Books I & II of The Lova Chronicles is available now!

The Lova Chronicles kicked off with The Earthen Shroud in August 2013!

Want Your Book to Read Like a Movie?

Check out my book trailer and see how I did it!

Author Book Signing

I've only done this once, but I had the time of my life! You can too; see how.

Food-Inspired Art

Check out my guest post on Notebook Blogairy about how food inspires my writing.

Pages From My Diary

I started a new blog series: awesome, intimate, legendary.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book-to-Movie Classics: The Twilight Series

I am an avid lover of vampires, werewolves, witches/wizards, ghosts, shapeshifters, and all things supernatural and odd.  Knowing my love for vamps, my mother gave me the Twilight series as a Christmas present.  It was supposed to be all the rage.  I started to read--and was almost immediately bored out of my mind.  That's no slight to Stephenie Meyer; I've heard her other books are underrated and well-written.  But the yarn of crap that is the Twilight series makes it easy to hate.  It's not just the purple prose, the superfluous storylines, or even the werewolves (who prove to be more awesome than the vamps or humans)--it's the main characters, Bella and Edward.

Isabella is what you'd call a sap.  Her backbone is nearly nonexistent--until she wants to blow up at her doting and attentive parents or defend her passive-aggressive vampire boyfriend.  Is it disgusting to anyone else that Edward, while he looks seventeen, is actually 100 years old digging on a teenager?  And what is with this super-soft, totally unscary sparkling Meyer vampires do?  With a guy shimmering in the sun, how can he possibly be perceived as a dangerous bloodsucker? Why call the series Twilight if vamps are out walking around all day...?  And what exactly is wrong with being with Jacob--who is definitely more human than supernatural, defends the land, is sexy as hell, and genuinely loves Isabella?  To cop out from the obvious choice for a prosperous and happy life and pursue the perverted, possessive, entirely-too-emotional bad boy seems to be the all-too-typical response to teenager fanfare.  Perhaps that's why these stories have become such a success.

While I am definitely a romantic (the jury is still out on whether or not I'm hopeless), I can't subscribe to Meyer's subplot of one soulmate for every person.  It's too simplistic for a relationship that seems to be scraping for intimacy and respect between the two protagonists.  And what does that imply to the young ones this series is written for?  It inspires a hopelessness when that bad boy disappears--that life will never be right again because he, that jerk who told you who to hang out with and where to be, has gone from your world never to return.  And he was your last chance--even though you're only like seventeen on the cusp of the rest of your life.

The movies, at least, serve up much more entertainment.  Kristen Stewart does a sufficient job of being as sappy as the character she portrays, and Robert Pattinson appears equally young with all the air of maturity that his character should possess as a 100-yr old vampire.  However, the strong acting, in my opinion, only does well to point out the significant flaws of the franchise.  The weakness in character and storylines are emphasized and are saved only by the filmmaker's ability to engage the audience with a heavy budget of special effects and predictable action.  The shining star in this series though is Dakota Fanning, playing the evilest of the Volturie, Jane.  Catch her in Twilight: New Moon and Twilight: Eclipse.

Ultimately, this series would have been salvageable if not for the vampire baby that sucks Bella dry from the inside.  How can a human have a vampire's baby if vampires are dead?  And how would the baby grow up?  Isn't it vampire too, meaning that it would stay a baby forever?  That part of Meyer's vampire lore does not coagulate.  And coming up with an intense respect and love for the vampires depicted by Anne Rice, I find it almost impossible to subscribe to the ideas Meyer portrays in her book.  Vampires should not be out in daylight, much less sparkle in the sun and profess undying love to a human whose blood is insanely intoxicating to you.  Coming out at night is the vampire mantra; it can not be altered simply so that a century old vampire can attend high school.

2.5/5 suns: the filmmaker's ability to engage me in some relatively entertaining action is the only reason Twilight earns the other 1.5 suns.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RJS Book Review: Reign of Blood

RJS Book Review

Alexia Purdy is clearly a fascinating woman.  Her work, while dark, is inviting and enticing.  Her imagination delivers empowering stories of struggle and survival--unfortunately, with Reign of Blood, that charm didn't surface until half way through the book.

