What Would You Do If Your Mother Was Killed and You Wound Up on the Streets?

 

Imagine this: you’re a teenager and living in a small, one-bedroom apartment with your mom. She works 16-hour days and barely makes enough money to eat. You live in a desert inferno and barely leave your boxed home.

Then, one day, you take your younger brother for ice-cream. When you return, you find your mother dead. With no one left to care for you, you wind up on the street, trying to protect your younger brother.

What would you do?

The Making of a Monster

This is the premise of “Stone from HELL: An Apollo Illusion Short Story,” which just released on Amazon for only $0.99 this week (or FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers).

Stone from HELL_cover JPG version

I’ve always been fascinated by the birth of a villain, and “Stone from HELL” is the backstory of the most notorious hacker from my futuristic debut novel, The Apollo Illusion. If you read “Stone from HELL,” you might find hints of yourself in its protagonist. The story is dark, gritty, edgy, but most of all, it’s scary.

Scary because more than anything, “Stone from HELL” is about society’s dark forces that turn the best of us into the demons we fear at night.

Of course, you could go on living in your happy-go-lucky bubble, where these things don’t happen to your or your family. But then you wouldn’t get the thrill of challenging your mind to wonder, “What if?” And you’d miss the subliminal messages and hidden commentary about certain issues today. Issues that might affect you without your knowledge.

“Stone from HELL” is Short and Cheap, So Why Not Grab It Now?

For less than $1, “Stone from HELL” is a short story (about 24 Kindle pages) that you can read in 30 or 40 minutes. Really, if you buy it, I guarantee you won’t be sorry–especially if you’ve already read The Apollo Illusion and are dying for more.

Buy “Stone from HELL” now for only $0.99, and find out what makes a monster …

 

Hilary Dartt Gives Life a Second Chance with ‘The Composition of Order’ (Book Review)

 

The Composition of Order by Hilary Dartt

A wonderful, delightful story that had me crying at the end, with characters so real, I felt like they were my neighbors.

Book: The Composition of Order (The Seedling Homestead Series Book 1)

Author: Hilary Dartt

Publisher: Darttboard Creative Writing, LLC

Published: Sept. 19, 2018

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Composition-Order-Seedling-Homestead-Book-ebook/dp/B07HBCKZ4P

Stars: 5/5

[DISCLAIMER: For the sake of full disclosure, Hilary Dartt was the structural editor for my novel, The Apollo Illusion. However, I bought my own copy of The Composition of Order and was not offered any compensation or benefit for reviewing it.]

Sometimes, becoming a mother makes you a horrible wife. Sometimes, planning life too much can have devastating consequences. And sometimes, those we love most are not who we thought.

Welcome to The Composition of Order by Hilary Dartt, a wonderful, delightful story that had me crying at the end (and I don’t always cry at the end of books).

The Story

The story focuses on Sarah Ward, who as a young (and adopted) child, always preferred order to chaos. Now as an adult, she’s stunned when Donny—her high school sweetheart and husband of 20 years—announces he wants a divorce.

As the couple prepares to see their only child off to college, they take one final, family road trip back home to the farm where Sarah grew up (and they met). There, Sarah finds a mysterious journal at a flea market. Oddly drawn to it, the personal story within prompts Sarah to try and win Donny back. But what Sarah discovers about herself and her family will change her future, and her outlook, forever.

My Take

For most of the story, I believed The Composition of Order to be a solid four stars. However, the story earned a fifth star in my book because of its powerful ending, which impacted me for days after I finished reading. Books often make me tear up, or feel sad, or smile at their closings. But Ms. Dartt managed to make me weep!

With characters so real, they could be neighbors or sisters, The Composition of Order will leave you feeling fuzzy inside, satisfied, and possibly examining your own life. Best of all, it will make you believe in the powerful love of a mother and have hope that second chances do happen—even if they look different than your typical storybook endings.

A must-read for every wife, mother, or woman who understands the complexities of family life, but loves with all her heart anyway.

Did you like this review? Then follow me on Goodreads for more like it!

Follow on Goodreads widget

Goodreads Giveaway! One More Shot to Win ‘The Apollo Illusion’

Facebook lead ad

The bad news: the giveaway to win one of two signed copies of The Apollo Illusion ended yesterday.

The good news: you can still win an e-copy of The Apollo Illusion via Goodreads!

New Goodreads Giveaway Just Launched!

That’s right. 🙂 A new Goodreads Giveaway just launched on Saturday this week. This time, your odds of winning are MUCH better. I’m giving away 100 e-book copies of The Apollo Illusion.

YES, YOU HEARD ME CORRECTLY. 100 E-COPIES!

But hurry and enter now, before the giveaway ends! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/284907-the-apollo-illusion.

 

 

 

Why Indie Authors Have to Stick Together

I’ve heard self-publishing “experts” say time and time again that no big difference exists between an author going the traditional route or the indie route.

Ahem — I beg to differ.

Therefore, here are the reasons why us indie authors have to stick together:

1) We have to pay for EVERYTHING.

Editors, designers, copyright filing, advertising, and yes, book tours.

