Sunday Updates

Despite the gray and the fog and the general sense of Yuck in the air, it’s actually been a fairly productive weekend.  I finished reading Seance by Tinsley Collins.  It was awesome!  I’ll post my formal review of it tomorrow, along with pictures and links.  I definitely plan on buying a copy for myself once I get paid on Friday.  I’m also (finally) almost done reading my friends’ book.  I realized the reason it’s taken me a little longer to read it is because I’ve been going through and editing, making side notes, and honestly, reading is just so much more when you don’t do that.  

Also on the book front, Cemetery Tours got another great review…  Image

 … bringing the total review count on Amazon up to 25!!

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I also got a new shipment of books in. 

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As usual, Midnight thought they were for her.

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But they’re not.  Neither are the last three books in the Percy Jackson series.  

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I wanted to buy the third one on Friday, but I went to Target and they didn’t have it!  It was like the third Harry Potter book all over again!  So, I went to Barnes and Noble and decided to just buy the rest of them while I saw them.  There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a series and not being able to finish!  

Finally, one last picture before I sign off for the night… I was at church this morning and guess what they’re selling?

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Neat!  

Talk to you all tomorrow.  Sleep tight and stay warm! 

 

Let Your Country Out

As many of you know, I recently started listening to the music of a brand new country star named Jessie Lee Cates.  Now, my dad, my sister, and I are all huge country music fans (my mom’s a Yankee, so she tolerates it).  We listen to it all the time, especially when it’s cold out and we’re dreaming of summer days full of blue skies, road trips, and wildflowers.  We love Sugarland, Roger Creager, Lady Antebellum, Clay Walker, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Eli Young Band, Josh Abbott Band, Toby Keith, and let me tell you, Jessie Lee Cates is right up there with the best of the best.  

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Her voice is pure and clear, her music classic and catchy with a delightful country beat.  Of course, I’m still quite partial to Scotland, as it is one of my absolute favorite places in the world and my own ancestors’ homeland, but the rest of Jessie Lee’s debut album is just as fun, delightful, and frankly, good, old fashioned, high quality country music.       

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I’ve had the distinct privilege of connecting with Miss Cates over Twitter and Facebook, and she is just about as sweet and classy as it gets.  She read the first blog post I wrote about her music, https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/best-song-ever/, and contacted me to say that she wanted to make me her fan of the month!  

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I also received a copy of her CD, a super cute T-Shirt that will look GREAT with jeans and my cowboy boots, and an autographed photo which I can’t wait to hang in my office alongside my autographed Switchfoot poster.  

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I’ve been following the news on her website, JessieLeeCates.com, Jessie Lee is a current bestseller in contemporary country on Amazon, her single Scotland (my favorite) is #4 on the charts in Europe, and there is a Scotland music video in the works!  I can’t wait to see it!  Scotland is just such a special place to me (as I think I’ve mentioned several times) and I think the video will be awesome.  

I’m always so thrilled to find new music to listen to, and I especially love being able to connect with a new artist whose work I genuinely respect and enjoy and whom I can hopefully help out (not that she really needs my help… she’s definitely doing just fine on her own!) by spreading the word about their craft, be it music, books, art, or script.  If you like country music and/or strong female vocalists, I hope you stop by Jessie Lee’s website.  Her music is definitely worth a listen!  

Next up on A Platform of Sorts: A Review of Seance by Tinsley Collins and How Target Ruined my Life by Not Having the Third Percy Jackson book in stock.   

 

Snooow

As promised…

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This temperature is unacceptable.

 

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Apparently, we have critters living in our tree.

 

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Yes, I said critters. I’m from Texas.

 

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Falling snow is actually really difficult to photograph.

 

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Today wasn’t a total drag, however.  I don’t know if I told y’all this, but I was selected as rising country music star Jessie Lee Cates’ fan of the month!  I’ll post more about it tomorrow!  So excited!  She’s awesome.  If you’re a country music fan, go check her out right now! http://www.jessieleecates.com/

Snow and Sequels

Well, I’m snowed in.

