A Different Kind of Fiction Review....

Monday, 26 May 2014

Today, I bring you a different kind of fiction review. :)

As part of Hunter's school project, he had to make an eBook. Now, some of you might remember that he decided a while back that writing was his hobby. Sadly, he has only written one short story since then. He still struggles with focus.

He also struggles with confidence, so this was a fantastic project for him. He got to write one very short story (and he does enjoy story-telling, he just isn't fond of the work that goes into writing it down and editing it) and illustrate it (he's no Picaso, but who cares). I think we were probably supposed to turn in a Word file or PDF, but I decided to take it a little farther.

When I was 6, I wrote, illustrated, and bound (hardback) a book at school as an assignment. I was so proud to be 'published'. So, I thought the best way to commemorate Hunter's first book, also at age 6, was to publish it. Of course, these days that wasn't a case of sewing pages together and gluing fabric to cardboard; these days that meant Kindle Direct Publishing!

In I dove. It took 2 days and countless emails to Amazon support, but finally it is done (admittedly, I never did get the formatting quite right, I will have a go at fixing it later, but I can't stand the thought of it after 6 different uploads).

As it turns out, publishing it was a great idea because his Grammie in North Carolina (my mom) was able to but a copy! She is going to give a copy to my niece and nephew as a gift, so that'll be two more sales. My hubby bought a copy and a dear old friend of mine has also bought one.

So far, Hunter has earned 26p in the UK store and $1.40 in the US store. He just might end up with enough for a candy bar when the royalty check comes in! Of course, he is convinced he is going to get rich and give me half (if only).

But whether he makes £2 or £200, the bottom line is that he is very proud of his work and now has something to cherish forever. Any money he earns will be a good lesson in working and earning. And I have a lot to learn about formatting if I am ever going to upload one of mine...

You can check out his book, Louie And The Giant Lobster on Amazon!

What Is Success?

Friday, 23 May 2014

Lately, the thought of self-publishing has been on my mind. Partly because I have listened to James Scott Bell's Fiction Attack on Audible in the car on the way to and from work over the last couple of weeks and he talks a lot about self-publishing in it.

I have wanted to write for longer than I can remember. What I can remember is the stigma that came with, what was then called, 'Vanity Publishing'. Even as a teenager I had dreams of being published, so I watched the literary world with great interest. Back then, I pitied those who stooped so low as to pay someone to print their book. I knew that would never be me. I was going to make it big. I was going to be a success.

Fast forward to today. The stigma is gone from self-publishing.  I'm not sure who is directly responsible, but I know Amazon had a great deal to do with it thanks to the invention of the Kindle. Everyone is jumping on board the Indie train-- even traditionally published authors! And maybe me... one day.

The question is really, what do I want from my writing. The short answer is, of course, a living. Or at the very least a supplement (can I pay a few bills?). Once upon a time I said I was going to make it big; be a success. But what is a success?

Back in high school, I also thought I'd become a surgeon. I would have been a damn good surgeon if I could have afforded the second degree. Sometime over the last few years, though, I started to worry what people would think of me, particularly people who knew I wanted to go to medical school, when they found out I never made it. Would they look down on me because I became a research technician instead?

I can't remember exactly when, but at some point I decided I didn't give a damn what 'they' thought. The important part was that I was happy. After all, what really determines success-- your paycheck? I think it has more to do with your lifestyle. And by lifestyle, I don't mean driving a BMW and playing golf on the weekends-- unless that is truly all that makes you happy. I mean being happy in your world.

I love playing with my kids. It makes me happy. I love writing. Again, it makes me happy. Now, I won't lie, if I ever do decide to attend a high school reunion (there has only been one so far and I wasn't about to fly back to the states for it), I would love to tell everyone that I made it big doing something I love-- and have at least a couple of people who have seen my work on the shelves of their local book store-- I am only human after all.

But even if I never make it big, I will be happy. It may be my age creeping up on me, but these days, I believe that being a success means not getting up every morning and running through your day in a rush, never slowing down to enjoy it. I believe that success means doing whatever it takes to be content in your own life, not constantly chasing some lofty goal-- or trying to catch up to the Smiths.

So will I self-publish? Probably. Eventually. I still would like to see my books in print, so I will probably start by submitting the usual way, but I can see many definite pros to self-publishing. And I know that when I have a book polished and ready to publish, the effort and emotion that went into IT will be a success. As for me, I am happy, so I think I may have already found success.

Trading Capability For Kids

Monday, 12 May 2014

Honestly, I am not going to whine (I would like to wine, but there is still too much work to do), but seriously this was about the crappiest Monday ever. Forgive me if I bitch for a moment. I promise, there is a valid point.

DH claims to be dying from some strange disease. Of course, he won't go to the doctor's. I would have been quick to claim Man Flu, but every time he moves he cries out in pain, so I think it is more than that (yes, I do keep begging him to go to the doctor's). This resulted in me being up most of last night. At 0300 I decided I couldn't take it anymore and went to sleep on the bottom bunk in the little man's room. I had to be up at 0600.

Add to my 3 hours of sleep one presentation (which I don't actually remember doing, but I am sure I would have been told off if I hadn't), one very important/difficult task, one co-worker who made it clear she doesn't want to work with me... Well, let's just say it was lucky I was crying by 0930 and not swinging heavy objects.

Today, it was implied that I'm not capable to do the job I was given (and have worked my ass off at for 5 years-- I TRAINED HER!) because I have kids. She is angry because I work a day and a half from home because I struggle with the costs of childcare.

Have I mentioned that she works from home one day a week because she has a puppy? Doggy daycare is expensive, as it turns out.

I won't lie; she has hurt my feelings more than once since I came off maternity leave, but she isn't even the issue here. Well, not totally. There is a lot of resentment in my office based on the fact that I work flexibly. It would seem that I have it 'easy'. Here is a run down of my typical day:

0600-0700     Get up, shower, get dressed, make breakfast (to take, no time to eat) & lunch, answer emails
0700-0730     Get son up and dressed, set him down with a bowl of cereal
0730-0740     Pack car with my work bags, son's school bag' daughter's nursery bag, etc.
0740-0755     Get daughter up, dressed, and ready to leave
0755-0820     Leave (if I am one minute past 0800 we WILL be late), drive to nursery & drop off daughter
0820-0840     Drive to school and drop off son
0840-0930     Drive to work (yes, I get up at 0600 and finally sit down at my desk at 0930)
0930-1600     Work
1600-1630     Drive to pick up son from after school care
1630-1700     Drive to nursery to pick up daughter
1700-1730     Drive home
1730-1900     Cook dinner, feed kids, bathe kids, get daughter to bed (DH gets home around 1900)
1900-2000     Do homework, get son to bed
2000-2200     Finish hours from day job to make up full day
2200-2300     Write articles for 2nd job which pays childcare so I can go to 1st job

I usually pass out sometime after I finish writing. This also explains why I struggle to work on my WIPs. That whole 'if you want to write, you will make time' would only apply if I was actually able to make, as in manifest, time. Of course, by 2300 I can barely spell my name, so...

That's my typical day. Easy, isn't it? I have tried to explain this to my coworkers, but none of them have kids. They go in at 0900 and finish at 1700. They also live within 20 minutes of the office and can eat Ben & Jerry's for dinner if they want.

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and wouldn't trade them for all of the Chunky Monkey in the world. I just wish people who don't have kids would be a little more understanding of those of us who do. Working flexibly doesn't always equal a better schedule. And it certainly doesn't equal an easier one. I am fantastic at what I do-- otherwise I would give up my specialty and find a job closer to home-- yet I am seen as not capable because 'you have kids, you can't be here every day'.

Anyone else suddenly lose their capability when they became a mom?

Fiction Review Friday?

Friday, 9 May 2014

So, I'm wondering if I should make this a regular thing. Maybe instead of Friday Fun, I feature fiction every Friday. Dayum. Say that 10 times fast.

I have read probably a million books, and I really should be writing more reviews. Plus, I could use the occasional Friday post to feature my own work. What do you think?

