2018 – The Year to Dream, Write, and Read

My number one goal in 2017 was to buckle down and finish my novel…and have it ready for literary agents by year’s end. Thanks to avoiding writing contests and cutting back on blogging (er, sorry guys!), I achieved my goal.

Now it’s time to create some new goals for 2018. Just like 2017, I plan to keep my goals simple. I’ve discovered the simpler the goals, the more likely I’ll succeed. So, without further ado, here we go:

#1 goal: Find a literary agent. YIKES! I’ve been on this journey before and it isn’t easy. There’s lots of work, waiting, and rejection. Oh, the rejection! No matter how great I feel about my novel, and no matter how confident I feel about its commercial appeal, rejection is inevitable. It’s just how the industry works. An agent might not be looking for the type of project I’m selling (even if they represent the genre). Or they might be having a rotten day and dislike everything set in front of them. Or they just might not like it (ouch).

I can only hope I’ll find an agent who loves my novel as much as I do. It might take all of 2018–or even longer–but I’m determined to find someone who’ll give me a chance to finally achieve my lofty dream of being a New York Times Best Seller.

#2 goal: Start a new novel. The last time I queried a novel, I refused to think of any other stories. I kept my focus on that novel for almost three years. Granted, I spent a lot of that time revising and editing for the agent/Hollywood producer who had optioned it. But, still. There would be months where I’d twiddle my thumbs and wait for news and/or requests for additional revisions. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock…

Waiting and waiting and waiting. Not once daring to think of starting a new book.

Talk about wasting both my time and creative juices! I also had no net to catch me for when my option contract expired and my entire world seemed to collapse. It took me six months to pick myself back up and start writing again. It took me another year to find an idea that inspired a new novel. It took me another two years to actually write it. GAH!

I refuse to repeat history. A new novel is a must. Right now! Before the waiting games begin, the ominous silence sets in, and the rejections pop into my email. I want my safety net. More importantly, I want to keep writing. I love writing, so why wouldn’t I start a new project? The one I’ve chosen is actually from an exercise my writing group does every month called “Don’t Think Just Write.” We get a prompt and have exactly one hour to write a 1K word story. I decided to participate in December and the story I came up with triggered an idea for a plot for an entire novel. As with my last novel, I won’t go into detail about it, but it’ll be in the same genre as the novel I’m currently shopping around.

(See what I did there?)

#3 goal: Read, read, read! For the past two years, I’ve struggled to read more than 20 books/year. To some this might sound like a lot. To others, pitifully low. For me, it’s on the pitiful side. I use to read between 60-80 books every year. But ever since I joined a writing group, entered more interactive writing contests, and started a freelance editing service, my reading habits have dramatically changed. I spend more time reading unpublished work than I do reading published work. I’ve also been working on my own novel, and that involves a lot–A LOT–of reading. I think I re-read my manuscript at least 15 times as I edited and revised (thrilling, I know).

However, I’d like to find a better balance between the unpublished and published stories I read. So, in 2018, my goal will be to read 30-40 books.

That’s it! Those are my top three goals for 2018. What are some of yours?

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Book Review: Slated by Teri Terry

12743472Slated by Teri Terry

Synopsis

“Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated.
The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?”

Jen’s Review

This book was recommended to me by a fellow blogger (thanks Jess!), and I enjoyed it. I’m always up for a good dystopian tale, and Slated definitely delivered. In a genre that’s getting harder and harder to be original in, I feel Teri Terry was able to find and create a unique concept.

Slated’s future world was tense, mysterious and even frightening at times, and held an eerie Stalin-esque tone (one toe out of line, and you’re shipped off to get your memory wiped clean). The pacing of the plot was well done, and the characters were, overall, great to read…Though, to be honest, I didn’t click with a couple of the bigger ones. In particular, the supposed heartthrob, Ben. My heart just didn’t throb for him. He was almost too nice, too sweet. And, there were a few parts I felt his IQ level wasn’t done justice (I know, I know, he was slated and therefore supposed to act a little loopy; but I wish he hadn’t been quite so loopy). I guess it was difficult for me to understand Kyla’s emotional attachment to him. Besides their love for running and being slated, they didn’t seem to have that much in common.

Besides this nitpick, I liked the book. And I really liked the protagonist, Kyla. She made up for those lesser characters I didn’t jive with. She was soft, yet tough. Quiet, yet loud. Sweet, yet steely. Her timid, borderline passive aggressive behavior was perfect for the oppressed, “hush-hush” world she lived in. And, despite her cool, meek facade, you just know deep down she’s a badass.

If you’re looking for a quick read that’s entertaining and different, check out Slated.

 Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Slated here.

Happy Book Anniversary: Progeny by Patrick C. Greene

One year ago, Patrick C. Greene released Progeny, a shivery, nail biting tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats with their doors locked and their blinds shut.

-12As many of you know I live in Colorado. Which means I’ve heard plenty of tales about Bigfoot. Or Sasquatch, or Harry, or whatever you’d like to call the towering half-man, half ape creature. Yet, before reading Progeny, I was never truly scared of the mythical being.
Now, I am.

Another wild scream assailed them, urging them on even faster till muscles and lungs burned, fueled only by terror.”

