5 Minute Fiction

‘Tis Christmas Eve – A Poem

It was Christmas Eve and in my townhouse, no creatures ran about because I’m OCD about a clean house.

The stockings were hastily hung from the faux fireplace, as my dog kept trying to pull at all three. My child was not wrapped up tight in bed because we live in Miami and it’s still warm as can be.

I was alone in my bed for the hubby works the night-shift. Which is a nice time alone gift.

A crash on the lawn alerted me that my neighbor John was trying to disconnect my Christmas lights. For they blinded everyone in the neighboorhood with my over the top brights.

The house was without a chimney so I left a key under the mat for Santa. As he filled the stockings they crashed to the floor loud enough to be heard in Indiana.

Santa reached for his plate of goodies and belted out loud, “These are the best cookies in town!”

“Why thank you, Santa. I hope this means my gift is a baking crown.”

I knew I should feel blessed, but since he flies the world in one night it seems awful slight. And I heard Santa bellow as he climbed back upon his sleigh, “John is right! These lights are too bright!”

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Author Sandra Sookoo

Please welcome USA Today bestselling author, Sandra Sookoo. Be sure to add all of her books it to your Goodreads list!

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

I never compare my writing style to anyone if I can help it. I’m not the “next” someone else. I’m the “only” me.

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I love reading historical mysteries and romantic suspense. It’s my favorite above everything else, mostly because it helps keep my brain active and sharp. It’s also why I embarked on writing in the genre a few years ago.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

I absolutely love Josh Gates’ Expedition Unknown. It’s one of the reasons I love writing adventure romance. I also watch Carnival Eats on the Cooking Channel, mostly because I can’t believe the host will eat all sorts of fried foods that gross me out. And if we’re talking reruns in order to relax, I watch Big Bang Theory. Even though it’s off the air now, I still haven’t caught up. LOL

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

That’s like comparing myself to another author. If I had written any of those books, I wouldn’t be writing as me, would I? If, or when, my books take off like wildfire, it will be because of what I write and how I write and how well-loved my characters are. I’ve written over 87 books to date in my career, so I’ve fit into my own groove pretty well.

 

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Maybe Colin Farrell or Henry Cavill.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

Because I provide a big-time emotional payoff. My characters are very relatable. And who doesn’t wish to go on adventures all over the world? Especially when you can travel within one of my stories without needing a passport! I like that my characters overcome not only trauma from their past and emotional angst, but the differences between each couple. Plus, my style of writing has a tendency to put the reader right there into the action and keeps them there. I do hope readers take a chance on my books. My stories are like Pringles, you can’t stop at just one.

What is your go-to snack?

Usually some sort of raw nut I can munch on while I write. It’s a low-carb alternative to chips. Although, when I do feel the need for carbs, I reach for sour gummy bears.

 

You can visit Sandra’s website. Or find her on Facebook.

She has a Facebook Author page and group as well.

Sandra is also on Pinterest, Instagram, and you can visit her Amazon Author Page.

She is also on BookBub and if you’d like to sign up for her newsletter: send me an email or PM with “subscribe” in subject line

BookBub Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/sandra-sookoo

 

 

 

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Ametra Rayford

Please welcome the author of Duality, a book soon to be sporting a new cover! But my lucky readers get to see the new one here. *UPDATE! Duality was just listed as a finalist Paranormal/Supernatural category with The Independent Author Network!!!!

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

Ira Levin. I’ve read several of his novels – a few more than once – and I love how he was able to include descriptions and set a scene for you without it feeling like a lecture and without detracting from the flow of the story. He provided a stellar example of showing and not telling. He was so good at it that it was hard to see the characters or the setting in any way other than how he wrote it. I saw the movie Rosemary’s Baby before reading the novel. The first time I read the book it felt as though the novel was an adaptation of the movie, rather than the other way around, because the movie plucked so many details from the book and brought them to life. That’s what I admire and try to emulate. I’d love it if my readers could come away with an ability to see, smell, and taste (because I tend to incorporate food here and there) the situations I toss my characters into.

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I read a lot of different genres, but I love fantasy novels the most. From the time I was in elementary school reading mythology, to high school and stories about Merlin, before David Eddings, R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman took over in young adulthood – fantasy novels have always been something I go back to when I want to dream. I am also a huge fan of seeing how different fantasy authors craft the limitations that exist within the worlds they’ve created. I love reading about the hierarchy or power structures as they exist in a world that’s otherwise limitless.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

New cover – coming soon!

