Monday, October 26, 2015

Take a chance with Rachel Jones' latest romance read!

Ahoy, lovely readers!

As always, I’ve another Fiction Feature as a great way to start off your day! 

This feature, however, is in a genre I rarely get to host on my blog. While this is predominantly a YA blog, sometimes it’s good to branch out and introduce you to another kind of read. Never hurts to expand your palate, eh?

So, it’s my pleasure to bring you Rachel Jones’s latest work, Taking a Chance on Love

From childhood, Virginia Manning has planned for a career as a concert clarinetist. Blindsided by family circumstances, her plans are interrupted, taking her down a path she would never have chosen. As a music teacher, Virginia’s relationship with the football coach goes from problematic to romantic. After Blake’s brush with death, a scared Virginia runs away looking for the contentment music has always brought to her life.

Because Blake Oliver has experienced disappointment and pain, he opts for a fresh start in a small New England town. Accepting the position of football coach, he isn’t looking for love when it finds him. But when Virginia leaves to pursue a performance career, Blake realizes it’s not where you live but having someone to love that matters. His only problem is making her understand that as well.

Of course, as a teacher myself, I find this a really interesting take on the traditional “hate to love” romantic tale. There’s lots of drama in a classroom setting, with both the kids and the teachers! Naturally, I’ll let the book do the talking and give you even more of an incentive to dive on into this book! 

She pulled her arms across her chest in an attempt to calm her shivering. Bright lights reflected from her rearview mirror, the only headlights she had seen since she had stopped on the side of the ride. Releasing a sigh of relief, she waited for flashing blue lights to interrupt the blackness surrounding the car. No blue lights. Her heart began racing at hearing a car door slam. She was alone, on a deserted highway. Checking the locks on her doors, she thought about driving away, but how far could she go with a flat tire?

A tap on the passenger window made her jump. “Hey.”

The dark night made it impossible to see the face outside the passenger window. Fear made it impossible to move.

“Come on, Gin. It’s wet out here.”

No one else called her Gin. She hit the automatic button releasing the lock and Blake pulled the door open. Relief flooded her body and was replaced by anger.

“Blake — you nearly scared me to death.”

“Not the best time for a flat tire. You’re soaked.”

“You’re not so very dry yourself.”

“Where are you headed?”

“I was on my way home. I had an early dinner with my family before they left for the weekend. Staying to play my piano wasn’t a bad idea — I just got caught up in my music.” She loved how her music could take her away from everything, but the downside was eventually she had to come back to reality. “Anyway, I was going through my options when you drove up.”

“Your spare is lying in the mud.”

“I was going to try changing it, but when the lightning started, I chickened out.”

“Well, you can’t drive all the way to Boston soaked to the skin. And I really don’t want to change a tire in this downpour.”

“So what do you suggest I do?”

“Let me take you back to your sister’s house. You can stay the night and deal with the tire in the morning.”

Virginia didn’t respond, didn’t want this moment to end. He was here, beside her and the intensity of how much she had missed him came crashing down upon her like tumultuous waves hitting a jagged rock wall along the seashore.


She looked up. “That sounds good.”

As he leaned over and pulled the keys from the ignition, it took all Virginia’s willpower to keep from pulling him close.

You can get Taking a Chance on Love at these links below! 

It was thoughts of what she would do after retirement from a twenty-eight-year career in healthcare that spurred Rachel to begin writing her first manuscript in March of 2012. Needing guidance and support with her new endeavor, she joined local and national writing groups.

Rachel signed her first contract in 2013 and her debut novel, To Dance One More Day was released in June of 2014. She is eagerly awaiting retirement to write full time.

A music enthusiast for decades, Rachel resides in Kennesaw, Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years and a spoiled Labrador retriever. She is a member of Georgia Writers Association, Georgia Romance Writers and is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America.

You can reach out to Rachel at the links below:


That’s it for now, y’all! As always, stay tuned for more updates on YA books and all things Lucid. NaNoWriMo is due to start soon, and I’m keeping a blog about the crazy process that is writing a novel in a month! Don’t miss out on that!

Until next time, keep readin’ and dreamin’!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A publishing journey: How I failed my first novel.

A story of being up Crap's Creek. 