Reign of Blood is about April, a teenage vampire hunter, immune from the virus that has morphed nearly everyone but her and her mother and brother into feral vampire-zombies.  But when her mother and brother suddenly go missing, April endeavors to find them--with the help of mysterious vampire hybrids: humanoid vampires who feed on the ferals and need the immunity in April's blood to survive a mutated disease that causes the hybrids to deteriorate.  In exchange for her blood samples, the hybrids agree to help April save her family.

As you can see, the premise is deliciously complex.  And the story gets amazingly in depth.  Chapter One sets a vivid and imaginative stage of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas, abandoned and destroyed by the rampage of feral vampires.  April's skills are Hunger Games meets Blade, a warring teenager ravaging for supplies on the strip, fighting to protect her family from the animals hiding in the shadows.  But after her family disappears, somewhere around Chapter Two, the next few chapters do little to move the story forward.  It's not until Chapter Eleven, nearly a hundred pages in, does the story begin to progress.  In between, April is rampaging through the city, killing hives left and right, anticipating that the unintelligent ferals will surrender her mother and brother.  While there are subtle clues and sightings throughout these early chapters, little else is being revealed.

There a quite a few fillers like this in the book; significant moments in the story carry for a chapter or two, but are followed by long stretches where nothing much is happening or being explained.  The information that is exchanged is not enough to explain why certain things have happened or what significance these events have.

Reign of Blood is certainly a thrill ride, full of ups and downs and twists and turns.  But much like a roller coaster, the escalation and transition tracks can become cripplingly monotonous.

4/5 suns: This novel has an excellent story, and is well-written with a lot of amazing moments...if you're willing to wait for them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Trinka Polite

Thank you for joining us!  Today's Spotlight is on Trinka Polite, poetess and spiritualist.  Poetry, as my readers know, is a subject close to my heart, as my bestie and fellow author J. Mahogany and I got our start as authors.  Ms. Polite, of course, has written a compilation called After the Sixth Day that she is here to talk with us about.  An excerpt of her beautiful poetry can be found at the end of this segment.  Enjoy!

Tell us a little about yourself, Trinka.

I’m from Worth County, Georgia. I still live in the area to be close to family and because I love the beautiful South!  My passions include cooking, dancing, traveling, reading, spending time with family, and of course poetry.  I attended Valdosta State University and completed my Master’s in Psychology at the University of West Georgia.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always had an interest in reading.  I never set out to be a poet or a writer. Poetry found me, so to speak. In those moments of deep emotion, sometimes I struggled to find and speak the right words. Thankfully, the words of my spirit gave me understanding and meaning.  I wrote them down and here I am.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was a teenager. However, I wasn’t writing [with the intention] to one day release a book.  I wrote as an attempt to explain things happening in my life and in the world around me. That’s probably true for many writers.

It certainly was for me, especially when it comes to prose.  Did writing this new book teach you anything and what was it?
I definitely learned patience.  Writing and publishing a book should not be rushed.   It’s an emotional process.  Therefore, if you begin to feel overwhelmed, put the book down and walk away.  Come back later when you’ve had time to breathe and relax.  However, the most important thing this new book taught me is that writing is my passion. I didn’t know it until I started.  I’m so grateful that I did!

I definitely learned that lesson the hard way!  So, tell us about your latest work.
It is a collection of poetry that chronicles the experience of one spirit's journey through this world so far.  Whether it's from my personal life or as a witness to others' lives, the poems address various experiences and emotions that we all face.  The message of the book is that through interaction with the world, the spirit is tested, awakened and strengthened.  In the end, we discover that every experience is needed to tell the story of our spiritual journey.  Below, I share one of my favorite poems from After the Sixth Day--"Breathing Lessons".