In the spirit of this, I am going to leave you with a review today which is long overdue. Ages ago, I was asked by Robin Bielman and Annie Seaton to review their new releases. I did. And I listed the reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, and here-- or so I thought. It would seem (after I went searching for one of them on my blogs recently) that I never did put them on here. And that is seriously overdue.

So, without further ado, I give you the first of those reviews for Italian Affair by Annie Seaton.

Brianna isn't the type to settle down. She  wouldn't even be considering marriage if it wasn't the only thing standing between her and her inheritance. Brianna has four days to find a husband or lose the only link she has to the mother she never knew. Tom doesn't know the first thing about spontaneity. He's spent his life playing by the rules, planning his every move, and he's decided it's time to cut lose. But his first impulsive move will change his life forever-- he offers to marry the beautiful stranger he met on the plane to Italy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The vivid descriptions of Italy had me longing to visit and share a bottle, or two, of red with the true-to-life characters. It was an easy, satisfying read-- perfect for the summer. I haven't read the first in Annie Seaton's Affair Series, but after reading this, I certainly will!

What Happened To Monday?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

I missed my Monday Mommy post because, quite frankly, the family wore me out. Monday was a bank holiday here, which meant we were all home. We decided to go on a long (like 2 hour long) walk through the woods-- which was awesome-- and follow it with a drink, dinner, and dessert from the beautiful pub minutes from our house-- also awesome. 

After we got home, I put Bug to bed and decided to curl up and read a chapter before getting to work writing. That was the last thing I remember. Not only did I fall asleep at 7:30 at night, I slept through and so deeply that I didn't hear Bug when she woke up screaming TWICE! DH had to get up to deal with her!!


I think a deep sleep like that has been way overdue. Lately, I have found myself so tired that I am taking B vitamins to try to stay awake. I sleep alright, I guess, but still, come four when I am driving my 40 minutes drive home from work to pick up the kids I find myself yawning and fighting to keep my eyes open. It's scary. 

So, I went to Holland & Barrett and picked up an assortment of herbs which is supposed to help. I think they are helping, at least with the first two-thirds of the day. I seem alert enough at work and through dinner, but once the kids are in bed I am struggling to write. I just want to sleep instead.

This kind of thing is not working for my writing goals, and I have been doing so damn well otherwise.

I have tried everything-- going to bed earlier, coffee, more water, more coffee, and now a garden of 'remedies'. I seriously don't know what else to try. I do know that I would probably be best to write in the morning since I can't stay awake to do it at night anymore. The only problem is that the earlier I get up, the earlier I want to crash at night. And since right now I struggle to get the kids fed and in bed I am afraid if I am ready for bed any earlier I might be the one asleep with my face in a plate of spaghetti!

Anybody out there have any tried and true methods-- lifestyle, diet, I don't care-- for staying up longer?

Fiction Review Friday: Wild About Her Wingman by Robin Bielman

Friday, 2 May 2014

How about a quickie fiction review for Friday? I love reviewing books almost as much as I love reading them. So every time I'm asked for a review for Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and the like, I'm happy to oblige. Recently, I was sent an ARC of Robin Bielman's latest Bliss, Wild About Her Wingman in return for an honest review, and here it is! 

Erin Watters likes to live on the edge-- except when it comes to relationships. She's been burnt before, but when she is dared to let Tony Strieber pose as her wingman and find her a boyfriend... Well, she can't really refuse a dare, can she? Troy has had enough of the worry that comes with taking risks. After losing his girlfriend in a climbing accident, he is more than happy to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground. He agrees to be Erin's wingman never imagining that she will be the one to show him that true love is a risk worth taking.

Robin Bielman has done it again! Once I started reading it, I found I couldn't stop and I read it in a few sittings. I instantly fell in love with her characters and was rooting for their HEA all along. Robin  writes stories that not only draw you in, but also make you feel like you are part of them. I felt like I was sat sharing a pitcher with Erin, Troy, and their friends and more than once I laughed out loud at Robin's creative, witty dialogue and word choices. I am already looking forward to the next book!

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