This isn’t an easy thing to write. Admitting your own shortcomings, much less putting them into words, is not something that comes easy to most. However, it needs to be said. As I submit the paperwork for my sequel, I have to take time to assess my first publishing adventure. What went right, what went wrong, and what can I do to make the next go-around any better?

There’s a simple answer for that: I have to start from scratch.

Aside from the small hype that Lucid generated, and this is very small indeed when I don’t include my supportive family and friends, I didn’t make any waves in the publishing/literary world with my debut novel. This is sadly typical for many first-time novels, especially small pub and indie ones, but I the thing that really eats at me are the mistakes I almost knowingly made before, during, and after my novel hit the e-shelves. I want to touch upon the main ones just as a reminder to myself for this second time around and for anyone with a finished manuscript looking for the next step.

I published too early:

Despite having this novel in the works for 6 years prior to its publication, this is the biggest problem I had. It wasn’t that it was sloppy or unfinished (in fact, I doubled its word count in the 6 months before signing my contract) it was that I felt rushed to do something. I had just graduated college with no job prospects and a bleak look on my young adult life.

Hey, I thought, I have this nearly finished novel, and everyone knows I write, so maybe this can be my J. K. Rowling moment!

Oh, how youthful naivety and too many feel-good stories ruined my expectations!

At first, I did it by the book. One of my author idols, Rick Riordan, has this amazing blog post for writers who are considering publishing. While his main audience is about a decade younger than myself, it provided some sage advice.

I skipped the stuff about second-guessing my preparedness to publish. I mean, I did the revisions countless times and thought about my story from many different angles. What more was there to do on that end?

Instead, I got to the part about buying the Writers Market for 2012 and made a list of potential agents and publishers who’d consider my work. Surely, one of the hundreds mentioned in this book, despite my lack of writing/publishing experience or even a degree in English, would take me on! And if not, well Uncle Rick said that maybe rejected manuscripts just weren’t ready. Pfft, like that applied to me!

And so, the 40+ rejection letters didn’t deter me. I knew the publishing world was much like the acting one. A lot of people weren’t gonna like you, but the one that took notice was worth all the time spent searching. I got a few initial bites, people who were interested in my thoughtfully constructed (see: cookie cutter fill-in-the-blank) query letter. And lo and behold, a small publisher liked my work!

Do I regret signing on with my small publisher? No. In fact, I’d sign with Clean Reads again and again if presented the same course of action for Lucid.

I’ll get to my fabulous publisher and all the lessons learned in the next bit. The plain fact of the matter was that if I’d have quit at rejection #42, then maybe I would have revisited the novel I wrote and made it a stronger presentation for the agents and publishers. Still, the excitement that landing one “yes” out of a sea of “no” prompted me to sign my first book contract, without any experience in the writing world or research about what I was getting myself into, and play the publishing process by ear. No matter how tone deaf I proved to be when it came to the publishing industry.

I should have done more prep prior to publication.

Let me start this bit with a disclaimer: I love Clean Reads Press. You’d be hard pressed to find a better publishing company where the family of authors, even owner herself, helps you every step of the way. Like I said, I’d publish with them again, and am doing so for my sequel, in a heartbeat. The lack of preparation before Lucid launched is all my ignorance, laziness, and shortcomings.

You can do a quick search for “how to market your first book” and hit a million results. Some of them will be better than others, but the fact is that they’re out there, and I did nothing to help myself prepare for my book’s release in the 6 months between signing my contract and the due date.

That’s not to say I didn’t have help along the way. Like I said, Clean Reads is an awesome publishing company, especially for a first-timer. Along with my contract, my publisher sent me a slew of helpful documents to start my blurbs, author bio, and little fill-in-the-blanks for setting up my social media sites. Fellow authors also provided advice, such as how to prep my media kit and suggested cheap e-books to read that would give me guides on how to prepare. However, the fact that I had to do more edits (after all that hard work I already did?! Ugh! …said my stupid, lazy former self.) deterred me from doing anything but the bare minimum.

Bare minimum I reaped, and bare minimum I sowed.

The only person I have to blame is myself, and the main thing suffering for it is my story. Like so many other writers, I don’t write for myself. I wanted my story to reach the masses of middle and high schoolers who thought reading was for losers. I wanted to give them a cool story with relatable characters that would do for them what Harry Potter did for me. The fact that I struggled to keep Lucid afloat from the very beginning is my fault and my fault alone.

