#BookReview: Like an earworm that’s stuck in your head; #ChasingEveline by @lhauser27 sticks with you

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Fangirling about being a Fangirl of Chasing Eveline

This book is much like an earworm that gets stuck in your head and sticks with you long after you are no longer reading it. Every song has a possibility, and this book is by far, one of THE BEST, I’ve read in a while. It keeps you hooked and invested from the first line until the last and I will now list it as one of my favorite books of all time.pablo (16).png

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#AuthorInterview: Debut Author of Alice, J.M. Sullivan

Joining me to chat about the publishing process, her debut novel (Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is out today from Pen Name Publishing.), and other re-tellings she has in the works, J.M. Sullivan is my second author I’ve gotten to interview:

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The Smart Cookie asks: How do you bring your characters to life?

J.M Sullivan:

 I know a lot of authors that have these incredibly sophisticated methods of character planning and development, but I am not one of them! One trick I do have that I would recommend to any author (which is totally fun too) is completing a personality test (or two) as each character. Answering the questions the way the character would can give some incredible insight to details that you might not otherwise consider. I also find it helps me get into their mindset a lot easier. From there, when I’m writing, I just defer to the character! I let them do the talking, and I just put down the words. 😉

The Smart Cookie asks: Very cool. I’ll take that into consideration as another way to develop my own novel. Did you always want to be a writer?

J.M. Sullivan:

 I’ve always known I loved writing and thought that it would be a dream job, but I never thought it would actually happened. For me, being an author seemed the equivalent of wanting to be an international pop-star; a super cool thought, but not likely. Sometimes it still seems so surreal that my book is coming out and people are excited to read it. It’s a dream come true!

The Smart Cookie asks: Your book is a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Why did you choose Alice or did Alice choose you?

J.M Sullivan:

Alice definitely chose me. I got the idea for the Wanderland Chronicles kind of out of the blue. My husband and I had been on a zombie movie kick and somehow Alice in Wonderland popped up in the chaos of my brainspace (it’s scary in there!) and I thought of the Red Queen’s iconic line: ‘Off with their heads!’ and I realized that it fit perfectly with zombie lore and that it had fantastic potential. I started writing that night.

The Smart Cookie asks: Haha I definitely saw the zombie influence while reading it. You are also working on a re-telling of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I’m super excited about this by the way because Peter Pan is my favorite story. Anything you can tease us with about the retelling? 

Sure! THE NEVERLAND TRANSMISSIONS (working title) is a SciFi retell of Peter set in outer space, told in a dual POV with Peter & Wendy. It’s with my betas right now, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited with the feedback I’m getting. But no good teaser would be complete without some lines, so I’ll just leave this here…

Wendy cleared her throat, schooling her voice into the formal tone she reserved for her superiors.
“Is there more to the transmission that I need to be aware of, Admiral?”
Toussant nodded. Though her lips pressed together, she seemed pleased with Wendy’s response. Another click of a button and the transmission continued.

“So far, the strangest phenomena of the planet is how it has affected our aging process. The days run longer here; as do the nights. I don’t have an exact calculation, but I would estimate we have been here for ten earth years, yet I look the same as I did the day we left. So does the twelve year old cabin boy. It’s as if not a single day has gone by. It is this phenomena that has inspired the name our crew has assigned the planet. We call it NEVERLAND.”

The Smart Cookie : I’m so excited. Peter Pan is my favorite fairytale.

Also, speaking of Peter Pan, did you ever watch the 2003 version from Universal Pictures starring Jeremy Sumpter?

J.M Sullivan: I have! My love for fairy tales and books definitely doesn’t just stay in the realm of books. And my family is all about movies, so we watch a lot of them! I have to say my favorite Peter Pan movie of all time is (and probably will always be) Hook with Robin Williams, but the 2003 Peter Pan was pretty great!

The Smart Cookie: I’ve never seen the Robin Williams version so I will have to check that out.

. Alice and Dinah’s relationship is very endearing throughout the book. Do you have brothers or sisters and is that what you used to give authenticity to that part of the story?

J.M. Sullivan: I do! I have two younger brothers who I absolutely adore. Growing up, we were super close and we always spent a lot of time together. My mom used to always say my brother Zach and I were twins born three years apart. Though we’ve grown up and we’re all in different places now, I still think of them every day and I just want them both to know how proud I am of them. I would fight a pack of ravenous momerath for them any day, just like Alice does for Dinah.

The Smart Cookie: At what point in your writing career did you think publishing a book was realistic, as opposed to just a dream?

J.M. Sullivan: 

I didn’t think that my work could be published until after I finished writing and sent it to my friend (and writing buddy) to read. Honestly, I was just so pleased that I had finished writing a manuscript that I couldn’t wait to see what she thought. I figured she’d send it back and say it was alright, but when we met for coffee she looked at me with wide eyes and said ‘This is really good. You know, you could get this published.’ Although I thought she was still just being a good writing partner, it was the first time I ever really considered pursuing publication.

The Smart Cookie: After a manuscript is complete, what is the critical first step in the publishing process?

