Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Meet the bold, new author: Dave Eccles

Hi, Dave! So let me start by welcoming you to my blog today. Dave, meet my Albertini's. Albertini's, meet Dave! {All at once now, "Hi, Dave!"} Thanks for letting me ask you a few questions about your writing career, and for letting me "go there" on a more personal level. Your humor's what makes you so endearing, so it's nice to share it with my readers!

CMA: So, it's been rumored that you were born as the result of a union between an exiled wood nymph and a wild haggis hunter! Can you tell us what got your mother exiled? Or would you have to kill us if we knew?

DEOh, it’s no rumor, Colleen! It’s what I admitted in a bio that I submitted for Ksenia Anske’s use on her blog just before we as a team commenced writing the Easter Bunny ApocalypseLet us just say that wood nymphs are not renowned for their self-control! Wild haggises abound in the Scottish Highlands, and they forage for oats in places you wouldn't believe. It's the wind that lifts the kilt that also lifts the oats and carries them to places far and wide, which is how my haggis father came to be in the woods on the day that my mother was feeling frisky; she wanted to sow a few wild oats, so to speak! The deed was done, but the scent of my father's ardor gave them away; haggises are known to perspire 150 proof whisky, which is a little-known fact. It's what makes them so vulnerable and rare! Inter-species breeding is just not tolerated amongst the denizens of the trees; at least not in the open space of a forest glade, and so my mother was banished. One does not crap on one's own doorstep, so to speak! As for my father—I never knew him. He was captured one day while out foraging for food, and came to a sticky end one Burns Night at the hand of a dirty great Scot with a dirk in one hand and a penchant for Scottish poetry!    

CMA: And that's exactly why I've had so much fun working with you on the Easter Bunny Apocalypse.You wrote Chapter 2, where you introduced those "damn feral cats" into the mix. Do you have any cats yourself?

DE: No, our household has always preferred dogs as pets, as well as mice, rats, terrapins, red lobsters, tropical fish, koi carp, goldfish, rabbits, guinea pigs, crows, magpies, garter snakes, parrots, ferrets, chickens, hamsters, gerbils, and the odd stray pigeon or hedgehog, but no cats! Our next door neighbor has six cats, though! And three dogs!

CMA: Seriously, anything that inspired Chapter 2's creativity? Is Sergeant Major Gorse based on anyone you know? He seems like one bad-ass bunny.

DE: My chapter just happened by itself, Colleen. Whenever I read anything, I see it as a movie that plays back in my head, and as I was reading Becky Flade’s opening chapter it was like watching a really good old-fashioned, classic black & white war movie; you know the type—there’s always a tough as old boots NCO (non-commissioned officer) there to ensure that they all complete their mission, and then he hauls everybody’s ass out of the firing line and brings them home safely.

CMA: So, I know you've only recently tossed caution to the wind to pursue writing and put your work out there. Have you always loved to read and write? Anything specific that made you say, "YES! It must be now!"?

DE: I’ve always been an avid reader, Colleen. I collected comic books right up until I was about seventeen years of age, and then I decided enough was enough. I was spending a stupid amount of money having Marvel comics imported from the US. I did still continue to collect The Savage Sword of Conan though, and in fact, I have a signed 6 print limited edition Conan the Barbarian portfolio drawn by the late, great John Buscema. Even though I stopped buying comic books, I still continued to read and buy books. I like to draw as well as write, but I’ve done neither for years. I think the last time I wrote anything would have been while I was at school! That’s thirty four years ago! I guess I came to my senses after following (on Twitter) and getting to know the author Troy Blackford, and of course, our dear Ksenia Anske, who is a force of nature! She’s just unstoppable when it comes to writing!

CMA: What genre would you say you primarily write?

DELooking at the stories that I’ve written so far, there seems to be a theme of horror, but it’s not usually obvious that you’re reading a horror story until the last paragraph or two, and that’s when I like to deliver something shocking that you just didn’t see coming!

CMA: As we know from our Bunny days together, you also have a very sharp eagle eye. Is that the engineer in you coming out? Where'd you learn those mad editing skills?

DEI think it’s not so much the engineer in me; I would say it’s the artist. An artist has to be able to see things that others don’t see. It’s what makes art special, and a great artist great. It’s the ability of a great artist to reproduce the fine details that he sees in his subject that amazes me whenever I visit an art gallery like the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I visited there in October 1990, and was just blown away by paintings such as The Night Watch, by Rembrandt. Not only is it one of my favorite works of art; that thing is HUGE! Another exhibit that amazed me was a display showing the history of the pencil. Believe it or not, I found it absolutely fascinating!

