I am a sucker for a good ghost story. How else did I get started writing the sort of fiction I do?
That being said, among my Amazon recommendations was this author I had never read before or heard of. So, with a $3.99 price tag on the kindle version, I decided to give it a shot.
I have to say that I was delighted with this gem of a read. From start to finish, the whole book was engaging for the imagination. In fact, I would place this squarely in the mystery genre since you spent most of the book piecing together clues with the main characters, a brother and sister duo in tragic circumstances.
Written from the perspective of the older sibling, Darcy Coates’s style was captivating as it provided a window into how she coped with the incapacitation of a single parent as well as how she unravels what to do when faced with dangerous circumstances. As an older sibling myself I could easily relate to the girl and the sense of duty that Coates easily portrayed.
Well written and engaging, I was pleased with the read. I found myself reading this one in a matter of a couple of days between work and my other obligations. It helps that I had some slow time to read at the office. I would recommend this to readers both in the adult and the young adult audience spectrum. I thought it was a fairly clean read with a well-developed plot that had plenty of twists and turns before it was concluded.
Over all, I give this one 4 stars on Amazon and GoodReads.
Be sure to follow me on GoodReads, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter for more reviews, releases, and news. Indie authors, keep watch for news on how you can have your book reviewed by me in upcoming Nightstand Reads Posts.
You know, it is funny how sometimes I have this overwhelming desire to have what is considered a “normal” life. You know the type. The white picket fence, husband, 2.5 kids. I’m sure that it works for some people and they are quite happy with it but for me, it doesn’t necessarily work.
I’m quirky and introverted. I’ve always been so. I don’t think that is something that I can change about myself and be happy really. It is also the thing about me that most “normal people” don’t get.
Now, I can pass for normal when I need to. I can don the dress, put on the makeup, and carry on a conversation with the best of them. But, where am I truly in my element and happy?
At home, in my pajamas, with my dog and my laptop, writing away at my desk or the kitchen table. That’s the usual spot. Sometimes you’ll find me on the couch watching Netflix with an embroidery project or at the easel with my headphones on. But mostly, it is just doing what I am right now. Tapping away at the keys on my laptop.
I think it is important for everyone to figure out where they thrive. I know that I spent way too much time trying to fit in where I never really belonged in the first place. All for the sake of having that version of normal I mentioned before.
Embracing yourself as you are is important for many reasons. I might be a baker and decorator but I rarely like to do anything that is cookie cutter even if I am aiming for simplicity. I try to think outside the box and do things that will make me happy more often than I just go with the flow these days.
So ask yourself these questions. Answer them honestly because, well, they matter to you.
- What makes you happy?
- What are you good at that you honestly enjoy?
- How much time do you spend of your week or day doing those things?
- What keeps you from doing them more?
I asked myself these same questions when I was just out of school and again recently as my life changed again. The answers evolved over the years. They were very different at the ending of my last attempt to be normal than I thought they would be. What I really learned from them was that I needed to find my bliss and stop reaching for something that I wasn’t sure would make me happy and focus on the things that did.
Your normal is likely different from mine. The truth is, it is up to us, as individuals, to create our own version of normal for us. Going with the usual social norms, is akin to letting society tell you how you should live your life without question. And that, my friends, is vastly overrated. Take what resonates with you from it but add your quirks and your own flair to life. Wear the funky ties or the bright colors. Take your notebook with you wherever you go. Sketch in the park or set up an easel and paint. Dance or play your instrument on a busy corner for the fun of it. Speak up at an open mic night. Or whatever else you feel moved to do.
Whatever you do in your life. Just be you. We are all amazing in our own way. So, just as I sign my novels when I meet people, I say to you; Embrace your journey! Your story is in your own hands to write. So make it a good one!
As a writer my life is full of research. Writing in the paranormal and supernatural genres doesn’t mean that we just make everything up by the seat of our pants. Believe it or not, there is a lot research and investigation that has been done in the paranormal field. (I know. I was part of that fringe group for many years and still occasionally partake of case work when I have the opportunity to consult etc.)
