Review: Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith

Love this review! Thank you, Leslie!

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Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith

*click on the image or the link above to purchase your own copy!*


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sam Morneau is Melissa Parker’s best friend. He’s also a member of The Kind of September, basically the hottest boy band on the planet.

After two and a half years, Mel is all too familiar with the day-to-day occurrences that come with being a member of the band’s inner circle, including hectic schedules, passionate fans, and gossip-mongering celebrity girlfriends.

Now, with the release of the group’s third album just weeks away, their lives have never been crazier and Mel is doing everything she can to keep up, all the while trying to cope with the ridiculous rumors that follow the band everywhere they go and pretending that she isn’t harboring a secret and hopeless crush on Sam.

It’s weird enough being in love with your best friend. It’s…

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A Prayer

This is just a shout into the void, I know, but I need to get it out.

If I could have one wish in this entire world, it would be for my mother to feel like she could quit her job.

I say “feel like” because my father makes enough money for them to live comfortably.  In fact, he makes more than most people.  We’re very fortunate.

The thing is it wasn’t always like that.

When I was in middle school, my father lost his job.  He was virtually unemployed for years, working night jobs and seeking opportunities with failed start-ups just to make ends meet.  It was during this time, my mother began working at her current job.

I’m not going to go into details or the countless reasons why I think she should quit her job, except to say that I do not feel that they treat her right.  I think they take advantage of her.  I know the job exhausts her to the point where she doesn’t want to see her friends or family.  And it breaks my heart.

I have had her unwavering support as I pursue my career and I am forever grateful.  She’s given up everything so that my sister and I could get good educations and be able to pursue our dreams.  She’s always put others before herself.  I love that about her.  But I also wish that she would take care of herself, put herself first every once in a while.  She deserves it.  She’s the most wonderful person in the entire world.

So this is my prayer.  I pray that something wonderful happens so that she finally feels secure enough to be able to quit her job once and for all.  I pray that she gets to live out the rest of her life joyfully and in the knowledge that she, her husband, and her daughters are going to be okay.  I just want her to be happy.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted.  And no one deserves it more.

Body Positivity

I’m always surprised to learn that I’m not the only person in the world with insecurities, and I don’t know why.  It would only make sense, after all, that as human beings, we’re far more critical of our own imperfections than we would be of others.  But you know, at first glance, everyone else seems to confident, so well-adapted, so cool and collected.  It’s hard to imagine that perhaps they actually don’t feel comfortable in their own skin.

Ask anyone and they can probably name at least on thing that they’d change about their bodies.  I wish I was thinner.  I wish my hands were more feminine.  I wish I had long, slender legs.  I wish I didn’t have chipmunk cheeks when I smile.  I wish my neck was more elegant.  I wish my body was designed so that I could wear cute, stylish clothes instead of having to dress to flatter my proportions.  I wish my hair was straight.  I wish my eyes were lighter.  I wish my speaking voice made me sound even remotely intelligent.  The more I think about it, the longer the list becomes of things that could be improved upon.

As that list grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to be positive about the way I look.  I look in the mirror every day and think, “Meh.”  I see pictures of myself online and I untag them because my smile is off or because I think my arms look fat.  I’m so preoccupied with the way I look that it becomes my first priority.  And you know what?  That’s kind of messed up.

Yes, presentation is important, especially in the professional world.  But I think in a world where we’re bombarded with images of thin, sculpted, beautiful, “perfect” men and women, we’ve become a bit disillusioned about what true physical beauty is.  True physical beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors.  True physical beauty is what’s found in the imperfections, in what makes each of us unique.  And yes, I am fully aware I sound like an after-school special and yes, I kind of hate myself for it.  But I stand by the idea that it takes all types to make our world beautiful.

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite, suggesting that we should all embrace our own personal beauty, because I know I will continue to critique the way that I look.  But maybe, just maybe, I can take a lesson out of this Body Positivity week as well.  To learn to be comfortable in my own skin.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn to look in the mirror and see someone beautiful staring back at me.

Helpful Hashtags

Hi, friends!  Happy Monday!  Wow, it’s been a bit of a crazy week.  I’ve had a sick kitty at home so I’ve been sleeping on the couch and waiting on her paw and foot.  Thankfully, she seems to be feeling much, much better so I’m hoping that the worst is behind us.

Having spent so much time taking care of my poor sick baby, I’ve been a bit distracted and haven’t really been keeping up with my work or books the way that I should have.  But I finally have a bit of time to write a quick blog post.

If you ask an indie author, “What’s the one thing you don’t like about what you do?” I’m going to guess that at least half the time, the answer will be “Self-Marketing.”  I’ve written blog posts myself about how much I hate self-marketing.  It’s hard.  It’s time-consuming.  And it’s not something that most of us are necessarily good at.  Or perhaps I should say it’s not something that most of us really understand.  I know how to write a book.  That’s the easy part.  But actually getting out there and selling that book?  I’m lost.

However, while I may not know all that much about marketing or branding, I do happen to know a thing or two about social media.  Not to brag or anything, but I have posted over 3000 pictures on Instagram.  Okay, so that might be more annoying than anything, but I’m not kidding you when I say I have connected with more readers and reviewers over Instagram in the past two months than I have in the past two YEARS on all the other social media sites.

After discussing my experience on Instagram with a few of my other author friends, I decided to put together a little cheat sheet for my fellow writers and book-marketers.

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I also have two different photo albums going on my Facebook page.  The first contains pictures I’ve taken of Indie Books.  The second contains pictures that readers and reviewers have taken of My Books.

As indie authors, as authors in general, we’re all in this together.  The only way we’re going to make it is to support one another, read each other’s books, and lift each other up. It can happen and it will happen.  This is a great community full of wonderful, talented people and books that deserve to be read.

 

Authorfest 2016

All my life, I’ve sought certainty.  I like to know how things will work out.  I don’t like it when plans change at the last minute and I’m not very well equipped to deal with the unexpected.  Unfortunately, with each passing day, I’m learning that certainty is rarely, if ever guaranteed.  Things can always change.  Plans can always falter.  Hearts can always shift.  It’s scary, and it’s something I’m constantly struggling to cope with.

I spent this past weekend in Denison for the third annual Authorfest. It’s incredible how much this event has grown since our very first year. As always, we had a dinner and a reading Friday night and a full day of signing at Free Comic Book Day and Bark in the Park on Saturday.

I met several new authors and reconnected with old friends as well.  And I may have come home with one or two new books… Or ten…

I got to enjoy the beauty of my favorite small town.  And made the acquaintance of a few of the locals.

But being there, with people who share my passion for words and books and storytelling really reminded me of why I started writing in the first place.  It isn’t for any grand reason or a desire for fame and fortune.  I write because it’s what I love.  And hearing their stories and experiences, I felt certain that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  Am I certain that my books will become bestsellers?  No.  Of course not.  But I am quite certain that I am proud of them, and that this is what I was made to do.  It’s where I find my place.  It’s where I belong.  It’s where I find freedom and magic and hope and love.  And that’s an incredible feeling.

There have been times in my life when I felt constantly out of step.  Like I could never find my path.  Or I would find it and I’d stumble off.  For years, I constantly saw what I didn’t have, what I wasn’t, and wondered when it would all happen for me.  Now I strive to see what I do have, the chances that I can take, the experiences and opportunities that I can make mine.  I like to think I’m well on my way.  But then again, I know I still have a lot to learn.

Thank you all for your books, for your friendship, and for a fantastic weekend!  I look forward to the next time!

Raise Your Wands

Today, May 2, 2016, marks the eighteen year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, the day that Harry Potter once and for all defeated the Dark Lord, Tom Riddle, Voldemort, He Who Must Not Be Named.  It is also the day we honor and mourn the loss of those witches and wizards who fought bravely and lost their lives in this, perhaps the greatest and most devastating battle of our lifetime.

And yes, I know that this Battle never actually took place.  There were no victories, no casualties.  Harry Potter and Voldemort and all the others are just words on a page.  Not real.

And yet, they are so much more than just words on a page to millions of readers around the world.  To us, the magic is real.  The sacrifice, the bravery, the friendship, the love are all so much more real than the cold, harsh reality of hatred, discrimination, and selfishness that plague our physical world.

But you know, I think the true magic of Harry Potter lies in its ability to connect those who have never met, who live half a world away, who are separated by seas and continents and cultures.  Thanks to JK Rowling, we all have something in common.  We love her stories.  We love her characters.  We grew up with them.  We learned with them.  And we fought with them.  We are still fighting with them today.  For love.  For acceptance.  For freedom.  For a better world.

That is why, almost nine years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, at the age of 28, I still raise my wand with my friends around the world.  Because even if it didn’t actually happen, all that Harry Potter gave us still matters.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

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COVER REVEAL: Lurking in the Shadows

Title:  Lurking in the Shadows

Edited by: Jaidis Shaw

To Be Published:  June 28th, 2016

Publisher:  CHBB Publishing

Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Paranormal

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Synopsis:

Embrace the darkness.

Murderous entities, haunted houses, screaming banshees, and sympathetic necromancers are just a few of the chilling things you’ll encounter in this anthology. Follow our authors into the shadows … if you dare.

Stories featured in this anthology include the following:

“An Empty Building” by Jacqueline E. Smith

“Bump in the Night, Inc” by Melody Black

“Dorcha Scath” by Liz Butcher

“Living Nightmare” by Savannah Rohleder

“Lizzie” by Tania Hagan

“On Two Lane Roads” by Shelly Schulz

“Release” by E.M. Fitch

“Revenant” by Stacey Jaine McIntosh

“Scream for the Night” by Gina A. Watson

“Too Young To Kill” by Lily Luchesi

Add Lurking in the Shadows to your GoodReads TBR!

 

Investing

I’m not all that skilled when it comes to logic, business, or actually making money.  I just like to write.  I’m not a marketer or a strategist or any kind of intelligent that might actually help me out in the real world.  That’s where my dad comes in.  Ever since I told him that I wanted to be an author and that I wanted to independently publish my own books, he’s been my business brain.  Let’s face it, I just make up stories.  He’s the one who helped me start up my business and advises me on what to do or what not to do when it comes to actually managing the company.  One of his favorite sayings is, “You have to spend money to make money.”

Now, that’s kind of an odd concept.  I’d really like to make money, so my first instinct is to lock it all away in savings and never touch it.  But when you run any kind of business, I’ve learned that you have to invest in that business.  Almost every cent that I’ve made from my book sales has gone right back into Wind Trail Publishing.

Recently, my dad and I have been talking about marketing.  He’s suggested I pay GoodReads and Facebook to take out some ads.  But the thing is I’m not all that certain that’s the way to go.  After all, I see GoodReads and Facebook ads all the time but I rarely investigate further.  That’s why I’ve chosen to invest, not in online ads, but in my readers.

That sounds strange, I know.  But in the past few months, I’ve met dozens of book reviewers, mostly through Instagram and GoodReads, who love to read and review books.  These reviewers are sweet, intelligent, lovely, real people who share my passion for books and stories.  So I’ve been sending them free copies of my books.  Yes, it costs money.  But I believe, wholeheartedly, that it is a much worthier investment than an online campaign.  Writers are nothing without readers.  And I am eternally grateful to every single one of you.

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New Release: In the Company of the Dead

NEW RELEASE Ciara Ballintyne’s Epic Fantasy ‘In the Company of the Dead’

Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.

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Title: In the Company of the Dead
Author: Ciara Ballintyne
Series: The Sundered Oath #1
Genre: Epic Fantasy/Fantasy Romance
Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her murdered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile for striking his prince.

Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.
Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

Chapter 1

Premonition

Only a fool would split hairs with a god, least of all the goddess of death, but Ellaeva would count herself such a fool and consider it worth it—if she could get away with it.

She leaned across the knife-scarred timber of the tavern table.

“Are you sure?” she asked, her tone even and barely loud enough to be audible over the noise of the flute and the zither. Her work on behalf of the goddess Ahura, adjudicating the small war here in Dayhl, could only be abandoned in favour of a greater threat. If she was going to chase off after the man who killed her parents, she needed to be sure her arguments stacked up. The pursuit of personal justice wouldn’t be enough.

Is it justice or revenge?

No time to worry about that now. She tugged her black hood farther down over her infamous face, even though deep shadows blanketed the common room corner. She’d chosen a table far from the tallow candles mounted in their stag-horn chandeliers. There was no point taking chances; the black hair and porcelain skin of a Tembran would be remarked here among the platinum-haired Dayhlish. Besides, someone might recognise her.

“In Ahlleyn, sure as the spring comes after winter, Holiness.” The narrow-faced man across from her grinned, baring teeth more brown than yellow. The acrid smoke from the candles didn’t cover his pungent breath.

She half-stood, making an urgent, negating gesture as she glanced around, but the hubbub of chatter from the patrons and the music covered his slip. No one even glanced their way. On the far side of the room, away from the two blazing hearths, tables were pushed aside for dancing. She dropped back into her seat, her black robes fluttering around her booted feet.

Ahlleyn lay on the other side of the continent, months of travel by horse. If her informant was right and a Rahmyrrim priest had been dispatched there, he would likely be gone long before she arrived—unless she begged a favour, but she’d not do that for a lark of her own. However, if it meant catching the man who killed her parents, well then maybe she could come up with an argument that would hold water for a god. Old grief and anger, stale from a decade or more, stirred in her gut, and her fingers curled around the edge of the table.

Releasing her grip, she reached to the inner pocket in her robes where rested the smudged charcoal drawing of a man. Hard work and luck had helped her obtain that picture of the man she believed killed her parents—a man she knew to be a priest of Rahmyr. If she decided to act against her standing orders, then she needed to be sure it was the man she was after, and that he was involved in some act heinous enough to attract her goddess’s attention.

“Did you get the name of this priest? Or his description?” An unknown number of priests served Rahmyr, but she knew six by sight—six still alive anyway.

The thin man shook his head. “Nobody mentioned. I got the impression he’s already there, or on his way leastways.”

She scowled. No way to be sure then that this was the man she wanted. Begging favours of Ahura for her personal satisfaction was a risky business, especially if she neglected her duties, and perhaps it would all be for nothing.

With one hand, she flattened the map that curled on the table between them. The patrons behind them exploded with laughter at something unheard. Ignoring the noise, she stabbed her finger at an unmarked portion of the map in the foothills of the Ahlleyn mountains. If he didn’t know who, maybe he knew the what. “There, you say? What possible interest could Rahmyr have there? There’s nothing of interest at all.”

She lowered her voice even further as she uttered the name of the goddess of decay, and glanced around again. That name spoken too loudly would bring unwanted attention. But nearly all the tavern patrons were busy whirling on the impromptu dance floor or lined up to watch the dancers, their backs to her.

The nameless man leaned forward, treating her to another stomach-clenching blast of foul breath, and touched a spot perhaps half an inch away from her finger. A tiny, unlabelled picture marked something there.

“Here, Holiness.”

She squinted at the picture, letting his lapse slide. The image represented a holy place. There was an old shrine to Ahura somewhere in the Ahlleyn Borders, wasn’t there? And a castle built over it. “Caisteal Aingeal an Bhais.”

“That sounds like the name,” he agreed. “Never could get my mouth around them Ahlleyn words. Pink castle, I heard.”

She grunted. That was the one. “There’s still nothing there.”

Nothing of interest to Rahmyr anyway. The shrine wasn’t particularly important, and the castle held no political significance.

“What’s there,” the man said, “is Lyram Aharris.”

The premonition went through her like a blast of icy wind, stiffening her in her chair as the hand of the goddess brushed against her mind. A light caress, but from a giant, and so it sent her mind reeling. She clutched the table for support. Lyram Aharris’s reputation preceded him the length of the continent: eight years ago, at the age of twenty-seven, he’d brought an end to the centuries-long conflict between Ahlleyn and Velena through a series of brilliant military manoeuvres. He’d survived the Siege of Invergahr against near-impossible odds, brought the crown prince safely clear of the conflict, and fought the Velenese to a standstill using their own guerrilla warfare tactics against them. As a novice, she’d covered the tactics thoroughly as part of her studies. The man was a military genius. That he was third in line for the throne of Ahlleyn was the least there was to know about him—at least it was, until his king dismissed him from court. The rumours on everyone’s lips said he murdered his wife, even if no one could prove it.

What did Rahmyr want with him?

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Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ. Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Authorfest 2016

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I am excited to announce I will be involved in Authorfest  this year . This will be the second year I will have participated. The event is located in Denison, Texas on their Main St. Friday night will boast dinner and author readings at the Paper Plate Catering Center located at  205 West Main. Authors will read from their books and it is always interesting and fun. I have not been to this restaurant before, but if it is anything like last year’s choice, it will be a night to remember.

The next day, the authors will have book booths along different places on Main St.  and will be able to sell and  autograph their books for you. Saturday afternoon will bring another author reading for the people of the city and the Bark and Paw event.

It should be noted that portions of the sales of the books will benefit…

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