Of course, in Texas, “snowed in” means “there’s half an inch of snow on the ground but the last time I tried to venture out in these conditions, I ended up driving my car into a pole.”  Okay, so most of us probably don’t drive our cars into a pole (though I actually did), but I’ve already read half a dozen news reports and Facebook statuses from friends who have had very, very close encounters in this weather, so I really just don’t want to chance it.

I thought about taking a walk down to the park (which I actually walk around quite a lot when the weather is, you know, pleasant) and taking pictures of the snow, but after I discovered that I can feel the cold radiating through the windows, I remembered how much I really hate being cold and decided to spend the day with my blanket and kitty and of course, all you lovely people instead.  Why anyone willingly ventures to places with snow for vacation is beyond me.  Ski trip?  Only if by “ski” you mean “water skiing.” You know, where it’s WARM.  And there’s sand and palm trees.

I guess I should be grateful.  I have friends in other parts of the country who have it a lot, a LOT worse.  To all of you, I will say a prayer and I will continue to be thankful that I am not where you are.  There’s this joke amongst Texans that every time we have extreme weather, we have to tell everyone about it, even though those of us who live here are already quite aware of those conditions.  The funny thing about that joke is it’s absolutely true.  We genuinely believe that everyone needs to know just how cold it is here, even though we are definitely not the coldest spot in the country.  And of course, we all freak out every time there’s even a little bit of ice on the ground.

True story.

Oh NO!  I just stepped outside to check the mail.  IT’S SNOWING AGAIN.  THE FLAKES ARE HUGE.

And of course, I couldn’t resist.  I stepped outside to take a few pictures.  I’ll probably post them later because right now, my fingers are too numb to edit.  There is something beautiful and peaceful about watching snow fall.  It’s like being inside a water globe.  That still doesn’t mean I like it or anything.

Okay.  Part of me does like snow.  I just don’t like the cold or the now being able to go anywhere part.

Moving on to stuff that is actually relevant to this writing blog…

I’ve officially been with WordPress for one year!  They sent me a little anniversary note and everything!

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How sweet!  I’ll admit it, I’m actually really proud of myself for keeping up with this blog for that long.  This is, I think, the third blog that I’ve had and it’s the only one to which I’ve really committed.  Well, I was pretty good with my photography blog too, but then I used up all my space and yeah.  That was that.

Cemetery Tours also got another great review, this time on Amazon.co.uk.

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I’ve also finished chapter 24 of the sequel.  Chapter 25 is going to be FUN.  I can’t wait to get started.  Cemetery Tours is 28 chapters long, and I can’t be sure, but I’m thinking the sequel will be a few chapters longer.  I’m great with that.  I just hope people like it.  I was thinking about it last night, and I suddenly realized that I’m a little scared to publish it.  Cemetery Tours has gotten so many kind words and now for some reason, I’m afraid people are going to read the sequel and think, “Oh man, this sucks.  It’s not nearly as good as the first one.”  Hopefully, my editors will be able to tell me if something isn’t working.  I like the book.  I hope readers like it too.

Well, I’m off to go finish one of the books that I’m reading/editing/reviewing and then it’s write, write, write!  If you’re thinking about becoming an author, be forewarned: you never get days off.  Even when you’re snowed in, you always have something you can be doing.  Your brain never takes a break.  It’s not a bad thing, because I genuinely enjoy every moment of what I do.  I’m just saying, it’s hard to turn that “writer” part of your brain off.  In fact, I’m not sure it’s even possible.  It might just be the way we’re programmed.

Stay warm, everybody!  I’m currently in two layers of clothes AND a blanket.  I wish I had hot chocolate.

Just Dropping In

Today is another cold, gray day.  I personally believe that should be as valid an excuse as any for me to not do anything today.  I know, I just wrote about my bad case of “The Don’ts” just yesterday, but to be totally honest, I still have them.  I took a long nap this afternoon, immediately felt guilty about being so unproductive, but then stepped outside and realized that this awful weather is just not even worth being conscious for.  Having recently consumed chocolate, however, I am feeling much better.  It’s just like in Harry Potter.  Chocolate cures everything… even Dementor attacks!  