With that being said, one of my major projects is a series of shorter novels I’ve dubbed Armageddon Rising. The first book is out currently on Amazon.com. It deals with a protagonist who is a fallen angel and centers on end times prophecies. So there is a lot of research happening for me to carry on with the next book in that series. It is a very weighty topic to tackle even from the fiction angle.
Months ago I bought a book as part of that research. I put it on the shelf until I was ready to delve back into the topic and really didn’t think about it much after that. The other night, I was looking for something and it caught my eye. I thought I would go ahead and start reading it. Sure enough it is full of interesting and useful tidbits. I went to share those with family members who would find them equally as interesting and as we were talking about them my fingers randomly opened to part of the index. That’s when things got really strange.
In the second line of that page where I opened at random I find my legal last name. Then on the opposite page, I find a close relative’s name. Crazy right? And I’m not talking about just a first or a last name. I mean the whole thing. Knowing this person as I do and the context of this site they are named on, I wonder if they’ve ever googled themselves. It was just a super strange way to end the day and start a weekend of my own work (as opposed to the day job).
This weekend will be busy. Working Saturdays is always a thing. At least it has been for the last two and a half years or so. But, after 2:00pm tomorrow, I can refocus my efforts on research, writing, and my own projects. I’m ready for that. It has been a long start to the month and a super busy day today. So this lady is ready for a bit of R and R.
Wow, the time got away from me.
I’ve been most of the week in my little writer’s studio working away on my novel in the time that I’ve had. Happy to say that it is going really well. Hoping to be at the halfway mark by the end of the day today. We shall see if the muse sticks around like she has been. So far, so good. The outline helps. But it has been good to be doing what we writers do.
I am going to try to have something a bit less trivial next post. I’m looking over options from my brainstorming sessions to find something interesting to bring you.
I’ve been thinking over the idea of bringing an episodic fiction series to Patreon. Initially thinking about something with a bit of a vintage feel to it. For those who don’t know me well yet, you’ll find that I love the Victorian Era fashions and social graces. I’ve wanted very much to write something set in that era. I’m not sure if it would quite fit the usual steampunk mold or not. I’m not about the cogs and gears so much. But, I do think it could be interesting and find an audience. For me it would be a bit different from the usual style as well. That sort of break could be good for me.
Speaking of breaks, I did take one this evening to watch Kong: Skull Island. I’d seen the movie while on a date when it was in theaters. I’m not usually an action film girl. I made an exception here because I remembered it being pretty good. (Well, it could also have been because of Tom Hiddleston but, I digress.) It was a good film. I think it went into a greater detail that opened the whole concept up for a new generation to enjoy. Definitely was more about the myth behind it and wove in a whole history that was interesting and kept you riveted.
I have mixed feelings about the remakes I see now. It almost feels that Hollywood isn’t willing to take chances on new ideas anymore. There is no shortage of new fiction out there to pull from. Many a novelist also dabbles in screeenwriting. We’d love to see our characters brought to life on the silver screen. But, again, Hollywood would rather invest time and resources into making a new version of King Kong or It for example. I get it, those are sure box office revenue winners. They are in it to make money. I’d just like to see more storytellers get their work to the audiences that will love them.
Before I call it a night, I want to take a moment to reach out to all of you. What would you like to see here? I have ideas but, I would love to answer some of your questions as well. It can be about writing, self-publishing, creativity, or even just life in general.
There seems to always be an interest in what authors are reading. Make no mistake, most of us are always reading something. Some of our favorite places are bookstores after all. So, I’m going to do a recurring posting series talking about books I’m reading and what I think of them. Hopefully I’ll be able to promote some of my fellow independent authors in doing this too.
I admit that I’m a slow reader. Between a day job that consumes many of my waking hours and trying to write my own fiction, this blog, and market the whole, I don’t get a lot of time to read for pleasure. But there is always something on my Goodreads shelf, Kindle Fire, and bedside table. In fact, I’m one of those people who start a lot of books and take forever to finish them. If you want to follow me or connect over on Goodreads, I welcome you to check out the profile by clicking here.
So, what am I reading?
