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Writing for a Series: Don’t Tell Me What To Do. I’m a God in My Own Mind.

Monday, September 29, 2014

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One Enchanted Evening
I’ll let you in on a little secret. All writers have a dark side. Deep down we’re convinced if people would only do everything we say, damn it, the world would be a better place. Eventually each one of us comes to the sorry conclusion we won’t be elected Ruler of the World. The only way to make up for the crushing disappointment is to write. On paper I wield omnipotent power over my fictional realm. I manipulate lives, kill off all my enemies (in print), and create people way more interesting than myself. Not to mention, being adored by millions of fans (in my mind.) The dark forces rise. Mwah-ha-ha.

Then I got the chance to write One Enchanted Evening for a series.   

Writing for a pre-existing series has a special set of challenges. Writers do not necessarily play well with others. We are pasty-faced individuals, bereft of social skills. Banished to unheated garrets with quills in hand, we battle wasting upper respiratory ailments. Writing for a series requires unprecedented cooperation and no small amount of patience. Coughing delicately into our lacy handkerchiefs, we must scurry from the garret to interact with real people. It’s hard.

Build from the fictional ground up.
The first step in the development of the Lobster Cove series for Wild Rose Press was to appoint a coordinating editor. Rumor has it she didn’t duck fast enough and got slapped with the job. Lord knows, it’s not for the faint of heart. Her responsibility entailed devising the original platform; in this case a small town on the coast of Maine. Stories would cover all time periods; past, present, and future. Full length novels, novelettes, and even short stories were welcome along with an array of fiction genres such as contemporary, historical, suspense, paranormal and, yes, even naughty bits of erotica. Like a real town, Lobster Cove would have diversity in spades.

To rough out descriptive details, the editor solicited suggestions early from those who had an interest in writing for the series. Decisions had to be made concerning the size of the town in both area and population. What were the most logical major and minor industries in a Maine coastal resort area? What were typical occupations? The editor created a master spreadsheet with categories and descriptions of places and occupations, male and female characters, town events, and other reference items writers might need. With the basics laid out, next came an actual town map highlighting streets and locations of buildings and service organizations such as the police department, hospital, and public schools. Local landmarks were chosen and situated. Lobster Cove now had a lighthouse, a centrally located park with gazebo, manmade lake, beaches, and an offshore island.

Submissions opened up. Publishing contracts were signed. New businesses and characters were added to the spreadsheet. The map filled in even more. Slowly, Lobster Cove began to resemble a real town. Places, however, need more than people and buildings. Dozens of other details had to be worked out such as festivals, town events, flora and fauna, and the high school mascot. World-building is a pain. No wonder gods are so cranky.

What do you mean there’s no room for Ye Olde Donut Shoppe? Not even a lousy kiosk?
When creating a world from scratch, the author controls the population. Not so in a series. As far as story ideas, it’s first come, first served and all subject to the coordinating editor’s approval. The first person to use a character defines a character. If a contracted story states the mayor is a cross-dressing, Irish-Argentinian cat fancier with irritable bowel syndrome than that’s what goes into the spreadsheet. Anyone else wanting to use the mayor has to take Pedro O’Toole and his kittens, gastroenteritis, and feathered boa as is. Either that or its back to the storyboard.

Lack of control can be a royal pain especially when it comes to the major setting for your story. Food venues seem to be the first to go. It makes sense. Coffee shops, restaurants, or bakeries are all perfect places for social interaction—great venues for story arcs. You may have written a moving, charming, brilliant, and gripping tale about the owner of a donut shop, but if another writer beats you to the punch, and the editor decrees Lobster Cove has enough donut shops, you’re out of luck. Back to the rewrites.

There are additional considerations when coordinating details with other writers. Want your characters to have a romantic walk along the pier on the third Saturday in June? Oops, too bad. Another author has a storm scheduled that day. Have a big denouement in the police chief’s office the last week of September? Pity, another author is having it fumigated.  One sticky problem I had was the name of a particular character. He was a minor, but necessary addition to my story. I couldn’t write around him, but he was not my character. His role had already been defined by another. That meant his name had been selected and it happened to be a name I detest. This is not the name for someone who is an asset to a community. This is the name of a kid who sat next to me in kindergarten, grabbing his crotch and making airplane noises. Seriously, I wouldn’t give a gerbil in one of my stories this name, but I was stuck with it. I gnashed my teeth each time I typed it in.