It’s weird.  Usually I can always think of something to say on this blog, but the only things I’ve really been thinking about in the last few days have been how cold it is and getting the manuscript for the second book finished.  Perhaps that’s a sign that that’s what I really need to be doing.  I don’t want to waste your time with a pointless blog post, but I also don’t want to not blog today.  It’s getting to the point where it feels weird not to post something.  It’s almost like being absent from school.  

I have ideas of what I could write.  Last night, I was about to go on a rampage because of a gross and crude comment some guy that I don’t even know made on Facebook.  But then I thought about it and realized I don’t want this blog to be a place where I go and complain.  The world is full of enough people complaining, picking fights, arguing, and putting each other down.  It’s especially bad on the Internet and it gets really discouraging after a while.  I don’t want to help spawn more hatred and negativity.  One of these days, when I feel like being funny, I’ll make a humorous list of things that annoy me, but today, I really just want to work on my book.  So I think that’s what I’m going to go do.

Fare thee well, people.  Enjoy this beautiful picture of books and flowers that is sadly not mine.  

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Apocalypse Graduation

Hello again, all.

I just found out that a friend of mine (and fellow author and blogger), Toni, is producing a short film!  You can check out her blog here: http://tjwiltshire.wordpress.com

Anyway, this a film that she is producing with her friends and fellow University students and they are planning to submit it to various film festivals and host a live screening.  It’s called Apocalypse Graduation and it’s about my favorite monsters (or the monsters that scare me the most)… ZOMBIES!

Here is the link to their KickStarter page.  Even if you can’t donate, please share the video and help out your fellow author, artist, scriptwriter, and filmmaker.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tjwiltshire/apocalypse-graduation-a-short-film

If the link, for whatever reason, isn’t working, here’s a the information that you’ll find on the page.

“Apocalypse Graduation is the story of two University students who are ambushed while studying in the library.

Apocalypse Graduation is a short film created by Matthew Tse (Director) and Toni Wiltshire (Producer/Scriptwriter). We have a first draft of our script finished, and can’t wait to get started on production!

Together, we are putting together a cast and crew of fellow students and intend to submit our final film to several film festivals.

Our film has a unique edge on most other zombie films: it’s packed with sarcasm, humour, relatable characters and NO ROMANCE. So many films – not just those with zombies – have the underlying (or even prominent) theme of romance, and we wanted to make a film without any of that. It’s just two friends who are trying not to get killed.

Apocalypse Graduation is the story of James Kirk and Clara Jenkins, who are ambushed by zombies while studying at the University library. They have to fight their way out and then survive their new zombie infested world. They have been friends since the start of University, having met at a gaming society. The only slight problem with them being apocalypse partners is the small issue of procreation – Clara is gay, and James can’t see Clara as anything more than a friend – even when faced with the threat of extinction.

As well as aiming to submit our films to several film festivals, we’re also hoping to have a screening in Lincoln (MORE DETAILS TO COME).

WHAT WE NEED:

Costumes

Set/Props

Make-up

Cameras

Mics

Print onto CD/DVDs

We have our script, but we need your help to get our film made! We want to create it to a professional standard, making it a debut film to be proud of.

MEET THE MAKERS:

We are Media Production students at the University of Lincoln, UK, and we are beyond excited to create this professional short film.

Matthew Tse has been studying Media Production for almost three years, and has worked on several short films as part of his college course, but would like to expand and make his own project outside of education. He has also been commissioned to create videos to advertise martial arts groups and was a camera operator for a documentary video about the Olympic torch passing through Peterborough.

Toni Wiltshire comes from an English, Psychology and Sociology background, and is currently going through the motions of self-publishing her first book. Toni’s interest in media lies in script writing and producing, so this opportunity to do both is an exciting prospect for her awesome organisation skills and budding writing abilities.

The two have been hypothesising about this film since November 2013, both wanting to make a zombie film that was both kick ass and realistic.

We intend to shoot the film in March/April 2014, and have post-production finished by May so that we can distribute by June 2014. If there are any delays, you guys will be the first to know!