This book is a great read for anyone who is ready to make the leap into a more creative lifestyle. I found it to be both inspiring and practical really. Gilbert doesn’t mince words when it comes to the valid fears that come up when you consider embracing your creativity.
She talks about various concepts that depict creativity as a series of experiences that are almost spiritual in nature. It is not a new concept. In fact, I find that the more creative people I talk to, the more I find most of us hold that belief about our own unique experiences in living this creative life. And there is something almost transcendental about bringing something to life on the page, easel, or whatever other media you choose to work in. What it definitely takes to do that is courage.
Big Magic is a huge pep talk for creatives. Wonderfully modern and frank in tone, Elizabeth Gilbert essentially tells creators to push aside the fear more often than they give into it. Reminders that while ideas are always out there, they may not all work out or be great ideas for a particular artist. The key is to step out and make the art instead of wishing we were or pining away for a life we aren’t willing to allow ourselves to lead.
I am definitely taking a page from her book of wisdom. Realizing that life is about discovering what we are capable of. I’m taking steps to write more and put myself out there more. Which is why you see me more often here and hopefully on the Amazon virtual book shelves in coming months.
What is your favorite book on creativity? I can always use more on my shelves.
Stop over and check out my Amazon Author Page for my latest work in print. All available in both Print and Kindle format. And don’t forget to subscribe so you can get the latest posts from yours truly.
When you get to know me, you’ll quickly realize that I am all over the place creatively. Yes, my primary focus is writing fiction. There are tons of other creative interests in my bag of tricks though.
For example: Did you know that I sing? Yep, I even recorded an album with a band. I also performed in musicals back in the day. I also decorate cakes and cookies with my mom. (Psst… If you’re in East Texas. We have a facebook page and take orders. So check us out here.) I am learning to draw and even paint using acrylics. I do embroidery or other sewing, usually by hand, when I watch television. And I’m slowly learning to play the violin. I could list a bunch of other things. My point, however, is that I try new things and do my best not to limit my options.
But what helps me do that? Is there some common thread in all of these things that I do?
The answer is that there is something I do on a daily basis that helps me keep it all together. I journal. I don’t mean sit down an type on the computer either. I use an actual book and I don’t limit it to words. Granted, my journals usually consist of a ton of words but, I also doodle and sometimes design pages so that they are a bit more visual. The point of it all is to put my thoughts down however they manifest.
Well, how many times have you thought of a great idea for something to do and you get sidetracked by some chore or errand? You do the required whatever it is. Then, you come back to your creative space to manifest your idea only to have forgotten what it was.
It happens to us all. Don’t worry. I can’t tell you how many great book ideas are lost to the ether because I failed to write them down early on. Carrying a notebook everywhere is second nature to me now. You’ll rarely ever find me without a way to write something down when it pops in my mind.
Now, there are plenty of journaling resources out there. I won’t get into all of that. Some will tell you that you should only use a leather bound, lined, 80gsm paper, with an expensive fountain pen. And you should format the pages a certain way and all sorts of other nonsense. If those things suit you, go for it. But for someone who wants to keep things simple let me give you the basic break down of what you need.
A notebook. Any notebook will do. Pick one up at Walmart or Target. Back to school shopping is upon us so they are cheap to find. If you’re inspired by something fancy then, go for it and splurge. I do, however, suggest something you can carry with you. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. Walmart usually carries a half size notebook that easily fits in my purse or messenger bag. When on a budget, that’s a go to item on my list.
A decent pen. Whether you prefer a felt tip like Papermate’s Flair Pens, Pilot V5s or G2, or Bic Crystal Sticks you can spend as little or as much as you like. I have all of the above along with a box of others. In fact, some of the best writing ball point pens were freebies from the bank. But, I also have a fountain pen that I favor. It really just depends on my mood.
As for formatting? Throw all of those suggestions out the window at first. Just be creative with it. Do what you do. I generally freewrite for a while in my journal before I get started on any projects. It clears my head of the clutter and allows me to process things easier. So, start there and focus on getting the ideas out of your head and onto the pages. Think of it as a reference for later. If you feel like drawing or painting, go for it. If not, that’s okay too.
