Review for After Death by Jacqueline E. Smith!

Amazing, wonderful review from one of my favorite friends and reviewers! Thank you so, so, so much Cassandra!

The Bookish Crypt

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*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

I just love Jacqueline! This is the fourth book I read of hers and she never disappoints! She manages to tear hysterical laughter out of me at every page. I can’t politely laugh, no. I have to laugh out loud and my family thought I was going crazy. They kept staring at me.
Anyway, this was a highly anticipated read for me and I loved it more than I thought I would. The humor began from the first page and then it turned into all out suspicion. This book kept me on my toes and double guessing everybody’s motive as if I were a detective. If you don’t already know, this series follows a guy, Michael, who has been seeing ghosts his entire life and if you know anything about me, is that I L.O.V.E. anything and everything ghost related. I sincerely…

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I’m With the Mockingjay

This past weekend once again found my family and me in Lubbock.  You may or may not know this, but Lubbock and I… Well, we don’t really get along.  For some reason, every time I go out there, I have the worst luck.  I get abandoned at an airport, I get sick, the fire alarm goes off at my hotel (because there’s actually a fire), I get snowed in… I don’t know what it is.  Lubbock just doesn’t seem to like me.

I wasn’t going to let that get me down, however, because this weekend, my sister starred in an opera (as a demented eight-year-old) called The Turn of the Screw.  Y’all, this was a seriously creepy show with some incredibly talented singers.  We were all blown away by the performances. And I loved it, of course, because it was a ghost story!

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As much as I enjoyed watching my sister act possessed, I think we were both really looking forward to the next morning, when we finally got to see the final installment in the Hunger Games series: Mockingjay Part 2.

Let me just say that I think they could have made Mockingjay into one exceptional movie and it would have been perfect.  I’m not really a fan of this new splitting the last book in a series into two movies.  But the Hunger Games movies are by far the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen, so I can’t complain too much.  This last movie did not disappoint.

So, in the style of all my other movie reviews, I present to you… Mockingjay Part 2!

