Hanging In There

My maple is hanging in there, still full of leaves and color, with the core still being pretty green. I’m expecting that to change rapidly over the next few days with the crazy cold heading our way. One of the things I love about this tree is the range of colors we get from it throughout the season. Bright, vivid reds, deeper burgundies, oranges, all set against the darker looking branches and the central green (at least for a chunk of the time until we hit complete color). Maples are one of my top favorites for that very reason.

I didn’t get a chance to work on my revisions yesterday, but I spent close to 9 hours working on Monday and only got through the first two chapters. I’m not even completely certain I’m done with those. It isn’t flowing like it did when I sat down the first time to write. Or even when I did my first round of my own edits before sending it off. I’m still hoping that changes some when I get a little deeper into it, but I’m not expecting it to be easy. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m slowly chipping away at it. Progress, that is what’s important.

Book Editing – Revisions Part 1

I had a nearly three hour call with my editor last week. It was majorly productive, but it left me at a point where I have a LOT of work ahead of me. I’m grateful because I know that this process will make this better when it is all said and done, but… it is still a lot. It’s a little ridiculous how not prepared for that I was. I KNOW on every level that this isn’t an easy process just from what I’ve read about it from authors I read, but it still came as a surprise just how much work I have left to do.

Continue reading “Book Editing – Revisions Part 1”

Aftermath

Today is insane. I had a nearly 3 hour call with my editor (notes on that to come). Now I have to deal with the aftermath of having a haunted garage for Halloween and still wanting to put the cars in after it is all over (and that is only a small portion of what I still have to pack up). Having spent 2 days going in and out, then up and down on a ladder, my body is trying to revolt, but I still have to get everything packed up. So… I’m off to get busy. Then crash.

Book Editing – Round One

I am almost always an emotional person first. My initial reactions to things come from an emotional point rather than a logical one. I am also very logical, but that isn’t usually the basis for my reactions unless whatever situation is in play isn’t an emotional one for me. So, having my initial reaction to the first round of feedback I got from my editor be very emotional should have been expected. It still kinda wasn’t and, for a little bit, I felt a wave of not so great things.

Continue reading “Book Editing – Round One”

More Chaos? Sure, Why Not?

And again, everything seems to be hitting at once. At least this time it is all good stuff. Mostly. Hubby’s annual bake sale at work is coming up so I am starting on all the baking for that today. I don’t think I’m doing anything new this time, but I’ll be sure to repost any recipes.

Continue reading “More Chaos? Sure, Why Not?”

Picking Pumpkins

We went over the weekend to get our pumpkins. It was kind of a perfect day for it. Even though the kids are in their teens, they both still love doing this, which makes me incredibly happy. Hell, I’m in my 40’s and I STILL love doing this. Sadly, I have zero clue what I’m carving this year.

It is going to be an insane next couple of weeks as Hubby’s annual bake sale is coming up, so I’ll be baking for that. The kids have things going on. I have a B-Day dinner to fix and then we have to carve those pumpkins followed by Halloween. Oh, and those edits are supposed to show up at any time. So, yeah, bring on the crazy times!

Now That I Am Someone Else: Carol Paxman

Author: Carol Paxman
Book Name: Now That I Am Someone Else
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama
Rating:  Didn’t Like

2+stars

Blurb:

Who am I now that I’m not who I thought I was? This is the question Cindy asks herself.

Cindy’s life was a fairy tale.
A beautiful home, three amazing daughters and married to the man of her dreams.

When Cindy’s very own Prince Charming decides he’s had enough of the fairy tale, and takes off with her friend. Where does that leave her?

Now Cindy has to figure out who she is now that she is no longer who she thought she was.

Note to self… Double, triple and quadruple check book length BEFORE getting a book. The title of this is almost longer than the book itself. This doesn’t even qualify for novella status. It is a short story at best, but more a long essay.

Because of how ridiculously short this is there is no story or character development. The story comes across as simplistic, choppy, and unfinished with major gaps in events along the way and is presented almost entirely within the main character’s head and thoughts.

