The VRW Awards Luncheon

13437205_505607996290794_2014791379_n(1)Guys, I got invited to a tea party.

A real life tea party!

The Virginia Romance Writers throw a luncheon for the Finalists of the HOLT and the Fool For Love contest every year. My novel The Seductress made the finals! It’s the first event of this type  close enough for me to make, so  I was ecstatic.

 

13398640_1573136029656913_1584713122_nI got to dress up, eat amazing food, and listen to some really great advice from Cynthia Holt Johnson and Carolyn Greene.  I had the pleasure of sitting at their table during this event, and I am so glad I got to know them.

Cynthia is full of bubbly energy. She radiates an enigmatic aura, and has a style that simply defines her. Her impressive history with the RWA includes a seat on the national RWA board of Directors and several terms as the President of the Virginia Romance Writers . She is working on a book set in the same area of Florida I was born in. I am  looking forward to it’s release.

Carolyn is so kind and insightful. Conversation with her is a treat. She is a two time HOLT winner, a Rita finalist, and has published multiple romance novels with several publishers, including Harlequin.

These amazing women are best friends, the kind that makes other girls envious, and both of them gave me advice I hope to live by- Be Audacious!

Thank you ladies. I plan to be.

My first audacious move is to brag about myself. I know, I know, it sounds so bad doesn’t it? But I am going to be a go-getter, so here it goes.

The Seductress won the Fools For Love Paranormal Division!

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I am so grateful and flabbergasted my novel was awarded first place. Thank you to the VRW for putting on this event, and to the women who organize the contest. You are appreciated, and the party was excellent!

I was fortunate enough to receive a full manuscript request, which lit a fire under my little butt to get this novel polished up and completed. I can’t wait to see where The Seductress goes. No matter where it ends up I plan to make the ride quite enjoyable.

Congratulations to all the other winners of the 2016 Fools for Love Contest and Holt Medallion! You guys are incredible!

Until next time,

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Fool For Love Winner Logo

 

House Of Royals

I haven’t read a vamp book in a while. Probably because I vamped myself out when I was nineteen ( Oh, hey Twilight!) So when The House of Royals caught my eye, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I realized the book was a vampire Paranormal read, and I was still interested.

This all boils down to one thing.

     I love the cover!HOUSE OF ROYALS

But we aren’t here to talk about the beautiful red dress and lovely raven that dominate the book’s front. We are here to talk about the inside pages. So let’s get down to business.

The House of Royals starts with  a young city girl named Alivia arriving at her newly inherited Southern Plantation home. Her long lost father left her a mansion…and quite an eye brow raising heritage.  I won’t go into any more plot detail because the books starts out fast and I’d end up spoiling things, but lets just say vampires, slayers, and royal bloodlines are involved.

Oh, and romance. But I’ll get to that later…

The writing is good.  Modern slang with Southern charm. I can’t say the premise is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but it is a well described, beautiful setting . The vampires weren’t original, but they are vampires. We all know what they are! It’s 2016! Why change what works? The descriptions are good, the characterization is good…

The book is good.

However, nothing really surprised me. The ending does have a plot twist, but I could feel it coming. The beginning of the book felt rushed, and parts of the book seemed to be filler. It was good, but not great.

So, why am I putting the book on my blog? I only talk about books I love! The other reviews go straight to Amazon and Goodreads!

The Romance.

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I love romance!!!!!!

Keary Taylor is a romance writer. Romance is her language, and she can give quite a speech. The house of royals is a romance, so that’s what I’m going to judge it on.  Here is a little taste of Taylor’s style below.

 

“Ian and I have been circling one another in close orbit. We have a gravitational pull on each other that can’t be explained by logic or reason…Sometimes fate deals you the horrible and the incredible. We can’t run from either. I take a step away from him…and millimeter by millimeter, our fingers slip apart.”

I love the energy she creates between two people. She is a pro at tension, and tension is what I love. The tension between Ian and Alivia is thick, and sticky, and oh so not allowed.  Forbidden love, hot guy and beautiful girl who might be destined to be a vampire?

I’ll take it!

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who likes Paranormal Romance. if you love Vamp romance, this is a must read for you.

Four stars for the House of Royals! The second book in this series is already out, and you can bet I’ll read it soon. Put me on your e-mail list, Keary Taylor! I ‘ll be needing the last book in this series as soon as it’s available!

 

Review of The Mark of the Shadow Grove

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Release date, January 15th, 2016

 “The birches- wizening old man arms bursting from the black soil and piercing heaven-  are like the columns of some ancient temple.”

This is not my normal fare for books. However, sweeping lines such as the one above hooked me in, and I am very glad I was caught.

old-spell-book-candle-mood-witch-magic-animated-gifThe Mark of the Shadow Grove is a horror novel telling three separate stories loosely connected by the leading women’s bloodline and the monsters they revolve around. Each ending is left a little open, giving them creepish mystery. I don’t usually like open endings but it worked so well for this book I can’t say anything else would be better. The book explores the dark elements of witchcraft, ancient cults, and necromancy.