I haven’t had a lot of time lately to watch television, but my go-to show for years has been Criminal Minds. I have a deep fascination with what comprises the core of a person – what makes them tick. That’s pretty much the premise behind the show. What makes a person transcend from a normal, everyday dude to the UnSub (Unknown Subject)? I’m all over that.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

Well, I hope that I have written what will become a popular, well-known book. (Ha!) But, if we’re talking about the book of another author, I’d love to have written The Godfather. I am more than mildly-obsessed with mob culture. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in Chicago and learned about Al Capone at an early age…or if it’s because I was glued to the television during the farce that became the opening of Al Capone’s vault…but, I have been in love with mafia lore since I was a child: The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, Hoodlum, The Making of the Mob series – all of that thrills me.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

I’m not sure that they have to. There’s plenty of room at the table, so to speak, and I’ve yet to meet someone who goes into a bookstore and comes out with only one book. With a well-known author, there’s a certain comfort level involved. You may not know the details of this particular story, but you know enough about the author’s work to have a general idea of what to expect. You don’t know what to expect from me. I am a new author, currently working on my sophomore novel, and I haven’t yet settled into a trend. My first novel combined suspense with splashes of horror and spirituality. My next novel is fantasy. My work transcends multiple genres.

What is your go-to snack? 

Sunflower seeds! I can go through a ridiculous amount of them while working on a novel. I’d eat them at work if I could – shell-cracking and all.

You can follow Ametra on her:

Blog

Twitter @AlwaysAmetra

Facebook

You can buy the book on Amazon.

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Cheyanne Young

Please welcome the author of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade, The Breakup Support Group, and The City of Legends trilogy. All young adult (YA) stories. At the end of the interview, you can find a blurb about The Last Wish of Sasha Cade. Be sure and add it to your Goodreads list!

P.S. Cheyanne will be at Changing Hands Bookstore, in Tempe, AZ on September 26th at 7 p.m.

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

I never feel quite competent enough to compare myself to other writers, but I’ve been told my writing style is similar to Sarah Dessen (swoon) and Morgan Matson (ultra swoon). My writing style is contemporary, romantic, angsty, and a little funny. (At least, my kid thinks it’s funny.)

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I am forever a fan of YA contemporary novels. I was a teen mom who had to grow up fast. I often feel like I missed out on all the best parts of those years and that I’m kind of stuck there mentally, as an adult. Give me all the teenage angst, realistic settings, first kisses, and love stories. I am here for it.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

Oh no. I have so many. I adore dry sarcasm and humor, something that can make me laugh after a long day of bleeding my heart onto my manuscript page. For those shows, I love: Schitt’s Creek, The Office, Bob’s Burgers, Kim’s Convenience, Misfits, & Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Don’t ask me to choose one. I can’t.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

I would have written The Perks of Being a Wallflower because every time I read that book, it feels as though it’s speaking directly to me.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Funny you should ask – The Last Wish of Sasha Cade is being made into a TV show right now! I don’t know who will be cast, (and I doubt I’ll get a say in it) but I’ve always pictured Angela Kinsey as Mrs. Cade. For Raquel, I like Kiernan Shipka. I have no idea who could play Elijah, but he better be swoony and broody and adorable. For Sasha, I would love to see Amandla Stenberg play the role.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

Well-known authors get a lot of publisher money and promotion spent on them. Their books can’t help but be found and read. Whereas, us little authors do almost all of the promotion ourselves, with our own money. To date, I’ve spent more money promoting my book than I’ve earned on it, and I do it because I believe in Sasha’s story and I want readers to love it as much as I do. So while I love (and read!) well-known books, I always go out of my way to pull one I’ve never heard of off the shelf and give it a shot. You might find your new favorite author this way.

What is your go-to snack?

Coffee. I eat once a day, and it’s usually something terrible for me. But all day I’m drinking coffee. 🙂 Yes, the life of an author is extremely glamorous.

 

The Last Wish of Sasha Cade – book blurb

How far would you go for your best friend?

The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world, has died of cancer. Overwhelmed and brokenhearted, Raquel can’t even imagine life without her.

And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from beyond the grave?

In fact, Sasha spent her final weeks planning an elaborate scavenger hunt for the friend she would have to leave behind. When Raquel follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha – and now Raquel – knows.

This boy, Elijah, might be just who Raquel needs to help her move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?

 

Cheyanne Young’s compulsively readable breakout novel offers abiding friendship and forbidden romance, along with an incisive look at how class differences shape who we are and who we grow to be.

You can follow her on Twitter: @NormalChey

And visit her website.

You can buy her latest novel, The Last Wish of Sasha Cade on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Spotlight on Writing

Selling Your House is Like Submitting Your Manuscript

Have you been through the process of selling a house before? Have you realized how similar it is to having your story on submission?

Let me explain.

black calculator near ballpoint pen on white printed paper

You decide you want to sell your home. Just as when you decide to submit your story. You do a little research, see what’s out there, what is selling, and then you take the leap.

You prefect your home/You perfect your story.

You’ve put your house up for sale/You’ve submitted.

Then you wait….and wait….

You check Zillow and Zip Reality, has anyone looked at the listing?/You check Query Tracker and writer forums for response times.

You wait and wait…

Oh, someone is coming to view your house!/Oh, you received a reply that your manuscript was received.

You wait and wait some more…

People have seen your house/People have read your story….

ballpoint pen classic coffee composition

BUT WHERE ARE THE OFFERS????

Ohhhh, look someone is making an offer, but first they need to have the house inspected/Ohhh, look someone requested a full!!

The inspector shows up/You submit the full manuscript.

You wait….and wait…AND WAIT….will they like it? What’s wrong with it? What do you need to fix? Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s yours. Will they accept it with some repairs? Maybe you shouldn’t have went with that bold blue/Maybe you shouldn’t have let your main character do that one thing he did.

A lot has caused you stress during this process, so make sure you don’t take the first offer without doing your research. Either way, at some point your house/your story will sell.

person giving keys on man

Happy submitting!!!

 

 

 

 

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Interview with Cassidy Carter, Author of LOVE ON LOCATION

20190228_092505Please welcome author, Cassidy Carter to the blog!!! Her newest book, Love on Location releases tomorrow, March 12th from Hallmark Publishing!! Yet, Ms. Carter is not new to Hallmark Publishing. She also wrote The Perfect Catch (based on an original Hallmark movie). Please enjoy her interview!

You live far from any place like Cabins in the Pines, what brought you to write this specific story?

I grew up in the country, and I love the outdoors. And you’ll be familiar with the other inspiration for the setting, Savannah—Flagstaff, Arizona!

I struggled a bit with Love on Location at the start of the process, because I originally envisioned this tale of two best friends (who don’t realize that they’re meant for each other) set in a family-owned factory.  But there wasn’t much fun in that “location,” so the setting was switched to the Cabins in the Pines, a place that I hope the reader will find as engaging as the love story.

How much research did you have to do between the camping and TV production aspects of the story?

My family and I camp quite frequently, so the camp aspect of it is very familiar to me. I used some actual camp layout maps from places we’ve been to plan out what the Cabins in the Pines looked like. As far as the TV aspect, my husband and I watch quite a few business-makeover shows like The Profit and Hotel Hell and, of course, the business-investment show Shark Tank, so that inspired some aspects of Love on Location. And then I did do some research on these shows, but I also tried to keep the technical stuff pretty light in case I got anything wrong!

You are a professional editor, does that make writing easier?

In a way it does, but there are ways it makes things harder. It helps me write (hopefully) pretty clean first drafts, but it also makes me mortified when I miss something obvious. More on that below! That said, when I write, I try to put the words down as quickly as possible, without overthinking or being too critical. During my second draft is when I tend to catch things I wrote incorrectly. And I cringe! But on the other hand, it makes me very understanding of those whom I edit.

When you submit a manuscript and it’s accepted, do they send back edits? (Can an editor be edited??)

There are two types of edits you’ll see back as an author: story-level edits (some call these developmental or content edits) that basically critique and coach on the craft, plot, theme, details, all the nongrammatical aspects of a book; and copy edits, which come after revisions to clean up spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the like. And everyone can be edited. Sometimes, story-wise, you get too close to what you’re writing, and you don’t see a plot hole or a too-vague explanation or a comma splice. I love editors, and I love being edited. I am always grateful for a fresh pair of eyes. Stacey Donovan, the head of Hallmark Publishing, is really a master at this. She gives great notes, pointing out things I hadn’t considered or that I’d missed, and I really feel like she made this story much better than it would have been. (Thanks, Stacey!).

I must mention how jealous I am that you have the privilege of working with Ms. Donovan! Her blog posts are super helpful on many levels. Not to mention she is a joy to interact with on Twitter, and I loved her book, Sunset Cabin!!!

In your opinion, does being an editor make the odds of acceptance higher?

Really good one! I think it helps, because a clean-as-possible first draft is something that will stand out in a submissions pile, and having a publisher know that I have a background in helping others better their books might give me a slight edge, but anyone can have a similar chance. By that, I mean that any author submitting to a publisher can find something to set their query apart. For instance, if you’ve researched really well what a particular publisher is looking for, and you have knowledge or experience that helped you develop a character or write in a setting that fits what they want perfectly, use that! Let’s say you write a book about a plucky lumberjack in an all-woman lumberjack crew, and your book is about the heroine falling in love with the head of the competing all-male lumberjack team at the state logging competition. Adorable premise. But if this is the fictionalized version of how you actually met your husband in the same exact manner? That beats the rules that I can quote from the Chicago Manual of Style any day.

Tell us what drove you to write Love on Location?

Image result for the perfect catchI love Hallmark, and I love sweet romance. After I did the novelization of The Perfect Catch, I wanted to show readers a little more of my style, so I was so thrilled about Hallmark’s move to original fiction. I like exploring the emotional aspects of how two people can come together in the middle of life happening; not always perfect, not always on time, not always without friction—but just when it’s needed.

What has been your favorite place to see/visit?

So far, I’ve only ever traveled within the United States. But I’m so crazy about Northern Arizona in the summer, I’d have to say it’s my current favorite.

What place are you excited to visit but have yet to?

A lot of the big state parks that I haven’t been to yet! I want to hook up the camper and go see Yellowstone, Yosemite, Redwood National.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t think you have the space for me to include everything! I typically get up early, try to wrangle a reluctant kindergartener to school, and entertain a very cheeky three-year old while I juggle editing and writing. I try to split my day between editing, usually during the day because that’s when clients are easiest to communicate with, and writing, which I do in the evenings and at night. I’m a definite night owl, so my day is fueled by lots of caffeine.

Are you the chef in the family? If so what is your favorite dish to make, if not what is your favorite dish to enjoy?

I do nearly all of the cooking. I love to cook, and my husband is not that keen on cooking himself, so we have an arrangement. I cook, and he does the dishes. It’s a great deal. And I cook a ton of different things! I make a pretty killer coconut curry chicken, but I also love to whip up a full-on Southern breakfast (biscuits, gravy, grits, eggs, and bacon).20190228_092521

What is your favorite Hallmark movie?

Edge of the Garden! Have you seen it? Oh my gosh. I don’t want to give the ending away, but I cried.

I have seen it! It is great. My personal favorite is the Vineyard series Hallmark Channel does!)

What’s next for you?

So much. I really want to continue the story of the Cabins in the Pines family, and I’m dying to start a cozy mystery series. I’ll update you when there’s anything new to report!

I’ll be looking forward to new news!! 

Visit Cassidy’s website

Purchase Love on Location from Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Spotlight on Writing

Why. Do. We. Do. This?!

 

Writers, have you ever been working on a story and stopped to check something, anything else? You should be writing, but you’re not. I’m doing it right now! Manuscript open, pen in hand, mid-edit, when I decide I need to write this post, check social media, oh look dishes need to be washed.

Why. Do. We. Do. This?

Why does the procrastination switch flip so flipping often? (say that ten times fast)

I tried to answer this question on my own. My response is fear, it must be the fear of finishing or fear of finding out that I can’t finish.

The story needs to be worked on, yet there we are, checking this or that.

Now the question is, how do we stop?

I know many put their cell phones away, or turn off their internet. Sometimes that is not enough, because look dishes! Look the floor needs to be cleaned. Oh, laundry!

Does it come down to doubt within our work and our selves? That once we remind ourselves we can do it and not be afraid we can power through the distractions and finish the manuscript?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on WHY. DO. WE. DO. THIS?!