Seriously. The story covers about a 6 month period of time in 41 pages. How much actual story can you get in that space? There is 6 months worth of time to work with an you only have 41 pages?! There is truly no point to reading anything this short because you do not have enough room to go anywhere unless you are writing about a single, very brief moment in time. It is kind of like reading the diary of a bitter woman’s emotional dumping ground during a divorce, but that woman only writes in said dairy sporadically and only writes about her feelings and very little about actual events.

I won’t go into the problematic formatting or editing mistakes or the extremely unrealistic time frame, which is normally a whole lot longer than that 6 months. The pretty cover art is completely wasted on this.

And yes, I probably spent more time writing this review than I did reading the damn thing in the first place.

 

Book Update: October 2018

It looks as though my editor has started work on my manuscript. Yes, I got kinda stupid and giddy there when I first found out. It will probably still be a few weeks before I get the first round of feedback from him, so I have spent some time working to get some random To Do list things taken care of. I now have a Twitter account (@TJFoxAuthor), though I will most likely just post from here to that account.

All the other stuff was just some long overdue background things that needed to get done with my hosting service for my other domains. I’m hoping to get my Shades site up in a different format and intend to use it more as a portfolio site as opposed to a shop. At least for now. If I decide to do any kind of selling again, I’ll figure something out then. That is the next big project on my To Do list but has to wait until all my stuff gets moved around and that is on my host, thank goodness!

So, big steps, slow steps and baby steps. I can’t start cover work until the editing is done so that one is hanging out in limbo at the moment, but I’m still crazy excited that things are moving.

Buying the Farm: Kimberly Conn

Author: Kimberly Conn
Book Name: Buying the Farm
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature/Family Drama
Rating:  Really Good

4+stars

Blurb: Missi Jennings has no family, with the exception of her cold, critical mother, who makes her feel like a perpetual disappointment. She muddles through life in Washington, D.C. despondent, yet unmotivated to do anything about it. When a horrific accident on a Downtown street leaves Missi shaken, numb, and wealthy beyond her wildest imagination, it also becomes a catalyst for unthinkable change, launching her on a journey to a place completely foreign to her—rural Mississippi. The cynical, solitary city girl must confront a lifetime of lies created by the woman she always knew to be her mother and contend with a large, loud, extended family she had no idea existed. Missi’s fortitude is tested by strange new surroundings and a cantankerous grandfather, but it is a child-like woman with Down syndrome, with whom Missi shares an unbreakable bond, who changes her the most. Buying the Farm is a poignant story about loss, gain, and both the joy and pain that come from being a part of a family.

This was a truly heartwarming kind of book that had a wonderful balance of emotional responses, which is one of my favorite kinds. If you can evoke laughter and tears, both happy and sad, all rolled into a single story then you have done an awesome job as an author.

The one thing that kept me from rating this higher was how nearly every single character in this book fawned over Missi as though she was some sort of perfect paragon deserving adoration just because she exists, even those she just met 2 seconds ago. There are a few exceptions. Her boss, but he is such a tiny, minor character as to not make a difference. Nina, one of the few people that SHOULD have treated her that way, but again, still kind of at a periphery level. And her grandfather who is the only major character to kind of go the opposite direction. The near hero worship from so many characters nearly became too much and lessened some of her realism for me.

I did love the family story here and the various turns this took. It made the story feel very unique and atypical, which I loved. And the emotional touches were incredibly well done.

A Slight Change Of Plan: Dee Ernst

Author: Dee Ernst
Book Name: A Slight Change of Plan
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

Blurb: Kate Everett is about to begin her “second act.” She’s been a widow for eight years and thinks it might be time to start looking for someone to share her life with again. She quits her high-pressure job for something that will allow her more leisure time. She gets rid of the huge family home and moves into a fabulous condo that’s smaller and easier to manage. She’s pretty much got the rest of her life figured out. All she has to do is sit back, relax, and let the pieces fall into place.

But her real life never gets the memo. First, her son moves back in with her—along with his girlfriend. Her dream job falls through, leaving her unemployed. Her mother, whom she hadn’t spoken to in years, can no longer live alone and has to move into her basement. And her only daughter is planning the smallest and simplest wedding in the history of all weddings, much to Kate’s dismay.

