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I Am Princess X- A Goodreads Review

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

May and Libby have been best friends since fifth grade, but it seems like forever to them. Together they create an anime adventure called Princess X. May writes the stories and Libby brings them to life with her drawings. Neither May nor Libby have any other friends. They don’t need anyone else. Then Libby’s mom falls asleep at the wheel and drives off a bridge. Libby drowns, and May is left alone. She doesn’t even have Princess X because in his grief, Libby’s dad has the house and everything in it, including boxes of Princess X tales, given away.

Without Libby, May lives on as a half-person for years until one day she spots a Princess X sticker, which leads her to finding a Princess X website. Could Libby still be alive? Is so, where is she? And why hasn’t she contacted May? May and a new-found computer hacker friend investigate using the clues in the web-published Princess X series, and of course, it puts them in the cross-hairs of a computer-savvy serial killer.

I love how the anima adventures blend into May’s real world and how Libby and May’s friendship transcends her death. The settings are unique and vividly described and the action kept me turning the pages.

If you like Princess stories or YA stories about plucky characters who will let nothing stand in the way of their friendship, I bet you’ll love this story. It’s a fast read that’s well worth your time.

Just so you know–I borrowed this book from the public library.

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Without Saying a Word -A Goodreads Review

Without Saying a Word: Master the Science of Body Language and Maximize Your SuccessWithout Saying a Word: Master the Science of Body Language and Maximize Your Success by Kasia Wezowski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whenever I see a new book on body language, I try to obtain a copy. They all have interesting insights and observations about how people communicate. This one does, too. In fact, it contains decades of research, but that research is clearly and simply explained. The actions and expressions talked about are also understandable and easy to picture.

The book does what it should do—it communicates. I loved straightforward descriptions as well as the recaps and short summaries at chapter ends.

Clearly, Without Saying a Word will be a go-to-reference for me. If you like people-watching and learning about how we, humans, communicate, I recommend you add this to your reading list.

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Good News From the 2018 Prism Contest

I’m honored to announce Other Than earned Third Place in the Steampunk and Historical category of the 2018 Prism Contest.

Thank you, readers!

Unforgettable Reads Blooming in Mary’s Garden

Unforgettable Reads Blooming in Mary’s Garden
Mary Martinez 

Mary is giving away 2 $20 Amazon GC’s and an ebook of Disappear during this tour. Mary’s Cover designer, LDMGraphics.com is giving away one cover design for one lucky author. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember there is a chance for you to enter the giveaway every day. So join us all through the tour for fun posts, interviews, and prizes. You may find the locations to all the tour stops here.
The Beckett Series:

The Beckett’s have a strong sense of family and honor.
When one of their own is threatened, their bond is as strong as a badge of steel.

The Beckett Series Trailer: youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=h8LLRR5hfGU
The Beckett Series Website: marymartinez.com/the-beckett-series.html

Disappear
The Beckett Series Book 1:

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2O95979


Genre: Women’s Fiction

Trailer: youtube.com/watch?v=06ypXHUeWmk
Website: marymartinez.com/three-brides-and-a-dress.html
Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2NyhwbK

~*~*~*~*~*~

Four Sisters

It was the 60’s, she found love…
but started a war.

Genre: Women’s Fiction


Website: marymartinez.com/four-sisters.html
Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2LFtMXl

Mary’s new covers were designed by LDMGraphics.com

~*~*~*~*~*~About the Author:

Mary and her husband love to travel, especially to the Caribbean for relaxing, and Italy for the wine. And most recently she discovered she was Irish and Scottish, of course they had to visit Ireland and Scotland. Mary fell in love with both, but the green hills of Ireland felt like home. With the experience from the exotic places she has visited, she is able to fill her books with colorful descriptions of cities, painting a colorful backdrop for her characters. One of her favorite US destinations is New York/Brooklyn, where her beloved Beckett’s live. When she visits, she can wander their neighborhoods, favorite parks, and visit their favorite pub, Putnum’s.

They are avid concert ‘Ho’s’! Yes, they pretty much want to do them all. They love outdoor amphitheaters the best and attend as many during the warmer months as possible.

Mary writes mostly romantic suspense, romance, women’s fiction, and she has just begun to dabble in young adult mystery. She is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA). During her writing career she has been a conference coordinator, workshop presenter, and chapter president for the Utah Chapter of RWA. In 2007 she was presented with the Utah RWA service award in acknowledgment and appreciation for outstanding service. Mary has also participated in numerous library panels on writing and co-presented a workshop on writing a series at the League of Utah Writers conference.

Mary and her husband are also enthusiastic college football fans. They have season tickets to the UTES, University of Utah Football and they tailgate every game. They love tailgating so much, that they were married at a tailgating in 1999.
GO UTES!

