My Addiction: Netgalley

(This will probably become a routine feature.)

You guys I have a problem, I like books. I like free books even more. So this year my main focus is to read my own books, both in the print and digital formats. To assist in this I have been added my digital titles to their respective shelves on Goodreads, as a way to have a visual representation. Upon doing this I have discovered that I have an obscene amount of digital books. So many that I am overwhelmed with deciding how to pick books to read This is what I decided (and we will see how it works.) I’m just going to start from the top of the list and read down. Now, I will pause on books that are like the third or fourth of the series to catch up, so in that case titles might be rearranged.  But, to help me track my progress and for some accountability, I am going to make TBRs. But these are not monthly, they will be ten books that I will read and review (if they are Netgalley titles) as quickly as I can. I will be deleting all titles off of my kindle except for the ten titles (unless I am catching up). I will do a separate post for my personal kindle library books later. But here is the first 10 of my Netgalley TBR:

Souldwood Series by Faith Hunter-  I have the first three books in this series, and they are all review books. I have already started the first one so that should make this first round a bit easier.

Blood of the Earth (Soulwood, #1) Curse on the Land (Soulwood, #2) Flame in the Dark (Soulwood, #3)

Things you should know about this series: It is set in the same world as the Jane Yellowrock novels. I have not read those novels. This series actually begins with an anthology of stories from that world, Blood in Her Veins: Nineteen Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock that I have also not read. I will be going back to read Jane Yellowrock and will read the anthology in order of that series.

Bones Don't Lie (Morgan Dane #3)           Andrew Jackson: The Making of America          Boy Bites Bug          Nothing Happened

 

Smoke Eaters         Oath of Honor (Blue Justice #1)    Troubled Waters (Montana Rescue #4)

What you should know about these books: If you click on the pictures you can read the Goodreads summary. If you do that, you will see that three of these books are part of a series, one is the beginning and the other two are titles in the middle of series.  I will be focusing on the series that I don’t have to catch up on after I finish the three Soulwood novels (which I am enjoying so far).

*I should also note that books that I dnf, or find difficult to get through will not be given second chances in any way that matters. Meaning I will write a dnf review and move on to the next book.*

So am I alone in this Netgalley addiction? I am trying to work on it and not just have the record of most accumulated unread books, promise. Tell me about in the comments?

Have you read any of these titles (or authors)? Tell me about in the comments.

Want to Netgalley/TBR shame me? Well if I cared that much, it wouldn’t be this ridiculously out of control.

 

Look for my Personal Library TBR soon(ish)!

 

Always Shine!

 

 

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Featured Post: Darby Karchut on Writing

Darby Karchut has stopped by for a guest post, and the reality of writing a book!

Book World Reality
Darby Karchut

Let me be right up front with you—there’s no easy way to write a book. There’s also no correct way to write a book. You can outline or you can make it up as you go. You can write it backwards. You can write it from the middle and work outward. You can write just the action scenes and fill in around them. Use any system that gets you to the magical The End.
Which, of course, is really The Beginning. Almost everyone who writes a book wants to get published, too. A Very Cool Thing. So, I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve learned about publishing and the publishing industry:

Finish your book – No matter how terrible you think it is, do not stop writing until you reach the end.

Nothing—and I do mean nothing—will ever teach you more about a writing a book than writing your first book. Worried that it stinks? Remember, you can always fix your writing. You cannot fix a blank page. One of the best ways to complete the first draft is to guard your writing time. Teach yourself to write when you have a 15 minute (or more) block of time. I wrote my first six books while working full time by writing on my lunch break and in the evenings. Here’s an old trick: stop in the middle of an exciting scene where you know exactly what’s going to happen next. That way, when you pick up your manuscript again, you can jump in without that warming up period. By the way: save and back up everything. Early and often. Minimum: hit the save key at the end
of every page. Be that person whose work is on the Cloud, two different flashdrives, and even email a copy to yourself. I take one of my flashdrive with me when I leave the house in case my house burns down. Paranoid, much?

Read to Write

Read as much as you write. Read all the time. In your genre and out of your genre. Know
comparable books to yours. You will be asked to craft a book proposal at some point and will need at least three titles that are similar to yours. One title can be a classic, but the other two should be within the last few years. Ideally, you should mention comparable titles in your query letter.

Work It
Speaking of querying. Submitting your manuscript to agents or editors takes time and effort. Start making a list of those who might be interested. Keep adding to it. One great place to start is Twitter’s #MSWL (that stands for Manuscript Wish List). You can also Google agents and editors. I would recommend narrowing your search for the last 24 months. Writer magazines (The Writer and Writer’s Digest are two examples) often have a list of editors and agents in the back.
Set Up for Success
Keep your manuscript within the sweet spot for word count, especially if you are a new writer:

Middle Grade: 20,000 — 60,000
Young Adult: 55,000 — 90,000
Romance: 70,000 — 100,000

Mystery & Thriller: 80,000 — 110,000
Literary Fiction: 80,000 — 110,000
Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 80,000 — 120,000
Stay Within The Lines (At Least, For Now)

Every agent and editor has a detailed submission page. Read it. Make sure that particular editor or agent is seeking your kind of book. Then, follow the submission directions exactly. This is one way many of them cull out potential authors. Who wants to work with someone who can’t/won’t follow straight forward directions? Believe me, this will put you ahead of 80% of the rest of the writers.

Live like Churchill
Never, never, never surrender. Keep trying. Assume everything is a yes until it is a no. You never know what the day will bring. That next email may be a response to your query letter asking to see more.
It’s A Small World
The book world is, indeed, a small world. And it’s even smaller within genres. Everyone knows everyone, and editors and agents and authors and reviewers talk to each other. Never, never, never be anything but gracious and professional. If you act like a jerk, word spreads quickly. Editors and agents and fellow authors and bloggers are people, too, and they don’t want to work with jerks. Don’t be that person. It will destroy your career.
Join at least one professional writing organization. This shows editors and agents that you treat your art as a profession. If you write MG or YA, I would recommend SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Each state or region has their own branch. By joining SCBWI, you automatically become part of your regional branch at no extra cost. But, it is expensive – $80.00 a year. One cool thing about that: editors with Big Houses are often interviewed and they allow SCBWI members to submit to them for a short window without an agent.

The Dreaded “P” Word
“P” stands for Promotion. And promotion is a fact of life for authors. No one will care about your book as much as you do. Ever. No matter what they say. You are the most important factor in your book’s success. But promotion will differ depending on you and your genre. Adult books tend to take off like a rocket—you have about a three month window to make an explosion—then it levels off. MG and YA tend to start slower and build an audience over time. A longer shelf life, don’t you know. Have a website at the minimum. Participate on social media however you can. Editors and agents do check to see how active you are on social media. Blogs versus websites? Depends on your genre. Newsletters are becoming popular right now, so that might be a better fit for you than a
blog. To be successful, you must decide early on what promotion looks like to you and your genre. With my Middle Grade and YA books, social media is one part of my promotion strategy. Facebook and Twitter are fun places to hang out with friends and fans and fellow writers, and occasionally, I throw in some stuff about my books. The best part is that I’ve met some amazing folks who’ve become friends. *Grins and waves at Starr.*
I also contribute articles to Owl Hollow Press and Spencer Hill Press (two of my publishers) and Writing from the Peak (the Pikes Peak Writers’ blog), as well as articles for magazines such as VOYA and Sweet Designs Teen Magazine. I’ve also done some radio interviews and podcasts.

However, my main focus is literacy/educational conferences, book signings, and author festivals. School visits are my sweet spot (in person and Skype); places where I can connect face-to- face with my young audience. Speaking of school visits…

Bless the Children
If you write for children and teens, never pass up an opportunity to talk with them. Face to face, eyeball to eyeball. Say yes to every school visit you can. Say yes to every library event you can. The more you fire up kids about the magic of books, the better for all of us. Sure, you’ll sell books, but more importantly, you’ll be inspiring kids to read. And kids who read grow up to be adults who think and feel.

More Than You Can Imagine
I once thought being a published author would be amazing. I had all sorts of delightful little daydreams when I first started writing and querying and learning about the publishing world. The reality is way, way better. Maybe not in the way our society labels success, which is mostly determined by fame and money. My “success” came in November of 2011. I was still teaching 7th grade social studies and the last half hour of each school day concluded with a study hall period. If a student was finished with their homework, they could read silently. I was helping another student when I noticed one of my boys put away his work and pull out a paperback book. Good on him. He was leaning forward over the book, one elbow resting on the desk. He laughed at something on the page, then glanced at me and held up the book so I could see the cover.
It was my debut novel, Griffin Rising.

 

Thank you Darby, for taking the time to stop by the blog! I am looking forward to reading more of your books and I am so grateful for our friends. *Waves*

 

Always Shine!

January Featured Author: Darby Karchut

If you have followed my blog at any length of time,  then you  have heard me rave about Darby Karchut. So it only makes sense that she becomes a featured author, after all, she is one of my few D.E.A.R. authors.  I didn’t know that a review that I posted almost 6 years ago would blossom into a dear friendship. Darby is a wonderful person and amazing author.  But here is my journey from the beginning to now. Darby has also stopped by her for a couple of guest posts, and I am happy to host her. So check by throughout January for some Darby Karchut-goodness!

Darby Karchut author photo

About the Author: If you want to know about Darby, please check out her website. But in short, she is a former middle school teacher, originally from New Mexico but currently resides in Colorado with her husband.  She has won multiple awards (well deserved) and is currently getting ready for new release (which we will be discussing here, later!)

Current works:  You can click on the covers for my reviews!

Griffin:

Griffin Rising (Griffin, #1) Griffin's Fire (Griffin, #2)

Griffin's Storm (Griffin, #3)

The Adventures of Finn MacCullen

Finn Finnegan (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #1) Gideon's Spear (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #2)

The Hound at the Gate (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #3) Finn's Choice  (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #4)

Bannerman Boru:

The Stag Lord (Bannerman Boru, #1) Unholy Blue (Bannerman Boru, #2)

Stonewall Wheeler

Stone's Heart

 

Upcoming Release:

Del Toro Moon temp cover

 

 

Always Shine!

 

Featured Author: Top 7 Reasons to Read The Iron Druid Chronicles

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)

As I stated in my last post, I have started to re-read The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. And everything is coming back to me, all of the things that I love about the series and the characters. I thought that I would share with you all some of those reasons, and encourage you all to pick up the series if you haven’t already.

1. Oberon and Atticus’ mental bond- Oberon is one of my favorite characters in the series. He is a dog and his joys are simple. But, listening to their banter is hilarious.

2.  Somehow Atticus borrows trouble left and right. Though it’s always big trouble, it doesn’t always come to pass immediately. It’s never boring with him.

3.  There is a mixture of supernaturals that make an appearance, and somehow they all work together to make the story fun. You have a druid, the fae, witches, werewolves and vampires.

4. Familiar and comfortable- Each book feels as if you are spending time with longtime friends.

5. Nothing is ever what it seems. Just when you think you know a character they do something you never saw coming.

6. Throwability- I can’t remember if it was  Hammered or Tricked,  but I do remember being so mad that I threw the book. But I had to know what was going to happen so I immediately walked across the room to retrieve it and finish reading.

7.  Good Times- each book is fun to read. Regardless of what is going on, you can count on humor, never-ending danger and sausages to get you through.

 

In all seriousness, this is a fun series. And it is well worth your time. In fact, this is the perfect time to start as the final book is due out in April of 2018!

 

Always Shine!

 

December Featured Author: Kevin Hearne

I know that I have a couple of featured posts that need to go up for November, I think I am going to roll them over for something else. This month, I am featuring Kevin Hearne on my blog. He is the author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, and the new Fantasy series, The Seven Kennings. I will be re-reading as many of his books that I can this month. But to kick it off, I am going to share an interview with Kevin Hearne.

A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)Hexed (The Iron Druid Chron...Hammered (The Iron Druid Ch...Tricked (The Iron Druid Chr...Trapped (The Iron Druid Chr...Hunted (The Iron Druid Chro...Shattered (The Iron Druid C...Staked (The Iron Druid Chro...Scourged (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now For the Interview!!
TLP: Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be? How did you get into writing?

KH: No, I originally wished to be a graphic designer, but the desire to write came along in college. I wrote plenty of terrible stuff and learned a lot until I finally got the hang of it and sold my first novel at age 39. I kept my day job for three years after that.

TLP: Would you mind sharing some writing rituals/traditions that you have while working on a project?