I published at a bad time for me.

This is probably the biggest thing to blame. Two months after Lucid came out, I moved to Japan. To rural Japan.

What’s wrong with this? You ask. Surely it provided countless hours to promote Lucid and write any other stories that may come your way! Your author blog should have been poppin’!

Should have. But it did not.

For the first few months in Japan I was without Internet. That greatly put a damper on the things that I could do whilst borrowing my neighbors wifi for short periods of time. After Skyping parents and catching up with friends, I didn’t have much time set aside for adapting to living in another country on my own (for the first time) and easing into my new, full-time job. Top it off with an extreme case of home sickness and culture shock, and you have a pretty rough outlook on life.

The fact that I still tracked my book’s rankings did not help my situation. Despite encouraging words of wisdom from seasoned authors, I watched that ranking spiral into the millions and fell into a slump about my writing. I was ready to call Lucid a failed experiment and give up on writing anything for publishing purposes again.

But write I did. I’m still not sure how I managed to eke out Reverie during my creative slump of a time abroad, but in the dark depths of winter, I resorted to writing about my own fantasy world to stay sane. Before I knew it, I had a working draft for Reverie, and if I played my cards right, I could publish the sequel in a decent timeframe to keep those who had read and liked Lucid happy. And there were some of my former middle school students who really liked my story!

So, this time, I’m going into publishing for a small reader base. I’d say that’s a better reason than my original intentions with publishing. I’m going with the same publisher as well, which makes the paperwork and pre-edits bit a lot smoother of a process. I also have working social media pages, a decent –yet very humble—presence in the YA indie author world, and a shiny new website to flaunt my growing number of works.

But the most important thing I learned during my first go-around is to never stop believing that I can write something better. Uncle Rick was right: don’t submit a manuscript until it’s absolutely ready. Sometimes you know it, and sometimes you don’t, but your writing can always get better. Whether that be the 10th draft of a novel, a blurb, or even an outline to a brand new series, writers have untapped potential that can create something beautiful. The biggest obstacle to this plethora of storytelling is the writers themselves.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fiction Feature that's out of this world! Welcome Laura Bastian!

Ahoy lovely readers! 

I’ve another great Fiction Feature to start your weeks off on the right, book loving foot! The past few trends have been Teen Romance. This time, however, I’m happy to champion my own favorite genre, Science Fiction!

That’s not to say that I don’t adore other genres, but sci-fi is near and dear to my heart. As far back as I can remember, I had a thing about science-fiction, especially stories with galactic tendencies. Whether or not you believe we’re not alone, you gotta admit the thought of “What if?” is especially compelling when it concerns the universe. There’s something about combining earthly problems with the great possibilities of what lies in the stars above.

So, it’s with great pleasure that I bring you another sci-fi trilogy by Laura Bastian! These three great reads are not without their romance, so don’t you worry. There’s a little something for everyone in the Orion trilogy!

Here’s a little bit of a description of what each read has to offer. I promise there aren’t any spoilers!


Falling in love with your gorgeous new neighbor isn't a bad thing, but when he turns out to be the bodyguard of a princess from a planet nine billion light-years away, life gets complicated.

Seventeen-year-old stargazer Holly Adams never imagined she’d find herself trying to prevent the overthrow of an alien government. When Jai and his sister Amira move into the house down the street, Holly is immediately drawn to them. Jai acts suspicious of her from the start, making Holly more curious about their oddities. When Holly learns they are from a different planet, she does what she can to help protect Amira from Shander, a man who wants to marry her by force in order to take over the kingdom her father rules.

Mistaken identity, a botched kidnapping, and a first kiss that bonds Holly and Jai for life are hard enough, but when Shander believes Holly to be the princess, things get even more dangerous.


Amira traveled across the universe to avoid an arranged marriage only to find herself forced into another upon her return hours before her father’s death. As his only heir she should have ruled Rommader uncontested but discovers he's signed an unbreakable marriage contract and finds herself a new bride. While she might be forced to work with Marcus, she refuses to be his wife in any way other than name.