Mary’s Social Media Links:

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/Mary-Martinez/e/B006MWJ1T6
Website: marymartinez.com
Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorMaryMartinez
Twitter: twitter.com/marylmartinez
Instagram: instagram.com/mlmartinez3/
Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/1646623.Mary_Martinez
YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCTww3B2ofa11UPFrSe0WGAg
Pinterest: pinterest.com/marylmartinez3
Mary’s Garden Blog: marysbooksblogger.blogspot.com
The After Work Cook: theafterworkcook.blogspot.com

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Julia Vanishes–A Goodreads Review

Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Julia and her brother are orphans and members of the Spira City thieves’ guild. Her brother’s a mechanical genius, but Julia’s gift is better. She can vanish at will. It’s not invisibility. She steps into another space where she can watch the area she left. To help the guild, Julia accepts a job as a housemaid in Mrs. Och’s strange household. She believes she’s to discover what’s happening behind its doors, and there’s a lot going on. For one thing, a convicted magic practitioner-turned-professor keeps magical tomes, when magic is outlawed, a crime the government drowns witches for. Julia puts this down to Mrs. Och and her associates running an underground railroad, but that doesn’t explain the cursed werewolf lurking in the basement or the witch, who may or may not be the target of a serial killer moving in with a toddler in tow. And, guess what—the toddler can see Julia when no one else can. Soon, Julia discovers a link between the mistress of the house and an ancient demi-god.

I like Julia’s take-no-prisoners spunk, and the relationships she has with her brother, ex-boyfriend and mentors. They’re all thieves, but they care for each other. In fact, it’s because she wants to protect her family that she does something dastardly she quickly regrets.
The world, which has Victorian and steampunk vibes, is interesting, but the magic system is even more intriguing. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say witches cast spells with the stroke of a pen.

If you’re like me and you search for new authors, feisty heroines and fascinating world building, this might be the read for you.

Just so you know, I borrowed this book from the library.
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#Camp Nanowritmo Winner

I’m pleased to announce I’ve met my Camp Nanowritmo goal. I love writing with buddies and cabinmates, and I love crossing the finish line.

Thank you, National Novel Writing Month staff, participants, and friends.

Polish Your Query Know-How

Want to improve the chances of selling your manuscript? Improve your query.

At this month’s Wisconsin Romance Writers’ Milwaukee Meeting, Lorelie Brown, an award-winning author with close to twenty published novels under her belt, gave us the down and dirty on how we could make our querying process more successful.

First, before a writer starts querying, she should do her research. Use sites like: Absolutewrite, Writer Beware, and Query Tracker, where other writers have contributed accounts of their experiences. These can help an author discover a particular agent or editor’s response time, his/her percentage of rejections and offers for representation and other useful boots-on-the-ground information

Next, develop a method to keep track of the editors or agents contacted, what has been sent and when it was sent. This is particularly useful if an author is marketing multiple manuscripts.

When writing a query, it’s important to keep words to around 250.

Answer the each of the following questions in a tightly written paragraph. (One paragraph to answer each question.)

  1. What does the protagonist want?
  2. If this is a romance, what does the love interest want?
  3. What does the protagonist need to do and what happens she/he doesn’t? In other words, what’s the conflict? What are the stakes?

Conflict makes a page-turning story and that story needs to have both internal and external stakes. Lorelie said that many of the novice queries she’s read usually have all external stakes. She gave an example like this one:

Ever since Knight Wintercrest rescued Lady Summerside from kidnappers, they’ve been in love; however, her family wants her to marry the villainous Lord Ghastly. Will their love survive?

If Lord Ghastly dies, say a rock crushes him, there’s no reason Wintercrest and Summerside can’t live happily-ever-after. The conflict here is all external. Lorelie advised us to give our conflict the sudden death test. If a falling rock can solve the problem in the story (take out the villain and sweep away all obstacles to a happy ending), we as authors need to work on our story’s internal conflict.

She stressed the importance of internal conflict because that’s where she sees the drama and the emotional connection between the characters and the reader is forged. What’s internal conflict? She threw out some examples: “I can’t love because…” or “Everyone’s left me, and you will, too.”

Lorelie said that after you’ve clearly laid out the story’s goals, motivation, conflict and stakes, it’s time to tell the person you’re contacting a little about yourself.

In the last paragraph of the query authors should give their writing credits like the writing organizations they belong to or their previously published work. In addition, they can detail contest wins and life experiences that add credit to their story.

Writers also need to include contact information like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. They also need to state whether their project is completed or in progress and how many words it is. When reporting word count be sure to round up.

Once your query’s complete and you’ve sent it out, Lorelie gave this advice—just keep writing. Successful writers are the one who haven’t given up.

 

Want to Captivate a Reader? Tips in Creating a Hero or Heroine

Typewriter Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I read fiction for the characters and the adventure those characters go through. Like most readers, I want vivid heroes who draw me into their situations and, often when I don’t get into the main character, I put the book aside. But how do writers create those attention-grabbing heroes?

Here’s what some of my favorite writing experts have to say.

