Monday, August 24, 2015

Fall with Me by Jennifer Armentrout

Today I’m thrilled to be reviewing a book that really resonated with me: Fall with Me by Jennifer Armentrout. I’ve read a lot of her stuff – well, not compared to the total abundance that is her published works. The girl can write fast! But I have read several of her adult romances and enjoyed them.

For me, my favorite so far has been Fall with Me. Here are the deets:

Title: Fall With Me
By: Jennifer L Armentrout (rest of series is published under the name J. Lynn)
Audience: Adult/NA
Genre: Contemp Romance

The blurb:

Eleven months ago, bartender and weird-shirt-wearing extraordinaire
Roxy and Officer Reece Anders had a one night stand. Well, kind of.
She's been in love with him since she was fifteen, and he wishes that
night they shared never happened. She's sworn him off forever, but the
past and future collide, forcing her to rely on the one man who broke
her heart not once, but twice.

Her best friend since birth has been in a long-term care facility
since he became a victim of a hate crime years ago, and the person who
put him in there is out of prison and wanting to make amends with him
and Roxy. She's not sure she has room for forgiveness in her and when
she begins to receive frightening messages and is on the receiving end
of escalating violence, she thinks she knows who is to blame. The man
who already destroyed one life already.

But Reece isn't convinced. The threats are too personal, and even if
Roxy doesn't believe him, he's not willing to let anyone hurt her.
Including himself. He's already messed up more than once when it comes
to Roxy and he's not going to let history repeat itself.

Get your very own copy here:

Amazon | B&N

My thoughts:

This story is full of drama and romance. Jennifer’s other books almost seem lopsided by comparison. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve really loved all that I’ve read of hers so far. But Fall with Me was un-put-down-able. And it was a fast, thrilling, and fierce read that pulled me right in. In fact, when I finished the novel I texted my CP and friend Cheryl Ann to ask: “why aren’t Jennifer Armentrout novels labeled as romantic thrillers? Because Fall with Me was intense!”

First, the heroine, Roxy, is amazing. She’s strong and quirky and willing to break a little glass. She’s brave in a way I think we all hope to be. And the hero, Reece, is a doll. No. Not literally a doll. Figuratively, obvi. He’s complicated but very kind and patient. He’s the perfect guy for her.

Their romance is hot and steamy – with a few surprises.

All in all, I loved this book!! I give it five out of five screaming cats!

You can grab your copy here:
Amazon | B&N

Check out my reviews of some of Jennifer’s other books:

Be with Me (one of my Fave Reads of 2014)

Wait for You

Frigid by JLynn

Want more about the author? Follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

TBT: On Rejection

For today's TBT I'm sharing my post On Rejection because it's a tough subject to discuss. But if there is anything I've learned over the years is that it helps to shine a light on those tough subjects. Don't let them hide in the dark.

So if you are struggling with the fear that surrounds this writing game I hope this post helps.



Since this time of the year seems to be ripe with contests, auctions, and querying I thought I’d take a moment to discuss rejection. If you’ve followed this blog you might recall a few of my previous posts on rejections: Dealing with Disappointment, and Taking Criticism.

But I think it’s worth discussing again because rejection is an ever present part of this business. Whether you’ve failed to make it to the next round of a contest or you’ve received a form rejection from an agent – rejection stings. But it’s not the end of the world. Here are a few reasons you should go on in the face of rejection:

1. You are not alone. Everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) has been rejected. Even JK Rowling. So consider yourself in good company. Several people tweeting under the #Pitchwars hashtag noted how they didn't make it into the contest last year but went on to get an agent five months later.

2. You can learn from it. Find the opportunity in every challenge. Ask questions – when appropriate or offered. Recently, Authoress hosted the Baker’s Dozen contest. Only 60 total entries were allowed to proceed to the final auction round. For those who didn’t make it to the auction round she offered a three page crit at a small cost. It was a golden opportunity to learn the reason why your entry didn’t make the cut. Um, that’s invaluable information. Yes please!

3. You can improve your MS. Baker’s Dozen and Pitch Wars are two contest juggernauts. As each contest deadline was nearing the hosts posted details and/or helpful hints that writers could use to polish their MS before submitting. But even if you polished your MS until is shined bright like a diamond you may still get a rejection. Learn common rejection reasons and improve your MS.

And last, but not least, you should always go on in the face of rejection because this business is highly subjective. Personal tastes and opinions vary from agent to agent, editor to editor. Just because your work didn’t resonate with one individual doesn’t mean it’s complete garbage. Keep learning and growing and keep seeking. Never give up!

Want more on Rejection? Check out this post by Authoress Anon.

Have you overcome rejection? How did you keep on keeping on?

Monday, August 17, 2015

The End and other observations of a caffeinated introvert

Wait, what? It's August already *commence panic*

For most of folks August means you are nearly three fourths of the way through the year but for me, (due to my shortened goal year) I am Totally. Completely. Through!! Done. Finished. The End! Omg. Where did the time go?

Today is the first day of class. The first day of my new normal. Before long, I may be pulling an Archer, like this:

But before I get swept up in the newness and energy of my law school life I felt the need to pause, take a breath, and examine my activity thus far. (Because reflection is an awesome tool)

My goals for 2015 were:

Professional: Improving Craft

Take one online writing classes before Aug 2015 – Sorta completed. Okay, so I didn't get to take a legit writing class this summer. The classes I spied on RWA's website started after my goal period they technically don't count. But you know what did count? My CP and I had an impromptu writer's conference in her home town. So I'm going to count that intense revision activity as my class, because I learned a lot.

Query at least one project before Aug 2015 – Not completed. The idea of querying AND going back to school caused me a lot of heartache. I don't know what this first semester will bring. So, I decided to delay querying. And there is a silver lining to this delay. As a result, I'm going to push forward and write the entire trilogy before I query. This is usually a big no-no but hell, I want the experience and have the time...weeeee!!

Complete 2 revisions before Aug 2015 – Completed - My newer WIP was completed earlier this summer. I also completed a revision on an older WIP and mapped out revisions on a third (still older WIP). I've been up to my eyeballs in revisions.

Professional: Idea Generating

Plot NA sequels before Aug 2015 – Done!!! Yep, I plotted them and I'm in love with the characters. I'm really looking forward to writing them.

Plot YA sequels before Aug 2015 – Done - this book was tough for me. I envisioned it as a stand alone but fell in love with some of the characters at large. I had to map out their stories know, just in case.

Plot UF sequels before Aug 2015 – Done - although this project will likely require major rewriting.

Plot any shiny new ideas before Aug 2015 – Done done done! I'm thrilled to be working on my next project. Plotting has been a huge help for me. I don't know how pantsers do it.

Professional: Efficiency

Define writing time (once law school class schedule is finalized) – Done. But let's be realistic. I'd love to say I can write for thirty or forty minutes every day without interruption...but I simply don't know if that will be true. My goal is to write in the mornings but I may find that time for studying so future revisions to this schedule are entirely possible.

Research alternate platforms before Aug 2015 – Done. I haven’t decided if I’m going to move from Blogger to Tumblr yet but I feel like I’m leaning that way.

Better integrate social media presence before Aug 2015 – Done. I’ve linked my pinterest and goodreads to my blog. So that’s nice.

Personal: Fitness

Run a 10k before Aug 2015 – Done -sorta. The bulk of longer races are offered in the fall and I wanted to run my races prior to starting school. So, instead of running an official, organized race I ran 6.2 miles on the my recent cruise. It was a pretty interesting experience, let me tell you: running while the boat gently pitched and rolled, surrounded by water in all directions. So, although not an official road race I did complete a 10k. I consider this goal completed.

Run 2 or more 5k’s before Aug 2015 – Done. I actually ran three :) Don't get me wrong, I love the half marathon, but nothing beats a fun, fast, 5k.

Define law school fitness time (once class schedule is finalized) – Done. But like my writing time above revisions possible.

Personal: FUN! (Because I’ve heard my 1L year of law school might not be fun)

Go on a Caribbean cruise before Aug 2015 – Done! Check out some pics from my June recap.

Visit Alaska (one of my bucket list items) before Aug 2015 –Done! Check out some of my pics in my July recap post here.

Go camping or backpacking before Aug 2015 (a local fun thing that we sometimes forget to do because we get ‘too’ busy) – Not Completed - but with good reason. Handsome Jack has been the driving force behind camping and hiking. Not that I don't enjoy it but it has really been his baby. However, this year he was more into long rides on his motorcycle. I even went on a long ride with him...otherwise known as the day my butt died. But that's not to say we didn't hike at all. We hiked on a glacier in Alaska (complete with shoe spikes and everything). Handsome Jack even camped, albeit without me. I feel like we completed this task in spirit even though we technically didn't completed it.