Another problem is time limits. Writing for a series is not for someone who needs two years to crank out a story. Submission dates are firm. If you can’t finish by the deadline, than you need to shop your work around somewhere else.

Give it up for the team.
I had reservations about working on a series. Writing for me has always been a solitary art and I wasn’t sure I could be a team player. I was wrong. Despite minor irritations, working on One Enchanted Evening was a blast. It’s good to step out of your comfort zone. It stretches those literary wings.

The foremost pleasure comes from the collaboration with other writers dedicated to infusing life into a fictional town. Lobster Covians (yeah, we had a discussion about what to call inhabitants, too) are an eager talented group ready to share ideas and research. An innocent query into the writer’s loop about a character or place brings a plethora of links, pictures, and helpful hints. Need someone to read a passage from a work in progress to see if it rings true? Just post a query. Someone will answer and give you the benefit of their experience. It’s a warm, supportive community with an enthusiastic cheering squad. I’m proud to be an honorary citizen of the Cove.

Click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway link below and enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Red Lobster and a $50 gift certificate to Wild Rose Press. Hurry! Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 30.



L. A. Kelley writes fantasies with adventure, romance, humor and touch of sass. Her newest release, One Enchanted Evening, comes out on September 29. You can find her at http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com



Book Review: Breathe (Sea Breeze #1) by Abbi Glines

Friday, September 26, 2014

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It should be of no shock to most of you that I'm back with a review on an Abbi Glines novel, Breathe (Sea Breeze series). I love Abbi because I can always count on her to write an enthralling and drool worthy books. While many of the story lines are quite similar, I've always said that a good writer can make you forget those similarities and feel like you're reading something completely novel. So for those of you looking for something totally different in the NA world, this probably isn't for you. For the rest - read on!

(Blurb)Sadie White's summer job isn't going to be on the beach life-guarding or working at rental booths like most kids her age. With her single mother's increasing pregnancy and refusal to work, Sadie has to take over her mother's job as a domestic servant for one of the wealthy summer families on a nearby island.

When the family arrives at their summer getaway, Sadie is surprised to learn that the owner of the house is Jax Stone, one of the hottest teen rockers in the world. If Sadie hadn't spent her life raising her mother and taking care of the house she might have been normal enough to be excited about working for a rock star.

Even though Sadie isn't impressed by Jax's fame, he is drawn to her. Everything about Sadie fascinates Jax but he fights his attraction. Relationships never work in his world and as badly as he wants Sadie, he believes she deserves more. By the end of the summer, Jax discovers he can't breathe without Sadie.


What I liked

Yes, this story can be shelved under the "opposite side of the tracks" category. But it's dealing with a  gorgeous  rockstar and a hardworking girl just trying to support her family - and who can say no to that?! (Others have more willpower than I do)

Breath has a bit of a Maid In Manhattan (Yes that JLo movie circa 2002) feel to it. Sadie ends up going to work for her mother-with-issues and Sadie just happens to luck out and get to clean the house of the hottest musician around, Jax. There's even a tiny slip up scene in which they meet that is reminiscent of the movie. But honestly, I loved it. Sadie could hold her own and her quips kept Jax on his feet. And we all know where the ending of this book is going...

What I didn't like

It's hard to say whether or not this book met all expectations or not. I've read a majority of Glines' books, but all have been out of order. This is the first book in the series I've just now read after reading all of the others. The writing style didn't seem any different from later books. But the story didn't grip me like the others did. I liked the characters, story, dialog, but didn't love them. I couldn't fully immerse myself. Normally I would attribute my lackluster feelings to having read too many of these type of books in a short period of time. But this was the first book that I picked up after about 2 months of not casually reading! (*gasp*) Which leads me to believe it just wasn't the best of her work.

Rating: 3.5  


Book Review: Book Review: Words for Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis

Friday, September 12, 2014

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Given solid encouragement and a template I can make a pretty darn good smiley face. Needless to say, I don’t call myself an artist and have never produced either a comic or graphic novel. However, I have a lot of respect for those who do. Fortunately, Words for Pictures is not a how-to-color book. Unusual in its approach, it explores the business end of both comics and graphic novels. They are odd art forms. Sometimes the writer/illustrator is the same person, sometimes not. The writer’s work is more reminiscent of a script. The artist’s work is similar to that of an action movie director. While a fiction writer writes for a faceless unseen audience, the comic book writer works for a single person—the artist. If the writer doesn’t tell a good story, illustrations won’t save it. If the artist can’t generate the right level of excitement, the story falls flat. Each contributes equally. It is a unique collaborative effort not seen in other types of fiction.

