Friday, June 27, 2014

Latest Reads: 3 INDIE and 2 BIG PRESS

Latest Reads: 3 INDIE and 2 BIG PRESS

This summer kicked off with a bang! Thankfully, so has the writing! Three weeks into summer, I have a 16,000 word count total, bringing the next Ruby Hood (The Twistedly True Guardian Tale) to a whopping 28,000 words. In this sequel, Snow White’s soul has just been stolen, the witch wants the diamonds to change the past, Robin Hood thinks he’s a Guardian, and now I need to bring Kent and Kayla back from Africa with their uncle to wrap-up this story. THEN, I will go back and add my details/descriptions, and make sure I’m showing not telling (a weakness for me, but I’m improving). However, there are some days my prolific nature eludes me and I have to write words like DESCRIBE in the middle of a page to remind me to come back to that particular moment/event in the story. At those moments, I just couldn’t envision my description, but I needed to continue move the story forward, so I leave my reminder!
Writing has been quite enjoyable lately, and I’ve become consumed by this story. I’m very excited about the next phase in Ruby Hood’s life. She’s growing up, changing and learning about herself, as young woman and as a Guardian. I like to think I’m also growing as a writer (yes, I see the parallels). I’ve learned so very much since I wrote my first story, which incidentally is a HOT ASS unpublished MESS, BUT it was the catalyst that propelled me to this point, along with so many other amazing experiences and supportive people in my life. Believe me, I truly understand how incredibly blessed I am! There aren’t many people who get to spend the majority of their days doing things they love, which of course always includes reading, and the original purpose of this rambling blog: Latest Reads.
In this edition, I have three INDIE books and two BIG PRESS books. Incidentally, two of the INDIE books are zombie books, and both are pretty good! (Just between you and me, I don’t really feel the love for zombies…they freak me out…just a personal thing, but I like to stay on top of current reading trends, and zombies are trending.) In fact, every book kept me guessing and I like that in a story; plus there were some very original storylines. Please read on and enjoy my thoughts on these five ‘latest reads’.

Tonight the World Dies by Amber White
In this zombie apocalyptic novel, four friends survive an earth-shattering virus, only to scramble for food shelter and escape zombie attacks. Eventually, they meet a small group living in a compound, and they decided to try out a more stable life. And that’s about the time things go from bad to worse for these friends, all with a dramatic end. The author took a new and unique turn on the traditional zombie story with good pace and likable characters.
Final thought: I enjoyed it.

Hunting the Moon by Becca Boucher
In this story, we meet widowed Lilly and the very handsome Daemon. To refer to these two as star crossed lovers, wouldn’t even come close to describing the problems and road blocks they encounter. Boucher weaves paranormal goodness into the budding relationship and heat between the two main characters. She keeps the reader engaged with plot twists and action, not to mention the exciting and interesting pull Daemon and Lilly feel toward each other. I enjoyed it and look forward to the next one!
Final thought: It’s a good read, especially for the paranormal romantic!

Reinfection by Cynthia Melton
This is the fourth book in this zombie series and I will say I have enjoyed all of them. In this book, the wayward group of survivors think they are about to have a place to settle down and rebuild, but Melton has other plans for the characters.  As readers, we see a new spin on the classic zombie tale. Something about the latest zombies is different and beyond frightening for this cast of characters. That being said, I have always enjoyed the main characters, Colton and Chalice. They really are just kids, but they have turned into leaders many look up to for safety, security, protection and, most importantly, hope! Looking forward to the next one.
Final thought: I am big Melton fan and enjoy reading her stuff!

Confessions of Murder Suspect by James Patterson
In this young adult thriller, we see a new side of James Patterson. As an avid Patterson fan and a YA writer, I just had to check this out. I was not disappointed, as his take on wealthy children and murdered parents was new and fresh. Four siblings find their parents murdered, but they are the only ones who had access to the house. As this mystery unfolds there are multiple twists and turns. The oldest living female child, Tandy, is determined to solve this mystery, even if she turns out to be the killer (Tandy both narrates the story and speaks to the readers in second person at certain points). Of course, when you are a wealthy, high intelligent, somewhat famous family, nothing is as it seems. The deeper Tandy digs into the murder, the more she learns about herself and her family. A dramatic end, which I didn’t see coming!
Final thought: I will definitely check out more of Patterson’s YA books!

