Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NETHER SOUL: An Interview with YA Author Bonnie Rae

Bonnie, welcome back to Small World, Big Dreams!
It's great to be back! Thanks for having me!!
Give us a little insight on your newest release, NETHER SOUL.
NETHER SOUL is the darker, more action based sort of unraveling to the characters that you met in NETHER BOUND. Everyone is fighting some type of demon. Whether it be internally or actual demons, no one is safe this time around.

Sounds deliciously interesting. Tell us, what was your inspiration for this series?
Growing up in a strict Catholic home talking about Hell or the Devil was practically forbidden unless it was in Sunday School or a Church sermon type setting. So, as a child I was naturally curious about the darker side of religion. Now as an adult and a writer I was able to explore my curiosity and create a pretty neat story from it all. This is a definite good versus evil story, but instead of shying away from evil my characters have to look their fears in the eyes and learn to gain strength in order to conquer this evil.

What is your greatest challenge when starting a new novel?
Staying focused! I know that sounds insane, right? You would think I would be focused all the time with a new idea and everything, but no. As a writer I have so many ideas and all of them want my attention. I have to make sure I set a certain amount of time aside every day just for the novel I am currently working on. That doesn't mean all of my other muses in time-out quietly waiting their turn. Everyone always has something to say! =P

Just listening to the voices in your head. I see, I see. So, do your novels require research? And if so, do you research before you get started or as you go?
Yes, yes they do! I am touching on subjects that involve the coming war between Heaven and Hell on Earth so I can't get my hands on enough research. I will research before I start and always as I go. In my world research is ongoing.

How does this novel differ from its predecessor, NETHER BOUND?
This novel is much darker. I went back and forth with some things, almost taking two scenes out because I thought they might be too much. But in the end I left them in.
They are essential for character transformation. 
Indubitably. Without giving away too much, tell us your favorite scene in this new book.
My absolute favorite scene is when Ava is at the ball in Nether World. She is given a very intriguing gift and I very much enjoyed writing that scene!!!

How about your favorite character? And why him/her?
Ava will always be my favorite. She is so much a part of me and who I was growing up. Devon is my second favorite. His ability to love Ava unconditionally no matter what is inspiring.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any other character from any other book, who would it be and why?
Omg, this is an awesome question!! I would have to say I would love to see Lilith meet Bellatrix Lastrange from Harry Potter. I mean they are both bad girls, beautiful in their own evil way, and totally dying for their sinister master's attention. Two evil attention seekers locked in a room together. I'd love to be a fly on that wall!

Tell us about your writing space.
You mean my desk and walls full of organized chaos? I love it. My office is my own little slice of writing heaven! I have story boards from all of my novels on the walls as well as notes and research everywhere. Also, there are cats. My cats are always with me when I am writing. You should see the cat hair I clean out of my keyboard.

What really gets your muse ticking?
Books and Music! Oh, how I love music so much!! Music inspires scene after scene in all of my novels!!

Tomorrow's one of the biggest holidays of the year. Any memorable experiences from Halloweens' past?
My most memorable are from when I was a kid. My mom and aunt would take me trick or treating and afterwards as we sifted through my candy we listened to Monster Mash and watched Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.

I love that movie!! Anything else you'd like to share with us today?
Don't be afraid to break the rules. Writing about Heaven and Hell isn't an easy task, but I knew there was an awesome story I had to tell mixed into it. I might mention the Devil and demons, but in the end my books are about being strong and conquering your fears. Writing is an adventurous journey. Sometimes we don't always know what paths are muses will take us down. Embrace your ideas and let your creativity flow. Be happy and love what you write, don't ever let anyone bully you out of an idea. Thank you to everyone that has taken a chance on NETHER BOUND and now NETHER SOUL. Also, thank you to all of the writing communities and blogs that are hosting me this week. Being a part of such wonderful writing communities is the best support system any author can have.

Thanks again for joining us, Bonnie! If YOU, Gentle Reader, would like to win an ebook copy of Bonnie Rae's newest release, NETHER SOUL, all you've gotta do is leave a comment with your email address. The winner will be randomly picked and announced this Saturday, November 3.