Go tubing/float trip before Aug 2015 (another local fun thing that we sometimes forget to do because we get ‘too’ busy) – Done! Went tubing with my brother and his GF.

Personal: Family

Take at least one highway ride on the bike with Handsome Jack – Done! Read about my Biker Con experience here.

Visit STL before Aug 2015 – Done I love my family. We had a blast visiting them in STL and a few brave souls even made the trip down south to visit us.

Visit FL before Aug 2015 – Done. I love my in-laws. I made one weekend trip to visit them and then of course we saw them for the cruise.

So this year I didn't hit all my goals. And I'm okay with that. I'm proud of what I was able to accomplish in 8 months. I'm ready to tackle school and figure out what this 'new normal' will be like.

How are your writing goals coming? Need to make an adjustment? That’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve been there. Check out my goal restatement post here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Top 10 Movies About The Law

As I take my first step into the rabbit hole that is law school I feel the need to celebrate. Classic me, right, celebrating another event in my life. Woo hoo.

But this is important stuff that deserves to be celebrated. Because right now it’s not necessarily about grades, or jobs, or having the right answer at the right time. Those things are great but they aren’t the pillars of success. Success, for me, is being on this path to begin with. A path I’ve long dreamed of.

And it is also totally scary. Gut writhing like a pit full of snakes scary. So to focus on something positive I thought I’d share with you a list. A list of my favorite law movies.

First, let’s all understand and agree that I’m not endorsing these movies as being actual representations of law, law school, or the legal profession. And these movies aren’t the reason I’m going to law school. But these movies are fun and I like to watch them so I thought I’d share.

Here, in reverse order, are my top 10 favorite movies about the law:

10. Miracle on 34th street – In which cynical society tries to sink their claws into the lovable Santa character. I like the black and white version. We used to watch this every year when I was a kid.

9. Legally Blonde – Had to make the list because whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously deranged. This movie struck a chord with me and I’ve loved it ever since.

8. My Cousin Vinny – I remember watching this movie as a kid and laughing my butt off. It’s a lighthearted, fun, look at the legal system and the people who are a part of it.

7. Philadelphia – Ugh, a tear jerker. This is a tragic tale about overcoming prejudice. Just thinking about it now gets me a little choked up. Such a good movie.

6. A Few Good Men – You literally cannot have a list of movies about the law and not include A Few Good Men. I like that it involves the Jag Corps. I think it’s the only military law movie I’ve seen. Anyway, it’s fantastic. Some of my favorite scenes are when the legal team is brainstorming or running hypos. Well, and the scene where Tom Cruise breaks Jack Nicholson….who doesn’t love that scene?

5. The Firm – Based on John Grisham’s second novel (first to hit list btw!). Another Tom Cruise movie - which is odd for me because overall I’m not a huge Tom Cruise fan.

Anyway. The Firm is one of my favorites because it includes some wonderful multidimensional characters. People who are good who do bad things and bad people who do good things. Love that mix. But best of all is the representation of creative problem solving. This attorney is between a rock and a hard place until he discovers an off the wall way to bring about justice without violating his principles. Problems and people are not always black and white (in fact, matters of law – and life- rarely are) and this movie operates in the gray space. I adore that.

4. Erin Brockovich – Who doesn’t love this movie? There is a terrible villain and a heroine with a heart of gold. For me, what makes this movie shine is Erin’s lack of formal legal education. She’s smart, ambitious, and willing to get her hands dirty. She’s the type of girl you want on your team any day.

3. A Time to Kill – John Grisham’s first novel but fourth movie adaptation. This story stuck with me because there are people who are bad and then there are people who do bad things and they are not always one and the same. This movie spends a lot of time focusing on that issue. It’s well cast (gotta love Sandra Bullock’s character) and a nail-bitter.

2. Pelican Brief – Another Grisham novel. This was a close one for me. Almost tied for first place. I love this movie so much that I refer to it as one of my ‘sick girl movies.’ Meaning I own in on DVD and watch it when I’m sick. It’s so freaking good. Even the music is outstanding. Everything about this movie is fantastic.

1. The Client – Yes, my favorite law movie is The Client, based on…you guessed it….a John Grisham novel. This movie stars Susan Sarandon and she hits it out of the park in this one. I think what I liked most about this story (besides the excellent casting) is how accessible lawyers can be to people in need. Here we have a kid without money, from a family with no money, who needs legal help and protection. Also, we have a struggling lawyer who desperately needs money but agrees to help the kid anyway. I don’t remember if she ever even gets paid for helping him. That element of the story really spoke to me.