CMA: A little birdie (um, say Twitter?) told me you have a pretty bad-ass tattoo sleeve going? What was the inspiration for that?

DE: Ah, yes! My Batman sleeve! It’ll soon be finished, as I have only to get The Riddler inked, and then it will be complete. We’re back to comic books and graphic novels again! The inspiration for the sleeve is the Batman graphic novel Hush, penciled by a truly wonderful artist, Jim Lee, and written by a great writer, Jeph Loeb. The tattoo artist who inked me is a personal friend and an old work colleague, Brett Foden. He’s the only guy I go to when I want ink.

CMA: One last serious, award-winning question that all my Albertini's anticipate the answer to: boxers or briefs?

DE: Truth be told, it’s rare that you will find me in either, unless it gets really cold! I’m like Arnold Schwarzenegger—I like to go Commando! On the odd occasion that I do wear underwear, you’ll find me in boxer shorts. There used to be a photograph of me on Twitter, until I removed it, where I was wearing nothing except a specially crocheted Angry Birds beanie hat…but I wasn’t wearing it on my head! [editor's note: um, well, I think it was still technically on a h...oh, never mind!]

CMA: I suppose I should wind this down on a more serious note. You have a lot of flash fiction and short stories being pubbed right now (see links below), and at least seven short stories on your website (which has the best name by the way: Fresh Crumbs From An Old Loaf). And you're also working on a full length novel. What can you tell us about that, or from your experience while writing it?

DEHa! Yes, the website title. I’ll be 50 on June 26, 2013—though I don’t look that old, even if I do say so myself. I was sitting and wracking my brains, thinking that I needed to come up with a cool, snappy title for my blog. Then it hit me! I consider myself to be an old loaf, a little past its sell-by date, but my stories I consider to be fresh, hence Fresh Crumbs From An Old Loaf!  

CMA: Have a favorite author who influences your writing style, or who you just love to read the F out of?

DE: I really don’t know! I’m not even sure that I have a style of writing. I read a lot of Dean Koontz and Stephen King; the late great James Herbert too. Then there are the ladies. My three favorites: the late, great Anne McCaffrey, who was my biggest sci-fi influence with her Dragonriders of Pern series; Kathy Reichs, who I consider to be a truly remarkable woman, both as an author and as one of, if not the very best forensic anthropologists, and last but by no means least, the woman who had a career in journalism and then became an author, enjoying huge success: Val McDermid.

CMA: One last question: Indie or Traditional?

DE: For me, it’s got to be traditional. Old music: Classical, opera, jazz, ragtime, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, progressive rock. But I do love my metal and a large dose of thrash!

I love that you went musically on me for that last question, Dave! You know I love you and am one of your biggest fans! Thank you so much for taking the time to hop on over to my blog and share the awesomeness of YOU with my Albertini's. Best of luck as you continue on your writing journey, my friend!

For more of Dave's awesome writing, check out these sites:

Ksenia Anske, Easter Bunny Apocalypse, Chapter 2 
Books of the Dead Press, Teeth Police 
Fresh Crumbs From An Old Loaf, Eyes
Fresh Crumbs From An Old Loaf, Novel Excerpt

 
Connect with Dave:
* Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Google+ * website *

Monday, March 25, 2013

Author Ksenia Anske: A Writer in Bloom

I am cartwheel-flipping, hand-clapping, unicorn-dust flinging, happy to introduce you to one of the most innovative and unique writers I know: Ksenia Anske.

What makes her so special? Behind that beautiful face, Ksenia is a courageous woman and YA urban fantasy writer who uses her writing as a platform to exorcise her pain and help others in the process. And nothing's off limits, as her 32,000+ Twitter followers can attest! 

Just yesterday she was interviewed by Book Riot for her innovation in book publishing. As of now, she plans to GIVE AWAY--yes, you read it right!--her first novel to readers who ask for it. Siren Suicides, her debut novel, will be available this spring. All she asks is that if you enjoy it, you consider making a small donation to help keep her afloat so she can keep writing. Any amount YOU can afford and want to donate. As a beta reader for Siren Suicides, I can promise you this: it's one you'll want to read; probably, even twice.    

What I'm even more thrilled about is that Ksenia has agreed to visit my blog today and talk about her upcoming work in progress which is screaming at her every day to hurry up and be written! AND...drum roll, please...she's also revealing its BRAND SPANKING NEW title!   

Let me introduce to you, Ksenia Anske, writing about the inspiration behind her next manuscript: ROSEHEAD

{WARNING! Ksenia is a very honest soul, and has disclosed some very painful experiences from her life in her guest blog post below. As she says, if you are of the faint at heart, you may not want to keep reading. But, if you do, I'd also add: grab some tissues!}
  
ROSEHEAD, by Ksenia Anske

This new idea for my novel has been brewing in my mind for months now, and, naturally, because I'm still writing Siren Suicides, I've been trying to keep it at bay like crazy, taking notes here and there, because I simply can't start writing another book right now. Once I do, I won't be able to stop.

Of course, I loudly complained about this on Twitter. And, of course, Colleen (who'd previously asked me to write a guest blog for her), requested that I write about ROSEHEAD and my inspiration, as in, where it came from and such. (Shhh, don't tell anyone, but until two days ago, I didn't even have a title for it. This blog post prompted me to think about one.) 

WARNING: Do not keep reading if you're of the faint-hearted variety.

Every time I want to call my mother back in Russia, I put it off for as long as I can. Because every time I call her, she tells me a horror story. A true horror story, that actually happened last month, last week, yesterday, or the one she's in right now. For me to even attempt to explain here the full extent of what she is going through and why, and what I went through and why, would take a whole book.

But I got distracted. Back to ROSEHEAD. Last year I called my mom to wish her a Happy New year, I think it was in December. And the first thing she tells me is: "Your grandfather burned my arm." I guess I need to step back here a little more. 

My whole life I have been led to believe, by my father, that my mother was crazy. They divorced when I was four and my father took me into his family when I was eleven, "to make me into a proper human being." So, in the past, when my mom told me these stories, I dismissed them. ALL of them. It was not until I remembered my own abuse several years ago that I understood: it was my father who was crazy, and not my mom. After this, I slowly started realizing that everything she ever told me was true.

Back to my call.

My mom picks up the phone and says (she doesn't usually do any social niceties, just barges into stories as her way of coping with them), "Your grandpa burned my arm."

I stop breathing and ask tentatively, "How? What did he do?"

My mom says, "He scalded me. With boiling water."

I still don't breathe, and still ask the same question, "How? Why?"

"Oh, he hates me," she says calmly, "and I came over to bring him food, so he tried chasing me out of the house, picked up the tea kettle, and..."

There was more, but for the purpose of this post, I will spare you from it. In short, again (I hope I can keep it short), this image disturbed me so much that I couldn't get it out of my head for weeks, until one night I woke up from a nightmare--a complete scene from ROSEHEAD--as if played out in a movie. I quickly jotted down the details.

What I saw was an old man, a typical, sweet grandfather figure, who'd invite beautiful ladies to his house for tea, then, as if by accident, he'd scald them with hot water, apologize, and lead them into a separate room to change, where he would kill them. Wow, nice, right? My hands are shaking as I'm typing this. One thing led to another. 

 The main character would be a teenage girl, of course, because it's like me investigating it all, reliving it in a way, back to the time when I didn't believe my mother. The girl, of course, would be an introvert and very smart, and she would be shunned by other kids (my childhood). So, she would have to have a sidekick to talk to, right? Right. I grew up among dogs, whippet-mutts, and I had a whippet as a pet recently. Naturally, she would have a pet, maybe a talking one? It would be a whippet. Panther would be his name.

And how would grandpa bury those women? Why, in the garden, of course! My great-grandma had wild roses in her garden. Bingo! Those women [he killed] would turn into roses (I don't know how, yet). And how would it all start? Well, grandpa would be this famous gardener and he would host a big family reunion, and Lilith Bloom (main character's name) would come and she would realize that the roses smell wrong. They smell like...well, like dead people.

There. I think this is enough horror for you in one post, is it? I'm starting to write ROSEHEAD sometime in May, after finishing SIREN SUICIDES in April and taking a little break. 

* * * * *

Thank you so much, Ksenia, for your brave story sharing, and for letting readers get a glimpse into ROSEHEAD and Lilith Bloom's life, and for the awesome title reveal on my blog. You ROCK!