J.M. Sullivan: 

Research! There are SO many different publishing options nowadays, that there are literally thousands of paths to getting published. And, what’s right for you may not be right for someone else. Take the time to sit down and study your options before you decide what you really want. Once you’ve figured that out, go for it! 😀

The Smart Cookie: How much education about publishing does a debut novelist need to get started? What are the basics?

Sullivan: 

Well, I went into it knowing literally NOTHING. And while my path to publishing was definitely not the smoothest route, I am absolutely proof that even the biggest ‘noob’ can find a good fit if they are willing to put in the work. Again, the options are practically endless these days, but if you’ve got a computer and Google, you can accomplish some great things!
As a side note, if you’re looking into publication and you haven’t already, I would HIGHLY recommend you get a Twitter account! It was an absolutely INTEGRAL part to finding my publisher and one of the BEST.THINGS. I have ever done for my writing career.

Did you have any criteria in mind for agents, editors and publishing houses?

J.M. Sullivan: 

When I decided to find someone to represent Alice, I knew I wanted someone who believed in her as much as I did (and maybe even more on my low-self confidence days). To me, it wasn’t enough to find someone who would just slap a story on some paper and call it good, I wanted to find a team who would work with me to bring Alice to life and who really had a vision to make her great.

The Smart Cookie: This is your debut novel. How did your first publishing experience stack up to your vision of what it would be like?

J.M. Sullivan: 

My publishing experience has surpassed anything I could have ever dreamed. I ended up choosing a small press called Pen Name Publishing and the team there is just amazing. My editor in chief works so hard for everyone and I completely trust that she has my best interests at heart. It isn’t one of the ‘Big 5,’ but for where I am right now, it’s the perfect fit for me.

The Smart Cookie: What has been your greatest publishing lesson? Anything you would do over or skip?

J.M. Sullivan: 

My ‘do-over’ would include two different aspects. First, I would put more confidence in my own work. I think part of my convoluted road happened because I wasn’t sure enough in my work to stand on it’s own and I didn’t know ANYTHING about publishing so I started out backwards. If I had to do it all over, I would go in with more faith in myself, and then spend more time researching and setting my goals BEFORE jumping in.

What were your greatest resources for learning about publishing when you first set out to publish Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles?

Sullivan:

This is going to sound crazy, but my number one go to response for this question or any type of writing resource question is Twitter. I can already see some people giving me the side eye as they read this, so let me explain. The writing community on Twitter is simply phenomenal. There are so many other writers out there willing to encourage and help you that it absolutely blew me away. Add in the incredible pitching parties and writing games and events, Twitter is literally a haven for writers. So go, go, go! Login and start networking (and find me @_JM_Sullivan)! You won’t regret it!

Which writers have influenced you?

I think all of my favorite authors have influenced me in some way. Their worlds and words shaped who I am and helped teach me what I know and love about literature. So while it would be really hard for me to pinpoint just one author and one particular way it affected me, I can confidently say all the books I’ve read and the authors who wrote them have impacted me in some way.

Lastly, you host #AuthorConfession on Twitter. Share something with your readers in relation to Alice.

Hmm. Well, I love Easter Eggs in movies so with Alice, I threw in a few of my own! There are several references to some of my favorite tv shows, movies, and books hidden in the pages as well as a secret message. If you look really carefully you can even find a hint towards my next book project! It was so fun working them all in, that it’s a tradition I plan to keep up with all of my future books.

Keep up with all J.M. Sullivan’s works new and forthcoming by bookmarking/following her blog

For a review of Alice please go here.

 

 

 

#BookReview: You must be mad if you don’t read this re-telling of Alice in Wonderland

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Debut author J.M. Sullivan’s newest YA Dark Fantasy novel comes out this Tuesday May 16 from Pen Name Publishing!

To watch my review video, click here

All in all, this re-telling was as fast-paced and adventurous as the Disney Live Action movies but contain a creative twist. You will go mad for Sullivan’s prose and ability to tell a story.

You can purchase/pre-order Alice at all these places:

Barnes & Noble – bit.ly/WanderlandBN
Author Interview with JM Sullivan coming this Tuesday. Don’t be late.

 

#NationalPoetryMonth: Pulling Words by Nicholas Trandahl

The thing about reading poetry is if you already are a poet, it awakens an innate desire to take the words before you, inhale them, and exhale them into poetry regurgitated but uniquely yours.

According to Winter Goose’s site:

With Pulling Words, a collection that simply and honestly showcases the drama and quietude of life, poet Nicholas Trandahl displays written snapshots of the world he has explored and observed. He escorts readers from his childhood in rural Virginia to his troubled time as a deployed soldier in the Middle East, and from the empty beauty of Wyoming to the quaint charm of Martha’s Vineyard.

I’ve followed Nick’s poetic journey from the beginning and liked his use of nature to stick a lens into the bigger picture of life’s greatest mysteries and moments: love, being in love, marriage, pregnancy, and reminiscing childhood truths and young adult experiences that led to make the man.