There’s a lot of ground to cover and Words for Pictures does a good job of briefly outlining the pitfalls facing a budding comic book writer or illustrator. Wiggling free from a straitjacket while bound with chains and trapped under an ice floe is a snap compared to breaking into any form of publishing. The odds are stacked against you from the get-go. Bendis is one of the big dogs in the comic world and much of the advice is applicable not just for his field, but others such as fiction or screenplays.

Problems
Even though this book purports to approach comics from the business instead of the design end, there is only one chapter devoted solely to nuts and bolts practical advice. That chapter is written by his wife and business manager and reads too light. Other chapters are interviews with different comic book writers and artists. Unfortunately, just because someone can write or illustrate a good piece of fiction, doesn’t mean they can translate that skill into words or provide cogent observations. While Bendis’ work is readable and insightful, some of the interviewees come across as ‘Yo, dude, chillax. Let the creative juices flow and, like, good stuff will happen. Dig?’ Not really, bro, but your artwork is cool.

Who’d like it
Despite the problems, the book has a lot to offer. The pages are filled with dynamite illustrations and Bendis gives an insightful, although brief, overview of the business. He is an enthusiastic and engaging writer with a cheerleader’s ‘you can do it’ attitude. Sometimes that’s all a budding writer or artist needs to get started. While the average comic book fan might have no interest in this book, I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys comics or graphic novels as art forms, or anyone with the desire to create either one.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

L. A. Kelley writes fantasies with adventure, romance, humor and touch of sass. You can find her at  http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com







Author Interview: Laura Strickland and Total Immersion in Writing Historical Fantasy

Monday, September 1, 2014

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Laura Strickland’s latest release is the historical fantasy, Lord of Sherwood: The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, Book Three.

As a writer of Historical Romance, I sometimes feel like the conductor on a bus tour into the past.  Pick up one of my books and I’ll punch your ticket. The bus will fire up with a throaty growl and we’ll disappear into the mists of time for a ride you won’t soon forget.  I've been conducting these tours for a while now, and quite a few people book return trips.

But what makes for successful time travel? Well, if you love writing Historical Fiction and want to set up your own tours, here are a few things you might want to consider.

It’s your tour, and those you take along will only see/hear/smell and taste what you share with them.  So you’d better make sure you don’t leave anything out.  If you make a stop in, say, eighteenth century England and drop by a pub to await the appearance of the Highwayman who features prominently in your story, you’d better give your passengers the full experience. How does it smell when you walk in? Like spilled ale and patrons who haven’t washed in six months?  How’s the ale? Dark and foamy? Pungent with a nutty aftertaste? How are the folks around you dressed? How do their voices sound? Make the world you create a tactile one and your passengers won’t want to get back on the bus too soon.

How much do you personally love this world you’re visiting?
I’ve learned that sharing fiction is a bit like osmosis. The writer brings to it a set of emotions and if s/he can convey them properly, they’ll seep into the reader’s consciousness the way water seeps into a sponge.  If you enjoy the way your Highwayman struts into the pub when he arrives, if you notice the way his black hair curls on his neck and the wicked gleam in his eyes, so will your readers. You don’t want to force anything onto your tour members: if you have to persuade them to participate, that wrecks the fun of the tour. You want them drawn into things, so caught up they forget the bus exists.

How immersed are you in your chosen period?
For it to be convincing, you have to live and breathe this stuff. You must be aware what your character ate for supper last night, even if it was roasted swan. You have to think about how heavy a knight’s armor is and how much work it takes for your heroine to draw a bath. You should lose yourself in your story, forget what it’s like to live with electricity/television/cell phones for a while, be aware that not everybody in Medieval England is a lord or queen, and that peasants fall in love too. Breathe the fetid air, smell the water in the moat and listen to the music of the times when you write. In short, for truly convincing prose I recommend total immersion, so don’t hesitate to drive that tour bus right into the nearest lake.

In short, your readers will only believe the veracity of your writing if you believe it. So do whatever it takes to engage yourself in your period, and your writing.  Happy time travel!