Can't get enough of Ksenia? Connect with her at:

{Skull photo credit goes to LazyOasis. Whippet art created by Elle J Wilson and is available on Etsy.} 

A Skittles rainbow kind of day!

When it rains Skittles, it pours, my friends. And I am tasting the rainbow today, let me tell ya'. 

Just wanted to share some of the love I've been blessed with from around the Internet today.

First, I woke up to having my flash fiction story, Shades of Blue, published on Writing Upside Down's website. She'd issued a writing prompt challenge for March, and I feel so thrilled o be featured on her site today. Thanks, Danielle!

Then, I hop onto Facebook and check out our Apocalypse Collective page, and to my delight (squeak!), I see a blog post featuring moi! by the awesome Dave Eccles. Not only that, but Dave ties only Ksenia Anske as one of the few people who find the most amazing pictures to compliment their articles, ever!

And to place the cherry on top (does happy dance!), my chapter 14 of The Easter Bunny Apocalypse is published on Ksenia Anske's website. I'm a little miffed that the White House did not respond to m request to use an official picture, but once again, Ksenia to the rescue! I'm sure they will be contacting me promptly after reading my lovely chapter, where our first female bunny commander, Kit, helps...well, go read it! You'll see. =) I'm sure President Obama (whom I voted for, so please, go easy on me, Mr. President!) has a sense of humor and will get a kick out of it. Besides, I didn't actually name WHO was in the White House when this happened...

Thank you to all my Albertini's who support me and my writing. And, please, show these fine websites some love and go check their pages out.  If you aren't already following my site, please join today for more news on my writing down the road!

Happy Easter, peeps! 

{Photo credit goes to: www.aplustutoring.com and writer Hannah Bookbinder.}

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Eulogy for Great-Gramma Dot

Three years ago today, I lost one of the most important and influential people in my life. You probably remember my gramma (or to my son, Great-Gramma Dot) from previous blog posts "Walking in her shoes: Great-Gramma Dot" and "The Gift."
 
The year she died, my husband and I were sitting in a Bed & Breakfast on our anniversary, with me writing my gramma's eulogy. Three years later, we're at an Inn, watching NCAA basketball, writing, relaxing without kids, and always, always, remembering this time in my life when I lost her.
 
It's a little hard to share this, but it's important for me to share these memories about my Great-Gramma Dot. So, I'm sharing the eulogy I'd written for her funeral that was on 3/29/10. I'm still not sure how I survived standing up at the podium--in her small, country church--and delivering this love story, eulogy, and thank you message all rolled into one. 
 
I hope you forgive the sentimentality of my post today. I'm asking everyone who reads this to go listen to Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole. We played this at my grandma's funeral and it always leaves me feeling a little bitter-sweet, but surrounded with her love. Then, go call a grandparent or parent or friend and tell them one thing you love about them. Or pen an old-fashioned letter and remind them how special they are. Do it now, while you have the chance. No regrets, my friends.


Eulogy for Dorothy J. Arden (Grandma)
Written by Colleen M. Albert on 3/28/10 & delivered on 3/29/10
 