KH: I wouldn’t mind sharing them except that I don’t really have any. Routine doesn’t work for me; I get bored with doing the same thing all the time. I work in different places at different times of the day, always seeking something fresh. Doesn’t mean rituals are awful or anything; they just aren’t my cuppa joe.

TLP: Are you a pantser or plotter?

KH: I’m a hybrid. I use an outline but don’t feel bound by it. The drafting process usually brings up better ideas and I follow them.

TLP: Which book was the easiest to write? The hardest?

KH: Easiest book to write was STAKED, book 8 of the series. I wrote that in four and a half months. Hardest book to write was SCOURGED, the series finale, book 9. That took more than a year. When you’re trying to make sure everything’s wrapped up, it’s a bit of a juggle.

TLP: Which character is your favorite? Why?

KH: Owen Kennedy, the archdruid who came forward in time two millennia to join us here, is probably my favorite because he is so disoriented by the choices we’ve made in the last two thousand years as a species. I enjoy his perspective on our modern world and his struggle to acclimate.

TLP: The final book in the Iron Druid Chronicles is due out in 2018. What can we expect?

KH: Ragnarok, but not the Disney/Marvel version. Sausage and other meats. Karma and comeuppance. Plus a sloth.

TLP: A Plague of Giants is vastly different from the Iron Druid Chronicles. What was it like writing the two?

KH: It was like discovering that there are other flavors of ice cream besides vanilla. Very cool and delicious.

TLP: Are any of your characters based on real people?

KH: The widow MacDonagh is based on my own grandmother, but that’s the only one.

TLP: Who is the most interesting person that you’ve had the chance to meet?

KH: Egad, I can’t pick just one. That would be a disservice to all the other glorious folks I’ve met. In general, I find folks who aren’t like me (that is, a white dude) to be most interesting

TLP: Do you have any secret projects that you can tell us about?

KH: No secrets, but I have a new project coming out next year with Delilah S. Dawson called KILL THE FARM BOY, the first in a new comedic fantasy series called the Tales of Pell

TLP: What are some tips that you can share with aspiring writers?

KH: Finish your work. You don’t know what it takes to write a novel until you finish one, and once you finish one, you’ll know you can do better next time. If you’re looking for specific writing advice, however, Chuck Wendig is much better at putting that in words than I am. I recommend his writing books, The Kick-Ass Writer and Damn Fine Story, without reservation.

I want to thank Kevin Hearne for taking the time out to do the interview.  I love his works and he is an author that I highly recommend. If you have not had the chance to read any of his works, you can join me as I re-read The Iron Druid Chronicles and The Plague of Giants.

Always Shine!

 

Review: Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Can't Help Falling

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac 

October 11, 2016 – Howard Books

Purpose: Review, #Kindlecleanup

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

I was given a digital copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

5 stars!

If you want to read what this book is about, you can check out the summary here.

This is Isaac’s second romance, and just like she did in Close to You, she weaves the classic magic and whimsy of one beloved classic into her story. Instead of Tolkien, Isaac takes on C.S. Lewis and the magical wintery world of Narnia. Once again, I feel in love with her writing, her characters and the story in general.  I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this book up, considering that as soon as I finished reviewing her debut title, I asked the publisher for this book.

There are so many things that I loved about this story. Starting with the way that she uses Narnia to push the story along, while at the same time cause the reader to fall in love (or reignite their love) with Narnia.  She brought that story to life in a way that would make Lewis proud.  Also, I love the way that her characters are tremendously flawed. They are real people, despite their fantastical back stories. The way that they struggle with living their faith or finding their faith is so deeply real, it connects to people from all sorts of backgrounds. The romance is sweet, and humorous and things go catastrophically wrong. But, you are still invested and optimistic. Even if deep down you  know that there will be a happily ever after, you  don’t know how that is going to happen.  You know that the road to get together was long and complicated, but all of the issues are addressed. And while, there may still be some complications that the couple must work  through, you are still left with optimism and a feeling a romantic whimsy. It’s beautiful.

I enjoyed this book, tremendously. While it dealt with some heavy topics, it was done in such a way that made them feel real as well as weightless.  I can’t wait for her next novel!

Always Shine!

November Reading Part 1

I stopped doing wrap-ups a while ago, they are too long to do as blog posts. Or they had been. So then I started doing quarterly check-ins, highlighting my readings. Sometimes I would a bunch a books that were just okay, and so it seemed pointless to just say that over and over. But this month, books have been sort of a hit or miss with me. So I thought that I would check in now and talk about them. I want opinions on some the books.