You may also purchase NETHER SOUL for $1.99 on Amazon.com. :)
Good luck to everyone! Oh, I almost forgot! For a limited time, NETHER BOUND, the first book in the Nether Series, is available for FREE on Amazon.com. Happy reading!
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Bonnie Rae spent her early childhood in the sunny state of California. At the time, she was an only child with a very large imagination. Thanks to her Grandmother, the love of reading books started at a very young age. Every walk to the grocery store meant an ice cream cone and a new Little Golden Book. Through books, Bonnie learned you could be transported into other worlds. The addiction was instant.

At age eleven, her grandparents gave her E.B. White's Charlotte's Web for her birthday. Even though she was completely grossed out when it came to spiders (and still is), Charlotte's Web fascinated her. A spider that was able to weave words and befriend a pig? Bonnie then realized not only could books provide imaginary worlds, they confirmed anything was possible. She might have only been eleven, but she knew writing was what she wanted to do.

She started her first set of novels at the age of sixteen and has been writing ever since.

Bonnie currently lives in California with her wonderful husband and two very spoiled cats.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Hayes Halloween

When my best friend got married almost two years ago--I can't believe it's already been 2 years!--I spent a LOT longer than I wanted to in various airports. Long story not worth rehashing, except for the great people I met along the way. Anyways. While in one airport or another, can't remember which, I had a little bit of a layover and decided to hit the newstand. There, I picked up a YA novel solely based on its cover.

Well. And the cool blurb on the back.

It was FALLING UNDER by Gwen Hayes and it's still on my Keeper Shelf.

Since then, she's released an equally fabulous sequel, DREAMING AWAKE.

And yesterday, she announced a BRAND NEW story she calls a "Creep, Gothic Romance" entitled OURS IS JUST A LITTLE SORROW. Oh, but that's not the only good part. She's knocked it down to .99 until... you guessed it... Halloween! It's only 118 pages. Nice, quick read for the upcoming spooky holiday. Available for Kindle, Nook, and on Smashwords.

Here's the pretty cover:

Here's the delicious blurb:

The colony of New Geneva has risen from the ashes of her dying mother planet, Earth, by rebuilding a society based on a time before everything went horribly, horribly wrong...the Victorian Era...

Violet Merriweather first sets eyes on Colonel Winston when he purchases her at auction from Witherspoon Academy, the orphanage where she’d been raised after her rescue from Earth. Dutifully, as she was taught, Violet pushes away her fear of the monstrous, forbidding Thornfield Abbey, and throws herself into her work as governess to the Colonel’s youngest son.

But the Colonel's elder sons have other ideas.

John and Gideon Winston are as different as night and day, and each wants to claim Violet for his own. John immediately charms her with his intelligence and cordial demeanor, while Gideon, the dark rogue, delights in flustering her at every opportunity, awakening a yearning she doesn't understand and most assuredly does not want. She tries to deny her pull to both men, but an uneasy midnight bargain with one forges a new alliance as she’s dazzled by an underground New Geneva she hadn't known existed. And temptations she cannot resist.

But something is preying on the women of New Geneva, something that threatens to unleash the ghosts of Thornfield and drag them all into hell. And that something wants Violet most of all.
For more information, including an excerpt, go to Gwen's blog here. While you're at it, start following her! :)
Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gettin' Artsy Fartsy

I've always considered myself artsy-fartsy. Art, opera, classical music--heck, music, period--poetry, open mic nights, musicals, plays. If it features artists doin' their thing, I'm on board. In fact, this is one of the many, many things I loved about my bonus-kid (that's stepson but, like, way cooler) Matthew. Ever since he was little, I called him my artsy-fartsy child, because he loved to color, draw, play his drums, and if a music awards show was coming on--no matter the genre--you could find him parked right in front of the television, lovin' every minute of every performance and award distributed.

So, when YA author Kiera Cass (The Selection) challenged her readers and fellow writers to spice up their laptops, I thought, "Why not?" Heaven knows I could use some major inspiration, and my laptop deserves a bit o' love, considering it's just plain and black and usually boasts more fingerprints than a crime lab.

So, here's what I came up with:

It's actually a lot like Kiera's, but with different colors. Honestly, I'm glad I did it, because it kind of dotted the i's on my mission. And that is to get back into writing ASAP, lest I grow to accustomed to long stretches of time off.

Not that this leave of absence could be helped, mind. But I digress.

Next up? Create a storyboard complete with pictures, phrases, whatever helps keep my focus on this novel.  The flip side of the board I intend to use for slapping Post-Its scribbled with plot points.

Have you ever taken a considerable amount of time away from something you've deemed important? What steps did you take to get yourself back into the groove?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Release Pt. Deux!

Had to give the title a little bit of that Louisiana flair, don't cha know? I'm really excited today, because it's (finally) RELEASE DAY HALLELUJAH for ENRAPTURED, the second book in my little Betrothal series.  Funny enough, I didn't have a name for this series (in all actuality I didn't even realize it was a series, but there you have it), until I had to make a couple of promotional items for my last signing and needed to fill a small space on a postcard template.  But that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Kind of like being forced to write a book blurb when you have no idea how the story's gonna end up.

Aight, so here's the specifics:  Kindle Edition ($2.99) & Paperback Edition ($12.99)

Also, I'll drop BETROTHED down to $.99 starting this weekend and ending the next, so if you haven't yet purchased the prequel to the sequel, get on it! :)

My sincere thanks and hugs and kisses to all who continue to support this crazy writing career of mine by promoting in any way you can.  Word of mouth is what keeps independent artists like me afloat!  Troll Amazon frequently, folks, and delve into those self-published works.  Though some may disappoint, the gems you find among the lot will speak for themselves. 

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Moving Forward, Staying Focused

So, BETROTHED has done well; a million times better than I ever anticipated.  ENRAPTURED releases on Tuesday (Oct. 16!), which is SO, so cool, because I super-duper love the story.  Not that I don't love BETROTHED, of course, but if you're a writer, you know what I mean.  There's always that one story who clings to a special place in your heart.  And you can no easier explain why than hold back the tide.  Amen?

All right, then, now I arrive at the point in the road when I must either continue writing what I'm writing or venture off into a completely different direction.  My husband asked me yesterday, "What if your readers want more of this kind of story?  What if they want the next spin off?  The next story in the Betrothal series?"

My answer?  They'll get what they want.  Just not right this minute.

For now, I've decided to keep at my current work in progress--which, by the way, I haven't touched in a month--and see where it takes me.  I've got a small idea of the distant direction in which I'm heading; I just don't know how I'm going to get there.  The biggest feat for me is staying focused, keeping my eyes and brain steady and looking ahead toward the ultimate goal. 

In the midst of consoling a toothing infant and dealing with the public at a day job, mind.

While other stories and plot lines sift into my thoughts and dreams, respectfully. "Write me! Write me! I've a much more interesting cast and promise excitement and mayhem, to boot!" 

Sounds crazy, I know, and it is a little.  After all, wasn't it E.L. Doctorow who proudly said, "Writing is but a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia"?

How do you stay focused and sane while working? 

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Thursday, October 11, 2012


Our family & friends releasing Matthew's balloons.

Release is a big word for me at this point in my life.  Releasing tears, anger, anxiety, extra body fat.  I've got a long way to go on that last one.  Heck, as long as I'm being honest, I've got a long way to go on all of 'em.  To say I have my ups and downs is putting matters as plainly as possible.  They don't call this kind of crazy an Emotional Roller Coaster for nothing, I guess.

Be that as it may, and in keeping with the whole "release" bit, I aim to release the second book in my little Betrothal series next Tuesday, October 16, 2012.  One month to the day after my precious stepson Matthew was taken from us.  Seems fitting, I think, because he above all people believed in following one's dreams to the max.  I don't think I'll ever write again without thinking of him throughout the process.

So, what's this book called, you ask?  Enraptured.  And what's it about?  Two married people with a whole lot of problems.  Oh, but they live in a castle.  And eat with their servants.  And have a penchant for cinnamon orange scones.


Maybe a little?

If so, click THIS LINK, and blurb-a-rize yourself.  Then, check out the lovely cover below.  After that?  Keep an eye out on Amazon.com and all other major online retailers next week.  I might even throw Betrothed on sale as a thank you for your continual support and uber, ooey gooey sweetness.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints--and a HUGE thank you to all of you who have prayed and continue to pray for our family,

Anna at her vanity.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Apologies & Thank You's

It's been a while since I've dropped in, said hello, talked about writing or makeup or whatever else y'all have grown accustomed to reading from little ol' me from Louisiana.  But a lot has happened over the past month or so, the main event being that my sweet stepson, Matthew, passed away on Sunday, September 16. 