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard people tell my Grandma Dorothy, “I want to be more like you!” Even while she was in the hospital with us these past few weeks, several family members (including myself) told Grandma how they want to be just like her when they “grew up!” While Grandma was in the ICU, and then in her hospice unit, my little sister Meghan came to visit. During these visits, she expressed some inner turmoil about some looming life decisions she has to make – and I encouraged her to use one of my favorite mantra’s and simply ask herself, “What would Grandma do?” Because Grandma always had the biggest heart and believed in second chances.
Grandma was our steady, our inspiration, our light house beacon for living a good and faithful life. And today, when I ask myself, “What would Grandma do?” I answer: share her stories – your stories – with love and laughter. Look upon this tragic and unexpected day through a lens of love. So I want to share with you a few memories of my Grandma, to show just how very much she meant to me and all of our family.
First of all, Grandma was the heart of the family, our family's Ring Leader. She always brought us all together (just like she’s managed to do now!) and took care of each and every one of us in our own unique ways. Without fail, any child, grandchild, or great grandchild could always expect to find a check in our birthday cards – written for the amount of our age. It took me 10 years to convince her she no longer needed to send me money on my birthday, but now I’ll miss the annual birthday check we all made fun of, but really loved getting from Gram. Just this month her great-grandkids got their last birthday checks from Great-Grandma Dot: $5 for Ryan and $6 for Keaton. Thanks Gram!
But even more importantly, she always stepped up when our families needed her most and provided a home away from home for all of us. As a kid, it was always fun riding to Grandma’s house on the Greyhound bus, knowing a home so loving and secure was waiting for me at the end of my long ride. Over the years, many family members have found their way back home to Grandma’s, and she always had an open door. 
Here’s what we could count on while staying at Gram’s: A big smile. A warm hug and a cheerful greeting at her side door – no matter what hour we showed up. And toast with homemade raspberry jam and a cup of strong tea at the breakfast table. Gram always sat on the right side of the table...must be from all her years as a loyal republican!  
We also had long walks in the cemetery; cross country skiing in the wintertime; time spent in the garden picking fresh berries or peas from the pod; and sitting peacefully on her back porch watching the humming birds chase each other and just talking about the pretty flowers in her garden. When I was little, I’ll never forget how she taught us how to make dolls out of a favorite garden flower with a blue petal skirt, the flower bud face and tooth picks to hold them together! 
And no trip to Gram’s was complete without a game or two. To this day she’d still insist I was a great gamer as a child and had beaten her fair and square – but as a parent now myself, I understand the joy in seeing the delight in a child’s eye as they “win” a game. And that was Gram’s way too. She always thought of others first. 
Even on the night before her surgery – while we were waiting in the cold hospital room for her final cat scan – she insisted that the nurse bring me a warm blanket too. Even during her own pain and fear, she had the grace and heart to think of me. That’s what Grandma was all about. 
I know all of us thought Gram would live to be 100. And we’re all left a little sad and bewildered at her sudden passing. I lost not only my grandmother, but a role model and inspiration, a dear friend, my pen pal, and one of my biggest cheer leaders. We’ve all talked this week about the beauty of having someone unconditionally loving and rooting for you in your corner. We all had that in Gram. To Gram, we could do no wrong and that was such a gift.
Yesterday, I was amazed, but not surprised, at all of the lives Gram has touched in so many different ways and across all ages. We not only lose our dear mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, and cousin – but a dear friend to countless others. We want to thank each and every one of you for being a special part of Grandma’s life and giving her so much to be happy about. Because she was happy to the very end, and we should all be so lucky!
These were just a few of my happy memories of Gram. In a few minutes we’ll ask you to stand and share your fun memories and stories of Grandma too. But if publicly sharing your personal memories is too difficult, we encourage you to write them in the journal we have here today so her family can relive the fun memories with you and see Gram through your loving eyes too.
And last, but not least, we all loved how Gram would make us laugh. And in her writing she would emphasize her funny point with an enthusiastic ha – exclamation point! So Gram, I love you and will miss you every day for the rest of my life. But I thank you for all of the beautiful memories you’ve shared with me. And on this day, I look upon you with love and laughter. And this final “ha!” is for you!
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trifecta Challenge

I recently met a lovely writer online named The Fiction Vixen. Well, her real name is Rosalind Smith-Nazilli, but after writing with her, I now know why she calls herself the Fiction Vixen! We recently had the pleasure of working together on the Easter Bunny Apocalypse (#bunnyapocalypse).

If you missed the EBA, you must not be on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Google +. Or Pinterest. Okay, no one's missed it. We're thumping our cute, bloody, little bunny paw prints everywhere! I'm excited to announce that I was moved up to Chapter 14 which debut's this Monday. Rosalind follows with chapter 15, where she beautifully introduces an important female bunny full of maniacal plans. Be sure to visit Ksenia Anske's website to read all 20 chapters of this unique 20 writer story.  

So...what the F does this have to do with a Trifecta Challenge you ask? Well, it's Rosalind, see, who introduced me to the awesome website Trifecta, which focuses on writing challenges, voted on by readers. This new challenge (from week 60!) is this: they give you three words you must use in your "story." You must add 33 more words for a total of 36. Wowsa! That's not alot. 

Then, everyone votes.

As one of my favorite bands of all time once said, "Without further do, let's, a-zip it along!"



"Her mother had mocked her rebellion.
But her shorn hair felt soft and free.
It's never easy to forget when death stares you in the eyes.
She chose to remember life.
Chose to feel the rain."

###


If you want to participate there's another day to whip yours up. As writers, it's always fun to find fresh, new ways to stretch our minds, creativity, and imagination. Have fun, and post a link if you take the Trifecta Challenge!