Thankfully, I found out he was releasing a poetry collection just in time and rushed into the party even if I missed the hor d’oeuvres.  What follows is my take of the collection at large and some of my favorite quotes. Yet, as a poet myself, I know that reading poetry takes a few tries before the jigsaw pieces complete the puzzle :

Trandahl takes the reader down memory lane with poems about his childhood, his time serving in the Middle East, and a poem that feels like a fly on the wall during a family vacation. Nature and outdoorsy imagery is heavily used due to the poet’s love and adoration for the outdoors.

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This is my first favorite quote from the book because for me, I am most reminiscent of certain people and places when the wind hits me a certain way. The scents, the sounds, they all come rushing back, like wind carrying souls as it moves between the trees.

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With this quote, you can see the symbolism that nature provides both the poet and the reader, that life and love is reflected in the processes of nature: we sprout, we bloom, we grow, we bend, we wilt, we wither.

Please congratulate Nicholas for me by liking him on Facebook and by sharing this review fervently.

#BookReview: Fricke’s Debut ‘Corrupting Darkness’ will haunt you

From the first page, I was immediately like a fly on the wall observing the friendship of Ally Dekin and Fay Hadley.

Then, I was thrown for a loop, much like the main character Ally was, when Fay dies in a car accident only by the end of the second chapter.

This book is a gorgeous and worthy read despite being released via Amazon’s Createspace Publishing platform. Even though the issues in it were heavy and thick, much like life itself, Fricke’s writing style kept me turning the page because it was light, airy, and poetic in the best way.

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I really want you to win a signed copy of this book so go here to enter if you are in the US.

Giveaway ends on March 15, 2017 at 12 am est. You must watch the video to qualify as an entrant.

#BookReview: Do you have the key to unlock the secret that makes the Door Keeper a must read?

Fantasy is probably my least favorite genre. I can’t really tell you why but all I can say is blame Harry Potter and the hoopla with it.

Title: The Door Keeper

Author: Steen Jones

Rating: Five out of five cookies

That’s why I am as surprised as you are that I finished this book in one day. One day, people. This book follows Eden Saunders who lives an ordinary life as a widowed mother to ten year old Gabby, until she notices a door in the trees near her house. This leads to her finding out that she though she was adopted, there is a lot that her adopted parents knew about her birth mother. Once her first visit to Italy, where she was born, Eden finds out that she’s not at all who she thought she was but instead a greater destiny awaits her: her lineage as a door keeper.

I hope there is a sequel to this book in the works because the book itself ended in a bit of a cliff hanger. All in all, don’t open this book hoping to read it and forget it because Eden’s adventure will open the door to a fantastical world of romance, adventure, and butterfairies.16319042

There is a giveaway that the publisher is holding where winners can receive a signed copy of The Door Keeper.  It ends on release day or February 20, 2017. May the butterfairies be with you!

#BookReview: Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Within America, even the America we know today, comes the finest pixie dust blowing between the New York City buildings and inside houses during Florida summers while the air conditioner cools down teenagers on summer breaks who sit staring at their smartphones waiting for school to start again.

This same pixie dust gives birth to the American dream most of us have let go of like a hard exhale after a runner’s morning jog. Yet, to country outsiders who are oppressed in their home countries by governments that aren’t democracies, they are exhilarated by the hope of a better life and a better job in the greatest country this world still can’t figure out: land of the free and home of the brave.

This is the theme and underlying heartbeat to Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, a debut author who herself has not only studied the craft of writing a best-selling novel but has herself lived to tell the tale.

It beautifully crafts the story of Cameroon native Jende Jonga who has immigrated to Harlem and finally landed the greatest opportunity he could ever dream of in his career- as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Encompassing themes of racism, illegal immigration, marriage, wealth, and spirituality without missing a step or a word misplaced. All in all, no trap door in the American dream is missed but only if you are up to the challenge of reading between the lines. This book is nothing less than a must read!

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Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS is her first novel. And like any real extremely talented artist, she is not on social media.


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#BookReview: The Cilantro in Apple Pie by @knightsley

I love YA  novels but one thing I love is when I am automatically gripped by a character in a YA novel. Something about them resonates with you because as you keep reading, you find that they are a mirror of you, in some way.

I was surprised that I found myself mirrored in the character Rubie Keane, a sixteen year old from Trinidad and Tobago, who speaks the dialect and really seems like a fish out of water in her new school, Lumiere Prep. She really starts getting attention when the school’s most popular A-lister, Gil Stromeyer. He is drawn to Rubie and foils her plans to be overlooked in her new life in Boston.

What I love most about Knights’s writing is that it speaks loud and proud to both her own culture (the author was born and raised there just like Rubie) and how she takes the reader to school not only about Trini culture but hits on common social issues of today such as racism and mental illness. Yet, she weaves a gripping story from start to finish that ties all these ingredients together like one delicious and flavorful recipe. For a debut novel from an indie author, this looks to be a rare but meant-to be destiny for Knights much like watching a shooting star glitter a foggy night. Looking forward to more from this author.

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The author is holding a giveaway via her facebook page  where you can enter to win a Cilantro in Apple Pie tote bag and a $25 Amazon gift card.

You can find her also on Twitter here. View the book trailer for The Cilantro in Apple Pie below.