LOOK at that! A writer’s challenge

With a short 6 days left until Shadowborn comes out, I’ve been challenged by the wonderful and talented Kevin Craig, to divulge how many times I’ve used the word “Look” in my manuscript.

This is the guy *jabs thumb at the guy behind the stack of his published book, Summer on fire*  I curse you as I blow you raspberry kisses.  :)

*groans* Do I really have to?  I’m afraid to look, but okay, here it goes.

Okay, that wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  Out of 100,000 words, I used “Look” only 74 times.  Wow.  I guess my editor’s lessons have finally sunk into my thick skull!  :)

“Eyes” however, I’ve used *cough* 359 times *cough*.  Geez.  Eyes tell a lot, but 359 times? 

Here’s the challenge, which I will extend to five of my best buds below, is to not only find the LOOKs in our current WIPs, but to also post the paragraphs around the word. Choose your favorite three in your WIP to post.

Here are mine:

1

“You needn’t look very hard to find the evil who now hunts you, Lila Gray.” Alogason’s fiery eyes scrutinized my face as if assessing something beyond my skin. “Alastair will find you, if only you let him.”

2

“Been a long time, Lila. What’ve yeh been up to now?” Willa said in her Irish lilt as her brown seal eyes swept my ragged form. “Yeh look like yeh fell on a cheese grater.”
Nice to know I looked as I felt. “Good to see you’re all healed.”

3

“I haven’t much time.” She glanced left and right and sashayed to me in two long strides. “There is one of us who remains in the human world who may help you if she deems you worthy.” The one Alogason had spoken of? The prophet? Galati slipped a roll of cloth into my hand and folded my fingers around it. “I’m risking much by giving you this, but I disagree with the Elders’ decision in this matter.” She leaned down and kissed my forehead, silver tears drawing a shining line down her cheeks. “I wish . . . even when our world seems to collapse around us, a closer look often reveals that which we hold most dear has survived.” Her brown eyes bored into me as if trying to transfer knowledge she couldn’t say.
A flash took her from my sight and left me holding a worn, yellow cloth.

*rubs hands together*  Now for my five suckers lucky contestants who I challenge to spill their dirty “Look” secrets:

The lovely and talented Aimee Laine

The delectable Rebecca Hart

The sweet and powerful Julie Reece

Claire Gillian and her tantalizing alter ego

The sinfully delightful Kastil Eavenshade

Are you brave enough to accept the challenge, ladies?  Come on, play with me!

I’ll see all of you back here on Monday, October 1st, where my squeeing will be heard for miles as I launch the continuation of Lila Gray’s story for the minds of readers everywhere.  Until then, I bid you a week full of good reads and good times.

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{Review} Crux by Julie Reece

I’m honored to be part of Julie Reece’s blog tour for her newly released Young Adult novel, Crux. Congrats, girl!

What a dream to read. I laughed.  I cried.  I clutched my kindle, wishing I could read faster, frustrated when I couldn’t get to the end fast enough. 

And I gave it a big fat, well earned, five cupcakes!

Let’s start off with the nitty gritty, courtesy of Goodreads:

Crux, by Julie Reece

Release Date:  July 9, 2012

Publisher:  J. Taylor Publishing

Back of the Book

She should have run. Now, she’ll have to fight.

Eighteen year old Birdie may be homeless, but she’s surviving, that is until a mysterious guy throws money in the air like a crazy game show host, and she grabs some with the idea she’ll be able to buy dinner that night.

In that singular moment, unassuming Birdie becomes the girl in everyone’s viewfinder. Thugs want to kill her. Money-guy wants to recruit her. The very hot, very rich, and very out of her league Grey Mathews wants to save her.

Birdie, though, wants nothing to do with any of them, until she realizes fate didn’t bring them all together.

Her heritage did.