The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy - Book Three
Curlew Champion, master archer, has always known his destiny.  With his cousin, Heron Scarlet, he will become a guardian of Sherwood Forest and further his people's fight against Norman tyranny.  But the third member of the triad is still to be revealed, the woman who will complete the magical circle and, perhaps, answer the longing in Curlew's heart.

Anwyn Montfort has fled disgrace in Shrewsbury and come to Nottingham at her father's bidding.  He wishes her to make a good marriage and settle down.  But the wildness that possesses her refuses to quiet.  She knows she's been searching for something all her life, but not until she glimpses Curlew does her spirit begin to hope it has found its home.

Only the magic of Sherwood can bring them together, and only their union can complete the spell woven so long ago...

For more information on Laura Strickland go to www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Amazon Link

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Monday, August 18, 2014

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Mark Watney is having a really bad day. Due to a chain of accidents the astronaut has been marooned on Mars. Believing he’s dead, his crew left for Earth. He has no way to communicate with either the spaceship or NASA. Not that it matters, because in less than sixty days, he’ll be out of food, water, and air. Yup, a really bad day. Unless he finds a way to survive on a barren planet for four years until the next Mars landing, he will be completely and totally screwed.  

What is Right With This Book?
When you think back on your list of top ten books, more than likely most, if not all, will have been read before you turned thirty. The books you loved in your formative years stick to you like hot fudge to hips and stay a happy memory for the rest of your life. You revisit them now and then like old friends and leave with a warm and happy feeling. (After thirty, you are no longer formative. Mostly you are sludge that can only think with a regular infusion of caffeine and/or sugar—at least for me.) I accepted I would like a lot of books, even love some, but none would ever again make my list of favorites.

I was wrong.

The Martian is not just an example of an excellent science fiction book, but one of the best science fiction books I’ve ever read. There…I’ve gone on record and said it. Why is it great? Several reasons. Not only did Weir create a totally engaging hero, the book has a gripping, story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Will Mark find a food source? Water? A way to communicate with NASA? Can a rescue be mounted or is he doomed to a lonely death millions of miles from home?

The Martian is also surprisingly funny. Science fiction that is heavy on technical data rarely brings a chuckle. Often it is pretentious and stuffy, but Mark Watney faces impossible odds with a hysterical, self-deprecating sense of humor that made me laugh-out-loud.

Finally, science fiction books often suffer from poor characterization, particularly of females. Let’s face it, most are written by men. Women come across as little more than cardboard cutouts stuffed in a space suit. Not so, The Martian. Although Watney is alone on Mars the book’s point of view bounces from him to the mixed-gender crews of the spaceship and NASA. Female characters are fully formed and completely believable.

What’s Wrong With It?
Nothing. Seriously, not one single word. I can’t remember the last time I’ve loved a book so much from start to finish. The Martian outshines anything I ever read by Niven, Herbert, Clarke or any of the other supposed grand masters. Okay, if you put a gun to my head, I’ll admit I hate the cover. It’s ugly.

Why YOU Might Not Like It 
Some books, even well-written ones, should come with a warning. The Martian is one of them. You will hate this book, not even make it through the first chapter, if you don’t like hard science fiction. What is hard science fiction? It is a story that is heavy on the science and technical details.  I’m a dweeb, I admit it. I love the sciency stuff. If you can’t stand techno-talk, please don’t start this book. You’ll hate every single page, think I’m crazy for writing a glowing review, and make me cry very salty tears. Don’t bother picking it up.

I received a copy of The Martian for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.

L. A. Kelley is a co-blogger at The Book Cove.  She writes stories with adventures, romance, humor, and a touch of sass. You can find her at http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com

Book Review: Smoldering by Tiffany Aleman

Sunday, August 10, 2014

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Book Information
Genre: contemporary romance
Age: New Adult
Pages: 337
Version: eBook
Series: standalone



(Blurb): Money ~ power ~ fame 

Kelsey
Growing up in the arms of one of the wealthiest families in America, I lived a champagne lifestyle and never wanted for anything.

That life came with stipulations…
1. Marry the man I don’t love.
2. Make my parents proud.

Wrong.

I left my Manolos and fancy apartment behind and fled that life to find out who I really was.
Someone unexpected bulldozed my life.

Riley Jackson
He was the man everyone, including me, wanted, but his future was one I wasn’t sure I wanted to thrust myself back into. And when he chose a career over the family business, his family supported him instead of pushing him away. 

My past collided with my future.
I didn’t see it coming. If I had, I would’ve ran far, far away. Now I’m stuck in the same position I started in two years ago, except this time, it’s not my decision to make.

Loyalty to your family? Loyalty to your own happiness?

Which would you choose?


Review

If you're into runaway brides and hot military men coming to pick up the pieces (raises hand!)- then Smoldering is the book for you!

The book blurb very accurately portrays the book. There's really not much more that I can say about the plot that won't give too much away. What I really liked about this book is that both characters are coming from similar backgrounds (be it physical or emotional). There's a lot of damaged soul meets soul healer and rags-to-riches stories out there (especially those dealing with military characters) but author Tiffany Aleman manages to keep the H/h on fairly even playing ground and it makes the story all the more realistic and enjoyable.

I think the part I liked the most is that both MCs were very well aware of their flaws, but not overly self conscious about them. They kept a level head when trying to deal with issues that came their way and reacted in ways that were realistic. For example, if one was caught in a compromising position the other would actually ask about the situation rather than through a b*tch-fit (which is very gender neutral, by the way) and then complain for the rest of the book... (We've all read waaaayyy too many of those)

The writing is pretty good and the scenes are turned up to a 10 every time.

The part of the writing that I didn't like so much is some of the repetitiveness. It was by no means repetitive to the point of distraction, but I'm a reader who can figure out what is going through a character's mind pretty well based on their actions and mannerisms (as long as the writing is good) and so I find repeat conversations and explanations a waste. (Repeat conversations as in the character will talk to person 1 about how they feel and get half of the advice and then use the same thoughts to person 2 or 3 for the other "parts" of advice)

Overall, I'd recommend Smoldering to just about anyone who likes this genre. There's not too much drama, the reader won't have to go through an emotional recovery post-read, and it's what I'd call a pretty "realistic fantasy" life.


News at The Book Cove: August-September updates

Friday, August 8, 2014

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Happy Friday!!

I'll make everyone's Friday just a little bit better by starting off with this cute picture of my puppy, Emma:



Too much cuteness to handle at once!

Now on to the news...

Reviews

I've finally gotten back into the swing of reviewing and I've slowly been accepting books to review (versus only reading books I've purchased due to time constraints). So more people on the review request list have been hearing from me, however, there are 100's on that list and I cannot (and do not) want to read them all. As  usual, I will try to get as many reviewed by guest reviewers as possible but that too is a little slow going these days.

Blog Takeover

Our last blog take over winner was Nick Tory. If you did not catch his entries, you should do so now! They're hilarious, spot on, and a little bit crazy!

In September we will have our 2nd blog takeover winner, author Emily Walker. And if her posts are anything like her winning entry answer to "In 50 words or less explain why you should get to take over The Book Cove for a week," then I'm sure that will be a riot!

"Jobs"

For those of you that do not know, or forget easily (like me), or just haven't considered it - The Book Cove has availabilities to guest post, guest review, and co-blog (all non-paying, unfortunately). If interested, send an email to bookcovereviews@gmail.com and we'll get something set up!

Upcoming TBR

Lastly, I thought I'd share what I'm reading and see if anyone has similar TBRs or any thoughts on them. 

Compromising Kessen by Rachel Van Dyken -  My interpretation: An arranged "royal" marriage  between an American and a Brit based on 18th century values in today's society. I love RVD's work so I'm pretty psyched to read this!

Above All by Rebecca Brooks - My interpretation - the backwoods gets steamy when a sour breakup brings a hot Chef and ready-to-bare-all woman together. I'm a pretty big fan of gratuitous hookups in the wild with sexy men that can cook (I'm talking about reading, guys...just reading about it ;)) So this should be great!

Book Review: Privacy Code (Shatterproof #1) by Jordan Burke

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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It's been a while since I (Jessi) have put a review up! I've been pretty busy with work the last few months but every now and then I have managed to read a little before I go to bed. Most recently completed was book #1 of the Shatterproof series by Jordan Burke, Privacy Code.

Book Information
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Age group: New Adult
Pages: 178
Version: eBook

(Blurb): Everyone has secrets. No one has secrets like Watts.
Catherine Kolb has found the perfect diversion from her life of nearly complete seclusion: a virtually anonymous correspondence with a man she knows only as “Watts.”

Intelligent, mysterious, and with an insatiable appetite for sex, he begins to draw Catherine out of her closely guarded world, tempting her with his words—some dirty, some simply enticing…

“You should indulge your curiosities, especially the forbidden ones.”

