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.

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.

The Last Time I Was Me: Cathy Lamb

Author: Cathy Lamb
Book Name: The Last Time I Was Me
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb: I wrapped up my grandmother’s tea cup collection and my mother’s china, then grabbed a violin I’d hidden way back in my closet that made me cry, a gold necklace with a dolphin that my father gave me two weeks before he died of a heart attack when I was twelve and, at midnight, with that moon as bright as the blazes, I left Chicago.

When Jeanne Stewart stops at The Opera Man’s Cafe in Weltana, Oregon, to eat pancakes for the first time in twelve years, she has no idea she’s also about to order up a whole new future. It’s been barely a week since she succumbed to a spectacularly public nervous breakdown in front of hundreds of the nation’s most important advertising and PR people. Jeanne certainly had her reasons–her mother’s recent death, the discovery that her boyfriend had been sleeping with a dozen other women, and the assault charges that resulted when Jeanne retaliated in a creative way against him, involving condoms and peanut oil.

Now, en route to her brother’s house in Portland, Jeanne impulsively decides to spend some time in picturesque Weltana. Staying at a B&B run by the eccentric, endearing Rosvita, she meets a circle of quirky new friends at her court-ordered Anger Management classes. Like Jeanne, all of them are trying to become better, braver versions of themselves. Yet the most surprising discoveries are still to come–a good man who steadily makes his way into her heart and a dilapidated house that with love and care might be transformed into something wholly her own, just like the new life she is slowly building, piece by piece.

The good: I liked most of this author’s style. The books was funny in a lot of spots, which I often find hard to pull off. The humor being snarky and so “wish I could come up with those lines on the spot when I really need them” kind of things. Jeanne was a character that you could easily empathize with on most levels.

The not so good: I just could not get past how over the top crazy Jeanne got at times and got away with it. Yes, you can totally empathize with her. You can even understand her and why she does the things she does. It was the absolutely unbelievable level of “she is so cute and adorable in her snarkiness and everyone loves her so everyone just lets her do whatever she wants” kind of thing that forced me to drop my rating on this. Sure, this is fiction. It is not real life. But… I have to believe in the situations and the characters. There is absolutely zero real consequence for her actions going on here and it just made it all too much and negated all the things that made her feel human and relatable.

I also got sick of the regular future sneak peaks the reader was given as to what was going to happen later in the book. One or two of those might have been okay, but they happened a few too many times and made the story feel a bit jumpy because of it.

I’m really torn about those “not so good” parts because I really did enjoy this book otherwise.

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”

No One Ever Asked: Katie Ganshert

Author: Katie Ganshert
Book Name: No One Ever Asked
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Literature
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb: When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

This is one of those books that leaves me torn on how to rate it. On a general, quality level, I think that this was a well written book with a lot of great insight into racial issues. That aspect wants me to rate this higher.

Sadly, there were a few other issues that I just wasn’t much of a fan of. Since this is told from the perspective of 3 different characters, the reader’s attention is split pretty hard and that made it difficult to connect with any of them enough for me to like them. What I did get from all three wasn’t all that appealing as individuals, making them fall into the dislike side of things for me.

One of my other issues, and I realize this is on me more and my personal tastes than anything, is that this book gets a bit religiously preachy in places. Since this is one I checked out of the library, I didn’t think to look at the sub-genres it was classified under on Amazon. It wasn’t noted as Christian fiction through my library, but did have that tag in Amazon. If I’d seen that up front, I probably wouldn’t have read it because I do not enjoy being preached to.

The last issue I had was how the story gets wrapped up in the end. You have all this pretty great stuff going on with regards to race and segregation in schools and then you have this kind of crazy, over dramatic and not really connected ending that just doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the story at all. No, it wasn’t really predictable, which could be viewed as good, but it also just didn’t seem to work for me because it didn’t feel like it meshed with everything that happened up to that point.

I think the things I wasn’t much of a fan of overpowered the parts I liked so this ends up being only an okay read for me.

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.

Overwhelmed

So, I started my research for an editor and a cover designer. Then I just kind of hit this wall. The sheer volume of different types of editors and pricing and the lists of different steps you need to take with each different one and just… everything. It sent me into kind of a tailspin. It was so overwhelming I just had to step away.

Continue reading “Overwhelmed”

Next Step – Research

I have finally finished the last of the suggested edits I have for my book. Those are edits I’ve gotten from my two beta readers. I also managed to get a last complete read through completed once those were done to make sure the changes I made didn’t mess anything up in the process.

All that means is that I’m now at the point where I need to hire an editor and a cover designer. I don’t have either one picked out yet, so that means it is time to do some heavy duty research. I know what I’ll be working on next week!