Halloween fun for literary geeks! This event will help make the 2017 Dahlonega Literary Festival possible. Michael & I will be there in costumes inspired by two of our favorite books of all time…
When ninety-year-old Bubbles receives a letter from Mexico City asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, lost there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing, she hatches a plan. A woman with a mission, Bubbles convinces her hippie daughter Feather to accompany her on the quest. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.
Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey. The two women travel south from Canada to Mexico where Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their hilarious antics.
Amazon Buy Link: Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie
When I first read the description of Fling! by Lily Iona MacKenzie, I was eager to start reading. I’m a sucker for complicated mother-daughter relationships and, at its heart, this is the story of sixty-year-old Feather and her ninety-year-old mother, Bubbles. Struggling under the weight of past disappointments and betrayals, their relationship is loving, but strained. When Bubbles pressures her daughter into a quest to recover her mother’s missing ashes in Mexico City, the duo sets out on an adventure that seems ill-fated. Then a few dead ancestors join the party, highlighting the rampant misunderstandings, missed opportunities, lost loves, betrayals and petty jealousies of the past. In this story, the sins of the parents continue to echo through the generations in fascinating patterns.
This book is a giddy, breathless, dizzy journey through space and time – pinballing from Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early twentieth century, Canada in the 1950’s and Mexico in 1996. The point of view bounces around quite a bit, and at times I was rather seasick from the view inside Bubbles’ head. That said, Bubbles’ swings in thought, focus, mood and personality were authentic, reminding me of listening to my own grandmother during the middle stages of dementia. It is obvious that the author is familiar with the idiosyncrasies of a free-spirited woman entering her nineties; unwilling to go gently into anyone’s version of “that dark night.”
This is a poetic, unconventional, farcical journey through the enigmatic terrain of family relationships, shifting perceptions and lost loves.
A Canadian by birth, a high school dropout, and a mother at 17, in her early years, Lily Iona MacKenzie supported herself as a stock girl in the Hudson’s Bay Company, as a long distance operator for the former Alberta Government Telephones, and as a secretary (Bechtel Corp sponsored her into the States). She also was a cocktail waitress at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, briefly broke into the male-dominated world of the docks as a longshoreman (and almost got her legs broken), founded and managed a homeless shelter in Marin County, and eventually earned two Master’s degrees (one in Creative writing and one in the Humanities). She has published reviews, interviews, short fiction, poetry, travel pieces, essays, and memoir in over 140 American and Canadian venues. Fling was published in July 2015 by Pen-L Publishing. Bone Songs, another novel, will be published in 2016. Her poetry collection All This was published in 2011. She also teaches writing at the University of San Francisco, is vice-president of USF’s part-time faculty union, paints, and travels widely with her husband.
Sounds pretty terrifying, huh? It is! Trant’s descriptions of the effects of the virus – told from both the observer’s and infected person’s perspectives – are so harrowing…I actually had nightmares as I was reading this book. But I kept reading because I had to know what was going to happen next
This is where I need to make a confession. I may be one of the very few human beings on the planet who does not have a voracious appetite for zombie apocalyptic science fiction. Apocalypse of any sort scares me. Martial law terrifies me. Infectious virus that attacks the core of humanity horrifies me. I have never seen a single episode of the Walking Dead. In fact, I am so squeemish about deadly viral outbreaks that I have to leave the room when the news features stories on Ebola virus!
So, when I was asked to participate in this blog tour, I was a little cautious and reluctant. Then I checked out the free sample pages of the book, and I was hooked. I had to know what happened next…and that’s really all that matters when it comes to my choices in reading material. It’s that just-one-more-page-turning feeling that grabs me by the gut and drags me through the alternate reality of a fictional world.