Ross Smeltzer has a writing style which could be considered antiquated. His  language architecture often reminds me of Wilde, Emerson and Lovecraft. Part of this may be because the book is set in the past so the language style fits its time period. I think there is more to it. Smeltzer possesses the old talent of creating a captivating setting by using long, flowing descriptions. His style is old fashioned. At the same time he manages not to droll. Many of his strongest lines were simple.

“True evil needn’t be flamboyant about itself.”

The above statement is said in a very colorful setting by a dramatic character. It is one of the most basic lines in the chapter. However, the line caught my attention with it’s simple truth. Smeltzer has similar moments scattered throughout this book and they are my favorite parts of his writing style.

The Mark of the Shadow Grove is not a light read. Its prose sweeps you in and manages to make mundane things come alive with the dark, gloomy mood Smelter casts over his setting. I wouldn’t  recommend it for most readers. This book is a certain style built for a certain taste, but the audience it is written for is sure to love it. People with an adventurous and curious side will love it too. The Mark of the Shadow Grove is a gritty example of gothic horror, and I enjoyed it so much  I think I will start picking up the genre again. When I was little I would sneak-read Rebecca and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by the lowlight coming from my bedroom window. I forgot how much I enjoyed them. This book reminded me.

4.7 stars for The Mark of the Shadow Grove. I took off because I personally appreciate a slightly quicker pace, and there were instances where the scenes jumped around and I was a tad confused. However, these “flaws” have more to do with me than the book, so I won’t take off much, and as you all know…

I round up!

So five stars will be my rating on all of the review sites.

Grab your own copy of Ross Smeltzer’s The Mark of the Shadow Grove here. It is well worth your time!

 

#pitchMAS – How I got likes!

So there’s this book pitch contest called #PitchMAS. Maybe some of you have heard of it?

IT’S HUGE!

PitchMAS is  run by Jessa Russo  and Tamara Mataya around Christmas once a year. It’s free. It’s a good opportunity. I finished my novel The Mercy Killers recently, so I figured I’d give it a shot.  I e-mailed my submission.  Here it is, and it wasn’t great.

 A young gypsy girl trades freedom for protection from a disease-ravaged world, but not without sacrifice. When the plague’s cruel ending threatens her sanctuary, only one man can help. Problem? He was the sacrifice.

I didn’t make the top 50.

I wasn’t surprised. I’m not great at pitching, so I figured I wouldn’t make it. Pitching an entire novel in such a restricted format is not an easy feat. I read the winning pitches and I was impressed! I could see how they used each word to their advantage. I learned from it and decided I would try again during the #PitchMAS party!

On Friday morning I woke up and posted the first two pitches that came to me on my twitter feed, sporting #pitchMAS and my genre hashtag.

There are worse things than dying from the Plague. You could survive it and be forced to become a Mercy Killer #YA #NA

 

The Governor’s son has a new GF. She looks sweet, but she isn’t. She’s a mind reading blade-wielding gypsy with a dark past #YA #NA

 

I walked away for a few hours, refusing to obsessively refresh twitter all day. I’m not an amazing pitch doctor and I know it. Why stress?

I was talking on the phone with a close friend when I decided it was time to check my feed. I had a few notifications, but I didn’t get excited. It could be anything.

I received 4 likes.

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What!?!?

For those of you who don’t know what that means, 4 agents/ editors “liked” my pitch enough to request my query.

I lost my mind!

I wondered if I was seeing things. Was I reading the twitter feed right? Was I on the right page? DID THEY DO IT ON PURPOSE!?!?!?! My friend who was still on the phone thought something was wrong.

“What is it Jessica? Are you okay? IS THERE BLOOD!?!?!?!”

No blood. Just confused joy.

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You see, I just finished my novel. I entered into a few contests,  signed up for a query class which starts in January,  and started on the novel’s sequel. I created a rough query letter a week prior to try my hand at the process, but I hadn’t done anything with it. I wasn’t expecting anything. #PitchMAS  is a big contest,  many authors participate, and I am very unseasoned.

I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, so I threw up another #pitchMAS tweet-

Greylin is a Socialite, promised to Attica’s next ruler. She hides telepathic abilities and skills with weapons.Why? #NA #YA #R

I received three more likes, two by editors.

Okay! This was really happening!

Overall, I received 6 partial manuscript requests. I spent the next 24-48 hours getting my submissions ready. I was so grateful I already possessed a basic synopsis and query letter! I strongly encourage putting together something as soon as you complete and edit your novel, just in case!  I tried to craft each submission to the Agent/ Editor requesting, and made sure to follow the submission guidelines the best I could. I am not a practiced query writer, but I gave it my all.

