – news flash! Here is your official sneak peak into Musings of a Goat Herdess, chapter one of our new blog series.

 

C H A P T E R   O N E

~ ~ ~

LIKE A SCENE out of Heidi is our hillside today, glowing in the fleeting and precious rays of May sun. The grass reaches up towards the heavens, eclipsing the infant leaves, their attempts at awakening slow, more cautious than their counterparts in nature. I close my eyes and breathe it in. Spring.

All around me, I hear the hasty, yet contented chop-chops of caprine mouths drinking greedily of the hillside’s offering. The goats have discovered the raspberries today, which sprawl here on Bramble, the northernmost slope of our homestead. These vines left in peace for far too long will meet destruction at the hooves and winter-starved appetites of seven goats.

My eyes flutter open as the adolescents charge by, their buoyant stride enhanced by the steepness of this slope. Wilbur makes his advance into the lead, his twin sister Oka in hot pursuit, and both are dogged by their adopted big sister, the one with ears that can’t decide whether to cooperate with her Nubian dairy heritage and fall flopping, or rise to the calling of her rugged Alpine genetics. Their antics as they pass me by bring out a smile. These three came from the same farm, but at different times, and are unrelated, yet they are inseparable, cohesive like honey to a spoon.

At a doe’s soft, tender voice, my gaze drifts uphill to where the locust trees mark the top of the grassy slope. Spice grazes here, glancing about until her twins come bounding to her call. Satisfied at their presence, she returns to the task of gluttony. My smile broadens the way a patch of grass appears so quickly beneath melting snow. These twins have earned a special place in our hearts since their liberating birth two weeks ago.

Beetle paws at the locust tree nearest to her right, her silky coat shining in this radiant sun like chocolate. The lone black stripe which marches down her back glitters as if someone place minute diamonds upon it to capture the light. She is the image of Spice, though separated by her mother’s three years. Little Cricket joins her, aptly named, and colored by a broad creamy belt and a splashing of gold and white.

A breeze tousles the grass. If you listen close, you might hear the whispers it carries from grass to tree to bird and sky. The hidden messages we miss in our chaos and in our drive for bigger, better, newer. Here, here, is peace. In the sway of the grass, the smile of the sun.

As the three young ones of weaning age did moments ago, Cricket takes to the plaything that is the slope. The bounce to her stride is brought to a zenith with a little jump, a twist and a hop. Beetle thunders after her, never going a moment apart from her sister. Spice notices not, or if she does, she is content. She knows they are safe, I’m sure. The twins join the older three, but at a respectable distance. With such a drastic size difference in effect, they face light bullying from Oka and Jubilee. But we’ve raised many goats of these tender ages, and it will not last forever. Amid the grass, the brambles, the raspberries, friendship will form.

Not to be left behind, Eustace plods along after the five, his shaggy dun fur swaggering with his steps. The others dwarf him in size despite his equality of age with the threesome – and though his genetics dictate this fate, the buckling has taken it in his head that he is a great buck, a mighty protector, a fine, noble creature worthy of all respect.

Ah, such pride! In the eyes of our homestead, he is simply Eustace, succumb to smallness, destined to pester the girls with instincts which matured early, son of Phoebe.

As the herd settles, I take a deep breath. There is such peace here, such purpose. Such hope for the soul. How can one explain what can only be felt? How can one express what can only be perceived, sensed in the inmost being? I know I cannot. I may wield the pen, but its power fails me here. So I shall share, but can never express. Show, but can never explain. This is a journey, one my family takes inspired by the words written in the Bible, in Jeremiah, words that challenged us to seek out this lifestyle, to determine the alternative the world has missed.

Stand at the crossroads and look.

Ask for the ancient paths.

Ask where the good way is and walk

in it, and you will find rest for

your souls.

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Wilbur (with Jubilee in the background).
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Phoebe in the raspberries.
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Beetle during playtime (which is all the time).