  1. First, don’t create a wimp. Follow Jack Bickham’s advice from 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. “Fiction writers too often forget that interesting characters are almost always characters who are active—risk takers—highly motivated toward a goal. Many a story has been wrecked at the outset because the writers chose to write about the wrong kind of person—a character of the type we sometimes call a wimp.”
  2. In The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, James N. Frey, a writing instructor and author, suggests that heroes have certain qualities that attract readers. Main characters must have courage. Either they start with it or they develop it along the way.
  3. Fictional heroes need to be clever and resourceful.
  4. Also, a compelling hero or heroine has a special talent. Something he or she can do better than anyone else in the story. We’re attracted to competence. We tend to pick doctors, mechanics, restaurant chefs and, yes, even fictional heroes because they perform a skill or set of skills exceptionally well.
  5. Like the previous examples, the heroine in our novels might use her unique talent to make a living and be proficient at her calling.
  6. An appealing hero is also a person who lives by his own rules. He strives to do what’s right in his mind even if others in the story don’t understand him.
  7. An effective main character is the focus of the action and the story. She must take the lead in whatever case she embraces.
  8. In Thanks, but This Isn’t For Us, Jessica Page Morrell, a best-selling author of many books on writing craft, echoes this. She says, “Heroes take charge, take responsibility, and take risks … they’re people of action who speak their minds, kick ass and take names, and, most important, who act when in real life we’d be cowering, or wetting our pants, or scrambling for an exit.”
  9. Further, she goes on to state, “Heroes dare to be wrong.”
  10. Equally important the large-and-in-charge heroine—at the center of the story, should be flawed. She or he has been wounded in the past. Perhaps he’s lost a loved one, been injured or lost his faith. He’s vulnerable and in need of healing. He has an event or a series of events in his past he’s got to work through. This brokenness fuels his current goals, makes him human and enables readers to identify with him.
  11. The hero has to grow and change throughout the story. Often, he strives to become less selfish or self-centered.
  12. She may even sacrifice herself for the good of others. Frey believes that the most compelling heroines motivated by idealism at some point in the story.
  13. Lastly, Frey suggests that the hero should be sexually potent. As Frey puts it, “Creating a mythic character without sexual energy is like bringing the burgers, the buns, and the charcoal to the barbecue, and leaving the matches at home.”

 

I love reading stories that feature intriguing characters and I hope these tips will help you when you write your next tale. Also, if you’ve found the suggestions useful, I hope you’ll consider checking out the resources quoted in this article for further study.

 

Sources

Bickham, Jack M. 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. Writers Digest Bks., U.S., 1998.

Frey, James N. The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. St. Martins Griffin, 2002.

Morrell, Jessica Page. Thanks, but This Isn’t for Us. Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2009.

FYI: I wrote this post for the Wisconsin Romance Writers. You can check it out at this link.

Creating a Hero or Heroine that Captivates Readers

The Divine Dungeon Series- Dungeon Born, Dungeon Madness and Dungeon Calamity -A Goodreads Book Review-

Dungeon Calamity (The Divine Dungeon, #3)Dungeon Calamity by Dakota Krout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer-This series was the first LitRPG story I believe I’ve ever read. Originally, I started it to please my son. I was planning on just skimming the first book Dungeon Born, but I got drawn in.

The series is basically a life story, a fantastic biography. Cal is a sentient dungeon core, but he’s so much more. He’s funny, interesting, and surprisingly human for a supposedly inanimate object. He’s got a good personality, is fond of puns, and is likable as he grows from being self-absorbed to caring for the community living over him.

Also, I love his creations. They’re original and explained well enough that a non-RPG reader like me understood them and their actions, but my favorite part of this series is being in Cal’s head while he strategizes and pines for Dani, his companion/love interest, a wisp that necromancers have kidnapped. He is so desperate to rescue her, he learns to fly. Yep, he becomes a flying dungeon.

Then there’s the awesome supporting cast of dungeon-goers! Starting with Dale. He buys the mountain the dungeon is on and ends up trying to level up and train while dealing with the colorful townies. Most of the residents are eccentric and delightfully frustrating to Dale.
Some of my favorites are: Frank, the guild master, Hans, the ex-assassin, Rose, the chaos-archer, Bob, the goblin researcher, and James the rude portal mage who keeps getting banished.

I am impressed at how the story comes full circle. Everything’s explained and makes sense in this well-plotted tale. One caution-this series might not be for people who follow Stephen King’s no adverb rule, but if you’re looking for something different to read and you like stories with swords, spells and Lord-of-the-Rings type creatures, consider giving this series a try.

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Throne of Glass-A Goodreads Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin, Celeana a chance to compete for position of champion for the tyrannical King, who killed her parents, she reluctantly agrees, thinking anything must be better than the salt mines of Endovier. She’s wrong. Ghosts haunt her. The King and his courtiers plot her doom and summoned demons hunt her through secret passages. She struggles to survive combat, poisonings, and dress fittings while the Prince and the Captain of the guard via for her attention and mysteries unfold.

It’s pretty much everything a reader like me wants in a fantasy romance. If you like badass femme fatales, swordplay mixed with royal balls, and lots of cheeky banter between paramours, you’ll enjoy this novel.

FYI- I bought a copy of this book from Audible.

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