Some days may be nothing but complaining about life and the circumstances you find yourself in. That’s okay.
Some days you may find that you have a brilliant epiphany about what you want to do next in life, in a relationship, in your career, or in art. That’s okay too. In fact, those days are just amazing.
And sometimes, it will just be a mess. It will seem incoherent and disjointed. And that’s okay too.
Remember, no one reads this but you. Unless, of course, you allow them to. Then I would hope that it is someone you trust.
For any artist the journal is an essential. It is the catch all for ideas, fears, and even for celebrations. It is a sacred space with it’s own special sort of magic. The more you use it, the more of yourself you uncover. That includes hidden talents and desires for your life. I encourage everyone to try it.
In fact, give it a go and tell me about your experience with it in the comments.
Also, if you haven’t already, subscribe up at the top so you don’t miss a post.
If you want to know more about my journaling experience, feel free to leave questions or suggestions in the comments. Maybe a journal walk through could be a good starting video for a Youtube channel. What say you?
I’ve known that I would write for the rest of my life since I was about eight years old. I grew up with a Great-Grandmother who taught First Grade for 35 years. Between her and my mother (who read to me and challenged me to read more) I had a pretty good handle on the reading and writing thing before I even officially started school. My first stories involved magical unicorns and fairytale princesses and that seems slightly hilarious to me now; seeing as I write things that are a tad darker in nature these days. But, whatever I write, this is a life-long obsession for me. It is the one thing that I do on a daily basis that I cannot fathom my day being complete without.
The years have passed too quickly in many ways. I’m not the bright-eyed girl that everyone in my mother’s side of the family assumed would go on to greatness. Back in the day I was full of big dreams that involved books, deep conversations, beautiful productions, and all sorts of creative things. I imagined adult life to be very different from what it is now. In fact, I envisioned the college experience to be something wholly different than what it was for me. But that is something I blame myself for. I certainly didn’t take full advantage of that opportunity when I was given it. My writing career isn’t the only thing in life to suffer for it.
In my twenties I was a gypsy in many ways. I lived in many different places spanning one coast of the United States to the other. I made friends, some of them were poor choices, all of them taught me valuable lessons about myself. And few of them remain in my circle today. The bohemian spirit is still strong with me and I often fight the temptation to uproot and start over in a new place. I suppose I’ve become a bit more practical as I’ve aged. There are other things to consider now that weren’t a part of my life before.
I met a man in 2006 who I would marry the following year. It was a whirlwind romance that seemed to quell my own feelings of inadequacy in being single. I’ve never been a woman with many prospects for suitors. And I admit, I settled. I thought I wanted a more traditional life. For a while it was a novelty and served its purpose but, six years later, I found myself standing alone in a courtroom as a judge issued the order to disolve the marriage that had long been over. I regained my name and set about rebuilding my life as best I could. How did I do that? Well, I wrote, of course.
In the course of two years following that day I made greater strides toward writing as a profession than I had in all six of the years I’d spent as a homemaker and sometimes babysitter to his daughter. I often joke that he was the best however many pounds I ever lost. It isn’t far from the truth though. There were so many things that held me back when I was with him. Now, with more freedom to focus on myself and what I want in life, I see that more clearly.
The process of reinventing myself has been a long one. It is evolving and everlasting in many ways. I consider life to be a perpetual series of changes that are like an ocean of existence. Sometimes you have to surf the waves being high up on some curl of achievement. Other times you have to just simply tread water and hope that a safety net comes along to scoop you up. More often than not, it’s a matter of you and the boat weathering a storm into calmer waters where things are peaceful and flow freely for a while. Eventually the rest will cycle round again though. You do what you can and you roll with the tides.
The creative life is an oddity. It is complicated in how we somehow find a way to sustain ourselves with our art. Even when one works a day job, as I do for now, it seems that it is always to supply the need to create somehow. But, it is also a simple life if we allow it to be. To embrace each day with the initial question of “what will I create today?” To answer that and make its answer a reality is truly all we must do to be happy. And isn’t that the goal for everyone? Simply to be happy.
So tell me readers; What will you create today? How will you find your bliss?