Kate thinks that she and Jake, her former college love who has reemerged on an online dating site, of all places, can build something real, and that maybe her happy ending is in front of her at last. But the arrival of Edward, her daughter’s future father-in-law, presents Kate with an unexpected choice.

It looks like real happiness may require a slight change of plan.

I liked the idea of a book centered around adults in this age range, so was excited when I picked this up. Sadly, the attitude and actions of most of the characters put their maturity level back in their late teens to early twenties rather than in their 50’s so I might as well have been reading a new adult book, except the characters all have older/adult children.

I could have gotten past that and enjoyed the story if this book had been able to evoke even a lick of emotional response from me, but… nada. I felt nothing other than irritated with the relationship between Kate and Jake and there was absolutely nothing to suggest that Kate and Edward had anything stronger than a friendship. Everyone, including Kate, Edward and Jake just left me feeling rather meh. It was just incredibly bland.

When I finally got to the ending, I was kind of “Wait. That was it? Um… why did I read this?”

So this was one of those I didn’t hate it but didn’t particularly like it either books.

 

Slowly Moving Forward

I sent off my manuscript to my editor over the weekend and got confirmation that we are about 3 weeks out from getting started on it. I’m pretty sure I’ve found who I want to work with on my cover design as well after confirming they will work with my photo. It is all kind of terrifying and nerve wracking, but it is forward movement.

Resonance

I obviously enjoy a wide range of books across many genres, but the ones that tend to stick with me the most are the ones that can give me a story about the imperfections of humanity and do so with a strong emotional impact, be it through humor, joy, anger, love, tears or grief. As long as the story fully engages my emotions, I’m probably going to really enjoy it, but even more so if it has a central focus on family.

Continue reading “Resonance”

A Family For Keeps: Rheland Richmond

Author: Rheland Richmond
Book Name: A Family For Keeps
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

Blurb:

Tristan was devastated when his sister died. His only consolation was her newborn daughter. He promised to take care of her like she was his own, but he’s broken that promise.

After growing up in foster care, Nathaniel’s finally built the life he’s always wanted. Now one case of human error could tear it all apart.

An unthinkable mistake that could never be rectified. Two men. Absolute strangers until tragedy and unforeseen circumstances bind them together. They must now find a way to co-parent and make the best of a bad situation. With no shared history to help them and two little girls caught in the middle, they now have no choice but to make it work. What could possibly go wrong?

Can two men put their differences aside for the sake of their children? They both have difficult choices to make, or what they love most will be taken away.

When I first read the blurb for this, I was pretty excited because it checked a lot of boxes for me on things I love in a good story. The premise and idea behind the story is really good, if maybe a little bit over the top. Sadly, the execution of that idea kind of flopped. There were just too many things that kept yanking me out of this story for me to ever really sink into it emotionally and I hated that.

The majority of this book is contained inside the characters heads, giving the reader very little dialog. Even a lot of character interaction is handled this way, even several situations being a character’s remembrance of scenarios instead of allowing the characters to experience them as a natural flow of events. That hampered my ability to connect with the characters and feel their connection with each other. This is a classic example of needing to show, not tell.

What little dialog you get was painfully one sided. There was almost no actual back and forth conversation, only one character speaking without getting any feedback, either in words or actions, from the other character(s) in the scene, leaving you with this bizarre kind of monologue. The few times you do get a little back and forth between characters, it is nearly impossible to tell who is speaking, which made all the dialog scenes even more convoluted because you couldn’t always tell if it was a monologue or back and forth. I honestly got lost several times in the dialog parts.

This is written in a dual POV between the two main characters. Sections were made clear as to who’s POV the reader was getting, yet there were still these random jumps where we get a tiny bit of perspective that came out as the other character, lasted maybe a sentence or two or even a paragraph before shifting back to the designated character’s POV. These always tripped me up and I had to go back and reread to try and figure out if I misread something or had missed a noted POV switch.