As they deal with assassination attempts, visiting dignitaries from other planets leveraging for political gain, and the discovery of unlimited teleportation, her feelings for her husband soften. Marcus proves himself a competent king and kind man, and her admiration for her husband grows stronger, but she refuses to allow herself to fall in love.

An unknown foe tries to steal the formula for unlimited travel, giving them the potential power to conquer the universe. Amira and Marcus must work together to stop the thief, but when King Marcus is abducted, Amira may be forced to choose between her husband and her crown.


Holly discovers she can teleport anywhere with only a thought. When Jai is injured, she is forced to take him back to Rommader for neither of them will survive the breaking of their soul bond. Upon arrival, they learn Queen Amira has been kidnapped.
On a ship traveling across the universe, Amira is forced to develop a formula for an amulet with unlimited traveling power--or her captors will murder her husband. Unwilling to let her enemies have that much power, Amira must devise a plan to escape while pretending to cooperate, but in order to do so, she realizes she must make an amulet.
Can Holly find a way to save her, or will Amira figure out the formula and make it home on her own without being lost in the cold, dark heart of the universe?

Out of this world action, star-rocking suspense, and a stellar romance? Yep, this trilogy has it all! I highly recommend this to any teenager who’s looking to read about love beyond the stars. I also recommend it to any teen –or adult, for that matter—who’s looking for a fast-paced page-turner of a book! What’s even better is that you can get started with the first one, Eye on Orion, for only 99 cents as an e-book! Can’t beat that! So, what are you waiting for? You can find all of the books here:

Eye on Orion:


Barnes and Noble

Beyond Orion:


Barnes and Noble

Heart of Orion:


Barnes and Noble

And, of course, let me introduce our lovely author!

Laura grew up in a small town in central Utah and now lives in another small town in northern Utah. She always loved stargazing and imagining life out-side her own little world. Though they grew up only thirty miles apart, she didn’t meet her husband until they went to college. A graduate of Utah State University with a degree in Elementary and Special Education, Laura has been using that training as she raises her children and writes make believe worlds. You can usually find her on her laptop either typing away, or on social media interacting with friends.

So there you have it! Another great way to add a healthy reading regimen to your work week!

Keep here for all things Lucid and until next time, keep readin’ and dreamin’!


Monday, October 5, 2015

Spooky time starts with Spell for Sophia!

Hello and ahoy, lovely readers!

I'm here again to bring you another wonderful fiction feature! October is my favorite month of the year, because it ends with my favorite holiday. 

Who doesn't love getting a little spooky for Halloween? With the bringing of cooler weather, the black and orange decorations, and planning my costume, October is a pretty amazing time! 

So, I'm happy to remind you of a book that combines the magic of my favorite holiday with my favorite place in the world, New Orleans, of course ;) 

But just in case you forgot about the book set in my hometown, let's read Ariella Moon's Spell for Sophia again!

Sophia Perez-Hidalgo’s survival depends upon her mastering magic and the supernatural before her lawless parents and their vengeful boss catch up to her. How far must she flee to escape them forever? Sophia runs until she’s out of stolen money, then…Fate delivers her into the arms of Louisiana teen Shiloh Breaux Martine, and his grand-mère, a voodoo priestess living deep in the bayou.

Breaux knows Sophia is trouble — but he’ll travel through time, battle zombies, and risk his bright future to protect her. While Ainslie, best friend extraordinaire, will jeopardize her sanity to find and aid Sophia. When friendship, magic, and love are not enough, Sophia will have to save herself. But first, she must believe she’s worth saving.

As y'all may remember, I spent my last year an ocean away from my beloved hometown, so I'm very much honored to be featuring a story that takes place in it. As with all of Ariella Moon's books, SfS is fast-paced with action, suspense, and romance. I'm certain that it won't take you long to delve into the world of voodoo and magic on the bayou to get you into the mood for Halloween!

You can find Spell for Sophia at these links: 

Spell for Sophia is the 4th book in the Teen Wytche Saga, so please don't forget to check out the other books if you haven't done so already! I've read all of them, and I highly recommend you start from the beginning! While SfS can stand on its own, the other 3 books will definitely clarify some of the things going on.

You can check out all of Ariella Moon's wonderful tales here!

And that's it for now! Have a happy Halloween month, and keep checking here for all things YA and Lucid! 

Until next time, keep readin' and dreamin'!