Monday, March 18, 2013

EVER review: It was EVERything I had hoped for


Pop quiz time:
Q: What is every writer's favorite thing to do, other than to write?
A: Read, of course!
Q: What does every writer love to do even more after reading?
A: Blog about it, of course!

I had an amazing opportunity to read Ever, by Jessa Russo, and participate in her Review-Only book tour. Ever is book one in her YA paranormal romance trilogy. Some say that paranormal romance is on its way out or is too been-there-done-that-nothing-new-to-write-about, so let's move along, folks. 

Ever smashes that theory in the face. It was really nice and refreshing, as an adult who likes to read and write in the YA genre, to pick up a new book, by a new author, that makes you literally want to sit down with a warm, vanilla latte and tell everyone to, "Piss off, already, I'm reading!" This is one of those books that is written so well, you lose track of time and demolish the book in one sitting. So, as you may have guessed, it's an easy read.

So, who here is a sucker for romance, and believes a love triangle can never get old? *raises hand* Especially in Ever's case. Ever is a seventeen-year-old girl who's had an ongoing crush on her best friend Frankie. Then, handsome and older Toby moves in next door and takes and unsuspecting, but ready, Ever by storm. The twist? Frankie's been dead for the past two years. Yeah, there's that. Oh, and did I mention he lives in her house? And her family and best friend can see him?

So, the stage is set for the romance part and the paranormal part. Okay, so let's address the elephant in the blog. Ghost stories have been done. Ghost+romance stories have been done. Especially in YA. BUT...and since we're talking elephants in the blog, it's a BIG BUT...but what I loved about Ever, and what makes it still interesting, unique, and highly worth reading is:

1) Ever isn't perfect herself, but she is downright relateable. Especially to seventeen year old girls. Jessa has a wonderful way with character development. I mean, you know who Ever is. You know who her best friend Jessie is. You get Frankie and Toby. You quickly become invested in how the hell this interesting little love triangle can work itself out.

2) Jessa is NOT afraid to have BIG things happen in her story to move the plot along, and I like that in a girl! I'm trying very hard not to give spoilers away, so I will just say that there are a good two or three plot arcs I didn't see coming. And that, too, is a good thing.

3) Jessa is also not afraid to leave you with a full on cliff hanging ending. While this may frustrate some, it didn't bother me at all. I liked it. Because, now I can see where it's headed for her book two, Evade. And I cannot wait to get my greedy, little reader paws on that book soon (call me, Jessa, I'm a great beta reader too! *winks!*).

4) Who doesn't love to proudly declare, "I'm on Team So-and-So!" while reading a YA novel? Seriously, it's fun. Admit it. So...whose team am I on? I WANT to be on Frankie's, I really do. And I am assuming Jessa will find a way with her trilogy to give them their chance to be together forever. That said, I am in lurv with Toby. I didn't want to be in the beginning, but I am. He totally won me over. It had absolutely NOTHING to do with the towel scene either. 

So...as you can see, I'm clearly opinionated and infatuated with this trilogy. I think Jessa did a marvelous job with plot originality and surprises. I loved how even though it's paranormal, it felt more like just good, YOUNG, YA fiction. There wasn't crazy-over-the-top, in-your-face, kookie stuff happening. She didn't have to TRY TOO HARD. It was just a look at day to day life with Ever, who happens to see her dead love interest and then meets a hunky new boy whose love will end up costing her just about everything she could imagine. {Disclaimer: there are a few intimate scenes, and Ever is caught snuggling and snogging with a guy or two...but it's done harmlessly enough for the REAL young adult reader.}

Over the next few days, I will post my "formal" review on Amazon and Goodreads and update my "My 100" page with its star rating. But here's my review:

I loved it. Go out and buy it. For God's sake, the Kindle version is on sale right now for just $0.99. *score!* Follow Jessa and get to know a super cool lady and an amazing new writer. Plus, she's just cuter than a circus peanut! 'Nuff said.

Jessa Russo: * website * Goodreads * Amazon * Twitter * Facebook *
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press & Photographer: Face On By Tamara

About Ever
 
Seventeen-year-old Ever's love life has been on hold for the past two years. She's secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he's completely oblivious. Of course, it doesn't help that he's dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever's life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love. Some girls lose their minds. Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rabbits and hares and hairy authors, oh my!

Just a quickie blog post today, my friends. {I'll pause to let you all place your bets; let me know when you're done laughing.}

Right then. So, this week it's all about bunnies. Most importantly, the Easter Bunny! As I mentioned in a previous blog entry about flash fiction, we are breaking new ground with this flash fiction writing marathon, dreamed up by the amazing writer and all around beautiful person, Ksenia Anske. Let's do the math:

20 writers + 20 chapters + 20 days = The Easter Bunny Apocalypse 

 

I know it may seem cruel to take the Easter Bunny "there." But seriously, you should see what they did with Bloody Santa vs. Zombie Siren (her 10 writer experiment). After this, you will see neither Santa nor the Easter Bunny the same way again! Mwahahahahahaha...You've been warned, my furry, wittle friends!

So today, the very funny and talented Dave Eccles wrote chapter 2 of the Easter Bunny Apocalypse. Dave is one of those guys you can't help but instantly like. He looks like a tough biker dude on the outside, has a sense of humor that's sharper than a double-edge razorblade, and {ssshhhhhh!} he's kinda sweet and gooey on the inside!

Not only that, I learned today from Dave that hares and rabbits are not the exact same thing. I thought that hare, rabbit, and bunny were all sort of interchangeable terms for the same thing. Come to find out, they're not. And it's true, because I read it online and Dave told me so! So, I decided to take it a step further and interview the brilliant and talented and tattooed and hairy author Dave Eccles next Wednesday on my blog and see what other wild and wonderful information I can squeeze from him!

So, join us next week. Same blog spot. Same blog time. You won't forget an interview with a man who was born as the result of a union between an exiled wood nymph and a wild haggis hunter! Trust me on this one, Peeps.

*Oooh, shudders* After you read the next few chapters of the Easter Bunny Apocalypse, you will also never be able to eat a Peeps again. You're welcome!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Flash Fiction: Bunnies & Pieces

Today, Ksenia Anske wrote about flash fiction on her blog. She explained how flash fiction came into her life and how it can help anyone who writes. I like to think of them as writing sprints. It takes about 45 minutes to write and edit around 500 words. You set your timer and...go! 
 
She's getting ready to host this amazing flash fiction event on her blog. Here's the concept: she got 20 writers (she may have promised us cookies?) who will all write around 500 words a piece, building a story together one chapter at a time. This flash fiction's theme? The Easter Bunny Apocalypse. I mean, come on. What's not to love? (Follow our journey on Twitter at #bunnyapocalypse.) I'm very excited to be a part of this experiment. I'll be writing the 15th chapter.
 
In the mean time, she practically double-dog-dared us to go ahead and just do any old flash fiction piece...right now! She actually shooed us along. How could I resist that challenge? I 'll preface this by saying, it's actually non-fiction, not fiction. But stop your whining. It's what inspired me tonight. And, please, be gentle. The whole point is to write fast. Write 500 words that just come to you. But just write. So, here's my piece. I hope you enjoy it.
 
And, please, help us spread the word about the Easter Bunny Apocalypse flash fiction group writing project starting on Ksenia's blog on 3/12. One chapter a day; a different author writing each chapter. You will not want to miss this, um, hare raisingly fun (and likely, bloody) good time! On a more gentle note, here's tonight's flash fiction short, Pieces.
 