Likely delays could be caused by the zombie apocalypse not actually happening, Toni killing Matt, or an increase in University work. We will try and make these issues as avoidable as possible, but if something is thrown into the works and causes a delay, we will of course let you know here!

We can’t wait to get started on this film and be able to share the finished product with you guys!

Please remember no donation is too small, anything and everything is greatly appreciated and you’ll be the cause of us feeling warm and happy inside.”

Thank you all!

The Don’ts

Today is not a bad day.  I’m not in a bad mood or upset about anything.  I just don’t want to do anything.  Anything productive, that is.  Honestly, it’s a wonder I’m even committing to my blog.  

I’m blaming this bad case of “the don’ts” on the weather.  It’s cold (yuck), gray (yuck), rainy (yuck), and just all around blah (yuck).  I may have been born in the dead of winter, but I am a summer girl at heart.  I like warmth and sunshine and blue skies and colors.  This weather just makes me feel gross and tired.  My gosh, I slept nine hours last night and I’m still having trouble dragging myself around.  I keep telling myself, “Why don’t you go to Barnes and Noble and pick up the next Percy Jackson book?” And all my brain responds with is, “Cold.  Walking.  Effort.  Pants.”  

Well, actually, I do have pants on right now, but they’re the really comfy kind.  If I went up to Barnes and Noble, I’d have to put on real pants and come on, who actually ever wants to do that?  

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Besides, it’s not like I need another book to read.  I have several that I could be reading in my room.  I ALSO have two for friends/reviews that I need to finish.  Today might be a very good day to do that, actually.  Alas, that would also mean thinking and you know, today just isn’t really a thinking kind of day.  

Things I Don’t Want To Do Today:

* Think

* Interact with anyone who is not my cat

* Go places

Things That I Do Want To Do Today

* Eat

* Sleep

* Watch movies (but not deep or stressful movies that require me to use my brain… I’m thinking more like Flubber or Toy Story)

* Build a blanket fort and stay there

I also want to be sure to keep up with the last few chapters of Cemetery Tours 2.  I’m so, so, so excited for it to be done that I’ve caught myself moving forward and making plans that it needs for publication before I’ve even finished it!  Enthusiasm is good.  Not finishing the manuscript is bad.  That’s what I really need to be doing today.  

Well, now that I’ve complained to you all about how lazy I feel, I actually do need to run and do some errands.  In the cold.  Blegh.

While I am gone, please enjoy this picture of an owl in a top hat. 

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The Monday Report: Take Two

Monday, we meet again.  So far, you’ve actually been pretty okay to me.  I hope you don’t make me regret saying that.

Before I really begin this post, I do want to take a moment to honor the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman.  As I’m sure most of you know by now, he passed away yesterday from an apparent drug overdose.  That just kills me.  My sister and I always said that he was one of the good ones.  I mean really good.  He could take any part, no matter how small, and turn it into a brilliant performance, impossible to forget.  I remember finding out that he would be playing Plutarch Heavensbee in Catching Fire.  I was thrilled, not only because I love the character, but because every role automatically became ten times better whenever he was cast.  I try to make you all think I’m nice and happy here on this blog, but in reality, I can be a pretty harsh critic.  I’m a fangirl and I become addicted to certain franchises easily, but I can also be very difficult to impress.  Philip Seymour Hoffman always impressed me.  Always.  And I’m absolutely devastated that such a bright, brilliant, and promising life has been cut so tragically short.  Rest in Peace, Philip, May Light Perpetual Shine Upon You, and May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor.

In other news, I hear the Seahawks won the Super Bowl.  I’m not much of a football fan (much to my small-town, big-time college football jock Dad’s dismay).  Besides, I was too busy fretting over the current Ron-Hermione-Harry situation to really care what was happening on television.

Actually, that’s kind of a lie.  I wasn’t fretting.  My sister and I were laughing and making a lot of mean joke’s at poor Ron’s expense. I know to some fans, it’s not funny at all that JK announced that she regretted pairing Ron and Hermione up, but that poor guy!  Even his own author thinks he’s a loser!  That’s just so sad, you really don’t have a choice but to laugh about it!  To quote my sister, “Least loved by the mother who craved a daughter. Least loved by the girl who prefers your friend. Least loved NOW BY JK ROWLING.”