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Synopsis

“Owen Sterling is a reclusive author living in a secluded house deep in the woods. When he welcomes his son Chuck for a summer visit, the eleven-year-old suspects something is not right at his father’s home. His worries mount when he witnesses a confrontation between his father and some local hunters. Zane Carver is the local gun-shop owner who confronts the author over Owen’s refusal to let anyone on his land for hunting or camping. He defies the recluse, taking a hunting party onto Owen’s property. Soon, Zane and his buddies discover the writer’s secret . . . a deadly secret; a creature whose infinite rage they have unwittingly ignited . . . that is now hunting them.”

Jen’s Review

Progeny is a rip-roaring quick read that’s told so vividly, you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie. It’s one of those stories that builds its premise slowly but surely, enticing the reader to turn the pages faster and faster as the terror heats up. In fact, I’d say for the last third of the book, I was curled in a fetal position, afraid to even look out my own window lest I see a giant monster staring in at me.

Deanna reflexively turned toward Chuck–but her eyes were drawn to the window of the door behind him. A massive dark form was there, filling the window frame, peering in at them with huge eyes that eerily reflected the firelight.

For me, Progeny was all the scarier because of my fear of the woods (don’t you dare laugh!). I don’t know how many times I’ve walked through the forest and heard a twig snap or seen a footprint that was way too large to be a deer or rabbit. Furthermore, I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard from friends who’ve come upon a mountain lion or bear while hiking. The woods are teeming with life, and in Progeny, they’re teeming with a life that’s far more alarming than any mountain lion or bear.

Lightening flashed in an extended strobing burst, silencing Zane–and giving all of them a brief glimpse of the massive hairy beast standing less than ten yards behind them…Then it was dark again.”

Yet, despite its many terrifying moments, Progeny had its touching moments, too. Bigger than the battle between man and Bigfoot is the battle between man and son. The word “progeny” means offspring, descendent, or son. In this book there are three distinctive father/son relationships, and each one has their own complexities and dramas and heartaches. Yet, although these three father/son pairings are different from each other, they also share a painful similarity: loss. Loss of respect. Loss of innocence. Loss of control. Loss of love. Loss of life! Patrick C. Greene does a terrific job of telling a horror story that goes beyond monsters lurking in a forest. He tells a story of monsters lurking within living beings. Of anger and sorrow and regret. Of broken relationships and misunderstandings that wreak more havoc than Bigfoot himself.

If you’re looking for a heartfelt yet suspenseful read, this is it! And what better time to read such a scary story than right now, on the eve of Halloween?

Jen’s Rating:

4 Star

Read more about Progeny here!

About Patrick C. Greene

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Some dark serendipity plopped a young Patrick Greene in front of a series of ever stranger films-and experiences-in his formative years, leading to a unique viewpoint. His odd interests have led to pursuits in film acting, paranormal investigation, martial arts, quantum physics, bizarre folklore and eastern philosophy. These elements flavor his screenplays and fiction works, often leading to strange and unexpected detours designed to keep viewers and readers on their toes.

Literary influences range from Poe to Clive Barker to John Keel to a certain best selling Bangorian. Suspense, irony, and outrageously surreal circumstances test the characters who populate his work, taking them and the reader on a grandly bizarre journey into the furthest realms of darkness. The uneasy notion that reality itself is not only relative but indeed elastic- is the hallmark of Greene’s writing.

Living in the rural periphery of Asheville North Carolina with his wife, youngest son and an ever-growing army of cats, Greene still trains in martial arts when he’s not giving birth to demons via his pen and keyboard. Visit the website : www.PatrickCGreene.com

In addition to his novel Progeny, and the short story collection Dark DestiniesGreene has several film projects in the works, and just finished writing his second novel, The Crimson Calling-the first in the action-adventure vampire trilogy, The Sanguinarian Council.

Let’s all congratulate Patrick C. Greene on this one year anniversary of Progeny. And let’s all thank him for writing such a gripping story and sharing it with us!

Book of the Month – October

Seeing as it’s October and Halloween is just around the corner, I thought I’d pick a book this month that’s on the “scarier” side. But fear not all you anti-horror readers! This is a tale that’s just as funny as it is suspenseful and creepy.

9802372The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Synopsis

“The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.”

Jen’s Review

This is a thriller that will have you both scared and laughing throughout it. I thoroughly enjoyed the premise, the witty and, at times, absurd dialogue, and Maureen Johnson’s writing style. But, more than anything, I enjoyed the protagonist. Simply put, Rory Deveaux was one of the most amusing characters I’ve ever read. The things she’d say…I’d literally burst out laughing (and I’m not a “burst out laughing” type of reader). Sure, I’ll smile or chuckle softly, but I don’t LAUGH.

And if we get caught, I will claim I made you go. At gunpoint. I am American. People will assume I’m armed.”

I also love how Rory uses over-the-top tales from her southern hometown to defend herself–whether that’s defending herself while flirting with a cute boy or battling a wicked ghost.

The Name of the Star‘s LOL humor was skillfully and pleasantly balanced with a creepy ghost story about Jack the Ripper that keeps you biting your nails and holding your breath the entire time. And there’s just enough romance in the story to give your heart a nice little flutter every now and then.

Jen’s Rating
4 Star

Read more about The Name of the Star on Goodreads!

Some other fun Halloween appropriate titles you might like to check out include:

The Monstrumologist by Ricky Yancey

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro

World War Z by Max Brooks

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova