Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus

The Lilly Singer Adventures by Lydia Sherrer

First, let me say that I met Lydia Sherrer in person at the SOKY Bookfest. She was actually on my Young Adult Fantasy Panel. She was very vibrant, a great dresser, and was quite funny.  I enjoyed talking with her before and after the panel, and am very glad that I received the first two of her books for moderating the panel (and really wish I had bought the third and fourth).  There are four + a novella currently published and there will be a total of 12.  She funded the publishing of these books via Kickstarter, which is kind of awesome. I wish I had had the chance to talk with her more.

Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus – the Lily Singer Adventures is a witty, fun-filled urban fantasy series about a bookish and awkward wizard, Lily Singer, her troublemaking witch friend, Sebastian Blackwell, and her talking cat, Sir Edgar Allen Kipling. They must work together to save the world from magical mayhem and bring peace between magical and mundane races. Will they succeed? Or will the world be plunged into an era of darkness and war?” via Kickstarter.

Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Beginnings

Saving the world is such a bother when it makes you late for tea. By day, book-loving wizard Lily Singer manages library archives. By night? She sleeps, of course. In between, she studies magic and tries to keep her witch friend Sebastian out of trouble. Much to her displeasure, he finds it anyway and drags her along with him. From unmaking ancient curses to rescuing a town lost in time, Lily and Sebastian fight to avert magical mayhem. Meanwhile, Lily’s mysterious past begins to unfold–a past hidden from her by those she trusts most. Will she be able to discover the truth despite them?”

At only 240 pages, this is a quick read. You really won’t want to put it down. I was a little amazed at how much I loved it.  Lily is a librarian, and prim/proper, and loves Tea. How could I not love this book?  The snarky humor between her and Sebastian is also great.  I was not expecting the format of the book, but found I loved it. Basically, you get two stories from Lily’s point of view, and an interlude between them from Sebastian’s point of view. I liked having two different stories in one book.  I also love the witch/wizard concept. The stories are serious but light hearted, and I liked getting to know the characters and the world.

Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: Revelations

After finishing the first, I immediately picked up the second. Again, a quick read, but I think this one goes even more in depth to the story and character of Lily, and I really wish I had bought 3 & 4. In an attempt to decide if I could spend any more money (I couldn’t), I found the novella for free on Kindle! I instantly downloaded it and finished it that night. There is now a TALKING CAT! What can be better than that? A sarcastic, snarky cat to boot. It ends on an almost cliffhanger, and I am getting the third/fourth book soon.

“Love, Lies and Hocus Pocus: A Study in Mischeif” – A Novella

Now this was just cute. I loved the chance to see these two actually meet. And reading it after the second book worked well. Truly adorable. I love these two. And the cat.

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Hey look! I’m back :)

It has been six months since I wrote a blog post. Woah.

First, sorry.  Things has been kind of hectic, and I just let writing slide.  My husband was back in school, my son is crazy (in a good, energetic, terrible threes kinda way), and from October on was crazy at my job, then it was the holidays, and such, and such.

Basically, I just let my blog go. I was still writing reviews though, and you can see those in the following:

Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/book-review-mississippi-blood/article_49b191bd-aa19-5035-8a9c-ba2fbb279d33.html (go read this, it is awesome!)

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/the-man-who-loved-birds-author-leaves-major-holes/article_51942091-d79a-5490-b78a-6575b51d3371.html (the ending of this book greatly upset me, and I felt there were holes, but it was an interesting story).

The Bourbon Thief: A Family with Bourbon in its Blood and Blood on its Hands by Tiffany Reisz: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/bourbon-deliversa-book-of-intrigue/article_1b5a12c6-b962-5a36-b0b6-546a1bb60ffd.html (5 Star book. Loved it)

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/opulence-a-reminder-of-culture-and-community/article_8cfb1a06-7c6a-5a4b-b833-807ff383550d.html (Again interesting read but I felt things could have been more in depth or less jumpy)

The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter by John Pipkin: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/astronomy-novel-falls-short-of-the-heavens/article_51af751e-7572-5831-8f3f-547667a38644.html (the title says my feelings. Fell short. Was really disappointed).