*** MAJOR SPOILERS. IT’S A BOOK. I’M NOT HOLDING BACK. ***

  • OMG I’m going to cry so much.
  • Peeta!  Poor baby!  😥
  • Aw, Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I wish you were still alive.
  • Commander Paylor!  Woo!  You go girl!  (And we all know you get to be President in the end so BOOYAH)!
  • Hey…. It’s Brienne from Game of Thrones.
  • It’s kind of scary how accurately this parallels what’s going on in today’s world.  I feel like our politicians have done just as good a job of dividing our country as the Capitol did dividing Panem.
  • Aw, wedding!
  • Finnick… 😥
  • You know, I named Sam Morneau in Boy Band after Sam Claflin.  Because he’s adorbs.
  • Wait, she’s stowing away in the delivery crate?  That’s not how it happened in the book.
  • She’s already in the Capitol?  Is this the final siege?  That happened awfully fast.
  • Oh hey, Liam Hemsworth.  I don’t like Gale, but I definitely like you. 😉
  • Also, we totally almost have the same birthday.
  • Okay, people, can we just talk about how seriously adorable Pollux is?  Look at his little man bun and his sweet, expressive eyes.  I think I have a new Panem crush.
  • This is all happening so much faster than it did in the book.  I’m not sure I’m ready for this.
  • Poor Peeta!  Oh, my poor sweet little baker!
  • The siege hasn’t even started and I’m already scared of those sewer lizards.
  • These pods are freaking me out.  Again, too many parallels for what’s actually going on in some parts of the world.  Can you imagine seeing your city, your home, war-torn and deserted?  It’s terrifying.
  • Finnick, why are you smiling?  Is this fun to you?
  • RIP Boggs.  I hate it when the only authority figure you can trust dies.
  • Finnick’s face when he saw his image displayed on TV, just as if he’d died in the Hunger Games!  That boy is giggling!  Oh my goodness.
  • Coin, you are so full of it.
  • President Snow correcting her. HA.
  • Down to the sewers. Nope, nope, nope! There are lizards down there!
  • Oh, POLLUX!  It’s okay my baby!  Please, let me hold you!
  • Oh no.  I can hear them.  Oh no.  They’re coming.  OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.
  • I don’t know if I can watch this.
  • OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO MUCH SCARIER THAN THEY WERE IN THE BOOKS.
  • Oh, I am going to have nightmares for sure.
  • Finnick’s final battle.  What a send-off.
  • Seeing his face on that wanted poster… OMG that hurts…
  • BUT SEEING POLLUX CRYING HURTS MORE!  HIS BROTHER DIED.  THIS IS SO SAD.  POLLUX SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BE SAD!
  • I think I officially care more about Pollux than I do about any other character in this entire series.
  • Liam Hemsworth is doing a really good job of making Gale even more of a douchebag than he was in the books.  Wow.
  • The march on the Capitol.  This is it.  We all know what’s coming.  Unless you haven’t read the books or have been living under a rock.  Then I guess you have no idea.  But we know.  We know.
  • That little girl crying over her mom.  This movie is SO sad.
  • There it is.  That lone hovercraft.  I have the chills just thinking about it.  We all know.
  • That’s it.
  • I wish I could say I cared more about Prim as a character.  Her death just didn’t impact me the way it did in the book.  I only care about what happens to her because Katniss cares.
  • Coin is such a scary character, because she’s essentially Snow, but she acts as though she’s good and diplomatic and that she cares about the people of Panem.  She doesn’t.  She’s just as power hungry and evil.  And Julianne Moore does an excellent job of portraying that.
  • Her speech.  HA.  We all know what’s coming.  This is perfect.
  • BYE FELICIA.
  • The letter from Plutarch.  This scene might be the saddest one of all, because he was supposed to deliver that speech.
  • HAYFFIE KISS HAYFFIE KISS OMG.
  • THIS IS THE SHIP I NEVER KNEW I NEEDED.
  • Though to be totally honest, I don’t actually think they would ever work out together.  Still, it was an adorable moment because Effie has a huge crush on him and I think he really respects her even though he’d never admit it.
  • I’m glad they made Haymitch more of a father figure and less of a damaged alcoholic.  He was still broken in a lot of ways, but he was much stronger in the movies than he was in the books.
  • So… Haymitch and Katniss go back to their destroyed district… Totally alone… Amidst the rubble…  How depressing is that?
  • BUTTERCUP. Oh no… Oh no… This is another scene I’ve been dreading.
  • I’m sad for Katniss, of course, but OMG I AM SO SAD FOR THAT CAT.  That cat is making me BAWL.
  • Saddest moment.  Sad animals.  Can’t handle it.
  • Peeta!  PEETA!  EVERLARK FOREVER.
  • REAL.
  • REAL.
  • REAL.
  • Peeta is officially the world’s cutest dad.

All in all, I still get emotional thinking about this movie.  Actually, the series in general.  It’s my favorite.  I love it.  I love everything about it.

Though I’ve got to tell y’all, as we were leaving the theater, all just completely wrecked and sobbing, some guy behind us starts singing at the top of his lungs, “SHOT THROUGH THE HEART AND YOU’RE TO BLAME!”  Yeah, that kind of killed the moment.  But it was pretty funny, I have to admit.

Well, I better be off.  I’m going to a NaNoWriMo event at a local library!   Talk to y’all soon!

Fiction’s Females

Hello, friends.  Today, we’ll be talking about female characters in modern literature.

As a female myself, I identify with several aspects of several female characters.  For example, Cath Avery from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  Like Cath, I spent a great deal of my time absorbed in fictional worlds.  Books are just so much safer than reality.  Or maybe Hermione Granger.  I wasn’t quite the know-it-all she was, but I was definitely teacher’s pet.  I also had the outrageous, uncontrollable curly hair.  Or what about Katniss Everdeen, perhaps my favorite modern literary heroine?  I would go to any lengths to protect my little sister.  I would rather die than let any harm come to her.  That’s what big sisters do, and Katniss is just… wow.  I love her.

Of course, all these characters have their flaws, too.  Cath is timid and antisocial.  Hermione is stubborn.  Katniss is cold and hardened after the loss of her father and having to become the primary caregiver and supplier for her entire family.

There is a big push today for writers – of books as well as movies – to create what is known as the STRONG female character.  We’re not talking about a damsel-in-distress whose one goal in life is to meet Prince Charming, fall in love, and live happily ever after.  Although I have to say, I have friends who want just that and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Who doesn’t want to find companionship?  It’s a basic human need.

But you know what I’m talking about.  The swooning schoolgirl just isn’t “in” right now.  And that’s fine also!  I love female characters who are intelligent, ambitious, witty, independent, talented, powerful, etc…  What I don’t like is female characters who come off as rude, ungrateful, sarcastic, and pretentious.

Why do I bring this up?  Because I’m reading a book with exactly that type of “strong” female character right now.  Or should I say I WAS reading the book.  To be totally honest with you, I hate this girl so much that I probably won’t make it much farther.  Disappointing too, because this is a book I really thought I was going to like.  I downloaded it on Kindle on a total whim.  It wasn’t one I had planned on reading.  Now it’s on that I don’t plan on finishing.

I know what the author is trying to do.  She’s trying to make her female protagonist “different.”  She’s super smart, totally focused on her studies and her budding career (more power to her for that), but she’s totally aloof, unimpressed with anything the other girls find interesting.  That’s fine, you don’t have to fawn over Harry Styles if everyone else does, but don’t look down on them for doing so.  This girl acts so snobby and above-it-all that I can’t imagine why she has any friends in the first place!  She’s so completely rude and unappreciative to everyone she meets, even when they treat her with nothing but courtesy and respect because she’s so smart and special… It just drives me crazy!  Of course *spoiler alert* she gets the guy in the end, the one that she scoffed at all the other girls for swooning over.

I try to take a whole different approach to the STRONG female character in my books.  I like my heroines to be independent and smart and witty… but I also like the to be genuine.  I like them to be honest, to struggle over what’s right and wrong, to enjoy what they enjoy, and to not be ashamed of being themselves and loving what they love.

Take Mel in Boy Band.  She’s not particularly intelligent or ambitious, but she’s loyal and she’s a hard worker and in this new book, boy does she struggle with what’s right and what’s wrong.  She’s a good friend and she’s so completely in love with Sam, but that doesn’t make her weak or anti-feminist.  It makes her her.

Kate in Cemetery Tours is a bit different.  She’s older, more ambitious, more intelligent, and she doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do.  She’s brave and adventurous, but she also loves nothing more than sitting around in her pajamas and marathoning her favorite television show.

I love my female characters.  I wouldn’t enjoy writing them if I didn’t.  And I don’t love them because they’re STRONG.  I love them simply because they’re them.  They’re real to me.  That’s what I’ve always tried to achieve with all my characters.  I want them to feel like real, fleshed out people.  Not a jumble of characteristics on a page with a name attached to them.

It’s important for women to be strong, but it’s just as important for us to be real, to be genuine, and to be happy and proud of who we are no matter what.  We’re all different.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  Nothing at all.

Backstage Soundtrack

With a little less than a month until Backstage is released, I figure it’s about time to share the soundtrack that helped inspire it!  Every time I come up with a new idea for a book, one of the first things I do is make a playlist of music to listen to that serves as a soundtrack that I listen to while the book plays out in my head.

You can find the Soundtrack to Boy Band here.

Note: I do not own any of these songs, nor am I profiting from them in any way.

  1. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
  2. “Little White Lies” by One Direction
  3. “Roller Coaster” by Bleachers
  4. “Ordinary Day” by Vanessa Carlton
  5. “Something Great” by One Direction
  6. “Good Girls” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  7. “The Great Escape” by Boys Like Girls
  8. “Don’t” by Ed Sheeran
  9. “Manhattan From the Sky” by Kate Voegele
  10. “Drag Me Down” by One Direction
  11. “Headphones” by Matt Nathanson
  12. “Disconnected” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  13. “Perfect” by One Direction

Backstage will be available on December 8!  Make sure to enter my GoodReads Giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of BOTH Backstage and Boy Band!

GIVEAWAY!

Hello Tuesday

Hi, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was super busy.

For one thing, my dad had another eye surgery yesterday to take care of a nasty cataract which was a direct result of his last surgery.  Thankfully, everything went well.  It was a simple procedure and he was up on his feet and totally fine within about thirty minutes.  He still can’t drive, so my mom and I are helping him out there, but his vision has improved significantly in just twenty-four hours.  Pretty cool!

For another thing, I have been sending out review copies of my books like crazy.  And I still have more to send!

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I also finally made it to the mall to visit the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.

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I usually don’t post about personal stuff like this, but every year, my sister and I adopt an angel.  I know that it’s always important to give things like food and clothes, practical items to those in need.  But I’ve always loved the Angel Tree because it gives me the opportunity to give those kids something more.  I love the idea of being able to make their holidays magical, to bring them a bit of joy.  By adopting an angel, you’re making a kid’s Christmas dream come true, a wish that may not have been granted otherwise.  So if you have a moment, or a few gifts to spare, stop by your local Angel Tree.  It’s so much fun to play Santa, and a beautiful reminder that this truly is the season of giving, of love, and of goodwill towards all men, women, and children.

This weekend, I also got to spend a bit of time outside, first with my friend and an adorable puppy named Kate, and then with my cousins at White Rock Lake.  I’m so happy to say it is finally feeling like fall.  I’ve been wearing my jeans and scarves and sweaters.  I love it!

Of course, I’ll only love it until December 26, but hey, I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

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Last but not least, I’ve been working tirelessly on Backstage, getting it ready for publication in less than a month!  Agh!

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On a similar and very fun note, there’s a new Twitter account called Niall (Horan) as Books.  I may have mentioned before that even though I am fond of all the 1D boys, I am very partial to the adorable blond Irishman.  Imagine how thrilled I was when this appeared in my Newsfeed:

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This is officially one of my favorite Tweets, along with a Tweet from a similar account, Harry (Styles) as Books!

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Yes, I am still a 1D fangirl and I am eagerly awaiting the release of Made in the AM this week!  I’m probably looking more forward to that than the release of my own book.

Well, maybe they’re tied.

Love you all!

Open Letter to Book Clubs: Reach Out to Indie Authors | Indies Unlimited

writerchristophfischer

Source: Open Letter to Book Clubs: Reach Out to Indie Authors | Indies Unlimited

Open Letter to Book Clubs: Reach Out to Indie Authors

bookclub1Recently I was contacted by a book club in a city halfway across the state, wondering if there was any possibility I might be able to visit as they were planning to read one of my books for their upcoming monthly meeting. They sweetened the pot by offering to pay for one night at a nice hotel, plus their meeting was going to be aboard a patio boat cruising a beautiful lake. Who could refuse?

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Making it Through

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day.  I won’t go into details.  All I will say is that I’m glad it’s over and I’m hoping that everything will work out for the best.

Today is already turning out to be a better day.  The weather is finally feeling cool and crisp, One Direction released a new song (YAY!), and I’m really beginning to feel like the holidays are on their way.  I’m so ready.  I’m ready for Christmas lights and hot chocolate and Christmas sweaters and the smell of fresh balsam and firewood.

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I’m ready for my family and friends to get together for Thanksgiving and Yuletide festivities.

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I’m ready for parades and good food and drink and laughter.

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I’m ready for Christmas music and snowflakes and winter’s chill.

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I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.  Trust me, I’m excited for Thanksgiving as well.  It brings just as much warmth and joy and laughter with it as its December counterpart.  But after yesterday, I need this dose of holiday cheer.  I’m ready.  I’m so ready.

NaNoWriMo 2015

We’re five days into National Novel Writing Month and I’ve got a confession to make:  I haven’t been keeping up with it very well.  I’ve written a little bit and brainstormed a lot, but I’m nowhere near where I should be in the grand scheme of NaNoWriMo.  There are a few reasons (or excuses) for that.

First of all, I spent a long weekend in Houston and didn’t return until Monday afternoon.  At that point, I was exhausted and had a lot of unpacking and pictures to go through.

Second, with only a little more than a month before Backstage is released, I’m devoting most of my time and energy into making sure it’s ready to go by December 8.  Those of you who’ve published your own books know that that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else.

Finally, I’ve been having a difficult time figuring out how I wanted to begin my NaNo book.  I think I may have figured it out last night, but I’m still not 100% sure.  Sometimes, you can’t force it.  You just have to let the words come naturally.

I am, however, SO excited to see so many of my friends and colleagues and total strangers participating in NaNoWriMo this year!  It’s a fantastic way to get people writing and to get some fantastic new books out there.  It’s also proof to me that the written word is thriving.  There are so many rumors and reports and literacy and society’s love of reading being on the decline, but even if they’re true, there is so much love for NaNoWriMo and so much enthusiasm and excitement for reading and writing new books that I can’t help but feel optimistic about my trade and profession.  I love books so much.  I always have.  And it’s so encouraging to see so many others sharing that love.

NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart, particularly because it gave me the opportunity to write something new, something that I guarantee I would not have written otherwise.  Boy Band is the book that was not supposed to exist.  And now, here it is, a year later and I’m getting ready to release its sequel.  How cool is that?

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For those wondering, that little guy in the picture is Simon the NaNo Dragon.  He’s my November writing buddy.

Fellow writers and aspiring authors, enjoy your NaNoWriMo experience.  Write well.  Write what you love.  You never know what may come of it.  And if you get behind (or if you haven’t started on time – oops!), don’t get discouraged.  After all, it took me TWO months to finish Boy Band.  All you need to know is that you can do anything.  And you will.  Just keep writing.

Texas Renaissance Festival

Alright, here we go!  Pictures from this past weekend at Texas Renaissance Festival.  The theme for the weekend was All Hallow’s Eve, so my friend and fellow author, James William Peercy, invited me down to sell a few ghost stories.  I am so grateful to him and his beautiful wife, Claudette for taking me under their wings.  They are just the most amazing, wonderful, selfless people you could ever hope to meet and James’ books, The Wall Outside series, are just so beautiful and magical.  If you enjoy fantasy, I highly recommend you check out his work.

http://jameswilliampeercy.com

Although I can do things all by myself, I always prefer not to.  Besides, weekend excursions to Renaissance festivals are always so much more fun with friends.  So I took my trusty house elves, Kat and Rachel (Rat) to help me out.

Before we reached the festival, we made a quick stop at this cool, old, haunted town called Anderson.

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After we arrived at the Festival (OMG it was so muddy), we unloaded all the books from the car and then set out to explore the grounds.  Naturally, we first found ourselves in the Enchanted Forest.

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The rest of the grounds were equally beautiful.

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And the arts and crafts were absolutely breathtaking.

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Oh, and there were books too.

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I also had to get my picture taken with my Great-Great-Great-Great several times over Grandfather, Robert the Bruce.

12187810_10206747251253539_6007655186260707703_n

But I think my favorite new friends that I made were Pip and Owlbus Dumbledore.

12193567_10206747240293265_4445834780576471348_n  12189124_10206747243413343_7801476036660002121_n

How did you spend your Halloween?

Crazy-Busy, Super-Fun Weekend

Hi, friends!  I am literally just arriving home from Houston and the Texas Renaissance Festival, but I wanted to at least post a quick update before I get in to editing pictures.

First of all, thank you to all who came out to the Festival and especially thank you to all who BOUGHT BOOKS!  I hope you enjoy them and I had such a blast meeting each and every one of you! I will be posting more about the festival and sharing pictures in the coming days, but I still wanted to just say what an amazing and magical time I had!  I loved every moment!

Secondly, I’m almost TWO DAYS behind on NaNoWriMo but I’ve been out of town and in a car most of today!  But I’m going to get on that!  It’s going to happen!

Finally, the BACKSTAGE GoodReads Giveaway is officially up and running!  Enter now for a chance to win signed copies of BOTH Boy Band and Backstage!

Giveaway!

Well, I need to be off to return the rent car.  Talk to y’all soon!

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160390-backstage