Watts insists on privacy. He has no choice. In the wrong hands, his secrets could get people killed. Including Catherine.

Common sense says they should never meet, but curiosity and lust prove stronger than reason and caution. A planned one-time encounter sets into motion a series of events that bring Catherine and Watts to the edge of ecstasy and the brink of peril.

Two very private people. One risky night. A shot at love and redemption.


Due to mature themes, this book is recommended for readers 18+.

Review

I realized before starting this book that it would be a fairly short read and possibly have a cliffer. While I did finish it pretty quickly, there was enough of the first part of the plot resolved at the end to where the reader doesn't feel completely abandoned. Now that the important part is out of the way...

What I liked

This was a pretty impressive read! This series is the only work of Jordan Burke that is listed on Amazon, so it's especially impressive if this is the author's first work. I was hooked on the first page of Privacy Code and finished within hours. Part of the intrigue is that it starts out with a couple of emails to and from the H/h. "Watts" and Christine had met a few months back on a dating site and the reader gets thrown right into the middle of their ever-progressing online relationship; juicy bits and all! I'm hooked any time a book starts out with some smart conversation, humor, and sexy banter.

To describe the genre is a bit more difficult. Overall it is a contemporary romance. But the plot of book one is focused on Watts and Christine getting to know each other through emails and eventually taking the plunge to meet up (slight spoiler there, but I'm sure you would have figured it out anyways!). However, a majority of Watts' true identity is kept secret throughout the book - for reasons yet to be uncovered (book 2). And from what little information you have about him you find that he has an...interesting...job. So there is a bit of mystery and suspense added that gives the whole nature of the book a different feel; strangers meeting, online conversations, secrecy, excitement.

Add in some some very sexy scenes and you've got yourself a pretty damn good book!

What I didn't like

For a book under 200 pages I felt that it was very well paced and covered a good chunk of a story. However, I've said this before and I'll say it again, I don't understand why the book was split into 3 parts and released 1 week apart from each other. Well, from an author standpoint I kind of do (hook the reader with a "glimpse" of the story and then have them buy the rest), but I wasn't able to invest myself enough into the characters the feel the immediate urge to buy the rest of the books. I think a little more background could have been included in this first book to really hook me. Too much of both character's information was kept hidden for books 2 and 3 and in the end I felt I could do without reading the others. At least for now.

Honestly, more than likely I will not go back to the rest of the books. I've already moved on to others. This series will escape my mind for a while and then the next time I might happen across them who knows what I'll decide.

Overall, I would recommend this for someone looking for a NA contemporary romance with a bit of a different feel compared to many others out there. You'll just have to pay ~$1.60 per book - and not feel too cheated after the first book to not want to buy the next books.

Rating: 



Book Talk: Beverly Nault’s Tale of Two Very Different Cities and How Fiction Intruded on Fact

Monday, August 4, 2014

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Sometimes fiction collides with fact in the most unusual ways. Beverly Nault talks about her novel, Fresh Start Summer
. 
This is the story of two towns, one real and one imagined, that came together in an unusual way. Several years ago I began a book series based on a small town filled with folks you’d want to as friends in a setting you’d never want to leave. They would have their share of squabbles, but the quirky and colorful characters would get past their differences to strengthen friendships and their community.

Each title would take place during one season, so I pictured a main street with the changing appearance of trees, from the icicled branches in winter to spring’s promise of buds and blooms. I “planted” cherry trees that would blossom in the spring along cobblestoned walks lit with modern gas lamps, inviting park benches, and curiosity shops beckoning a leisurely visit.  This town would need the perfect name, something referring to the cherry trees. I searched the map and found a small town in Kansas named Cherryvale.  I hoped they wouldn’t mind me using their lovely name.

So began The Seasons of Cherryvale with the first title Fresh Start Summer. As the book released and I began marketing, I’d all but forgotten about the real town until I read a blog comment from a fellow named Richard. He asked me if I knew about the “real” Cherryvale.

Gulp. Yessir. I did. Hope you don’t mind me using your name!

I waited to see the town’s reaction. As it turns out, they did NOT mind at all.  After local inhabitants read the first book, they invited me to not only visit, but also bring my books to their next Cherry Blossom Festival. I graciously accepted and—after having to reschedule due to a freaky spring snowstorm—was treated to a VIP weekend where I had a very successful book signing, an appearance at the library, a private tour of the Cherryvale Museum and saw many sights around town escorted by my new friends, residents of the “real” Cherryvale.