2) And let’s just admit it. Major traditional publishers have one gargantuan advantage over us: connections.

Connections to major media outlets (like the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly), to librarians, to book store owners, to distributors, and to online influencers.

3) No one takes us seriously when we’re starting out.

4) Those dang literary pirates want to steal and sell our stuff!

5) We’re a bunch of anti-establishment rebels.

Of course, we take on this load because we have SO MUCH MORE CONTROL. Over everything.

  • Creativity
  • Legal rights
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Presentation
  • Pricing

But man, for an indie author trying to make it, you guys know this is an uphill battle! I don’t care what anyone says, going indie is a tougher climb. And this, my friends, is why we all gotta stick together.

While you’re here, did you know I published my debut novel six months ago? “The Apollo Illusion” is a science fiction dystopia about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology. Learn more by clicking here!

Featured Image -- 4721

Is ‘Wildchilds’ by Eugenia Melian the Wild Ride it Should Be? (Book Review)

Wildchilds Book Cover

Book: Wildchilds

Author: Eugenia Melian

Publisher: Fashion Sphinx Books

Published: Sept. 20, 2018

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Wildchilds-Eugenia-Melian-ebook/dp/B07GXZS2H7

Stars: 2/5

This was my first choice for my first NetGalley Advanced Reviewer Copy (ARC), so trust me when I say, I really wanted to give this debut novel more than two stars. The story was good, and I can tell it was deeply personal for Author Eugenia Meliàn. Unfortunately, Wildchilds was not executed well, like reading a proofread first draft rather than a final product.

The Summary

Here’s the deal with Wildchilds: it’s a story about the dark side of the fashion industry, a #MeToo coming out for a sector that has yet to acknowledge its dirty secrets.

Wildchilds concentrates on Iris, a former Paris model now living in a sort of exile with her teenage daughter, Lou. When Iris’s former lover—who is also the father of Lou—dies, she’s forced to return to Paris to secure his photography estate for her daughter. In doing so, Iris must confront the hidden demons from her past and the trauma she endured as a model many years ago.

Great concept, right? Ms. Meliàn is a former model herself and a veteran agent in the fashion industry, so she gives the reader a real inside look into the profession. However, once I began to read, the story took a turn for the worse.

The Fall

The transitions between points-of-view (POV) and timelines were choppy. At certain parts, Ms. Meliàn transitioned from a third-person POV on one character, to a first-person POV from a completely different character within the same paragraph. Other times, she did not include paragraph breaks, chapter breaks, or character labels when switching POV, creating a sense of daunting confusion for the reader.

Often, her dialogue was shallow or repetitive, slowing the story’s pace. Frequently, she’d spend several paragraphs describing the physical attributes of something—a person or a setting—but skirted over the types of important, profound emotions, backstory, or narration readers crave. Her writing usually told, but rarely showed.

The result was a feeling of disconnect, of a story that dragged, of one-dimensional characters. This book had so much more potential.

The Hope

I do believe Ms. Meliàn has it in her to turn this novel around and create a magnificent piece of work. Her ability to write well with deep suspense and intensity shone through from time to time, especially during a pivotal confrontation between the main protagonist and her dark antagonist. I would encourage Ms. Meliàn to seek out a strong structural editor who can help to hone her craft and work this book into one that would touch many lives.

As it stands now, however, I cannot find it in myself to give Wildchilds more than two stars. I do hope that changes one day.

Did you like this review? Then follow me on Goodreads for more like it!

Follow on Goodreads widget

Is ‘There There’ by Tommy Orange Worth the Hype? (Book Review)

There There by Tommy Orange

“This is a book that should not go unread. It holds the weight of generations that never had the chance to scream, and now, Mr. Orange is screaming for them.”

There There is, quite simply, a book that every American should read, if for nothing else, to remind us that our country’s success came at a great price – the genocide of a people who today wander their lives as “insignificant remainders.”

Angry, despondent, yet resilient and defiant, There There is a debut novel about the modern-day Native American, written by modern-day (Oakland-born) Native American Tommy Orange. His story read with the same vast and sweeping motion as Christopher Nolan’s film, Dunkirk—told from multiple perspectives (12, to be exact) that began to intertwine as the story wound closer and closer to the final climax.

What Spoke to Me

Mr. Orange’s writing is rich and lyrical, yet tinged with an edge I’m sure he acquired from his upbringing in Oakland, Calif.

Certain moments of There There will punch your conscience, when (for example) Mr. Orange writes about, “If you were fortunate enough to be born into a family whose ancestors directly benefited from genocide and/or slavery, maybe you think the more you don’t know, the more innocent you can stay … Look no further than your last name.”

Others brought out the beauty of his culture and will make you fall in love, such as, “Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere, or nowhere.”

What Could Have Been Better

While I genuinely enjoyed much of his book, certain parts slowed for me, perhaps because he was writing from various perspectives. I sometimes felt as though I were reading a series of short stories that wound together, thus preventing me from falling into his characters the way I’d hoped.