 
Pieces
A short story by CM Albert, written 03/09/13
  
The lamp tilts lazily to the right; its pale, cream shade just a tad too large for its thin, crystal base. The wiring's age is apparent when it sizzles to life at its switch. Still, I risk blowing a fuse or getting zapped to see it shine. It's my grandmother's lamp, you see. It sits on her mahogany writing desk, which sat in her dining room for over fifty years, but now rests comfortably in my bedroom. I'd give anything to have it back in her house, a place for her to pay her bills or write me letters.
We'd been pen-pals, swapping good old-fashioned letters once a week—back and forth from the snowy north to the sunny south. "I'm shelling peas from my garden," she'd write. "We started Ev in swim lessons today!" I'd pen back.
Nothing critical was ever written. Just the insides of our hearts—little glimpses of each other's daily lives to keep us connected despite the distance.
I miss getting those letters. I never realized the vacancy they would leave when they stopped coming. For months after her death, when something new happened in our lives, I'd run right over the coffee table where I kept my stationery before remembering that there was no one there to write to. Who would care that we got a new kitten or that Evan was going to be a big brother? Who could I tell about my mundane daily routine, who would actually care in return? 
Because I didn't just lose my grandmother when she passed. I lost my best friend. My security, my life-line, my sense of self. The one person I told everything to, other than my husband. The one person who actually gave a shit. 
When we cleaned out her home, I found a box of all the letters I had written to her over the years. From my earliest poem to our wedding plans—it was filled with my life. Pictures of the kids. Funny stories from when I was a teenager and never dreamed I'd be able to pay my rent, much less become a successful business woman. In those letters, I saw myself grow. I changed and blossomed under the shade of her love. 
Of course, I have my own box of letters; ones that came from her. Even three years after her death, I still can't bring myself to look at the familiar cursive handwriting. I can't bear to open them up and peer inside her heart again—or to fully open mine and let her back in. I'm afraid that if I do, I'll crack. Splinter into the thousand of pieces that left me sleeping with her sweater for a month after she died, until not a solitary thread of fabric continued to hold her lingering scent. 
Someday, when my heart has healed more, I'll go back to her letters. I'll file them with my own chronologically, to see our lives intertwined again. Then, I'll snuggle up in bed, turn on her little, tilting desk lamp, sip a cup of warm, vanilla coffee, and replay our lives all over again. 
"I went to the mailbox today," she'll say. "Then, I drove Becky to the grocery store." I'll remember the smooth wrinkles in her hands, and the way she looked holding her pen. I'll see her sitting at her kitchen table, a cup of black coffee and the paper's crossword puzzle her other companions. 
"I bowled a 230 tonight!" she'd share. I'd silently cheer for her again. No lamp, no desk, no pain can take away the lifetime of sharing we did, written with care on the hundreds of pieces of stationery we sent back and forth. 
Today, I'll walk to the mailbox with my kids. I'll never stop hoping to see a letter with her handwriting on its face. But I'll think of her. I'll look up to the sky and say, "I went to the mailbox today, Gram." And I'll know, that no matter where she is, she'll be smiling down at me. 
And she'll still give a shit.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: Traces of Kara

I owe Melissa Foster a *slight* apology because I was very generously gifted with the responsibility of doing an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) review of her newest book,Traces of Kara, with the understanding that - whether love it or hate it - I would post a review within two days of the expected publication date (3/1).

Aaaand, then my back went out. Aaaand, I've been on pain meds. Aaaand, I've been very loopy and sick.

I truly, truly did not want to do something as serious as review some one's novel while feeling this way and not having my heart in it 100%. Because this is her baby, the result of a ton of work and research and passion poured into every page. And if it were my book, I'd want my readers to really think about the feedback they give before they give it. Because as a writer, IT MATTERS!

With that said, I did post my reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon, as all good little ARC reviewers should. But I also want to share snippets of it here and encourage you to read her book. Why? Because it was great. I really, really enjoyed it. And if you are at all into psychological thrillers (think Sandra Brown or Nora Roberts style), then you'll like this one too. {Click on Goodreads link above for full review.}

Traces of Kara, Melissa Foster
  • Currently ranked #1 in Drama on Amazon.
  • Available through Kindle and paperback.
  • Released February, 2013.
  • Has a 5-star rating from reviewers.

Traces of Kara, by Melissa Foster, took me by surprise. I knew it was going to be more intense and grittier than her previous novels, but this was a full on, dark thriller that thrusts you right into the action and never stops...

What I loved about this book was its villain. Even though this may have been "Kara's book" - it just as much belonged to Roland (her psychotic brother) and, later, her mother Mimi...


...There is no question who the bad guy is and what he's about to do and why. And that works in this novel. The heart of the novel isn't just about WHO is stalking Kara and WHAT he does about it, but it's just as much about the WHY. Roland from the start is just this larger than life, psychotic, obsessed, chilling villain. He's not the type you kinda feel sorry for. No, he's just effed up and crazy. And that makes him a delicious villain because he's in it to the end. He's out for blood...

I kind of equate this book to a cotton candy roller coaster ride. It's an easy read; you will have no problem flying through this book in a day or two at most. The action just pulls you along at a fast pace and once you're in the heart of the story in the power plant, it's hard to set down and get out. It's a book you bring on vacation and just FLY through. And that's a good thing. But it's not all sweet - there are definitely tension pulls, suspense, smack-your-head-at-characters-stupid-moves moments (No! Don't run into the basement! Run away! Get help!). And yes, there's blood. But really, it's not as bad as it could've been. Foster does a beautiful job with what I call "tactful violence" vs. "gratuitous violence"...