While I do really like the concept idea of this story, the details to make it happen are just too pat. Both main characters are stupidly good looking and stupidly wealthy. Tristian has the added benefit of being surrounded by stupidly good looking, talented, equally stupidly wealthy friends and adopted family. The kids are all insanely perfect, docile little dolls that roll with every single change like it is nothing. Anyone that has kids or even knows a kid will tell you this is straight up fantasy, because that would NEVER happen no matter how you work to justify it. Yes, there are a few historical challenges and difficulties as well as the issue of the medical thing (which also turns out perfectly), but… there just are no character imperfections to make them feel realistic, believable or relatable. Even the one real struggle towards the end seems overly simplistic.

And as much as I hate harping on editing mistakes… this just had too many obvious and annoying ones that just made all the other annoying issues combine to make me just not enjoy the story. I’m pretty sure I even ran into a few character history/background contradictions (massive peeve of mine). This story is okay, but this is one of those books that could have been really good if some of those issues had been noted and fixed before someone hit publish.

Cover Photoshoot Round 2

BG and I had another fun evening trying to get my cover image for my book. I THINK I may have gotten what I want. I need to do some playing with it, and then have an actual conversation with a cover designer, but… I’m seriously happy with what I have so far.

Continue reading “Cover Photoshoot Round 2”

Refining My Perspective

BG graciously agreed to help me work on my book cover concept this week. I adore the fact that she is not only willing to help, but pretty excited to be a part of this with me.

Continue reading “Refining My Perspective”

Searching And Questioning

My steps towards finding an editor have been… interesting. Yet again, expectations and reality didn’t quite meet up. After a few initial conversations and some deeper digging, I’ve discovered that I am probably looking at several thousand dollars to go through an entire process of different levels of editing as well as cover and design work for my book.

Continue reading “Searching And Questioning”

Ready Or Not, Here I Go

I took the first terrifying step and sent of my initial contact to an editor. I’m not even 100% that this will be the editor I end up using, though from the research I’ve done it is a pretty good chance, but I took that step. It was huge and nerve wracking, but I did it. Now I’m back to sit and wait mode. Can I vomit now?

This Bright Beauty: Emily Cavanagh

This Bright Beauty
This Bright Beauty

Author:  Emily Cavanagh
Book Name: This Bright Beauty
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Family Drama/Literature
Rating:  Okay

3+stars

 

 

Blurb:

A long-buried secret changes everything two sisters thought they knew about each other.

Franci and Lottie may be identical twins, but that’s where the similarities end. Franci has always been the stable one, while Lottie has bipolar disorder, constantly battling depression and mania. After years of taking care of her sister, Franci moves across the country to build a life for herself. Now, all the two share is distance.

But when Lottie gets in an accident, Franci reluctantly steps back into her familiar role as protector. She returns to find her sister’s life in complete disarray and makes a shocking discovery: Lottie has an infant daughter she never told Franci about. Although Franci swore she wouldn’t get sucked back in, she can’t leave the baby alone in Lottie’s care.

As Lottie further unravels, a secret is revealed that she has kept since childhood—one that has the power to reframe the sisters’ entire relationship, forcing Franci to ask herself if the secret was too much for Lottie to bear. Was the accident really an accident, and who has been protecting whom all these years?

I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. For one, it was so tediously slow to get through. I was doing pretty good and enjoying what I was reading for a while when I started wondering where we’d hit that secret reveal moment promised in the blurb. I look down and I’m only at 35% or so when I expected to be so much farther into the book. From there, everything just really started to drag.

Nearly the entire book is done in memories of each character. I don’t mind that so much, but that is part of why this felt so slow. You are waiting and waiting for the promised build up that takes forever to get to and are constantly dropped into yet another memory with nothing ever really coming out of those other than background. When you do finally get to it, way farther into the story than I expected, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already expected and when it is all said and done, it doesn’t actually change a thing. Not really.

I had a hard time connecting or getting invested in either of the main characters as I felt that they were both petty and spiteful to each other which made them not very likable. Sure, there are some potential reasons, but those reasons didn’t change their likability.

All the wait and plowing through to get to the end and, again, it wasn’t anything that I didn’t already think was going to happen and I kind of felt like I was left with a “That’s it?” kind of a feeling which is pretty irritating as a reader.