I enjoyed this book very much, even with the nightmares. It is a true science fiction thriller that offers a roller coaster ride through an apocalyptic nightmare version of our world – strewn with dead bodies, burned landscapes and riddled with bullets. The book opens from a tiny, almost claustrophobic perspective. Edwin Peacemaker struggles to keep his small family (wife, son and young daughter) from starving to death while they are forced to wait out torrential rains that have stranded them in a remote mountain cabin located in the Alabama mountains. After weeks of isolation, their food supply is gone. Forced to tightly ration their only power resource, they check the television every day only to find a blue screen with a recurring declaration of martial law. It’s a familiar scenario, but the author does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the family’s struggle to survive…without ripping each other apart.
Everything changes when another family arrives and asks for sanctuary in the Peacemaker’s cabin. Edwin and his son, Perry, are forced to make a terrible choice.
As the situation in the Arkansas mountains disintegrates into violent chaos, the Peacemaker family joins forces with a group of renegade soldiers who abandoned their military post rather than face certain death in the “Q-zone” (Quarantine Zone). Gunfights, wild escapes from missiles and even a few encounters with a Bigfoot-type creature ensue. It’s a tension-filled, escapist read that never bores.
Paperback: 218 Pages
Genre: Sci Fi
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (May 21, 2015)
Twitter hashtag: #StepsTrant
Steps is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric’s work at:
One of the best things about being an author is being asked to read and review books by other authors. That said, I am VERY picky about which books I’ll agree to feature here on the blog. As soon as I heard about this series by Ava Louise, I could hardly wait to start reading. Single women willing to look for love in unusual places? Peaceful aliens searching for soul mates? And a Meezer (a.k.a. Siamese cat) in space? This is Maggie’s Story (Book 1 of the Intergalactic Matchmaking Series).
After she identifies a gang member as the shooter in a local murder, Maggie Cline is trapped in a terrible situation. While the police investigators are unable to resolve the murder case, they are also unable to adequately protect Maggie from the ruthless, daily intimidation campaign waged by other members of the shooter’s gang. Alone in the world and facing a daily dose of terror outside her apartment door, is it any wonder Maggie answers an ad for a dating service that requires relocation? Her only concern is whether or not the service will allow her to relocate with her beloved cat Mamzell.
(To be honest, there were a few times during my singleton dating days when I would have answered that ad. But that is another story.)
This is a fun, light, sweet, purely escapist read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story reminded me of a Hallmark romance movie with a touch of Starman mixed in.
If you are looking for hot, lusty human-alien erotica, this is NOT your book. Instead of explicit content, the author leads you toward the bedroom door then fades to afterglow. (I did not have a problem with that, but I also enjoy Hallmark romance movies) My one criticism is that Maggie’s Story is a bit too short with the main story problem resolved too easily. However, since Maggie’s romance continues as a secondary storyline in Books 2 and 3, I would suggest you keep reading if you are unhappy with the ending of Book 1. (I’ve read and enjoyed all 3.)
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (January 27, 2014)
Shirley’s Story (Book 2) Just as Shirley decides to try opening herself up to a chance at love, a stalker from her past returns. How does she move forward when her past comes knocking? What’s going on with her young student, Hannah? Will her dog, Oreo, be okay with Shirley looking for love?
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (March 4, 2014)
Penny’s Story (Book 3) Penny was supposed to be dead. At least that is what Claire has believed for ten years. Find out what happens when Claire’s sister comes out of the Witness Protection Program. Penny is fighting a losing battle with cancer and needs Claire to raise Sunny, Penny’s newborn daughter, once the cancer takes its final toll.
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (November 30, 2014)
All of the Intergalactic Matchmaking Services books are available as an e-book on Amazon
Ava Louise was born a U.S. Army brat overseas, in France. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young men. It’s taken her a while to figure out what she wanted to be “when she grows up,” but Ava has finally found her niche in the writing world. Since writing came to her later in life, she likes to think she is living proof that it’s never too late to reach for a dream or to achieve it. Before writing her own stories, she usually reads from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Young Adult.
Ava Louise can be found online at:
Blog: The Road to a Dream: http://avalouise.net/theroadtoadream/
Today, I’m hosting a blog tour stop for this fabulous little writer’s resource:I was very excited to learn about this new book by Frances Caballo. The subtitle – A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for their Books and Still Have Time to Write – is such a bright and glorious promise that I could not wait to learn the secrets written in its pages.
You can’t just read this book, you have to USE it. So I’m going to write a two-part review:
Part One – Reading the Book
This book is a quick read, especially considering the fact that it is jam-packed with information and resources. The writing is clear, concise and action oriented. And when I say action oriented, what I mean to say is that I kept wanting to set aside the book to jump online and start using the strategies and tips being described immediately. The lists of resources – websites, social media management services, software and apps – might seem a bit daunting if you plan on reading and considering each one. I chose to skim over those sections bookmarking one or two on each list that interested me the most. (I can always go back to reread and rethink my selections.)
Speaking of skimming, if I had not agreed to write this review, I might have skipped over the first chapter – Why Social Media Is Integral to a Writer’s Marketing Platform. I mean, I know this. That’s why I’m reading the book, right? Well, actually, it would have been a HUGE mistake to skip this chapter. It’s not just the normal call to introverted writers to get over your fears of social media and start building a platform. No, actually Frances includes a detailed discussion of the user demographics on the most popular social media sites. Why do I need to know that? Because it helps me TARGET my social media efforts. It tells a writer where to find his or her target audience. I quickly figured out that there’s no need to worry about getting up and running on Google+ yet. My readers are not there. However, they are also not big on Facebook…um, what? Ouch. It turns out my readers are on Twitter & Tumblr. GULP. Guess who had been ignoring both? Yep, this chapter schooled me. It was time to change and expand my social media presence. Luckily, I had this book to help me get up and running quickly and (relatively) painlessly.
This book is constantly open to Chapter 2 on my desktop. The entire book is wonderful and I learned something new in each chapter. That said, if you put my hands to the fire, I would have to say Chapter 2 – The Four Step Cure to Social Media “Time Suck” – is worth the cost of the entire book…it’s actually worth more than the cost of the book. It gives you such a clear and easy to follow plan that, as the Geico ads say, “Even a caveman can do it.” (See Part Two.)
Now seriously, don’t just read the first two chapters. Every single chapter is full of valuable information. Read the whole thing. Consider it an investment in your writing career.
And, if you read the entire book, you’ll probably be hungry for more. I was. That’s why I follow Frances Caballo on Twitter.
Part Two – Using the Book
As mentioned above, Chapter 2 provides a simple, straightforward plan to build (or, in my case, redesign) an author platform on social media. As an experiment, I tried to follow the social media strategies in the book for two weeks to find out if the plan was feasible. (Note: Two weeks is not enough time to determine if the plan was successful in improving my social media reach. I simply wanted to know if I could manage the daily activities in 15 – 30 minutes per day.)
I followed the basic posting schedule for Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest. Prior to reading this book I was “guilty as charged” of sending broadcast messages on Twitter and Facebook instead of sharing content and having conversations, so I also set up an Alltop.com account to find better content.
Time Suckage Alert – I spent an hour or two to set up my Alltop page. It follows the topics that will interest my audience…but those topics also interest ME. So it is perilously easy for me to get stuck reading all of the fabulous content and, thus, waste valuable writing time!
After test driving both TweetDeck and the free version of HootSuite, I chose HootSuite as my main control panel for posting to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (though I have not really been taking full advantage of LinkedIn as yet). Just fifteen minutes in the morning and I am able to schedule posts for the entire day. Then I spend 10-15 minutes checking in with my “Tweeps” in the evening and posting to Pinterest. And voila! I’ve accomplished my social media marketing for the day.
After years of puzzlement over why Twitter is so popular, I finally get it. It is fun!
Example: After exchanging Tweets with a fellow geek girl and Star Wars fan about her fabulous Han Solo leggings, the online retailer jumped in to let me know the discontinued item will be available again in May. Oh happy day!
Are any of these conversations helping me sell my books? I don’t know. But I do know that this is a painless, reasonable and feasible plan to increase my presence on social media. The next phase of my plan is to track my analytics and adjust my strategy, (See Chapter 6). Oh, and I need to figure out Tumblr.