Poor Ron.  He really did get the short end of the stick in pretty much EVERY situation.  I do agree with JK though that Hermione could have done a lot better.  But a part of me does like them together, especially in the eighth movie when Ron runs after Malfoy and his lackeys and screams, “THAT’S MY GIRLFRIEND, YOU NUMPTIES!”  So romantic.  And basically the only point in the entire series that I like in the movie better than in the book.

Speaking of movies vs. books, I’ve finally begun reading the Percy Jackson series.  I’ve only read the first two, but so far, I’m really enjoying them.  I’m a huge Greek Mythology nerd.  In fact, I’ve always said if I wasn’t a Christian, I’d be an Ancient Greek Mythologist because it’s just so cool. Anyway, the books are great.  The movies?  Well, there are parts of them that I like.  For example, I loved Tyson in the second one.  He was just off-the-charts adorable.  I also loved how they designed the hippocampus. I’m not sure I want a hippocampus quite as much as I want a dragon, but it’s definitely close!

Unfortunately overall, both movies were a bit of a disappointment, especially the second one.  One of my favorite things about the book was how often it paralleled The Odyssey.  Not the case in the movie.  They took out almost all references, including but not limited to Grover making and then unmaking his wedding train, Nobody, and the Sirens.

HELLO.  HOW COULD YOU LEAVE OUT THE SIRENS?!  They were one of the coolest parts of the entire book!  You’re killin’ me, Hollywood!

Luckily for the show, it did have one redeeming quality (besides Tyson and the hippocampus): Nathan Fillion as Hermes.  Granted, he was only in one scene, but his performance, as expected, was a show-stealer.  They even threw in a Firefly joke, and even though I don’t watch Firefly, I cracked up.

After seeing Mr. Fillion as Hermes (and recalling his hysterical role as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), I realized something.  He would make a perfect Luke Rainer (one of the main characters from Cemetery Tours for those who haven’t read it yet).  I know that I’ve said that Jensen Ackles was my ideal Luke Rainer, and physically, he still is.  But Nathan Fillion, although a little older than I intended Luke to be, has it all.  That cheeky, smarmy, almost-douchebag yet somehow still lovable character that he plays so well is Luke.  Plus, he’s totally handsome enough to be Luke Rainer: Spectral Sex Symbol, The Ghost Prince of Primetime.

The weirdest part is that my sister was texting me earlier and I told her about watching Percy Jackson and she goes, “You know… Nathan Fillion kind of reminds me of an older Luke Rainer.”  I was FLOORED. I was like, “DUDE.  I just thought the same thing LAST NIGHT.  I’m going to write a blog about it later!” So ensued the typical sisterly “OMG”-fest when the two of you share a similar thought even though you hadn’t mentioned it to the other. Of course, if you prefer Jensen Ackles, then feel free to still imagine him as Luke.  He is still incredibly handsome.  Or you can picture Nathan.  Or you can create your own casting.  Don’t go by what I say.

One of my favorite things I learned in my writing classes in college (make that one of the ONLY things I learned) was that when you write a book, you’re actually writing three books. You write the physical copy, you write the book the way you see it, and you write the book that others see.  My interpretation of every book I’ve ever read is different than the way you imagine it, and I love that.  It’s so fascinating that we can all experience the same thing in a way that is completely and totally unique. This post is actually turning out to be much longer than usual.  I’ll try to wrap it up here. Cemetery Tours got another great review from someone who stopped by and liked my blog, so thank you, not only for reading, but for your kind words!  They are so greatly appreciated. Image Man, everyone loves Brink!  I’m really glad I added him more into the sequel. I hope everyone has a pleasant Monday.  It’s cold and gray here, so I will be spending the rest of the day writing and trying to stay warm. Cheerio!

Ode to the 80s

Like so many wonderful things, I am a product of the 1980s.