The First Hostage by Joel C. Rosenberg: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/journalist-is-on-target-with-fast-paced-sequel/article_553db823-00a8-5248-a7b7-10c7cc01d1e8.html (great sequel, fast paced)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: http://www.bgdailynews.com/community/harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-reunites-old-friends/article_8258034d-483f-5f91-b2bc-1faec1e2a6f3.html (great!)

That should about catch it, and I will update my publications page.  Overall, I’ve read quite a few.  For my goodreads challenge of 2016, I read 50 books. I’m hoping for 55 this year, and plan to exceed that – I’ve already read 25! Here is the list: https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/7034581

I will be reviewing a few of those over the next week. I have several that will be eventually published in the Bowling Green Daily News. I also will be doing a post over the SOKY Bookfest!

Have a great day guys!

NaNo: Using Tools When You Can!

As I mentioned before, I generally plan nothing when writing. Doing this with a short story is not so bad.  For an entire novel? Kinda difficult for me. It shoved me into lots of corners.  So this time, I decided to try and plan ahead.  I looked around on the internet (because I wanted to hit as many points as possible), and found Annie Neugebauer’s site.  She has lots of great worksheets, which are free!

You can find the worksheet and others here. I found this worksheet rather helpful and I hit lots of good plot points.  My friend came up with a few ideas, we brainstormed, and I kept some of his and some of mine and mashed some of ours together. I still have a few things that are fuzzy towards the end, but they are outlined enough that I can get to them and have a general idea where I am going. Which means I can still write by the seat of my pants a bit. 🙂 Ah the rush.

I went over my plotting worksheet a few minutes ago. I’m really happy with whats there. In case you are curious, my three sister’s are called “Ember, Ash and Blaze.” Their mother is Seraphina, and they have an aunt named Amber. That’s all you get to know for now!

I currently have 10,080 words on the story, on 32 pages in Word.  It makes me happy to see that.  I’m going to start rereading it tomorrow to get my bearings, because it has been a bit since I did much with it. I wrote every day for like 15-20 days straight and then fell off the wagon hard. That’s my normal.

Oh how stressful Nano shall be… I need coffee…

Prepping for Battle

I’ve done NaNoWriMo technically twice, but last year I did not truly participate due to my mother-in-law passing away on November 2nd. However, last year I did do writing prep in October, and if you are curious about previous blogs, click here for a list of them. I won in 2014, but I wound up completely scrapping my project half way through (20ish thousand words) and starting over.  In the end I wrote over 50k, but I only kept about 30k.  Sad days.

This year, I’m hoping not to do any of that craziness. I’m going to start working on my story now, and it is a project I started earlier this year.  A friend has been helping with some research, I have pinterest board, and for the first time ever, I’ve almost completely plotted out a story.

So when prepping for battle, be aware that nothing goes as planned. Some people may argue that since I scrapped what I had and restarted, I may not have won in 2014. To me, I did. I wrote all of that, even if I went crazy, switched perspectives, added characters, and completely rewrote what I had to the point of adding new scenes and a new narrative. Not at all what I planned.  If you cannot tell, I do not usually plan much.

This year, I hope to change that. The story I wrote in 2014, actually came from a short story I wrote about Dragons, and a dragon ride (the first in centuries).  The short story was great. I pantsed it and went on with the story. I decided instead of third I wanted to do first. I fleshed the story out so much more.  Then after NaNo, when I was trying to finish it, I hit a wall.  A friend read it, and reported to me that I had no real villain. Oops. I had been so focused on the character, and the war, that I did not think about the fact that I needed something more central to focus on. I still love that story, but I’ve put it aside for now. Once again, I’m going to have to rework what I have and I just need a break.

So pantsing may work for some people, but right now I need a story I’ve planned. Enter “We Witches Three.”  I’ve planned and plotted and am researching. I’ve started the beginning of it. I know where I want to go.  I’m going to hash out what I have tonight, and really start reexamaning. I had meant to all this craziness starting in October, and really get used to writing every day again. Starting a new job in August, with this being one of two of my busiest months of the year, made things hectic.  Why can’t Nano be in like July?  There are hardly any kids here in July…

So are you a pantser or a plotter or both? I’d be interested in hearing your tales!

(Side note – I submitted a new book review last night for “The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter.” 2.5/5 – I will link it when it is published.)

 

NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us!  I think I may start setting an alarm on my phone to yell at me to plan and plot and write.  October is one of the intensive advising times for me, and I’ve had 8 – 9 appointments some days, and I average at least four a day with other things I have to get finished. It’s been fun.

I didn’t talk much about it before, but my new job as Academic Advisor is awesome. I’m loving it, and I’m so happy I can say that. Between that and my book review writing, I’m a pretty happy person (now if only I could get paid for my book reviews. Free books is pretty awesome though).  I advise students within our program, work with faculty to make improvements, and also completely redid our department’s website.  I’m hoping to be coming up with some more projects soon.

My hubby is also back in school, and will graduate with his degree next December, which will be awesome. Xander is doing well, and crazy as per normal. He loves Superman, and Spiderman, and superheros, Toy Story, and is still obsessed with the TMNT, and loves Turtles.  He likes Disney movies and penguins, he is playing a limited amount of video games (Spelunky and Rayman) because my husband is a gamer (and I’ve started playing those too).  He has a great vocabulary, we read every night (current the Illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), and we build houses and knock them down and fight the Foot and all kinds of fun stuff. By the way – if you love my blog you can always get my kid something fun (https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/giftlist/1I0FZU079G5KW/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_4) or to read (https://amzn.com/w/WXOZXRZ237AB).

Isn’t he cute? He tells us he is “too big” for things he doesn’t want to do (including using the toilet which is not going well), and that his “butt is gone” when we need to change his diaper.  He be silly.

I’ve also been making Story Wreaths (as I call them), and here is my latest which was a birthday present for my friend Candace:

I also made a book pumpkin!

So there is a brief overview of things I have been doing.  I have not been writing much besides my many, many book reviews and things I do for work.  Tomorrow, that changes!

As a side note, I kinda want a new blog title. What do you think?

Have a great night!  Tomorrow I begin the NaNoWriMo prep, talking about what I will be doing, my plans, how I won before, and what I plan to improve this time around!

Anyone there?

*peeps around the corner*

Hello? Anyone there?

*crickets*

Ah well.  I have returned! And I apologize.  I’ve long been absent from my blog.  Starting a new job, and the hubby returning to school has been quite an adventure. A busy adventure that has left me falling asleep before 10 most nights.  Also, I’ve been reading quite a bit and had several reviews in the Bowling Green Daily News.

However, NaNoWriMo is approaching! And I’m determined to win again this year. I just updated my novel, We Witches Three, and I’m fixing to start prepping like crazy to get ready for it. I’m thinking for lunch at work I shall start shutting the door and working for an hour in my office. Wish me luck. I’m going to create a board of inspiration.

By the way, I love my office.I love my job!

Other than that, we’ve been busy bees. I need to super clean.  I’ve painted my living room, kitchen and hallway. For future reference, wallpaper border is the devil.  I have one wall left in my living room and I have to paint the trim (my plan for this weekend).  I have yard sale stuff to post on Facebook and many clothes to go through. I also plan to go through all of Xander’s toys and get rid of some stuff.

So, more on writing in my next post.

Thanks for sticking with me guys!

Updates, General

Hello!

I hope you all are doing well!  I am currently taking a small break at work to update my blog!  I’ve been crazy busy of late. I started my new job on August 1st, so I’ve been figuring all of that out, helping my husband return to finish his degree, and also working on side projects!

I wrote three book reviews for Bowling Green Daily News last week, and one for Edmonson voice.  I am currently reading three books at once. I am reading I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter for my book club on Saturday, and The Man Who Loved Birds for review, as well as a Higher Education book a couple of professors wrote (also for a review).

I am pondering dying my hair red… it also needs cutting.

As things are beginning to level out, I am going to start writing again.  I want to get back on the wagon, and really work on my witch novel, which will be my focus for November. I plan to finish it by the end of November, which means I need about 65,000 more words on it.  We shall see how that goes!

Surely I will start writing on my blog more as well. I am currently obsessed with the song Lost Boys by Ruth B. If you haven’t heard it – go look it up on Youtube.

Oh, and I’m obsessed with PokemonGo.  I’m level 21, almost 22.  SO MUCH FUN!

Laters my friends!

Back in Action!

Hello!

First, let me apologize for my disappearance.  July was a crazy month for me, full of interviews, anxious waiting and panicking, chasing my son around, and generally stressing about money as I didn’t have a job yet.

The good news, I have been hired as an Academic Adviser for the School of Professional Studies at WKU, and I started August 1st. It’s been a whirlwind of getting things figured out, starting my new job, and all such things.

Hopefully I will be back to posting on here soon, back to writing, and reading more and more.  After all, I have to get ready for NaNoWriMo…

Later!

Body Image – Always Something

My friend Monica Spees posted about body image issues today. She was really on point with how difficult it can be for women to deal with body weight issues.

It hit home for me, and I thought of what has been going on for me.  I had an interview yesterday, and that is always a stressful time. First impressions mean a lot. When doing research online, one of the things you often run across is that women who wear makeup are thought to make better impressions, its expected, and they usually fair better with first impressions.

I do not wear makeup. I generally try to wear it to interviews anyways. Problem is, I have Blepharitis according to my doctor.  I have always had issues with the skin under my eyes – constantly dark, and oddly wrinkled. Any time I brought it up with the doctor they would say it was an allergic reaction, or would give me a topical creme that didn’t seem to help. I never got a straight answer. Last year it started becoming worse, itching more often, becoming redder/darker and certainly reacting if I wore makeup for a special reason.

I brought it up with my new doctor, and he immediately told me it was that. It seems to fit. It’s awful. Can’t really be cured, except maybe with plastic surgery. So, yeah. Just have to deal.  I had my last interview yesterday.  My skin under my right eye was driving me bonkers. I couldn’t wear makeup, it would only make it much, much worse.

And it kills my self-confidence. Which is obviously an issue going into an interview. I think I overcame it.  I can’t help.  It’s not also something I can really explain in an interview. It’s depressing because it makes it look like I’m tired or never sleep. I hate it with a passion. Honestly, makeup doesn’t do a lot to cover it. Most people tell me they never notice it, but I know.

I have other body issues – certainly weight. However, I’ve made strides in accepting that. I have lost quite a bit of weight since having Xander two years ago, and actually weigh 15 pounds less than I did before I became pregnant. So that’s cool. Still have issues.  Still not at 140 like I want to be. But it helps.

It’s sad that I feel like I need to wear makeup to make a good impression. It’s sad that we feel like we need rock hard abs, or perfect bodies. There is no such thing. I hope that we will move past this eventually and change the way we feel about women/media/etc.

Remember that you are beautiful! Accepting ourselves may be hard, but it’s an every day thing. The perfect number on the scale does not equal 100% Happiness. It might make us feel better overall, but being happy in other ways is just as important, if not more so.

Throwback Thursday: Writing

Hello my friends! So I said I would do this two weeks ago, and I don’t think I did it last week. I wrote this my freshmen year in college… almost 8 years ago. It won first place in the short story writing contest at my college. So, here is an excerpt from an award winning short story of mine…

Vertical Suicide

Lives are spent learning who we are inside: what makes us tick, what triggers our anger and our tears.  As children we play, never worrying about reality until an event happens that brings that elusive thing crashing down upon our heads.  In that one moment we are forced to grow up, to change, and to truly learn who we are.

For most, we learn something new all the time.  It is impossible to know yourself completely, our environment changes too often for us to stay the same.   The search is never-ending, it will continue until the day we die.  Inside we struggle with ourselves, asking questions like “Why do I feel this way”, “Why can’t I do what I want”, and “Why can’t I change myself?”

Life is hard, a proven fact everyone knows.  From the single parent with three children working two jobs, from a homeless man on the street begging for your change, to the CEO of a company worrying he might cost someone a million dollars.  No matter what position you hold in society it never changes. Masks are worn every day, a smile when you want to cry, an “okay” when you want to scream.

My story is like everyone else’s. Except for one thing.  I have decided to tell mine. As people say, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it is taking control of the fear itself.  I can’t run any longer.  There is no escaping the truth I see inside myself, no absolution in lying. Nothing can change my past and my choices, and until the day I admit them, there is no finding out who I am.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Rain fell in a heavy mist, coating the ground, the very air around me.  I twirled in that mist, feeling it on my face, my skin, the gentle caresses of nature.  My mind was on all the things that had happened.  From waking up that morning to seeing my boyfriend at school, everything was running through my head.  The day had been lovely, and I was returning home.  Walking up to the door, I heard screaming; furious shouting that seemed to make the world cave in, my happy day fading away till I was once again a hollow shell.  Sitting down on the step, the rain continued to fall, but now I no longer delighted in its caresses.  I simply wanted it to wash me away.

A few hours later, my mother noticed I was out there.  She said not a word, just opened the door as I walked in.  Neither one spoke to me, I simply walked to my room, and shut the door.  I did not know if the fighting would start again.  Usually it did.  So my defenses went up, the music blared, and my mind absorbed itself into another reality, a fantasy someone wrote for me to get lost in.

Sure enough, the fighting began again.  Something as simple as the remote being lost started it this time.  I wondered if the neighbors could hear it.  If the careful pretense my parents tried to keep up in town really fooled everyone.  In this day and age when people avoided the truth like poison I was almost sure no one saw the glances, heard the screams.

My fantasy world collapsed, that night, and as I had on so many others I cried myself to sleep; knowing I would wake up in the morning pretending nothing was wrong at home.  Tears stained my pillow, and the blankets wrapped around me, a false security.

The next day in psychology we learned about certain mental disorders, and things people do to themselves to stop pain.  I had heard about cutting but never really absorbed the true meaning of it.  That night as I walked through the back door to avoid my parents yelling in the living room, I realized how much I truly wondered if it worked.

A bathroom holds so many dangerous items; it wasn’t hard finding a sharp blade.  The razor slid across my wrist, a horizontal streak of red that slowly dripped down my arm.  The mirror stared back at me, and I could see the lies of my face.  The blonde hair that hung almost to my waist, the brown eyes that spoke of sorrows no one ever looked close enough to see, and the smile on my face.  The smile I showed everyone who looked at me, saying, “I’m fine.  Just fine.”

Even as the thoughts that I was crazy drifted through my brain, I could imagine the hurt in my heart, the scars it held, bled through that cut.  Soon I moved to the left arm, cutting it the same way.  I sat there watching the little amount of blood drain from the cuts.  Eventually I heard the yelling quiet, I drifted back into the world, and wiping up the blood, erased all evidence from that place.

My mother was asleep in her room, avoiding matters that pressed all around her.  The bills lay on the table unopened and unpaid till the last minute, and my father slept on the recliner. A wall was built around each one of us, separating our feelings and hiding our pain. I didn’t try to wake one of them up, I didn’t try to tell them how I felt. I simply dealt, and so I entered my room, to cry myself into another oblivion.

The next day I woke up hoping to start fresh, a new day, a new life.  Dressing I noticed the angry red welts on my wrists, and with a change of plan I grabbed a long sleeved shirt.  The hiding began that day, and slowly I sank even further.

On my way to school, I thought about what was happening.  I swore to never cut my wrist again.  I pulled into the school parking lot, and there was Derek.  He was leaning against his car, waiting for me.  I smiled, even though I was overwhelmed with fear.

What if he noticed the cut on my wrist?  I hoped he wouldn’t.  I didn’t know how to explain it otherwise.  As the car came to a stop, I fiddled with getting my backpack.  Finally, I gave up stalling, and got out.

“Hey.” He said in a slow drawl.

I smiled, while pulling down the sleeves of my shirt.  Thankfully it was a little big on me and the sleeves could cover my hands.  “Hi”

Derek wrapped his arm around me.  As we walked into school I noticed people staring.  We were more of the popular crowd.  Neither of us was the best looking at the school, but both of us were noticed.  Derek was one of the few happy things in my life lately.

I shook my head, trying to erase the thoughts from my mind.  We headed to our first class, English.  I talked to all my friends like nothing had changed last night.  So as the day went on, even though I kept the sleeves pulled down, I didn’t think about it.

My last class of the day was psychology.  We were still covering depression.  I kept my hands under the desk, and fidgeted the entire time.

Finally the bell rang and I was able to escape.  I met Derek by the car.

“Hey, Sarah, do you want to go to the park?”

I thought about it.  I really didn’t want to go home.  So, I agreed.

The park was a known place for making-out.  All the couples went there, even during the day.  The cops turned a blind eye till about midnight.

A few hours later, after we had gone to the pizza place for food, he took me back to the high school, so I could get my car and drive home.

We kissed goodbye, and as I drove off, tears began sliding down my face.  I didn’t understand what I was feeling.  Even though I had been sure to hide the cut all day, I wished someone had noticed.  That someone had seen what I had done to myself, and explained my own emotions to me.

Arriving home, I still knew nothing.  Confused, and hurt, I walked through my back door into the middle of a fight.  I managed to hold myself together, till I entered the bathroom.  Once I shut the door, I stated bawling.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            I could talk about that day, about all the other days that followed.  How I pretended to care that the most popular girl in school was sleeping around with a bunch of guys, or that perhaps another had breast implants.  About how all the days at school were filled with meaningless rumors and endless battles to be the most popular.  Nothing changed there, and nothing changed at home. I came back to that… place every night.  My heart wasn’t there.  My home wasn’t in that house.  Every night I cut my wrists, and my thighs, every night I watched the blood that kept me alive in that miserable place pour from those self inflicted cuts.

My boyfriend, he never noticed.  That I wore long sleeves, that there was liquid foundation and powder on my wrists to help cover the scars.  Months after I made that first cut, and still no one noticed.  No one knew, and I played the game.  A game I hated.  Eventually he noticed I didn’t talk anymore about school, I didn’t attend all the sporting events.

When he did start to question what was wrong with me, when he finally noticed what was wrong with me, I ran.  I told him he didn’t know me, and never had.  That was it, my one chance perhaps of resurfacing and I severed it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            The hot water fell on my skin, turning once pale flesh, angry and red.  Tears poured from my eyes like rain during a thunderstorm.  I simply stood there, wishing the world would go away; wishing that I just could wake up tomorrow and everything be different.

Slowly sinking to the floor, my hair hanging wet in front my eyes, the pain rattling my heart and seeping though my bones.  Fake was something no one should be.  Yet here I was, no one knew the real me… I didn’t even know who I was anymore.

The tears slowed, as a razor drew down my arm, vertically… the way to kill.  Pain I controlled, pain I could endure.  And as my heart poured onto the shower floor, I simply lived in that moment, the moment of my death.

(Promise the full story ends on a happy note)