What I’ve Read:

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper, #1)

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper#1)by Daniel Jose Older 5 stars– This was a re-read for me. I listened to this one on audio and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time I read the book.

Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3)

Archangel’s Consort (Guild Hunter#3) by Nalini Singh 4 stars– This is one of those series that I randomly picked up and ended up really enjoying.  I liked this installment very much and can’t wait for the next one.

Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor, #3)

Just a Kiss (Summer Harbor) by Denise Hunter 3.5 stars -This is the last in a trilogy, so a series that I was able to knock out before the end of the year. While this was not the best thing that I had read this year, it was refreshing and easy. It was a quick read and I still very much enjoyed it.  This is an old Netgalley title that I had, so a review will be posted shortly.

Currently Reading-

The Unleashing (Call of Crows, #1)

The Unleashing (Call of Crows) by Shelly Laurenston– I heard about this series from a Book Riot podcast, and immediately requested it from my library. I finally picked it up and I am surprised at how much I like it. I will be finishing it tonight, and I am pretty sure it’s going to be 5 stars. The humor is what hooked me, along with the premise that it’s about women tapping into and following their anger.  (Finished and loved it!)

Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac

Can’t Help Falling by Kara Isaac– This is the second Isaac book that I’ve read. One that I immediately wanted when I finished Close to You. I am sad that it has taken me forever to pick up this title, as it is another that I have from Netgalley. But, I am happy to be reading it. It’s a sweet romance with humor, and blunders and mistakes.  (Finished and loved it!)

Books that I’ve Not Yet Finished-  These are books that I’ve started but have set aside for one reason or another. Let me know if there is one that I definitely need to finish before I officially decide to DNF or not.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

A Throne of Glass (A Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Mass – This is a book that I am reading for my #offmybookshelf project. Honestly, this book isn’t bad. But it also isn’t very good. I mean, if I didn’t have a million other things that I was dying to read I probably wouldn’t mind reading it. But I’ve spent two weeks with this book and I am only halfway through it. Whereas, I picked up The Unleashed yesterday and I’m going to finish it tonight. Yes, I know that some books take longer to finish then others, but there’s no reason it should take me this long to get through 400 pages.  If this was a library book, I’d dnf it and move on. My indecision comes from the fact that this is my book, and I own the next two plus the book of novellas.

The Memory of Whiteness: A Scientific Romance

A Memory of Whiteness by Kim Stanley Robinson- This was a Clarke Award Nominee, so it fits in my goal to read all of the Clarke and Nebula award nominees and winners. I have heard of Robin and had been meaning to read something of his. But, this book is a bit off putting. It is all about music, and I often find myself tuning out for paragraphs or pages at a time. From what I have read, it is a bit interesting, just not enough to hold my attention for a long time.

Warrior Women

Warrior Women edited by Paula Guran-  I have no idea how I heard about this anthology. I know that as soon as I heard about it I requested it from the library. The first two stories grabbed my attention immediately. I stumbled through the third one and that was when my attention started to lag. This is one that I am pretty sure I’m coming back to at a different time.

Books I Dnf’d

Black Goat Blues (The Mythos War #2)

Black Goat Blues (Red Right Hand #1) by Levi Black- To be honest, this is a series that I had been meaning to get to for a while – since the first book came out. But I didn’t pck it up until I was selected to be a part of the blog tour. I started the first book,  Red Right Hand, fully expecting to enjoy it.  I didn’t make a quarter into the book before I DNF’d it. It was too repetitive, I didn’t like the character and the plot -at that point- was too vague for me to care. The only reason that I picked up the second book was because I was selected for the blog tour and they had already sent me a review copy. I did try to read it, depsite of what I thought about the first book. Unfortunately, I DNF’d the second book for pretty much the same reason I dnf’d the first one.

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims (Adventures of Rush Revere, #1)

Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh-  I picked this book because I am looking for fun and interesting ways to introduce and teach history to my kids when we get there in homeschooling. I wanted to get multiple perspectives. But I made it to the middle of the second chapter before I put this one down. The main character just sounds pretentious, and there was too many flaws with the time-traveling aspect for me to take it serious.

Always Shine!