What do you love about independent publishing?
I love that I don’t have to compromise my goals as a writer. Being able to move at my own comfortable pace has been a blessing, and it has allowed me to learn more about the publishing process.  I also love that I was able to share my poetry in its “raw” form without my voice being altered.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?
The hardest part about compiling this book was knowing that I had to let it go. I know that probably seems odd since people write with an audience in mind.  I think because it’s my first book that I was a little nervous.

I think that nervousness is typical for most of us on the first one.  Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, and it’s also in my introduction.  Never feel bad about or dismiss any of your life experiences.  In the moment, you may not realize it, but there is a blessing in the journey. 

What do you look for in a cover?
As a reader, I look for a cover that begins to tell the story before the book is opened.  If the author took the time to develop a cover, I’m trying to determine how the title relates to the cover. Of course, this influenced my cover choice. After the Sixth Day: Notes from a Spiritual Journey is presented as more or less a “diary.” Therefore, the cover’s inspiration is one of my personal leather bound journals.

What books have most influenced your life?
*The Bible
*Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (This book had a strong impact on me as a child. I’ve never forgotten it.)
*Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie by Maya Angelou
*The Color Purple by Alice Walker
*The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
I’ll include The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah just because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read!

I saw a couple of my favorites in there!  What projects can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on a follow-up to After the Sixth Day.  In this first edition, I share just the poetry. The next book will be a smaller poetry collection that includes the inspirational story for each.  For the third project, I have a novel in the works--still researching.  So please stay connected.

Sounds incredible!  Thank you for joining us, Trinka!  Here is a sample of from Trinka's book After the Sixth Day:

Breathing Lessons

Pulsating through my chest and out my nose–
that’s the way my life flows. In and out is each breath
I take serving as a sign of life when I’m sleep and when I’m awake.

Pull it in deep and then blow real hard.
Keep that pace going and fill it in your heart.
Keep your mind clear and your soul at ease
when you follow the breathing lessons I’m trying to teach.

Do it in the car and when you’re at work.
Do it when you’re feeling good and when it really hurts.
Take it in now as much as you can.
Touch your chest and feel it expand.

Our skin starts to tingle as life flows through--
as breath makes it way over me and you.
Close your eyes and focus on the sensation.
Take a minute to meditate and send your mind on vacation.

Lessons in breathing take you beyond–
signaling fear and increasing during fun.

I didn’t always know how to breathe.
I would take a deep gasp and hold it inside of me.
I would restrict its power and my chest would get tight.
This is what happens when your breathing is not right.
This is what happens when you stop life’s flow instead
of relaxing and letting it go.

Now breathe because you have no choice.
It’s your way of speaking when you have no voice.
Show some indication that you are alive.
Take a deep breath and see how you strive.

My grandmother breathed easy without much care.
She moved through life like she was floating on air.
I didn’t know she was giving me a breathing lesson-
lips barely parted with her hands folded and rested.
Exemplifying the ease at which it takes
to quiet doubts and mend the breaks.

My other grandmother told me that’s how I came to be.
God took my body and in it He breathed.
So when you inhale and exhale notice your breath,
and realize God is dwelling in your chest.

Lessons in breathing tell us that in the end,
we take one last breath and our souls fly away on the wind.

(Trinka Polite, 2012. All rights reserved.)
Reprinted with permission from the author.

You can find Trinka at the following links:

Website:  http://

You can find Trinka's book at the following links:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Missy LaRae

Hello, and thanks for joining me for another Soapbox Spotlight.  Today's visitor is Missy LaRae.  Missy is a former Military Police officer turned Web Designer and Author who lives in North Florida with her two sons, finace, and 100 pound mutt Buddy. She began writing at an early age and this past year published her first novel, The Sword and The Prophet. She also writes adult suspence/horror under the pen name Melissa Garland.

My Bookshelf: My 5 Favorite Books

Sometimes when I look at my bookshelf, all it does is make me sigh. I have a lot of friends on my bookshelf. I have friends up there that I went to middle school with, high school with, and heck, a few of them even went on my honeymoon with me. They’re sometimes more dear to me than my flesh and blood friends (but don’t tell them that).   I’ve been a reader for so long it seems like words are more a part of me than anything else. I couldn’t imagine life without a few of my favorite novels. I have quite a few I love, but here’s the top five in no particular order:

1. Once a Princess by Johanna Lindsey
I loved the lost princess story. The rags to riches, loneliness to love, and plain jane to beautiful swan story. I’ve read this book so many times the cover is falling off.