About a week went by, way to soon to hear anything.  An average turn around response for a partial is 30-60 days. So when I woke up with two full manuscript requests from two separate publishing companies, I made sure to read both e-mails twice so I could be 100% positive I was reading them correctly.

Did they mean to send this to me? Were they serious? DID THEY DO THIS ON PURPOSE!?!?

Are you noticing a trend?

So…I sent my manuscript in!

I won’t lie, my manuscript wasn’t perfect. The story is finished (except for a few tiny tweaks I keep obsessing over, but that’s normal, right?) and edited to the best of my ability, but there are bound to be mistakes in a 100k word manuscript. I was nervous, but I hit send.

I understood it takes a while to hear back from publishing houses. I wasn’t expecting anything.

I swear, not expecting anything works!!!!!!

I received my first “we are interested in publishing your book” e-mail a few days later. I am currently staring at a contract with my name and my novel’s title printed at the top. tumblr_ms73weyqJ91sbx8xco1_500

I don’t know if I will sign it (although I am very strongly considering it), my lawyer is looking over it (I don’t have an agent! I just wrote some tweets!) and I want to talk to my hubby bubby about it face to face, but the publishing contract exists! This is amazing to me!!!!!

GUYS!!!! I WROTE A BOOK AND PEOPLE DON’T HATE IT!!!!!!!

I won’t be making any rash decisions about my novel this week.  I asked the publisher for a certain amount of time to consider everything and get my ducks in a row, and they kindly obliged. The firm is new and fairly small right now, but I believe in small beginnings.  After all, I’m just an Accountant/house wife who got bored while her husband was deployed, couldn’t find a book that hit the spot, so I wrote one!

Everyone starts somewhere.

My book started at 2am on a sleepless night when one of the characters insisted on being put down on paper. My writing journey was wonderful and came naturally. I wasn’t sure how my journey to publishing would start.

It looks like it started with #PitchMAS and a little fantasy!!

 

 

 

 

 

WonderWall by M.H Soars

untitledI requested this book on a whim.  I’ve read an abundance of dark dystopian lately, and although that genre will forever be my favorite, I needed something else in my life. Something with more lovey-dovey boy drama  and a little less “the world is burning down around us”. “Wonderwall” caught my attention because of the cover and the promise of a bad-boy rock star. It promised me drama and love, and that’s exactly what I was in the mood for.

Did “Wonderwall”  deliver?

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Yes! Wonderwall is Wonderful! ( Sorry, I couldn’t resist the play on words).

Wonderwall is a contemporary romance centering around first love, first heart break, life’s rough punches, and the cost of fame. Olivia, the girl next door, and Sebastian, the boy next door, fall in love at a young age. The rug is ripped out beneath their friendship-turned-romance when a tragedy sends them spiraling into messy territory. Sebastian can’t cope (and no one with a heart can blame him) and Liv pays the price.  Fast forward a few years and Sebastian is  an international superstar in a boy band.  Liv is living out her career dreams with a brand new internship at a posh London hotel. They’ve moved on with their lives-

Except for their damaged hearts, which are still stuck on each other.

Queue the lovey-dovey drama people!tumblr_nql3nbMOHn1u55rr8o3_r1_250

 

It’s going to get sticky!!!!!!

 

I enjoyed this book. It has a few cliché’s in it, but they are well executed. The plot is driven. The pacing is great. There are clever lines scattered throughout, and the writing is worth reading . The characters are likeable, loveable, and sometimes hate invoking, which is what readers should experience in regards to a novel’s cast. I wouldn’t let a young teen read this book because things get risqué here and there, but it is a solid New Adult Contemporary Romance.

And it has bad-boy rockstars.  So, that’s a big plus.

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This guy …Sebastian?

“Bas” is a mess.  He’s a tortured guy who seems to have everything on the surface, but there is a gaping hole is his heart. There is only one person who can fill it, and it is not his model girlfriend. He is a jerk most of the time, but he loves Liv, despite his best efforts not too. Liv has not been able to move on, and it doesn’t help that the ex love of her life is so famous his face pops up everywhere.

There is some heavy subject matter in “Wonderwall”, but for the most part I’d consider it a light read. I read it for entertainment, not for life changing lessons. It  fulfilled its purpose quite well. Parts of this book get cheesy. Especially the ending. It is horribly, wonderfully, tickly butterflies in my stomach cheesy. Not  everyone appreciates cute. I get that. I have to be in the mood for mushy gushy. But when I am in the  mood, what can I say?  I LOVE ME SOME CHEESE!!!!!

The only issue I had with this book was how easily Liv caved when Bas came back. I mean, make him work a little harder! But I guess it would be easy to forgive a gorgeous guy who professes his love for you on stage in front of thousands of people.

Still, I can’t give the book five stars because Liv gave in too easily.

Four stars for M.H Soars “Wonderwall”! This is the first book of her new series, and I will be reading the next installment.

Add me to your newsletter M.H Soars!  I will happily write a review for the next one. Good job!