Now, with only twenty-one days left, she’s got to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of those before her or risk her life for people she’s only just met.

~~~~

Cover

Isn’t this cover amazing?  I loved having this image of Birdie in my mind’s eye as I read, and I could totally see this cover girl throughout the story, surviving through what the author put her through.  Whatever artist created this is incredible.  I bow to you, whoever you are.  Your talent is mind-blowing.

What I loved about the book:

In one word:  Birdie.  Her character is so simple, yet so complex it just about blew my mind.  She’s hilarious and wounded deeply, a survivor I couldn’t help but pull for.  As an author, I’m always looking for what works and what doesn’t, and the characters and world Ms. Reece creates are colorful and believable, working to paint a complex tapestry for me to admire and even learn a thing or two from.

I’ve read scarce few present tense books that I enjoyed.  It has to be spot on, and this one is, and how.  I was IN the story as I was reading, right there with Birdie.

There are subtle lines throughout the book like these that are extremely creative and awe-inspiring:

“Uh hmm. That’s why you be sittin’ here in someone else’s piss? Girl, you gonna have to come up with somethin’ better than that.” Shondra shakes her head. She looks younger than me, but, like, a hundred years old, too. I can’t explain the quick bond between us, but I like her, and I don’t like many people. “They’s places you can go. Some churches, a day shelter on Ethel Street, Hosea House on Donnelly Avenue, and the Guthrie Shelter, but you ain’t got no kids, right?”
“No.”
She scoots closer on her butt cheeks until our shoulders touch. “Then you can’t go there. You stick with Shondra, honey. I’ll help you.”
Seeing as how Shondra is sitting in the same pee I am, I don’t know what she thinks she can do for me, but at least I’m not alone.

That simple line, that Shondra is sitting in the same pee struck me when I read it.  Simple, vivid, tells a story within the story in only a few words. Birdie’s “voice” is just perfect.

Here’s another bit that makes me love Birdie in all her blunt glory:

My trip to the corner market was fun. When you’re homeless, you don’t dream of Perrier, or the surf and turf special at the local steakhouse that you pay for with plastic from your new Coach purse. You dream of bologna and cheese sandwiches, bottled water, and a grocery bag to keep your crap in.

This is a wonderful story that young adult fans everywhere are going to gobble up and rave about.

About the Author:

Julie Reece (biography courtesy of J. Taylor Publishing)

Born in Ohio, I lived next to my grandfather’s horse farm until the fourth grade. Summers were about riding, fishing and make-believe, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all.

I struggled with multiple learning disabilities, did not excel in school. I spent much of my time looking out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) I fought dyslexia for my right to read, like a prince fights a dragon in order to free the princess locked in a tower, and I won.

Afterwards, I read like a fiend. I invented stories where I could be the princess… or a gifted heroine from another world who kicked bad guy butt to win the heart of a charismatic hero. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Later, I moved to Florida where I continued to fantasize about superpowers and monsters, fabricating stories (my mother called it lying) and sharing them with my friends.

Then I thought I’d write one down…

Hooked, I’ve been writing ever since. I write historical, contemporary, urban fantasy, adventure, and young adult romances. I love strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. My writing is proof you can work hard to overcome any obstacle. Don’t give up. I say, if you write, write on!

Find her on:

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

Purchase links:

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble.com

Release day! #TidalWhispers

Release day is here!  Woo hoo!  Crack the bubbly and hold up a glass!

Cheers to my fellow authors, Claire Gillian, Julie Reece and Kelly Said a most successful launch of our collaboration through J. Taylor Publishing to create Tidal Whispers.  I look forward to reading many more heart touching pieces from you all in the future.

As promised, I’m here to announce the winner of my ebook giveaway of this little beauty, and I’m a girl of my word.

First, here is what the winner will soon find in their inbox:

Heart’s Desire by Julie Reece
After a terrible accident, Tessa returns to her family beach house to heal. She doesn’t expect to see her first summer crush from seven years before. Cameron, though, reappears and ignites a relationship that’s far more intense than ever before. The only problem? Summer is once again coming to an end, and this time, Tessa will have to decide whether to choose life with Cameron or to never see him again.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian
Under Poseidon’s rule, Circe is the most destructive siren in the Pacific ocean, her songs luring ships and their crew to their watery graves. Not Otis, the best halibut fisherman in the Alaskan waters. His ship, the Calypso, has avoided disaster each time Circe set her sights on him.

Given one last chance to deliver Otis to Davy Jones’ locker, Circe takes to land to waylay the handsome captain. Instead, it may be Otis himself who hooks the Siren.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said
Should Miki choose to wed the local wealthy boy she doesn’t love, her stomach will stop grumbling. Her soul, however, will suffocate. With one last opportunity before she must concede, she sneaks off for a final dive to her hidden crate at the bottom of the seabed. What waits for her is more than a captured lobster. It’s a treasure she cannot claim without great sacrifice or true love. 

The Undergarden by Jocelyn Adams
Nixie, a water sprite, lives a solitary existence as she struggles to understand the strange world beyond her waters.  When she meets one of the pink ones, a curious boy named Wyatt, their friendship blooms into a love that can exist only upon the sands that divide his solid ground from her underwater paradise. Some love, though, once born, cannot be undone, even in the face of death.

So, without further ado, the winner of my first ever giveaway of Tidal Whispers is … drum roll please ….

Tayte H, from Reading in Paradise

Congrats!  I’ll be in touch to arrange your prize.  I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I did.

This collection is now available for immediate download to your kindle here, and your Kobo or Nook here.

Thanks for stopping by to celebrate with me.  Have a great week!

{Review} Tidal Whispers #TuesdayTurns

Today on Tuesday Turns:  Tidal Whispers, the newest PNR anthology coming to you from J. Taylor Publishing.  I had the pleasure of reading drafts of these short story collection a while ago, and have just finished re-reading the entire ARC.  Well, except for my story, of course, but we’re not here to talk about that one today.  :)

Good gracious, I’m in amazing company in this one!  Before I get into the good stuff, let’s take a look at the back of the book:

Heart’s Desire by Julie Reece
After a terrible accident, Tessa returns to her family beach house to heal. She doesn’t expect to see her first summer crush from seven years before. Cameron, though, reappears and ignites a relationship that’s far more intense than ever before. The only problem? Summer is once again coming to an end, and this time, Tessa will have to decide whether to choose life with Cameron or to never see him again.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian
Under Poseidon’s rule, Circe is the most destructive siren in the Pacific ocean, her songs luring ships and their crew to their watery graves. Not Otis, the best halibut fisherman in the Alaskan waters. His ship, the Calypso, has avoided disaster each time Circe set her sights on him.

Given one last chance to deliver Otis to Davy Jones’ locker, Circe takes to land to waylay the handsome captain. Instead, it may be Otis himself who hooks the Siren.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said
Should Miki choose to wed the local wealthy boy she doesn’t love, her stomach will stop grumbling. Her soul, however, will suffocate. With one last opportunity before she must concede, she sneaks off for a final dive to her hidden crate at the bottom of the seabed. What waits for her is more than a captured lobster. It’s a treasure she cannot claim without great sacrifice or true love.

The Undergarden by Jocelyn Adams
Nixie, a water sprite, lives a solitary existence as she struggles to understand the strange world beyond her waters. When she meets one of the pink ones, a curious boy named Wyatt, their friendship blooms into a love that can exist only upon the sands that divide his solid ground from her underwater paradise. Some love, though, once born, cannot be undone, even in the face of death.

Have I peaked your interest, yet? 

Cover

I love the colors in this cover, portraying the surreal feeling of the sun filtering through the water.  Most of the stories involve sweet romances to some degree, so the woman and the innocent look on her face is just perfect.

Review

Heart’s Desire, by Julie Reece

Like everything else of this author’s that I’ve had the pleasure to read, the writing is vivid and poetic, painting the underwater world like a dream for me to walk through as I read the story.  Passages like this always have me re-reading just so I can savor the flow of words through my thoughts:

In her bliss, she twirled, forcing yards of fabric to shoot away from her body. She spun from the mirror, halting against a form both firm and yielding. One strong hand enveloped hers, while the other slipped around her middle, pulling her close. On cue, soft music from an unseen orchestra filled the hall. Strings first, low and haunting, followed by wind instruments. Eerie and intoxicating, the sounds worked like a potion to further muddle her already altered state.

The emotion in this one is quite raw and touching in places, and the connection between Tess and Cam is magnetic.  I was shouting inside my head as I followed Tess through the obstacles preventing her from being with Cam, saying, Come on, just throw caution to the wind and get with that man!  The ending gave me pause for a moment, that Cam should have known to offer the other option than the one he presented, but it was a small thing and did little to detract from my overall enjoyment.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian

I love the ebb and flow of this one, and the emotion when Circe’s quandary surfaces:  to save herself and destroy Otis, or save him and suffer the consequences.  The imagery is beautiful and the interactions between the two are light with an air of humor.  Check out this taste:

Circe spied the tall, dark-haired man clutching his trench coat fronts together, his head ducked down. Frigid rain fell in cascading sheets, and few souls ventured out that morning. The scents of dead fish and seawater infused even the raindrops. Bruised skies gave no indication they planned to take pity on the inhabitants of Homer or allow any respite for the sun.

Bruised skies – I love that!  Claire Gillian never ceases to make me stop and think why didn’t I think of that awesome line!  The love that bloomed came on rather quickly, but given that this is a short story, it kind of has to be that way to fit in all the plot elements within the word allowance.  Goodness knows, I struggled with the same issue in my story.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said

This is the sweetest of the stories and very well written.  Although the pace is a bit slower than my usual hundred-mile-an-hour personal preference, I appreciated the depth of character-building that took place and the subtle world-building through the characters’ thoughts.  Here’s a nice tease:

Miki’s lean body slowly undulated, bubbles streaming down from her nose. Her empty hands pointed up, stretching for the refracted beams of sunlight just beyond her reach. Her graceful swaying switched to frantic kicking and arms flailing as she fought to break free of the water and pull in a desperate breath of air.

I can totally see this scene in my head.  So well done.  The story of the pearl was interesting, letting me suspend my disbelief at the insta-love between Miki and Harmon.  It ended a little too neat and tidy for me, but again, that’s no reflection on the author or the story itself, just my personal preference, that I like to see characters suffer lots before the happily ever after comes.  I know, I’m a big meanie!  :)  Still, I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more of Kelly Said’s tales.

I give this little lovely 4 1/2 cupcakes!

These authors are all ones to watch, folks.  Big things will come of them, fantastic stories still to make it from their wild imaginations onto paper for our enjoyment.  Two already have novels out or upcoming, and it’s only a matter of time for the other.

Connect with these authors here:

www.juliereece.com

www.clairegillian.com

www.kellysaid.com

If you love tales of the sea and paranormal romance, this is a must read for a cool summer evening in a lounge chair with your eReader.