2. Adam by Ted Dekker
This is completely different than the previous book but no less thought provoking. It’s the kind of book you stay up late at night reading just because there’s no way you can possibly put it down.

3. Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Anyone who is a Dark Hunter fan knows why this is one of my favorite books. It’s harsh, eloquent, filled with fantasy, and filled with so many highs and lows of the emotional spectrum that you can’t help but read it again and again. It sums up who and what one of the main charachers in Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series is, and I would have stood in line to buy it if I didn’t have to small children to cart around.

4. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
This book is unintentionally hilarious. As a woman and a mother I’ve tried to diet so many times I’ve lost count of they ways I’ve thought I was going to tackle the extra 15 pounds hanging onto my inner thighs and hips, but these two authors deliver a hilarious, swear filled approach to taking charge of our own health.

5. To Kill A Mockinbird by Harper Lee
I’ve read this book a number of times and every time I read it I feel like I get something new out of it. When I was younger I was impressed with Scout and now that I’m older I’m impressed with other things in the novel. It’s a classic for a reason. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read something that challenges the way they think.

I’d love to list here the rest of my friends, but the list is just too long to put down in one post. I hope you have characters you’ve become friends with and care about just as I do.

I found a few of my friends in that list, too.  Thanks for joining us, Missy!

You can find Missy at the following links:
You can find Missy's book at the following links:

Barnes and Noble


Monday, August 6, 2012

10 Things I Didn't Know about Being an Author

When you set out to become an author, you think you know all there is to it.  How much more complicated can it be?  The hardest part was writing the book...right?  Uh, no.  There's a bunch of stuff I didn't realize about becoming an author--here's just 10 of them, in no particular order.

1. Editing is hard. Trying to make high-level edits in a 300-page manuscript is probably the most disheartening thing I’ve ever done. I approach editing with an ominous dread, and that dark cloud remains for the full 6-8 months I spend doing it. (I’m having palpitations just thinking about it.)

2. Writing is therapeutic (even subconsciously). The notes I wrote for The Grim went a totally different direction than what my novel became. Why? Because I had unresolved issues in my subconscious—things I thought I dealt with but clearly hadn’t. And they surfaced, blatantly, on the pages of my manuscript. However, when the work was finished, I not only felt the pain in my heart lift but the story I told was better for it.

3. Networking is more involved than writing. No one is ever going to read your book if there’s no venue by which to advertise it. There are countless people willing to help you get the word out; you just have to find them.

4. Indie authors are friendly. The independent author community is vast, and every single member of that community knows intimately how tough this industry can be. Don’t be afraid; if you ask, we’re more than happy to assist you in any venture you’re pursuing (or at least point you to someone who can.)

5. Follow the Muse. Every time I forced myself to write, my work was horrible. Some people can write under pressure, but I definitely need inspiration. The Muse visits me much more often these days than he/she used to, but it’s worth it to wait.

6. A bad review doesn’t mean my career is over. My recent experience with a terrible review nearly suffocated me. I second guessed the validity of my work and my pursuit of writing as a career. But I realized eventually that it’s absolutely impossible to please everyone. So glean the meat and throw the bones in the trash. In other words, take what’s constructive from the review and leave the cynicism where it is.

7. Word of mouth is the key to sales. No matter how much money you flood into building SEO or driving interest to your site, these strategies do not guarantee you a sale. What does move sales is a friend telling another friend, “Man, I couldn’t put this down!” Get reader reviews; those are the ones that really count.

8. You DO need a website. As you build an audience, they need somewhere to connect with you, even if it’s just a blog site. I’m sorry, but Twitter and Facebook, while useful tools, are not enough. Blogger, Wordpress, and other such sources will let you set up a site for free. You have to do it; you just have to.