I know you haven't seen me write a lot about my stepsons--The Hubby and I don't see them as much as we'd like to, as all three are teenagers and have crazy-busy schedules.  So, between dances and football games, band practices and church functions, to see them pass through our front door is truly a memorable occasion.

Ironically enough, we were supposed to have them over the weekend of the accident, but a last minute commitment came up. 

They were traveling home from church--the oldest, 17, was driving--and as a result of a head-on collision, our fourteen year old middle child, Matthew, was killed instantly.  His brothers (17&12) sustained serious injuries (broken femur, tibia, fibula, crushed ankles, fractured facial bones, stitches), but have been discharged from the hospital and are now at home, on the mend. Thank God.

If you knew and have prayed and/or kept us in your thoughts, thank you. 

Due to our loss, proofing the final copy of Enraptured slid to the back burner, and I've been forced to push its release date to October.  However, I promise to let you know as soon as I know the exact when.

Blessings to you all. Kiss your children. Keep them close. Tell them every day that you love them.

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

Matthew Taylor Kirkhart
January 17, 1998 - September 16, 2012


Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Are You Reading?

Simple enough, I'd love to know what all of you are reading and whether you're enjoying the story thus far.

Me? My Kindle's on Living Violet: The Cambion Chronicles Book 1 by Jaime Reed. Witty, funny, character-driven, with interesting plot twists. All in heroine's PoV and holding well. Ms. Reed's one of those authors whose writing I'm a little jealous of; she'll definitely be a go-to from here on out.

So, spill, Peeps! Momma needs some more good books for the Keeper Shelf! :)

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Sunday, August 5, 2012

7 Tips for a Successful Signing

Thanks to all of you, my dear friends and readers, I have labeled my first book signing a success.  Sure, I was nervous; so much so I couldn't eat breakfast or lunch and didn't have a real meal 'til 3:00 PM. And, yes, at times The CP and I found ourselves chatting with only each other, but that was cool, because we talked books and manuscripts while eating cookies and chocolate. She stayed with me the entire time, a truth for which I am most grateful if only so I wouldn't have to sit alone at a table stocked-full of books and bookmarks and Hershey's kisses, looking like a lonely, starving artist. (Please, please come talk to me! I promise I won't bite!)

So, that aside, it's time to get back into the flow. Start writing full-force again (I have an entire chapter to write by this evening, and I'm only maybe 1k words in...meep!). But I did want to share a few things with you I learned yesterday. A sort of checklist (yay, lists!) to help at your next book signing or first book signing or whenever you decide to sit behind a table and silently beg people with your eyes and a smile to come at least say, "Hi! So, what's your book about??"

1. Recruit someone to help you.  Someone who doesn't mind sitting for a few hours, taking money, etc.  The CP did a perfect job of this for me, and I can't wait to return the favor at her first signing.

2. Have extra pens, bookmarks, and notecards. Oh, and don't forget your favorite pen! With refills, if necessary.

3. Put out a guest book or a sign-up sheet tacked to a clipboard, so guests can write down their names and email addresses.

4. Bring plenty of books and a spool (or sheet) of "Autographed Copy" or "Signed by the Author" stickers. People love that their copies are personalized and autographed. You can find stickers on zazzle.com or amazon.com or make your own at stickerobot.com.

5. Offer chocolate. Believe it or not, treats make people remember you.

6. Wear something comfortable, yet professional; something that reflects your personality and writing style.

7. Afterwards, send thank you's to those who helped you, especially but not limited to the person or place of business who hosted the event.

That's all I've got for now. If you're an author, how do you get through your signings? What tricks and/or tips have you learned along the way?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Update + Good News + Good Books!

Wow, I have a lot to tell you guys today. Been rather busy lately with the day job, Baby Jake, working on the new WIP, watching the Summer Olympics (GO TEAM USA!), and trying my hand at self-promotion.  That last one is easier said than done, folks; my hat's off to ALL you Indie publishers who have seen success with self-publication.  As for me, I'm overly grateful The Hubby's got a heart of gold and a flair for making bookmarks and other promotional folderol.

All right, so, down to business. Since I love lists--I never realized I loved lists until I, like, started hitting lists for everything on the net; there are so many!--I'm gonna take you through this point by point. 

1.) The first BETROTHED paperback book signing will be this Saturday, August 4 from 10 AM 'til 1 PM at Yankee Candle. See this page for the intimate details. Yes, the time has changed, but it actually works better for the Yankee staff, who have been slaving over the past few days to get the store lookin' awesome for their Boney Bunch 2012 Premiere.

Hey, it's always a good thing when the host is happy, right? :)


2.) In honor of Saturday's book signing, I will be throwing the ebook copy of BETROTHED on sale for 99¢ starting this Friday and ending late Sunday night. So, if you've been holding off, pick up a copy for that trusty Kindle you got for Christmas, aight?


I've actually been doing a lot of rereading lately--habit when I'm writing a new novel--but I did pick up a couple of new ones, both of which were recommended by fellow authors.

1.) SLAMMED by Colleen Hoover.  Oh my gosh.  Off the charts.  Seriously, if you don't buy this book, shame, shame, shame on you!  I feel very special that I actually made the plunge before it was grabbed by a big-time publisher. Superb writing, masterful characterization, and a stellar plot.  Oh, and the slam poetry weaved throughout? Gave me chills every time.  This book made me cry, laugh, and want to start all over again once I hit the end. Expect to see SLAMMED on your local bookshelves very soon.

Purchase it here for 2.99.

2.) LUST EVER AFTER by Rose de Fer.  I do not read erotica.  Well.  Let me back up a peg.  I do not prefer to read erotica, mainly because it seems the majority I've ever bought and started turned out to be nothing but sex scene after sex scene after sex scene with no real plot whatsoever.  I realize some people are cool with that, but I'm not. I want more. This one surprised me, one, because the main dude is Dr. Frankenstein. Yes, Victor Frankenstein, the scientist from Mary Shelley's classic novel. And two, because the writing was really, really exceptional.  Lovely word choices and sentence structure, not to mention the sex appeal of the good doctor is downright delicious.  Yes, of course, the sex scenes were typical of the erotic novel, but I thought they were well done.

Purchase it here for .99.

That's all I've got for today! If you're local, I'd love to see you out and about on Saturday. If not, thanks so much for your constant support and well-wishes.  Have a great rest-of-the-week!

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gearin' Up

The fabulous J.K. Rowling signing books for her fans.

A given for any published author out there is the dreaded book signing. It's expected, right? Kind of like a singer/songwriter with smash hits--you're expected to go on tour, let people see your face, show 'em what you're really all about.  They have a face and a real life personality to go with the song (or in a writer's case, the book), and they're (hopefully) fans forever.

At least, that's what we hope.

For those of you who are not writers out there, you may be wondering: why dread a book signing? Don't you want to promote yourself? Get your product out there in the open? Win people's permanent loyalty? Yes, you betcha, and that would be super! But it is MEGA-scary, sitting at a table, hoping someone--anyone!--will stop and say, "Hi." Or maybe walk that extra mile and ask, "So, what's your book about?"

On August 4, the premiere of the 2012 Boney Bunch Collection, I will be signing paperback copies of BETROTHED at our local Yankee Candle store from 2-4 PM. Now, if you're not familiar with the Boney Bunch, it's a group of collectible candle holders (votives, tapers, big and little jars, tea lights, etc.) that come out every year for Halloween. Yes, it is big, big deal if you're a Yankee Candle lover like me and The Hubby. 

2011 Boney Bunch Collection (partial) by Yankee Candle

But, Alyssia, isn't a candle store, regardless of its cool promotions and to-die-for scents, a strange place to have a book signing?  Maybe!  But here's why I chose it:

1.) I love Yankee Candles.
2.) The store owner, Sandy, is one of the nicest ladies on the planet, and she's eager to promote local talent.
3.) The store itself is wedged between a chocolate shop and someplace a lot less important  (chocolate and candles, hello! there are other stores??) at our Louisiana Boardwalk, a string of outlets located on our Red River. It is THE hangout in these parts.
4.) I've gotta start somewhere, right?

I've ordered 50 books, which I am certain will prove to be way too many.  Some of those "Signed by the Author" stickers.  And I'm even looking at getting a new dress for the occasion.  Maybe something a little historical meets steampunk meets modern twist?  I know, I know.  But it's been a while since I've had reason to wear something new and funky.

Really lovin' this, although I'd have to find something
to where over AND under it.

Armed with the cool promo items The Hubby made for me--bookmarks (with real tassels!), notecards, posters, etc.--I should be good to go for my very first signing.

So, if you're in the neighborhood, stop by! Here's the details once more:

Who: Yours Truly (Alyssia Kirkhart, Author of Historical Romance and Young Adult Fiction)
What: Signing paperback copies of my debut novel BETROTHED
Where: Yankee Candle, Louisiana Boardwalk, 540 Boardwalk Blvd, Bossier City, LA
When: Saturday, August 4, 2012 from 2-4 PM

If any minor details change (like the time), I will post it here.

Thanks for reading and for your continuing support, folks! Have a fab Sunday and an even more fab week. :)

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

P.S. If you live far, far away and would like a signed copy of BETROTHED, click here to order.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday, Monday

Can't trust that day. Monday, Monday. Sometimes it just turns out that way.

Amen, Denny, John, Michelle, & Cass (that's The Mamas and The Papas for those of you not paying attention). This day began crazy for me. Little Man didn't sleep worth a flip. Which meant Momma lost major amounts of sleep.  Which meant Momma did not write as she should have.  Which mean Momma went to work in a poo-poo mood.

Totally not a good thing for a Monday morning when you work at a courthouse and the first two handfuls of people who walk in are tattooed criminals with bench warrants who need to be added to the docket.

Boy, that was a mouthful, wasn't it?

The day started looking up, however, when...

One of our young summer workers--the same talented person who created the very first fan art for my WIP, Displacement--gave me this:

Hogwarts, Slytherin House Beaded Cuff

Made it over the weekend while watching her BF play video games.  I know, right?  If I even attempted something this complex, I'd end up with a big plop of colorful nothing.

Then, I snuck in a little writing. Shhh! Don't tell anyone! I'm about to begin Chapter 6 and am totally excited. These characters have already burrowed into my every waking thought, a truth as scary as it is wonderfully delicious. Dontcha just love it when the voices in your head have nice, snappy dialogue? Me, too!

At lunch, I headed next door to the library to check out this book:

And also ended up with this book:

Which I've decided to read first just because I like the dog on the cover.  Valid reason, right?  Plus, it features a Barry Lyga gush on the back--"Paul Griffin takes risks other authors never even contemplate.  Stay With Me is beautiful and horrifying and bittersweet in the best way possible."--and since I love, love Barry (see my review of Boy Toy here), I figured, "Why not?"

How was your Monday, Monday?  Do anything or read anything interesting?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I hadn't planned to blog today. Truly. I should be writing--well, on my WIP, writing. You knew what I meant, right? Cool. But it's been one of those weekends, and I've gotten up early two mornings in a row, this one starting with baby feeding, baby rocking, laundry, coffee, and... sigh. I've made a habit out of checking Betrothed's Kindle sales, and while doing so this morning, I noticed on my "recently viewed items" at the bottom of Amazon's front page rested an entire string of R.A. Salvatore novels.

"Oh, yeah!" I thought. "I was looking up some of his stuff, wasn't I?"

When I was in my late teens/early twenties a person who shall remain nameless introduced me to the fabulous, deep, adventurous world of a dark elf named Drizzt Do'Urden.  I started as I should have, with Homeland, then Sojourn, then Exile--better known as the Dark Elf Trilogy.  With the exception of Tolkien's saga, which I read as required in high school, I had never thought to pick up a fantasy novel.  I mean, the covers were gorgeous, yes, but what could I possibly gain out of reading about elves, goblins, orcs, and dwarves?  After all, I wrote romantic stories about kings and queens, princes and princesses.  I studied British history, not Middle Earth or, in Drizzt's case, Menzoberranzan, Northern Faerûnand, and Icewind Dale (to name but a few).

But here's what I gained from stepping out of my comfort zone: the incredible, talented work of R.A. Salvatore. I really can't say enough about this guy.  What's funny is that, like so many readers and writers, I fall into reading ruts. You know how it is, when you can't find a decent book?  Every one reads the same or doesn't read at all, because the writing is like... well. Not that mine is awesome, mind, but you follow me here, yeah?

So, I cross the threshold of my friendly neighborhood secondhand bookstore, shuffle right of the counter for a change (I always go left, because it'll take me to romance and young adult), and what do I find? 

The Lone Drow by R.A. Salvatore, hardback, pristine condition, $3.

I open the cover. It creaks. And I can't suppress the smile crawling across my face, because I love it when that happens. I flip a couple pages. Land on one of the many things I love about Salvatore's Drizzt novels. Ever so often the drow (that's dark elf for you non-fantasy peeps) makes a journal entry of sorts, and it's the reader's opportunity to slide deeper into his intelligent, sharp mind.

And so, I read.

And then I think, "You know this. You know he writes so beautifully your jaw falls open and drool splashes on the page while reading. You know this, so why the heck were you complaining, albeit mentally, about a reading rut?"

Yes, yes, it's taken me forever to get to the point, but I entitled this post "Revisiting," because that's exactly what I do when I'm deep into the creation process of a novel.  I revisit the people I admire and love most. Those whose writing moves me to drool and tears and inspiration. Janet Mullany, Kristan Higgins, Simone Elkeles, J.K. Rowling, and, yes, Rob--did you know his first name was Robert? Robert Anthony, actually--Salvatore. There's a deep comfort to be had within the writing of those authors you treasure, whose works appear proudly upon your Keeper Shelf.

Whom do you revisit? Who stands out among the crush of talented authors?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

Saturday, June 23, 2012


New project, new genre, new approach. Entitled Displacement, for now. I'm really excited about this one. Tell me what you think!

Sixteen year old Jessica Rodriguez hates her life. Really, what does she have to live for? Dumped on the first day of school. Flunking Trig. Dateless for prom. Not to mention the big junior/senior trip’s coming up, and she can’t afford to go, much less watch her ex-boyfriend wrapped around another girl every day.  She’s destined for the high school humiliation hall of fame, unless something changes—and fast. 

Two hundred years ago Colin Ferris hung for a crime he did not commit—the gruesome murder of his fiancée.  Now, as an angel, he’s been given the chance of a lifetime.  Protect the reincarnated soul of his long lost love and earn the chance to be whole again. 

But Jessica’s not the same innocent lass Colin’s kept in his heart for two centuries.  She’s an intoxicating combination of smart, sassy, and independent. And she’s in love with another guy. With only a small window of time from here to an eternity of servitude in the Divine Court, Colin must forsake every tactful part of his being and start over with the girl who once loved him fiercely. 

Will their past be enough to win their future? 

Or will two souls remain separated forever?

Fan Art by Jennifer Brown

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reading Lists!

One would imagine since not only am I a writer but an avid reader that I'd have some sort of planned reading list. But I don't. Why? Beats me. I'll use the fact that I'm a pantser, not a plotter. Sounds like a good excuse.

Or, as my dear momma says, "It's not an excuse, but it's a reason."

Here's the problem with that reason, though: There's SO many good books out there!! And I know what you're thinking: yeah, yeah, duh, Alyssia--where have you been? But seriously. Sometimes it feels as if I'm drowning in books to be read, and that's partly my CP's fault, because she's addicted to downloading free and cheap ebooks off Amazon, so she's (in turn) always telling me I need to read this or, good Lord in Heaven, don't read that. And, naturally, she has great taste for the good stuff, so I listen and download and, as a result, have LOADS of books just waiting to be read on my Kindle.

Then, of course, I troll Blogspot and forums and, yes, Amazon, and suddenly there's more books to be read. Great books. Phenomenal books. And I'm thinking, "I want to read all of them at once!" Because it seems like such a shame to let those genuinely delicious stories go unread, doesn't it? You must partake, right, right? You readers and writers out there are doubtless nodding your heads.

All the rest of you, bear with me a moment, please.

The whole point of this post is that I feel the need to make a reading list.  A bona fide, 100% Genuine, to-be-followed-at-gunpoint-if-necessary reading list, so that I can feasibly squeeze in all those lovely books I've been waiting and wanting to read since I-don't-know-when.