Granted, having been born 14 days into 1988, I don’t remember much of the 80s, but I can still appreciate the culture.  Or at least the music.  I love 80s music, specifically 80s pop.  I don’t know a whole lot about 80s metal or hard rock or anything, but all those one hit wonders and classic pop songs?  Karma Chameleon, I Ran (So Far Away), Missing You, Take Me Home Tonight.  Love them all.  If I’m having a bad day, I just put my 1980s mix on shuffle and my day instantly improves.  The music is just so lively and colorful and fun that I can’t help but feel empowered whenever I listen to it.

My love for 80s music began when I was in my freshman year of college.  I was browsing through the music section at Target and I just happened upon a 1980’s Classic Radio Hits.  I only knew one song at the time (Down Under by Men at Work), but since I didn’t have iTunes at the time, I figured, “What the heck?” and bought it.

I loved it.  My favorite song on the album was easily Africa by Toto.  The rest is history.

I enjoyed my time in college and grad school, but to be honest, I never really felt like I fit in there the way I did in high school.  Weird, right?  Usually high school is supposed to be the “not fitting in time” and college is supposed to be when you really find yourself, but for me, it was the other way around.  I didn’t have a clue who I was or who I wanted to be in college.  It was confusing, especially because my particular group of friends all seemed to know exactly what they wanted.  For a lot of them, it was marriage.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would love to get married one day.  But at the time, I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to live like that with someone… you know… FOREVER.  It sounded sort of like a trap to me.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I knew I wasn’t ready for that.  And despite what chick flicks try to teach us girls, getting a guy is not ALWAYS the answer.

During this time of being the weird single girl trying to find herself amidst a group of happy couples, I often found myself turning to 80s music for comfort.  I can’t tell you why, but for some reason, I always felt very free listening to those cheesy one-hit-wonders.  I was able to envision myself standing on top of a mountain (which I have now done) or hiking along the seaside (which I have now also done), and I realized that that was what I really wanted out of life.  I wanted freedom.  I wanted to experience and explore.  I wanted to take everything in and see things and learn.  Years later, and my lust for freedom is still the driving force behind everything I do, even writing.

Writing gives me a huge sense of freedom and escape.  I can go anywhere and do anything I want.  Everything I write, I see and experience in my own mind, and I like to think that if I can envision it, I am that much closer to achieving it.

So, to all of you pursuing your dreams, following your ambitions, or perhaps simply trying to figure it all out, I dedicate my favorite 1980s power ballad to you.  If this doesn’t give you the energy and power and confidence to shoot for the stars, then I’m not sure anything will.

Enjoy!

I Forgot To Add A Title Again

I just received the most wonderful email from an author with whom I connected over GoodReads.  We did a manuscript exchange, honest review for honest review, and while I have not yet finished reading his (though I am enjoying it very much!), he just sent me this message.

Have just finished dinner, a bottle of red wine, and your book  simultaneously and the overall feeling is of well being and satisfaction. Well done on stilts for a well plotted thoroughly enjoyable book! .You have an ear for dialogue,  but more than that in innate understanding of how a plot should work so that what appears from time to time  to be the occasional  side step into something self indulgent and irrelevant  becomes of significant importance as we hit denouement .

 I was so afraid when I received it that I would have to grit my teeth and plough through pages of turgid prose and have a problem finding something good to say about it, but not at all. Once I got in to it I found myself picking it up whenever I had a spare moment to follow it through. This is more of a compliment when I can say that it is not a book that i would have specifically chosen had I  been given a description of it and I suspect that it will resonate even better with the Twilight generation.   

 I will construct a review over the next  few days and send it to you first  for approval, but don’t worry, it will be very positive.

 You will find Séance a very different animal indeed  and I hope you will cope with the more gritty approach to life and language you will find there. Having said that, there are  some similarities between the two books, i.e. their both  turning on tragic love affairs.

Well done again.

 Tinsley  

I am so incredibly touched and humbled by his words and I can only hope to make my fellow authors feel as honored and appreciated when I read their works.  Thank you, Tinsley!

You can find Tinsley and his books here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6560036.Tinsley_Collins