Now, don’t get carried away. I’m not a total dreamer. I know money makes the world go round and not ever case can be pro bono.
But looking back at my list it seems all good lawyer stories share one thing – they start with a lawyer who is a good person deep down.

That's what I enjoy in a good law movie. Have you seen any of these films? What did you think?

Monday, August 10, 2015

On the book only you can write....

It's not uncommon for writing advice to take on a motto-like feel: Show Don't Tell, You should be writing, But In Chair Hands On Keyboard (BIC HOK), etc. These writing mantras are all over pintrest with clever graphics accompanying them because this advice is good. It's better than good.It's great gosh-darn it.

One piece of advice you see commonly is repeated is 'Write the book only you can write'. Sounds great, right? Simple enough. But what does this really mean?

1. Allow your personal truths to shape the world - This doesn't mean writing in 2nd person POV (for the love of glob, don't). Rather, allowing your emotional truths, or those core concepts that make up the foundation of you, present themselves in your fiction. For example, I believe in love at first sight, I believe in the romantic notion of fate, honor, and doing the right thing. I believe in second chances and that hard work pays off. These, and many more, make up core, emotional truths that shape my personality. These are concepts I relate to and connect with. Allowing these truths to present themselves in my stories help shape a story only I could write.

2. Allow your reality to color your fiction - sounds similar to the item above, I know, but this is different, believe me. Your perceptions are your reality. Did you grow up a country mouse or city mouse? Did you go to military school or public high school? Did you go to college or not? Each of these (and countless more) create the reality of the world unique to you and only you. Embracing your perceptions, preferences, and experiences allow you to craft a story only you could create. Don't censor yourself out of your story. A great example of this can be found in the novels of Delilah S Dawson. She's cool, dark, geek-girl and the worlds and characters she crafts are sprinkled with these characteristics. It makes her novels uniquely her own. As a reader, I find her stories more enjoyable because of this.

Last, but not least:

3. Write what you want - don't cater to trends. Write stories that tickle your brain. Craft plots and worlds that get your blood pumping. If you don't love it do you think someone else will? If you fake it for the sake of trend the reader will know. Be true to your interests and the authenticity will come through. My favorite example of this is Natalie Whipple's Ninja series. She loves anime, role playing games, and Asian cultures. Her Ninja series has all of these elements masterfully included. Her passion allows her stories to pop off the page.

Ultimately, Neil may have said it best:

Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you. ― Neil Gaiman

How do you ensure your WIP is a story only you could write?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

TBT: More Writing Advice You Should Read

For today's TBT I'm sharing my More Writing Advice You Should Read. It's a kicker post (with lots of links to other good content). What's the point in re-inventing the wheel? So if you are looking for some good advice on writing I suggest you take a dip in this post.



Want more advice from crazy talented writers? Then check out this super-awesome 'HOW TO' list for advice on everything from 'How to be a Full Time Writer' to 'How to Plot a Novel.'

1. How to Abolish Adverbs from Melissa Donovan

2. How to be a Full Time Writer *Best Advice Ever* from the hilarious Chuck Wendig

3. How to Write a Log Line from Stavros Halvatzis

4. How to get the Most Out of Your CP's by Lynda R Young

5. How to Reach Your Word Count by BR Myers

6. How to Write a Novel from Nathan Bransford

7. How to Format Your MS from Nathan Bransford

8. How to Find an Agent from Nathan Bransford

9. How to Become an Agent by Joanna Volpe

10. How to Write a Query Letter from Nathan Bransford

11. How to Plot a Novel insight from Aimee Salter

12. How to Change Showing into Telling by Jessica Bell from Writer Unboxed

13. How to Fix Pacing Problems by Janice Hardy

14. How to Fix the Dreaded Info Dump by Amber A Bardan, Jami Gold

I've read every single article linked above. This advice has helped me prepare my WIP for the next step in my writing journey: Taking the Query Plunge. My next two posts will include advice on query letters and the dreaded synopsis.

What HOW-TO advice have you found helpful?

Monday, August 3, 2015

July 2015 Month In Review

**Recapping my monthly progress serves two purposes: first, it keeps me honest and accountable to my goals; second, it allows me to truly capture just how much work I’ve done over the last year. So let the recapping begin!**


July!! It's done! It's over. July was the last full month before I start my back to school journey. It's only days until my big 'first day,' so I'm basically a ball of nervous energy, caffeine, and bloody nail beds.

Did I mention I chew my nails when I'm nervous? Because I do. Obsessively.

Anyhoo, this post is about July and the wonderful things that happened in it. Not my raw stubby fingers.

Last month was pretty neat for a few reasons. First, there was the 4th of July and all the celebrations that go along with that.

We flew to St. Louis to visit my family and had a terrific time. When in STL we try to support the best team in baseball - the Cardinals. This time we were able to go see a game from the new Ballpark Village and it was a cool experience.

I don't think I'd do it again, tho - at least not in the mid summer heat. Sheesh it was suffocating out there.

My brother, the Chef, and his adorable Chef Girlfriend made delicious food that blew us away. Then we blew up stuff with fireworks. Cuz that's what you do.

In addition to the 4th of July excitement we went on a major ALASKA!

Alaska has always been a bucket list item for us. We love the outdoors and natural beauty so Alaska has been and obvious vacation destination, albeit an expensive one. But this year was special. This year we had a lot to celebrate - law school, birthdays, and anniversaries. In Oct we will be married for 10 years. 10!~ But we knew we'd be unable to do much celebrating in Oct as it's in the middle of my first semester of school. So - we celebrated early with a trip to Alaska!

We booked a 7 day cruise to Alaska and invited our family. Handsome Jack's parents and my parents came along. It was fabulous.

Here are a few pics:

Spectacular, amazing, and wonderful - right? Yeah, Alaska was all those things.

There was another July event that was a way less spectacular and a lot more painful - I went on my first long ride on the back of a motorcycle. It was pure.....TORTURE!!! I like to think of it as the day my butt died.

That thing is not comfortable for long rides. And when I say long I mean LOOOONG. We were gone for 12 hours and 8 of those 12 were spent riding. We ran the gauntlet which is a loop of super curvy roads in the N. GA mountains. The curves were fun and the scenery was beautiful but by the end I was in tears. Everything hurt.

I struggled to walk for the next TWO DAYS! It was intense.

Poor Handsome Jack was so upset by my painful experience that he's already making modifications to the back seat and foot pegs so I can be more comfortable in the future. He's a keeper :)

And the week after that torturous ride we ran a 5k. Woot woot. Nothing like piling pain on top of pain :)

Last, but certainly not least, my lil bro, the Chef, and his adorable Chef Girlfriend swung by for a visit. Adventures ensued. Including shooting the hooch. Which doesn't mean shooting something with a gun or downing a ton of alcohol. Rather, we rode down a section of the Chattahoochee on inflatable intertubes. It's a GA staple. Had to be done. And we had a blast.

July saw a boatload (*see what I did there) of activity in July and I'll admit the activity made it difficult to get writing done. I've been working on my outline for the next project and it's coming together nicely. I believe I'll be able to start the actual writing fairly soon. *jumps up and down* It's been a while since I had a story to work on so I'm very excited.

So here are the details for June 2015:

1 Fabulous trip to STL including family, fun, delicious food, and baseball
1 Amazing, breathtaking, family cruise to ALASKA (with an awesome 8.5 glacier hike on ICE!)
1 extra long, torturous ride on the back of a bike
1 5k
1 visit from family including a tubing trip down the hooch.
10 gym workouts (including personal training, StairMaster - my new fave, as well as 2 yoga classes, and 1 spin class on the boat!)
10 books read for fun *0.0* (My highest number of books read in one month since I began tracking)

And on top of all of that I still had words. Not many, but any words are worth celebrating, right? *does happy dance* This month’s grand total is 7620 words. Which isn't my lowest tracked word count so far this year *yay*. This brings my total ‘tracked’ word count for 2015 to 51,244! Not too shabby.

And as for miles, this month’s grand total is 6.6 miles, bringing my total ‘tracked’ mileage to 190.9 miles. I'm signed up for one more 5k before school starts. It'll be interesting to see how my fitness schedule changes when I'm back in school. *bites nails some more* But that's for another day.

All in all, July was what I wanted it to be - a big happy celebration with friends and family. July was the end of one 'normal' and it's important to celebrate endings. Now, I'm heading into August excited to see what the new 'normal' brings. #NeverGiveUp #NeverSurrender

How are your writing goals coming along?
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