How similar were the two Cherryvales?
They were so much alike I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. Both Cherryvales have a B&B, a beautiful town lake, lovely homes, and a quaint Main Street. Also, lots of school spirit as indicated by the high school football game we attended, and of course, challenges that any community has. Everyone has an interesting history—and some even whispered juicy nuggets for future storylines! Everything you might expect from any small town.

One of the most unusual likenesses between book and town was that in Fresh Start Summer a Hollywood crew arrived to film a movie. This sets off events that turn the town upside down. As I arrived in the “real” Cherryvale, a Hollywood crew had just finished filming a movie about “The Bloody Benders,” a notorious gang famous for their short but violent reign in the late 1800’s. (My fictional movie was not bloody, however.)

My favorite similarity though, is that like the fictional town I’d dreamed up, I felt an immediate sense of welcome as soon as I arrived in the real Cherryvale. I continue to keep in touch with my new “neighbors” through social media, and consider myself an honorary Cherryvalian, anxious to return for another visit as soon as possible.

We all want our neighborhoods to be a place of warmth and friendship, and readers yearn to read books to help them escape to a place or to go on an adventure they can remember fondly forever. I believe both Cherryvales fit their bills nicely.

FRESH START SUMMER is a finalist in the 2014 Reader's Favorite Book Award contest in their Humor and Inspirational categories. 

Beverly can be found at:
Twitter @bevnault
Amazon author page
bev@beverlynault.com








L. A. Kelley is a co-blogger at The Book Cove.  She writes stories with adventures, romance, humor, and a touch of sass. You can find her at http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com

Book Review: How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters

Monday, July 21, 2014

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Life is full of hidden perils. Some you can see coming; smog, rabid dogs, visits by your in-laws. Some you can’t; El Nino, UV radiation, and the Hanta virus. Some you don’t expect at all. Thank goodness for Andrew Shaffer and his handy guide to threats you never even knew existed.  Why bother breaking a sweat over global warming or Thanksgiving with Uncle Dwayne when a greater danger lies in wait from a sharknado? For those not in the know a sharknado is a tornado that forms over the ocean. Its whirling fury sucks up several hundred sharks and then flings them out in a random pattern over the nearest city. Needless to say, this agitates the sharks and causes them to chomp away on people with happy abandon. SyFy Channel movies have been warning us to duck and cover for years, but no. You wouldn’t listen, would you? Now sharks are falling from the skies and you have no idea what to do.

Luckily Andrew Shaffer does. He has put all this useful information together in one place to give us poor terrified victims of unnatural catastrophes the best chance of survival. The book is divided into two sections; unnatural disasters and monsters. Each part covers a multitude of dangers humans may have to face. The simple layout makes it easy to thumb through as you’re running for your life. Running, by the way, rarely works when death is hot on your heels. What does work is rapid threat assessment followed by an adequate supply of guns, rockets loaded with dry ice, bombers dropping glaciers, dynamite, the occasional nuclear warhead, and a jewel called The Eye of Medusa (The last is only effective against a basilisk.)

Tips and Treats
Along with survival tips Shaffer also adds additional snippets of information on surviving the unnatural catastrophe. Making your last line of defense against a sharknado is not the time to figure out how to wield a chainsaw. Study the instructions first. Also useful to know are the melting points of various manmade objects. The St. Louis Gateway Arch is stainless steel and at 2600 degrees Fahrenheit is much more durable in the face of a firenado (tornado made of fire) than is the Statue of Liberty at a paltry 1984 degrees. Avid cooks will appreciate the recipe for fried gatoroid. After all, once you’ve disposed of something as big as a Greyhound bus it would be a crying shame to let all that good meat go to waste.


Stocking Stuffer
Do you have a crazed survivalist hiding in the basement? Or, better yet, a Boy Scout or Girl Scout in your family? Forget those silly Red Cross first aid manuals for Christmas. All they really need is How to Survive a Sharknado stuffed into their stocking in order to laugh in the face of death (or perhaps earn some really keen merit badges).

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.


L.A. Kelley  is a co-blogger at The Book Cove and writes books with adventure, humor, and romance with a touch of sass. Find her at  http://lakelleythenaughtylist.blogspot.com


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