Defending Jacob by William Landay
In this novel, we follow ADA Andy Barber as he begins investigating the local murder of a fourteen year old boy. Soon his son, Jacob, becomes the prime suspect. As you can imagine this leads to a bevy of problems and impressive twists and turns. The reader watches as two parents vehemently defend their child, and the different ways they cope with this murder charge. Landay weaves a tale that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. And the ending is as dramatic and tragic as they come; one I certainly didn’t see coming.
Final thought: This ending still haunts me, but I will certainly check out more of Landay’s work.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Coming next to ‘Latest Reads’
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Looking for Alaska by John Green

Thursday, June 12, 2014

American Gothic Part 3: Final Installment

Let me preface with: I LOVE SUMMER!
Hard to believe I’m a week into summer and still haven’t accomplished much! In my defense, things haven’t exactly worked out the way I anticipated. I did some unscheduled dog sitting. And just for the record…5 Labrador retrievers in one house is a total chore…just walking from one room to another is an ordeal! Then there was a massive issue with one of my pups, Divot (he’s missing a chuck of his ear, hence the name). Apparently, he has some birth defects. One in which his diaphragm didn’t form properly and his intestines have been sliding between his abdomen and chest cavity for years. Imagine his regular vet’s surprise when she saw his intestines floating around his heart in an x-ray! So a semi-serious surgical procedure was needed. Thankfully, he survived the surgery and is recovering!
So as you can see, other things have gotten in the way of my original plan. BUT I have managed to write 3,500 words on the next Ruby Hood, bringing the total word count up to 16,000 words. Ideally, I would love to have the second book finished by the end of June and off to my editor. I’m shooting to have it released in Oct. 2014 (a year after the first). And I must say, this one is good…lots of twists and turns. In The Twistedly True Guardian Tale (working title that I don’t love), we meet my version of Snow White, the 7 Dwarves and Robin Hood. Questions about Kayla’s heritage also get answered, and the budding relationship between Kent and Ruby will blossom (or wilt…I haven’t decided yet). Then I’ll add in some more strife and conflict to propel the characters onto a third book!
But since the school year has officially ended, I thought I should post the final segment of the American Gothic project I did with the kiddos. In case you missed the first two parts, follow the links to check them out: Part 1 and Part 2.
Enjoy the final installment of my short story, American Gothic!
“Oh good heavens!” the young woman exclaimed. “What on earth brings you to our quaint little town?”
“Sadly, a missing child.” Agent McClint added.
“Well, please come in. I’d be happy to help.” Lilia responded.
 “Would you care for a cold drink of lemonade on this particularly warm spring day?”
Agent McClint beamed. “That would be lovely, ma’am. It has been a long day.
Maude settled the very handsome man at the kitchen table with an icy cold beverage, and was about to sit down when a phone rang. “Please excuse me while I grabbed the phone,” She said smiling affectionately, before she walked to the foyer to answer the ringing phone. The moment she stepped into the room, the ringing stopped. Maude paused and looked around. An odd sensation made her shiver. She brushed it off and turned to head back to the handsome FBI agent.
Once Lilia returned to the kitchen, her eyebrows shot up to her hairline. Clark McClint was standing over the stove, peering into her potion pot.
“Agent McClint, how does my grandmother’s homemade allergy medicine smell?” Lilia composed herself and walked into the room smiling.
Clark rubbed his eyes and turned to face the young blonde. “Umm, it smells interesting.” He said before he sneezed. “I guess, I could use some. May I try it?”
“I’m sorry, Agent McClint, but it must simmer for several more days before it’s ready for human consumption. How long will you be here?” Lilia asked .
“I hope not very long, but it depends on how quickly I can solve this case.” The agent responded.
“Well, tell me how I can help.” Lilia said sweetly and gestured to the kitchen table for them to sit.
Clark choose a chair and Lilia sat next to him. “There is a little missing girl, Macie Trims. She was last seen in the woods between your farmhouse and the Cummings’ farm to the east of you. She is about 10 with brown hair and green eyes. I’d like to know if you have any information about this little girl. Anything you can provide might help.”
“Oh, that is just terrible!” exclaimed Lilia. “Those woods are dense and terrifying for me and I’ve lived here my whole. I can only imagine how scary they would be for a little girl who’s new to the area. Have you searched the woods?” Lilia asked as concern dripped from her lips.
“We have. Our dogs picked up a scent near the edge of the Cummings property, but we found nothing.” Agent McClint said dismayed.
“Hmmm…” Lilia got up to stir her potion and refill the agent’s lemonade. “I assume you’ve searched the bomb shelter old Mr. Cummings built in the 40’s.”
“The bomb shelter. He built it back during World War II.” Lilia turned to look at the agent. Her cobalt eyes held his firmly.
Clark pulled a notebook out of his pocket and looked through his notes. “I don’t have any information about a bomb shelter.” Agent McClint furrowed his brow in confusion before he looked backed to the young woman.
Lilia said, chuckling. “Of course not, Agent McClint. Old man Cummings wasn’t known for sharing that sort of information with the city. I’d be happy to show you, if you have some time.”
As the two walked through the woods, conversation flowed easily. The two exchanged stories about their childhood, books, movies and the weather.