Figured I'd start small--3 books. That'll work, right? So, without further adieu...

1. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
2. SLAMMED by Colleen Hoover (my CP's foaming at the mouth for me to read this one; she'll probably cut out my liver when she sees it's #2)
3. BORN AT MIDNIGHT by C.C. Hunter

All YA's, yes, because my current WIP is YA, and really, YA floats my boat lately. Maybe it's because I have a kid now, who knows? But there it is. I'd also like to check out some Jackson Pearce novels; I hear she's great, and that her newest release PURITY is amazing. Decent reviews.

Do you have a reading list? And if so, what's your next to be read? Any author you've been meaning to check out?

Peace, Love, and ooey-gooey Junior Mints (just had some at The Avengers, which was a-MAZING!),


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Choosing a New Project

So, now my first book's published, online, available for purchase (squee!), and I'm running through edits on its spinoff, Enraptured, which will be available in August, I've arrived at the point where I'm ready to create again. To meet new characters or, perhaps, revisit old ones whose story has yet to be told in full.

The easy part of this? I've decided to complete a YA (Young Adult).

The hard part? I don't know which one to choose!! Paranormal, Steampunk, or Contemporary with a Paranormal twist. All have elements dear to me, characters with the potential for fantastic adventure.

I don't believe in writing for the market. That kind of pressure makes me clam, leaves the cursor blink-blink-blinking at me in that mocking way only a cursor and a blank page can. Which means I'll have to pick the one pulling the hardest, then go with it. Or, more accurately, allow the story to pick me and pray that I do it justice.

Easier said than done, am I right?

If you're a writer, how do you get yourself into writing mode? How do you delve in, submerge into your world, move next door to your characters? Do you have a method? Or do you just wing it?

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection, Kiera Cass, 2012, Harper Teen, 336 pages.

This is one of the many books whose cover caught my eye from the get-go.  I mean, how much more gorgeous can you get?  Pretty, young redhead. Beautiful, porcelain skin. Dress fit for a princess.  In fact, that’s exactly what America Singer’s bucking for in The Selection by Kiera Cass.  Her slightly lower than lower-middle-class family’s hoping she’ll be the next princess of Illéa and, ultimately, the next queen.  She’s one of thirty-five girls entered into the Selection, a contest to find Prince Maxon of Illéa a right proper wife. 

Back blurb: 

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.  The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth.  To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels.  To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. 

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare.  It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her.  Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.  Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. 

Then America meets Prince Maxon.  Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. 

This book surprised the heck out of me.  One, the writing is simple.  Not bad, mind.  Just…simple.  No big words, no spectacular sentence structure.  Heck, even the dialogue gets corny at times.  And, like me, bless her whole heart, Miss Cass has an affinity for the word “simply.”   Two, I could not put it down.  The story sucks you in like nobody’s business.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for a love triangle, I don’t know, but Aspen and Maxon are both star-worthy heroes. They keep America on her toes, and I love that, because we’re in America’s PoV the whole time, and what’s a heroine without a whole lotta conflict?  And, boy, does she have conflict.  From the tension with the other ladies of the Selection, to Aspen, to her just a smidge above destitute family, and, yes, Prince Maxon, America faces conflict after conflict in a deliciously lovely environment well-painted by the author. 

What I loved most about this novel?  It reminds me of what I used to write in high school—princes, princesses, castles, etc.  It’s just that kind of fun, that kind of interesting.  The Selection is the first of a trilogy and, unfortunately, leaves you with a to be continued… at the end.  Good thing is that the second installment should be released before year’s end.  Yay!  AND—according to the author’s website, the book’s been picked up for a pilot by the CW.  Aimee Teegarden (Julie from Friday Night Lights) landed the role of America and is joined by many names and faces we recognize from various tv shows and b-movies. 

Overall, I enjoyed the story, the setting, and the characters, and so The Selection made my keeper shelf, as will the remainder of the series.  I give it a B+. 

Peace, Love, and Junior Mints,

About the author:

Kiera Cass is a graduate of Radford University and currently lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her family.  Her fantasy novel The Siren was self-published in 2009.  Kiera has kissed approximately fourteen boys in her life. None of them were princes. You can visit her website here. You can also order The Selection via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and (my personal favorite) Book Depository.

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