I can’t say I loved the ending. There There does finish with a sad hopefulness, yet the main question I’d wanted answered was left unfinished. A little too ambiguous for my taste.

So, is There There Worth the Hype?

Yes. Overall, this is a book that should not go unread. It holds the weight of generations that never had the chance to scream, and now, Mr. Orange is screaming for them. I felt their cries reading his book, held their hearts in my soft palms, and wished so desperately that I could fix the wrongs for them.

But then, Mr. Orange wouldn’t want that. No, I believe he’s telling us that his people don’t need fixing, or pity, or help. They might have been broken, but they are strong. They are still here. And dammit, they’re proud.

Stars: 4/5

Book: There There

Author: Tommy Orange

Publisher: Knopf

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/There-novel-Tommy-Orange/dp/0525520376

Did you like this review? Then follow me on Goodreads for more!

Follow on Goodreads widget

 

 

New! ‘Shari’s Pick’ Will Highlight Top Recommended Books

Sharis Pick image
Hmmm, which amazing book will I pick to recommend next?

 

“Shari’s Pick will be the cream of the crop, the stuff that sticks in my brain like flypaper, the books that if you have time for nothing else, you’ll want to read THIS.”

 

I’ve decided to launch a new, bookish thang here on my blog and for my Readers Club email list. I’m calling it, “Shari’s Pick.”

This week, I signed up for NetGalley to start receiving Advanced Reviewer Copies (ARCs) from publishers before they hit the bookshelves. And … (deep breath) … I bought a Kindle (yes, to this day, I’d refused to buy an e-reader). Not to mention, I began reviewing already-published books in several places:

Out of everything I review (both published and ARCs), I’ll pick a top recommendation once every few months. I’d love to do this monthly, but with my schedule, I only have time to read one book per month, on average.

Shari’s Pick will be the cream of the crop, the stuff that sticks in my brain like flypaper, the books that if you have time for nothing else, you’ll want to read this.

Why would you listen to little, old me?

Let’s just say I’m picky. OK, maybe that’s an understatement. Critical. Meticulous. Fastidious.

But I’m fair, too. I don’t believe in cruelty, but honesty, on the other hand, you will find.

I also write for a living. I’m a former newspaper reporter. I’ve written for national magazines. I’m a current corporate communications professional. I’ve edited three novels, corporate jargon, e-newsletters, and oh yeah – I’m also a published indie author.

So … my tastes are discriminatory—not by genre or author—but by quality. If you’re looking for quality, you’ll find it from Shari’s Pick.

Be the first to know Shari’s Pick!

Whenever I announce a new Shari’s Pick, my Readers Club subscribers will hear it first! Therefore, if you don’t want to miss the first Shari’s Pick (which I have yet to announce), sign up for my Readers Club now! 😉

Readers Club button

 

How Babies and Tablets Inspired this Dystopian Novel

512px-Kaitlin_Headphones

Babies and tablets. The rise of propaganda. Rosh Hashanah dinner. These were a few of the factors that led to the inspiration behind my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion.

I love reading the story behind the story from favorite authors, like Margaret Atwood or Junot Diaz. So when Autumn of Fallen Over Book Reviews asked me to write a guest post on what inspired MY first book, I couldn’t resist. OK, I actually felt special. That’s allowed occasionally, right?

The Story Behind the Story
Everything began in September 2013, when I’d gone to my mom’s house with my boyfriend and sister for Rosh Hashanah dinner. In case that sounds like Elvish to you, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, because our calendar goes by the moon (I know, we’re weirdly Twilight like that).

While munching on noodle pudding and roasted chicken, my mom started telling us about a news story regarding babies and tablets. Babies were learning the swiping motion of using tablets before they learned to talk.

Head over to Fallen Over Book Reviews to read the rest of the story! …

My FIRST Published (Creative) Story! ‘A Call from Paris’

eFiction cover

 

[ Read “A Call from Paris” now!]

As of June this year, I am no longer some used, discarded toilet paper in the creative writing world. That’s right …

I’M PUBLISHED!

I know I’ve been published as a journalist before, but never as a creative writer. As an author. I kinda feel like Moses right now, after he descended from Mount Sinai, beaming with holy rays of light from his ears.

Of course, minus the white beard (or am I merely thinking of Charlton Heston?).

Anyway, I digress …

I was published in the June 2013 edition of an e-publication called, “eFiction.”

And my story is proudly entitled, “A Call from Paris.”

And yes! I made it possible for you to read! I printed just my story, then scanned it into a document.

Read ‘A Call from Paris’ Here!!

But be forewarned, my snarky, snide attitude does not carry over into this story. My creative works tend to be a little more serious.

I also urge you to consider purchasing the FULL June 2013 eFiction edition, which can be read on your Kindle or Nook. You can buy it here. It’s only $3.99, and you’ll read works from the other amazing authors who were also published with me. Plus, if you buy, we get royalties. 🙂 And who doesn’t want to support their fellow writers?

So please read my story, if you’re so inclined to make me feel welcomed into the world of publishing, share it with your friends, and then comment below and tell me your thoughts! You’re my first readers, so your thoughts mean a lot to me.