In conclusion: I highly recommend this book for published authors who want to improve their social media marketing strategy and for newbie writers working toward publication. It’s never too early or too late to get your author platform in order.
You can win a FREE copy of this fantastic resource book. Frances is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads. Click here to enter. (But act quickly. The contest ends on April 30.)
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: ACT Communications; First edition (January 15, 2014)
Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers Who Want to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, as well as at your local bookstore.
I have a new mid-year resolution which should supplement & enhance my Accentuate the Positive in 2014 New Year’s resolution. Every time I finish a novel I’ve truly enjoyed – no matter what its topic, age group or intended audience – I’m posting a quick recommendation here. And by quick I mean SUPER quick. An image of the book’s cover, some basic stats and a sentence or two on why I enjoyed it. Also, if the book I’m posting reminds me of other book(s) I’ve loved in the past, I’ll recommend those books too.
(Why so brief? See, I have this issue that normally stops me from posting book reviews. I love to read, I love to write, but I do not enjoy writing detailed reviews about works of fiction. This issue has been preventing me from spreading the love and, for an author, that is just BAD juju!)
Today’s Recommendation: RULES FOR GHOSTING by A. J. Paquette
I have a voracious, nearly insatiable appetite for non-horror ghost stories and this one is fantastic! It’s full of eccentric, creative characters that made laugh. Paquette’s descriptions of Silverton Manor are pitch-perfect while her use of alternating viewpoints between the living boy and the ghost girl really brings the story’s tension and mystery to life. I should donate my copy of this novel to a library so more grade school readers can enjoy it, but I don’t think I will be able to part with it. (Sorry, kiddies!)
Other middle grade fiction I’ve loved that you will probably enjoy if you like Rules for Ghosting:
Note: I’m always thrilled to find new, wonderful ghost stories that won’t scare me to death. If anyone out there would like to recommend books to me based on my avid adoration of non-horror ghost stories (a.k.a. Casper the Friendly Ghost Syndrome), please post in the comments here, or post on my Facebook author page, or send a Tweet to @SlaytheWriter.
According to 11Alive news, this weekend is going to be absolutely gorgeous – sunny with highs in the upper 60’s – a glorious Spring day. In fact, Saturday is predicted to be a perfect 10 on the WIZometer.
Woo hoo!!! This will be a FABULOUS weekend for the Dahlonega Literary Festival.
Even though I’m recovering from knee surgery – still unable to drive or walk without crutches or navigate stairs – words cannot fully express how much I’m looking forward to actually getting outside of this house and being around people who love books.
The lineup of authors is absolutely stellar this year! Here’s my own personal highlights:
NOTE: The first person who walks up to me during this festival and says, “May the literary Force be with you” will win a FREE copy of my novel (NSLA, NSFA).
Here’s the full DLF Schedule (taken from their website):
12:30–1:30 – Lunch with the Author (at area restaurants–attendees responsible for their meals)
5:15–6:30 – Author Meet-and-Greet, Open to the Public, Community House
7:00 Saturday Night Live: Dinner at Don Pollo’s
Buffet dinner for $17.99 plus tax, or order from the menu. Six of our featured authors will read short selections.
12:30–1:15 – What is Southern Fiction, Anyway? Panelists: Raymond Atkins, Kim Boykin, Jackie Cooper, Terry Kay, Cassandra King, Charles McNair, George Weinstein
1:30–2:15 – The Role of Setting in Fiction – Panelists: Michael Bishop, Mark Braught, Alex Hughes, Susan Lindsley, Erika Marks, William Rawlings, James R. Tuck
After the Festival Fun for Writers:
3:00–6:00 p.m – Write-In (Starbuck’s next to UNG campus) How would you like to meet with other aspiring writers to discuss issues, offer support, share ideas, and even play a game or two? Word Wars and Word Challenges will be part of the fun.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a wee bit obsessed with the 70’s…particularly with strong, creative, brave women coming-of-age during the Age of Aquarius. So, when I learned about this new anthology, I practically begged the lovely folks at WOW! to let me host a stop on the blog tour. YAY! They agreed! (Confession: I was chiefly motivated by a selfish desire to get my eyeballs on the review copy. Keep reading for my review.)
AND…I’m very excited to offer another FREE giveaway! All you have to do is comment on this post for a chance to win. I have a print copy or e-book for US mailing addresses (or an e-book for international mailing addresses).
First, here’s a bit of “official” information about the book.
Just in time for the holidays, Linda Joy Myers, Kate Farrell and Amber Lea Starfire launch their anthology Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ’60s and ’70s. The book is the perfect gift for opening discussions with friends and family members and illustrating what a powerful time the ’60s and ’70s truly were.
Forty-eight powerful stories and poems etch in vivid detail breakthrough moments experienced by women during the life-changing era that was the ’60s and ’70s. These women rode the sexual revolution with newfound freedom, struggled for identity in divorce courts and boardrooms, and took political action in street marches. They pushed through the boundaries, trampled the taboos, and felt the pain and joy of new experiences. And finally, here, they tell it like it was.
Through this collection of women’s stories, we celebrate the women of the ’60s and ’70s and the importance of their legacy.
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press (Sept. 8, 2013)
Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the ‘60s & ‘70s is available in print and as an e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, She Writes Press and Indie Bound.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TimesTheyWereAChanging
Times They Were A-Changing blog: http://www.timestheywereachanging.com
To be honest, I don’t read many anthologies…or non-fiction…or politics…or memoir. I’m a novelist who devours novels. So this was a very unusual literary selection for me. That said, I absolutely LOVED this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it. Times They Were A-Changing is not just a collection of memories and nostalgia by a bunch of women who survived the 60’s and 70’s, it’s an honest exploration of a weird, wondrous, bewildering and, at times, violent chapter of the 20th century. I believe this book would be a brilliant gift for any woman, but especially for younger women who are curious about the two decades that changed, well, just about EVERYTHING about coming-of-age as a female in this country.
While the editors have put together a solid, well-written collection of poetry and prose with no weak links, there were a few selections that really stood out for me:
“We don’t know where we’re headed, or how long this will take. We thrive inside the Mystery.”
This anthology manages to combine a heady mix of history, politics, education and inspiration while still being a highly entertaining read!
One disclaimer: I would classify one or two of the selections in this book as Rated R and some of the political issues depicted are still burning with controversy today. While I would NEVER advocate censorship, be sure you’ve read the book before sharing it with anyone under the age of 18.
Kate Farrell earned a M.A. from UC Berkeley; taught language arts in high schools, colleges, and universities; founded the Word Weaving storytelling project in collaboration with the California Department of Education with a grant from the Zellerbach Family Fund, and published numerous educational materials. She is founder of Wisdom Has a Voice memoir project and edited Wisdom Has a Voice: Every Daughter’s Memories of Mother (2011). Farrell is president of Women’s National Book Association, San Francisco Chapter, a board member of Redwood Branch of the California Writers Club, member of Story Circle Network and National Association of Memoir Writers.
Linda Joy Myers is president and founder of the National Association of Memoir Writers, and the author of four books: Don’t Call Me Mother—A Daughter’s Journey from Abandonment to Forgiveness, The Power of Memoir—How to Write Your Healing Story, and a workbook The Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing. Her book Becoming Whole—Writing Your Healing Story was a finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. A speaker and award-winning author, she co-teaches the program Write Your Memoir in Six Months, and offers editing, coaching, and mentoring for memoir, nonfiction, and fiction. www.namw.org. Visit her blog at http://memoriesandmemoirs.com.
Amber Lea Starfire, whose passion is helping others tell their stories, is the author of Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations (2012) and Not the Mother I Remember, due for release in late 2013. A writing teacher and editor, she earned her MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco and is a member of the California Writers Club in Napa and Santa Rosa, the Story Circle Network, National Association of Memoir Writers, and International Association for Journal Writing. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors. www.writingthroughlife.com
Reminder: Comment on this post before midnight 12/16/13 to win your own copy of Times They Were A-Changing.