First Pages are Impossible

I’m working on a new project and would love feedback…

October: Haunted

            One night stands are normal, or you think they are when you’re at college. And if you had the pleasure of spending time with my friends and acquaintances, you’d believe monogamy dead. As a college student, you also probably believe others share in the experiences and values you align yourself with. Every person on campus drinks grain alcohol mixed with Kool-Aid out of old Gatorade coolers, receives an occasional grade of D in an oh-so-tough course led by a lousy professor, and has meaningless one night stands. It can be a shock when you realize your experiences are far removed from others.

My time at college has been marred by generalized anxiety disorder. Until my senior year, I did none of the above. So I surprised myself when I ended up in bed with a guy I barely knew. I’m not the kind of girl who would normally be in a strange man’s apartment in the early, early hours of morning. In an unmade bed smelling of sweat and boy parts, too terrified to move an inch.

But here I am on strange sheets. My body rigid. My finger itching, but I refuse to scratch and give Jeremy, the almost naked guy next to me, any indication of interest. Instead, I fist my hand, manicured nails digging into the soft flesh of my palm. Control.

I hear myself swallow, loud in the silent room, and tell myself to relax. Five deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Control the fear.

One night stands are normal. Control the anxiety now.

I’m sure many other college students can relate when I say I’m not sure how I ended up here, some of the helpful details obscured through a haze of hard cider and Fireball. Earlier, I strutted out of my apartment in my new slutty pirate outfit, yet somehow managed to feel less than sexy. It had looked good in the package. But my black leggings were itching and covered with cat hair even though I’d made every attempt to hide them from the demon cat, Snuggles, who illegally lives with me. My high heeled black boots make me wobble and my low cut shirt fell to the left, which would give anyone a good look, not only at my cleavage, but also my bra.

The Shadow of a King by C.M. Gray

 

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What I liked: The Shadow of a King by C.M. Gray was well written with vivid descriptions. The opening scene of the king, Uther, dying slowly in the small chamber of the abbey, created a powerful first chapter to pull the reader in. All the characters were easy to visualized, making it easy for the reader to cross over into a foreign time and land.

What I wanted more of: Action and pacing. It took too long for any action to happen and when it did, it was written at the same level as the dialogue. In Chapter 7, The Night of the Long Knives, the action is told through story-telling and dialogue and wasn’t as compelling as if the author had found a way to set the reader in the middle of the action.

It was hard for me to get through, but if you love Authorian legends, give it a chance.

Eleanor & Park

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell — Review

What I liked: I liked both Eleanor and Park. The author did a great job adding layers and depth to the characters. I wasn’t sure this was going to happen when I was about 50 pages into the book, but it did. The author did a nice job with Park and Eleanor’s parents’ as well. So often, parents come across as flat or stereotypical, but not in this book. And that made Eleanor’s home life ring true. Her troubles felt maybe a little too real as I read and I worried for Eleanor throughout the novel. I also liked the setting, having grown up in the 80s. References to U2, Elvis Costello, big hair and eyeliner made me a little nostalgic.

What I wanted more of: The ending felt rushed. I couldn’t understand how the relatives who help Eleanor hadn’t played a larger role in the story. They seem to suddenly appear. I also wondered what happened to Eleanor’s family and why the same relatives seem oblivious to any changes after Eleanor’s appearance. While I thought all the main characters were realistic, I disliked how the school teachers and administrators were portrayed. They were at best ineffective, and sometimes portrayed as downright mean.

Overall, a quick and entertaining read with moments of surprising emotion; an interesting view of love while growing up in dysfunction.

TOP 10 FAVORITE SNACK FOODS WHILE WRITING

Originally posted at https://lovesgreatreadsblog.wordpress.com/

Snacking when writing is serious business. Foods need to fuel creativity and feed the soul, as well as mind and body. I have to admit, my snacks often come in the liquid variety, as you will see with first two entries.

  1. Coffee

Without coffee, there is no writing. More than any food product, a mug of something warm and caffeinated usually sits by my computer urging me on.

  1. Wine

When it’s too late for coffee, wine makes a good substitute. A glass of merlot relaxes me and helps put the stress of the work day behind me. It allows me to focus on what is really important — writing.

  1. Dark Chocolate

Besides the purported health benefits, a small piece of dark chocolate wakes the senses and reminds me there is more to the world than just what I see.

  1. Potato Chips

My sweet tooth satisfied, time to turn to something salty. I prefer plain potato chips, but I’ve been known to eat any type when in need of a snack. Salt and vinegar chips have a kick that reminds me of the diversity, not only in snack food, but in life.

  1. Frozen Cookie Dough

No one can resist this frozen delight even though the package clearly states do not eat without baking first. Writers have to be rebels once in a while.

  1. Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups

I eat the organic version and pretend I am being healthy, but who can resist the flavor combination.

  1. Ritz Crackers

Motivation is something authors always consider in their characters. I also consider it in my snack food cracker choice. Ritz crackers sound healthier than chips, so I feel less guilty when consuming. But who knows for sure. I’m not planning on reading the label anytime soon and finding out the truth.

  1. Trail Mix

See number 7. Trail mix sound healthy even if it contains M&Ms. Who really wants to know the truth about the calorie count?

  1. Yogurt Covered Raisins

Raisins and yogurt both have health benefits. Do those same health benefits exist in this candied form? I tell myself they do. Again, see number 7.

  1. Ice Cream

On a hot summer day, when I’m getting ready to settle down and write, there is nothing better than something cold and sweet to hype me up. Thank you sugar rush!

Review of The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

What I Liked

I love the way the story is told through the eyes of a survivor, Maya, through flashbacks. Both her personal story and her time with the Gardener are emotionally charged. The other characters are developed well, and I could keep track of each thanks to their individual personalities. The plot is full of tension and suspense, but also clarifies how the daily lives of the captives can be tedious even when full of anxiety.

What I Wanted More Of

I had to work hard to push aside all the questions that came to mind as I read. How could this huge structure exist and no one question it? How could they order food and supplies for more than twenty women in captivity for years and years and not set off red flags? Twenty women between the ages of 16-21 are continually held in captivity for close to thirty years. How could this man kill and replenish the woman without ever getting caught? Insight into the killer and how he and his butterfly garden came to be would have made the story more plausible.

What I Didn’t Like

While I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I didn’t enjoy the connection between a secondary character and the Gardener at the end.  It seemed, again, too implausible.

Despite these few flaws, the book deserves 5 out of 5 stars.  It kept me reading from page one to the end.

Rory and Bowen’s Playlist

Rory and Bowen, teen sleuths extraordinaire and amateur ghost hunters, share their favorite songs and why they like listening to them. Rory and Bowen also want you to know that while this is a great introduction to who they are, you can learn much more when you read Wear White to your Funeral. (Originally published on Kindle and Me at http://www.kindleandme.com/2016/11/blog-tour-giveaway-wear-white-to-your.html)

Grab your copy today.

Amazon– https://goo.gl/uAq5gM
B&N– https://goo.gl/7jj0bC
Smashwords– https://goo.gl/dSNEbS
GoodReads– https://goo.gl

See More

Rory
1. Waiting for my Real Life to Begin by Colin Hay

Living in Trumbull, Connecticut with her aunt has ruined Rory’s life. She can’t wait for college and to begin doing what she wants.
2. Simple Song by the Shins
Rory is afraid of her strong connection to Bowen, but he is able to calm her fears.
3. Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush
There is drama, love, hate, murder and a ghost! Yes, a ghost haunts Rory.
4. Can’t Take my Eyes off of You by Lauryn Hill
Rory is enamored with Bowen but battling her insecurities. She’s crushing hard, but refuses to admit it.
5. Young by Cosmos and Creature
Rory wants to stay with Bowen, be safe and develop their relationship. Two problems stand in the way: a ghost and a murder leave her wishing for more innocent days.

Bowen
1. About a Girl by Nirvana

Bowen knows from day one that Rory is something special and the someone he has been looking for.
2. Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard
Bowen is ready to give Rory all the time she needs to fall in love. He’s committed and not going anywhere.
3. Steal my Kisses by Ben Harper
Rory has a harder time letting go of her fears and Bowen has to “steal” a few kisses to let her know how he feels.
4. Run by Snow Patrol
Bowen is at Rory’s side as they run from the evils around them, whether human or supernatural.
5. It’s the End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M.
Could a murderous stalker and an evil spirit be the end of Bowen and Rory? While it might be the end of the world, Bowen is enjoying the ride.

Online Book Tour and Giveaway

 

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My online book tour is going strong. Check it out at:  http://xpressobooktours.com/2016/08/30/tour-sign-up-wear-white-to-your-funeral-by-lisa-acerbo/

Here is an interview originally posted at Two Ends of the Pen:  https://twoendsofthepen.blogspot.ca/2016/11/interview-with-lisa-acerbo-wear-white.html

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?

In Wear White to Your Funeral, a half buried body and ghostly apparition lead Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly? Rory is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens doors for some very real danger. A suspected killer, a menacing ghost, and a stalker have Rory and Bowen on the run to solve this supernatural haunting.

Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt’s house unharmed and unmolested.

Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost. The police are of little help, Rory’s aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can’t stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer’s house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural craziness. The ghost died wearing white, but now it’s time for their funeral.

Who knows, maybe this will be the first of many supernatural adventures for my main characters, Rory and Bowen.

Do you have a favorite character?

They are like children. You love them all but in different ways.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?

I killed off a character in my first book, Apocalipstick, and my daughter had such a strong and unhappy reaction to the character’s death that I regretted my choice. Ultimately, I kept the plot the same and the person ended up losing his life in a fight against a horde of zombies. His death gave me a great idea for the second book and provided some interesting plot twists. While I initially regretted killing off the character, I think it was a good idea for the future of the series. You never know who might come back as a zombie or something else!

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?

When I wrote my first book, I didn’t really understand the process of finding a publisher, so I sent the manuscript for Apocalipstick to many indie publishers and received a multitude of rejections. That spurred my desire to research getting published and how to target the right small press. It’s important to know what the publisher wants and closely follow the submission guidelines. I’ve been published through three different small presses and each experience has been unique and enjoyable. That being said, my current publisher, Destiny Whispers, is the best! Destiny Whispers published my last two books No Trouble at All, Mystery Man in the Leather Hat as well as my upcoming YA novel, Wear White to Your Funeral.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?

I used to sit down and start writing without much thought, but my writing process has become more organized of late. Even if I don’t have an official written outline, the story is clearly outlined in my mind. It makes building the world, developing symbols and motifs, creating the characters, and penning the book easier. But I like to write out a chapter by chapter outline to expedite the writing process.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?

You can find Apocalipstick, Remote, No Trouble and All, Mystery Man in the Leather Hat, and Wear White to Your Funeral at Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, Smashwords, Ingram, and www.destinynovels.com.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?

I find it difficult to juggle my time. Period. I teach high school and spend the bulk of my days planning lessons, teaching classes, and grading essays. I come home to two dogs that are more demanding than my children who fled the house to go to college. I wouldn’t change a thing, but find it hard to schedule in writing.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?

Keep going.  It took me a long time to write something readable. Many bad books ended up in the recycle bin before I produced my first novel in 2013 about zombies, the apocalypse and romance: Apocalipstick.  I’m still learning from everything I write, from the reviews I receive, and from the people who support me. The goal is to continue to improve and one day, hopefully, write something many, many people would like to read.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?

I ride horses, but I am awful at it. My daughter has been riding since she was four years old and I wanted to stay involved. We ended up buying one horse when she was a teen and then rescuing another, a thoroughbred and former racehorse with arthritis.  I love trail riding and take lessons, but cannot improve. I have a mental block.

Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?

Coffee fuels my mornings and my life. I only drink tea when in Ireland. I lived there for a year when I was in college and loved it.  After many cups of coffee, some coherent thoughts enter my mind and I attempt to write like today (It’s soon to be 5 AM). I usually write in the morning for an hour because it is quiet. I tend to get up at 4 am or 5 am to start the process.  I am a high school teacher so in the summer I can relax and sleep in later.

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