Lilia stopped abruptly when they neared the underground bomb shelter. She could find it with her eyes closed, as a child this is often where she went to get away when she needed some time to herself, especially those difficult high school years.
Clark McClint followed her lead and froze. He brought his finger to his mouth, and pulled out his gun, listening intently.
A faint crying could be heard, when the birds weren’t chirping and the leaves weren’t rustling in the breeze. “Oh no!” Lilia shouted, before bolting into a broken and battered barn.
“WHOA! Where are you going?” Agent McClint shouted as he holstered his gun and ran after her.
Within moments, Lilia leapt like a gazelle over two roof beams that had fallen down and ducked under a doorway that was about to collapse before her eyes. She grabbed the trap door in the floor, pulled it open with ease and disappeared down the dark rickety ladder to the bottom.
Agent McClint mumbled under his breath as he climbed down the wooden ladder, which creaked with every step. The agent huffed at every splinter that dug further into his skin. He groaned as his feet touched solid earth. After grabbing his flashlight, he turned around and gasped in surprise.
In the corner, Lilia sat holding a little girl on her lap. “Sshhh, it’s okay now, sweetie. You are safe.” She cooed as she cradled the young girl, gently wiping away the little girl’s tears.
“I want my mommy,” the little girl whimpered.
“I know, darling, and we’ll get you home soon.” Lilia said softly before she looked up and smiled at Agent McClint.
Clark returned her smile and sighed, then he grabbed his two way radio and called it in to his boss. “We found her. I repeat the girl has been found!” There was a loud rejoicing in the background. The agent then leaned down next to the little girl. “Are you Macie Trims?” He asked and the child nodded in agreement. “How’d you get here, sweetheart?”
The little girl snuggled closer to Lilia. “I don’t know. I just woke up here.” She whimpered.
“OK, kiddo. We can talk about it more once we get you home. Are you ready to see your mom?” The agent asked and held out his hands to take the little girl, but she shook her head and clung tighter to Lilia.
“I’ve got her,” Lilia said as she deftly stood up with the young girl in her arms. The three carefully climbed the battered ladder back to the warm sunlight spring day.
Ending: Wrap up loose ends and provide closure. If you intend to end with a cliff hanger, you MUST resolve the first part, and then introduce a new problem to be dealt with in the next segment.
BEEP BEEP BEEP…the alarmed sounded and Lilia bolted out of bed. She had been having some odd dreams lately and last night’s was super strange. She stretched and shook off the eerie feeling. Today was the day she was going to meet the little girl that had just moved onto the Cummings Farm, Macie Trims. Macie and her family had just moved to town, and she had promised Mrs. Trims she would show the little girl around, especially the woods. They were scary for Lilia and she had lived here her whole life. That must have been where that bizarre dream had come from.
“Lilia, hurry up dear. I made breakfast. You are due to meet the Trims in 30 minutes. Hurry up, Darlin’” Grandma shouted from the kitchen.
“Coming,” Lilia shouted as she pulled her long blond hair into a ponytail on the top of her head and grabbed her running shoes on the way out the door. She hopped down the steps toward the succulent smell of bacon and pancakes.
Before she walked into the kitchen she stopped and looked at the picture over the fireplace. This painting had a special place in her heart. ‘Good morning Mom and Grandpa. I miss you terribly.” She said sadly. Lilia had lost her mother and grandfather almost a year ago in a terrible barn fire on the Cummings’ farm. Her unselfish and brave mother and grandfather had rushed into the barn to rescue the animals trapped inside moments before the burning barn collapsed. After their death, Gran M had this painting made from a picture to keep their memory alive. In the picture her mother and grandfather stood stoically in front of the farmhouse. Like father like daughter, both were people of few words and forget a smile for any sort of picture. It always made Lilia smile; she kissed her forefinger and lightly tapped the painting before the hurried into the kitchen.
“Morning, Gran M.” The 20 year-old said before she kissed her grandmother’s cheek and snuck a piece of bacon.
“Morning, Darlin’, grab a quick bit and get moving. I ran into Mrs. Trims at the market this morning and Macie is anxious to meet you.” Grandma Maude said absently.
“I had the strangest dream about the little girl and you last night, Grandma. The little girl had gone missing and you were an evil old witch sold her soul for youth.” Lilia said and then laughed, as she grabbed a to-go coffee mug.
“Heavens dear!” Grandma exclaimed. “You know your powers will be in full force on your 21st birthday next week when the Blood Moon rises. You need to be careful. That may have been a premonitions that something terrible is coming.”
“Grandma! Be serious! I know you think I am destined to become some powerful witch, but really? I’m sure it was just a reminder to be careful in the woods, especially with a kid. Besides, what could possibly happen in Farmtown? You worry too much!” Lilia said as she dismissed her grandmother’s warning and headed out the door and bound down the front steps. “I’ll be back later,” she called and headed off, humming a soft tune, completely oblivious to the unfamiliar van parked at the neighbor’s house.
A sinister voice snickered. “Have fun with Macie Trims today, Lilia. I have her kidnapping set for this evening. That will give me a chance to get close to you before you come into your powers next week. I will have those powers. You won’t even know what hit you, witch!” Clark McClint spoke to himself and watched the young woman in the rearview mirror. Laughing, he pulled off his sunglasses and his eyes blazed red.
The End

Coming Soon: Latest Reads
Hunting the Moon by Becca Boucher
Reinfection by Cynthia Melton
Defending Jacob by William Landay