9. Inspiration comes from many places. Be atypical in the way you explore the world. There’s an incredible story nestled in the “every day”. You’ll be surprised what you find.

10. Perseverance is a must. No one is going to hand you your dream on a silver platter. You have to
work hard at it and find ways to make the no’s you hear into yeses. It’s tedious and difficult at times, but if you push forward, it all pays off.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Jennifer Donohoe

Welcome to another Soapbox Spotlight!  Today's Spotlight is with Jennifer Donohoe, a fantasy young adult novelist.  She's here to share her ideas on writing and talk to us about her new novel, Willow's Journey.

Tell us about yourself.

I currently live in Northeast Ohio with my daughter. I work as an In-Home Felony Juvenile Therapist. However, my love is writing, and I started writing (from what I’m told) since I could hold a crayon. My hobbies include landscape photography, horseback riding, and watching horror films. I enjoy authors such as Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe.

I'm a big Poe fan too!  And I also come from a background in mental health.  What inspires you to write and why?

Life in general has always inspired me to write. However, music has been the greatest inspiration. Depending on my mood, any genre song could spark a small fire for a story idea then if it continues to grow, I’ll keep working with it until I can get a basic story from it. Music and life can be interpreted in so many different ways and finding a common theme for a story has always been easy for me.

I'm a BIG music fan.  What first attracted you to your genre?

I enjoy reading the fantasy genre. However, this is not the reason I write in it. I write in it because it is open and the creation process can be so much more vivid or open with fantasy. Plus I wanted to be able to write in a genre where more kids will read and still be able to teach some moral lesson from it.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Grammar and editing are the hardest for me. I was the kid who had a grammar teacher tell me that I needed to know the rules of grammar because I would need them in the future. I told the teacher I didn’t need to know them at all. Even though I loved to write, I refused to learn them. So, now I’m faced with the proverbial “I told you so.”  Editing (as you may guess – grammar) is the next hardest thing for me. I have the hardest time finding any mistake that is related to grammar.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

From what I’m told, my EOC’s are always good. I have it built in somewhere to automatically build up to a tension-filled scene and end the chapter. Sometimes when I don’t do this, I’m always asked to up the conflict in the scene. I’ve also been told that I tell a story like I’m in the room. The reader feels connected to the story as though I was telling it to them directly.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I have had writer’s block several times. Usually, I try to do something else to take my mind off the work. I’ll usually take photos, watch a movie, or read. Any of these things can inspire a new scene or solve a problem with a character. I find killing off a character helps sometimes too.

Wow; I pity the characters! Tell us a little about your latest work.

While I’m working on the sequel to The Legend of the Travelers: Willow’s Journey, I’ve been working on another book called Fly Away. It’s been compared to a grown-up version of The Neverending Story. It’ll be Urban Fantasy and should be out after the new year.

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

After I thought about this question, I can say, “yes, the writing has gotten easier for me.” I’m able to monitor what I write more now, and it’s easier for me to get a closer-to-finished project after a few times. I believe the first chapter in Willow’s Journey was revised over 40 times. The first three over 20 times.

How did you come up with the title?

For the most part, my titles are what inspire the stories. I usually have them first. If I have a hard time with a title then I re-evaluate whether I have a good story or not. I know it sounds strange, but I guess each of us have our little vices.

Would or have you considered writing in another genre?

I consider myself a story-driven author. I have been working on a horror/thriller with an author friend and a few other books I have in mind may come close to contemporary or paranormal. I just write the story that comes to me. I don’t like boxing myself in and just allow my characters to tell me what they want.

I feel the same way about that.  Confines stifle the story.  Before you go, do you have any advice for other writers?

Join a critique group. I cannot stress enough the importance of having others read your work and offer help or suggestions. By far, this has helped me the most in my writing career. I cannot even say where I’d be without the two groups (Internet Writing Workshop and Critique Circle) I participate in.

Thanks for stopping by today, Jennifer!

Thanks for having me, Ray!

You can find Jennifer at the following links:

Twitter: @donohoejennifer

You can find Jennifer's book at the following links: