Monday, January 21, 2019

Another Great Book to Help Your Writing

Angela and Becca at Writers Helping Writers are doing it again!

They are releasing another great book to help writers. This time they have updated the Emotion Thesaurus, a book I use frequently while writing.

Because I believe so much in these books, I wanted to be part of the cover reveal.

So without further ado, I give you...

The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition!
You might have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy. The original released in 2012 and quickly became the go-to guide on expressing character emotion. The book's lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier.

In this second edition, the authors have added 55 entries, bringing the total to 130 emotions.

That's not all, either. This book is almost double in size with lots of new content. You can find a full write up for it HERE and a list of all the entries (plus some samples!) HERE.

Plus, this book is available for preorder! You can find it on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

One last thing...

Angela & Becca are giving away a free webinar recording of one of their popular workshops on Emotion, so head over if this is an area of struggle for you.

It might really help!

Monday, December 31, 2018

My 2018 Reads

This was a busy reading year for me. I read 46 books, which is a new record for me. Taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge had something to do with that. I set my goal for 35 and then worried I wouldn't make it. The challenge is supposed to be fun, but it ended up stressing me out so I won't be doing it for 2019. I'd rather read as I wish and not have the pressure of reaching a goal.

I resumed listening to audiobooks after a lengthy break and made it through nine. There are a few I started but didn't finish in the allotted two week loan period on Overdrive, so I'm waiting to get them back to finish.

If you'd like to see all the books I read this year, visit my Goodreads page here.

Historical Fiction

I started the year on a bit of a historical fiction kick. It's one of my favorite genres. Here's the highlights of the ones I read:

Odd and True by Cat Winters. It's a wonderful book about the love between sisters that leaves you wondering if the monsters are real. I adored Cat Winters and plan to read more of her in 2019.

Alyssa Palombo's books The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and Violinist of Venice are beautiful with stories that swept me away. I can't wait to read her latest The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel, which I got for Christmas. I also interviewed Alyssa earlier this year, which you can read here.

Amalia Carosella's Helen of Sparta and By Helen's Hand were also fantastic. I love myths so Amalia's series swept me away with the story of Helen (of Troy) and her love for Theseus.


There were several debuts I read this year, most of them authors I know. If you have time, I recommend any of these.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is a book from my Pitch Wars 2016 group that has  great world building and a powerful story.

Another from my PW group is Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I had trouble putting this one down. It's intense and the way Zoje deals with mental and chronic illness was well done.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (also from my PW group) was a fun read. I don't often read romance, but this one made me swoon and laugh. I've recommended it to many patrons at the library where I work.

Frejya's Daughter by Rachel Pudelek is a great paranormal story about powerful women. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Planetside by Michael Mammy was one I enjoyed more than I expected and recommended we get a copy at the library. I liked the main character and the mystery kept me reading. I can't wait for the sequel in 2019.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amalia Berube and What the Wood Keep by Katya de Becerra were delightfully creepy.

I recently finished an advanced copy of The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore, which you'll see out in March. It's a fast paced story about an assassin with a moral dilemma and mystery to solve.

Enjoyed More Than Expected

Uprooted by Naomi Novak would have been one of my favourites if I hadn't wondered what the story was about most of the book. I expected more of a YA fantasy judging by the cover copy but it was so much more than described.

The classic The Giver by Lois Lowry was recommended to me by a co-worker. It was a fast read that I really enjoyed.

I listened to Arrowood by Laura McHugh and loved the gothic tale with a dark mystery. The only thing that would have made this book better was ghosts.

Omens by Kelley Armstrong is another I enjoyed more than I thought. I kept wanting to read one more chapter because the chapters are so short and I wanted to know what would happen. I read the first two books in her Cainsville series and am looking forward to more.

I'm very particular about witches but read three this year that I'd highly recommend.

The Witch House on Persimmon Point by Suzanne Palmieri was wonderful with it's legacy story, a creepy house, and ghosts. I want to read the other in the series.

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan follows a family of witches for several generations, which I love, though I wasn't keen on the last woman's story.

I also tried out an audiobook called Hexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell. It was a light, fun mystery to listen to and I liked the way it respectfully dealt with religions.


I want to re-read Stephen King's The Dark Tower series but with so many books I haven't read, there hasn't been time. Instead, I'm listening to them on audio. I finished The Gunslinger  but have had to wait months for The Drawing of the Three to become available. I also listened to Eyes of the Dragon, which was the first Stephen King book I read when I was 12 or so. I've enjoyed returning to these books.

Honorable Mention

I was delighted that my friend Em Shotwell released another book in her Blackbird series this year. Blackbird Falling is Delia's story. I enjoyed the lighter tone of the first part of the book but when it took a darker twist, I was all in and loved it!

Superheroes Suck by Jamie Zakian was another fun read. I liked the different take on superheros, as problems rather than solutions, and the characters.

2019 Reading

My to read pile is overflowing. As mentioned, there are some series I want to continue with, and lots of books that I have yet to dig into. I'm always reluctant to mention new books I'm looking forward to as I know I'll miss some. Here's some that come to mind that are coming out in 2019...
You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

As mentioned earlier, Spaceside by Michael Mammy

And most importantly, my best friend and critique partner's book comes out! Don't miss Next Girl to Die by Dea Poirier. There have been some changes since the last time I read it, so I can't wait to see the final product!

Are there any books you read in 2018 you loved or ones coming in 2019 you're looking forward to?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Blackbird Falling Release Day!

Happy Book Birthday to Blackbird Falling by Em Shotwell!

I'm thrilled to help Em launch this amazing book! I finished an advanced copy yesterday and loved it!

This is the perfect follow up to Blackbird Summer. It pick up a year after BBS left off. We see Delia struggling to come to terms with the horrible things that happened to her (no spoilers in case you haven't read BBS yet) and navigate the world as a new mom.

Before I continue with my review, here's a bit about the book.

Meet Delia. Gifted. Magical. Broken.

Hell hath no fury like Delia Caibre—Gifted single mom with the power to make people love her, and a chip on her shoulder the size of the Mississippi.

When last summer left her broken by a monster, and abandoned by the man she trusted, Delia pulled herself up and vowed to never let anyone hurt her, or those she loves, again. So when Thomas Richard shows up, begging forgiveness and flashing his hundred-watt-smile, Delia lets him know that it will take more than dimples and promises to win her back.

Besides, raising her daughter, Genevieve—whose Gift is rare and stronger than anyone in the magical Caibre family—leaves little room for things like dating. But Thomas is persistent. And cute…and it would be nice to feel carefree and nineteen.

Until a masked-man from her past wields a Curse that leaves Delia’s beloved sister on her deathbed, and makes off with Genevieve. It will take the most powerful in the Caibre family to put things right. But bringing her broken family together may prove impossible, even if not doing so means their destruction.

You can buy your copy here.

The first part of this book has a lot of sweetness as Delia gives Thomas a second chance. I was swooning and laughing. Em is a master at writing those sweet, awkward scenes. Though Delia is dealing with her grief and PTSD, I found the first bit fun.

I admit, I was a little worried that the book would continue in that vein, which would have been fine but I was craving the chaos and darkness that I know Em can deliver. And deliver she did.
When Genevieve, Delia's daughter, is taken, there's no stopping the Caibre family from getting her back.

I loved what Em did with the story. Kidnapping of a child is a common trope, but in this story, totally necessary as Gen has the coveted gift of vigor. I don't want to spoil the book, but what Em down with the Gifts and families had me enthralled. I didn't want to stop reading.

Em's characters are complex and emotionally troubled in their own ways. She writes with compassion and humor. I love the world she's built and I can't wait for more!

Where can you find out more about Em and her Blackbird series?

Em Shotwell is a mom, writer, cancer survivor, foster youth advocate, podcast producer, and a casual geek--among a million other things. Sometimes she writes books about misfits and the people who love them.

When she’s not frowning at her computer screen, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, or indoors daydreaming and wishing she could play the banjo. 

Find her on her website, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Get your copy of Blackbird Falling here.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Another Concert Adventure

Last night I went to see two musicians whose careers I've followed for decades...and it was amazing!

It took a little wheeling and dealing at work to get the time off to see Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. A co-worker was nice enough to cover my shift, so I'll owe her big time. Going also involved about ten hours of driving and keeping my kids up later than they should have been one night (my youngest doesn't do well if she misses her bed time).

I've been a Slash fan since Guns n' Roses's first album and have bought all the albums he's put out (I still have Slash's Snakepit on cassette). One would have thought I'd have jumped to see Gn'R on their reunion tour when they came to Toronto, but honestly, I wasn't into it.

When I heard Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators was coming, I wanted to go because I love their albums. I can put one on when I'm having a rough day and it makes things better. They're like comfort food for my soul. Hearing the songs live and seeing them preformed was a touching experience.

Slash wasn't the only reason I wanted to go. As I counted down the days to the show, I told everyone, "X days until I see Slash and Todd Kerns!" Most people know Slash, but everyone asked who Todd Kerns was, which gave me the chance to talk about my favourite Canadian band Age of Electric (if you peek at my What I'm Listening To page, you'll see they've been helping me with my latest book). I was even late leaving work one day because I was educating a co-worker on AoE, playing her songs off my phone. It's not often I get to geek out like that. I've been an AoE fan since I saw their video for Aphrodisiac Smile on Much Music way back when (I've been unsuccessful in obtaining a copy of it though). I saw them at Edgefest in the late '90's but sadly missed them on their re-union tour a couple of years ago.

I've been to two shows at Rama and I always find it a little awkward. I want to get up and rock out but most of the audience sits. We all paid a lot for our tickets so I'm not going to be inconsiderate and stand so no one can see. We had a woman in front of us who stood almost the whole show. I'd sat behind her but my husband switched seats with me so I could see without the obstruction.

The opening band Republica was pretty good. The singer has more of an old school metal sound to his voice that you don't hear often anymore and some of their songs have a thrash tint, but not too much that made them too heavy.

Slash was phenomenal. He gets up there and plays his heart out, and looks awesome doing it. He didn't try to work the audience, but he's Slash, he doesn't have to. It was amazing seeing a rock legend that I've followed since my early teen years play live.

The whole band sounded great. They are tight and played their own material sprinkled with songs from Slash's self-titled solo album and covers of Fall to Pieces and Night Train. My only critique was that there was little interaction with the crowd. I like when bands work the audience a little more. I saw Sebastian Bach in July, and that man knows how to interact with a crowd. But it wasn't a huge deal. I'd go see them again in a second.

As much as I loved Kennedy up on stage, doing his thing, the highlight for me was when he turned the mic over to Kerns to sing two songs. Yup, this woman lost her shit, which amused my husband greatly. He did Doctor Alibi and We're All Gonna Die from Slash's solo album. Kerns was great on stage. While he played bass, he interacted with the crowd and tossed picks like there was no tomorrow. Unfortunately, I wasn't close enough to acquire one. I wished I'd had an AoE shirt to wear to the show.

Nothing has touched seeing Chris Cornell three years ago, and I don't think anything will top that because the circumstances in my life at the time gave that show extra meaning. But I think Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators isn't far behind.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Stonebearer's Betrayal Cover Reveal and Guest Post!

I met Jodi one night on Twitter while I was working on the manuscript that got me into Pitch Wars. I'm excited to help reveal the cover for her debut, Stonebearer's Betrayal, which sounds really good! It will be out November 13, 2018 through Immortal Works Press.

Before we get to Jodi's beautiful cover, here's her guest post...

Moved by Magic and Music

There’s an assumption that writers sit in a coffee shop and channel their muse. If the right mix of chemicals hit their brain at the right time, wonderful words pour out onto the page. For those creative people where that set up actually works, kudos to you.

It’s often said, “there is no wrong way to write.” For every writer there is a special set of magic needed to make the words happen. For me, I love finding magic in the world around me. Sometimes it’s in the details of a flower or a dragonfly’s wing. Sometimes magic finds me when I read stories and the words on the page fly into my mind and create pictures. Sometimes I feel magic in the deep emotional throb of an impressive musical piece.

And sometimes I have to beat down my muse with a flyswatter and shake the words out of her.
While writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal, I explored ideas from compelling TV shows I grew up watching and put them together into one gripping story. There’s the attractive intrigue of immortals that stems from watching The Highlander – with Adrian Paul. There’s the drama of an intense life and death situation from old school ER with George Clooney. There’s an ample splash of magic from unnumbered 80’s cartoons. And finally, there’s my personal belief that girls can do hard things.

Here’s to finding your own special magic, dear reader. You too can do hard things.

Thank you for the inspiration, Jodi! Now to show you Jodi's cover!

To get you ready, here's a bit about the story:

A secret society of immortals tasked to protect the world.
A demon bent on revenge.
And a girl brave enough to fight for her family when the two collide.
When Archdemoness Wrothe stirs the ashes from a long dead war, it rekindles a fire that threatens to burn the world. The immortal Stonebearers have the power to bring her down, if they learn of her awakening in time.
Katira didn’t believe the legends. It wasn’t possible for a person to bend the very fabric of reality or live forever. She didn’t believe in the dark mirror realm either or that forces were at work to destroy the waking world.
That was before the first demon shadow hound came for her.

You can pre-order it on Amazon.

Growing up, Jodi L. Milner wanted to be a superhero and a doctor. When she discovered she couldn’t fly, she did what any reasonable introvert would do and escaped into the wonderful hero-filled world of fiction and the occasional medical journal. She’s lived there ever since.

These days, when she’s not folding the children or feeding the laundry, she creates her own noble heroes on the page. Her speculative short stories explore the fabric of dreams and have appeared in numerous anthologies and SQ Magazine, while her novels weave magic into what it means to be human.

She still dreams of flying.

You can find Jodi at her website, and the usual places, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Next Girl To Die Cover Reveal and Guest Post by Dea Poirier

I'm thrilled to share this cover as it belongs to my best friend and critique partner, Dea Poirier. I've been with her through every step of this book and read it a couple times at various stages. Dea worked hard and I'm so proud of her.

Before I show you her beautiful cover for Next Girl to Die, Dea shares her thoughts on how the story came together.

Birth of a Crime Novel

by Dea Poirier

Once upon a time, I never dreamed I’d write anything like NEXT GIRL TO DIE. Several years ago, I wrote thrillers, but they were of the YA supernatural variety. I never thought about writing suspense or mysteries until my agent suggested it. She’d mentioned that she had many editors clamoring for dark, female protagonists that were a bit morally gray, and she suggested that I might be able to write characters like that. Within my YA projects, I already had a penchant for morally gray, so I decided to give it a shot. Though I’ve watched plenty of crime shows, listened to true crime podcasts, and know way more about serial killers than any human should know – I wasn’t confident about writing a book so entrenched in crime and mystery – especially from a detective’s point of view. It came in layers, so, so many layers.

After watching way too much SVU, bingeing on other crime novels – I started NEXT GIRL TO DIE. I’d never tried writing something like it, didn’t even know if I could. But I started researching small islands that could make a creepy home for this story. I wanted something remote, but not too remote. And finally, Vinalhaven Maine stood out to me as the winner.

I wrote the first draft furiously – and shortly after I got the bones of the story down, my grandmother died. Though it did not come as a shock, she’d been in failing health for a while, it was still a blow. My grandmother helped raise me, I lived with her most of my life, so losing her was akin to losing part of myself. In NEXT GIRL TO DIE, my main character Claire is grieving the loss of her sister, a death she’s been grieving for 15 years. Writing this book helped me pour my own pain, my own struggles with grief into something. And I found that it helped. I was able to write out my pain, to etch some of that into Claire’s soul.

After writing that first draft, I edited it, added layers to the story, and poured my heart out into a small town with many secrets – and a heroine that has just as many, if not more.

Now that you know how the book came together, here's the beautiful cover!

Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.

It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.

Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.

When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.
NEXT GIRL TO DIE set for release May 1 2019, is now available for pre-order on

Dea Poirier was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, where she found her passion during a creative writing course. She studied computer science and political science at the University of Central Oklahoma. She later spent time living on both coasts and traveling the United States before finally putting down roots in central Florida. She now resides somewhere between Disney and the swamp with her husband, son, two dogs, and two cats.

Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Bookbub.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Impostor Syndrome Lives Here

My blog has been sorely neglected for a while now. Not only have things been very busy between working two jobs and writing, I've had the worst case of impostor syndrome. I have a number of half written blogs but then good ole anxiety kicks in. All the ways people will view what I'm saying negatively run through my head. Who am I to post about anything?

The world is not kind. Everyone knows that. Trolls lurk online in every nook. People are more willing to share their negative thoughts than their positive ones these days. Putting anything out there is a gamble.

It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there. I learned that quickly in my news days. I worked for a small town radio station that everyone loves to complain about. It was, and still is, hard not to get offended when people do because I know how hard those at the station work and how much they care. Given, some complaints are justified, but most are people wanting to rant and because the people on the radio are faceless and easy targets--much like those on the internet.

Then why do I worry so much about posting a blog? There's more of myself in my posts than when I wrote and read news on the air. The events I wrote about for the news were not my opinions, thoughts, or experiences. Here they are.

How do you get past impostor syndrome and the anxiety?

You suck it up and try your best. Be kind to yourself (something which I need to learn) and not so critical. You can hide away, but that won't accomplish anything. It's best to surround yourself with supportive people to help you through those dark times of doubt. Remind yourself that the voice that holds you back lies. Your words, thoughts, creations are important. They add something to the world. You never know who is reading/listening. You may change someone's mind, opinion, or life.

The universal truth is not everyone will like what you do. And that's okay. I try to teach my children that it's okay not to like something or someone, but it's not okay to rip things or people apart. Opinions are subjective. As writers, we learn that fast when other people read our work. I wish the world would shift so that people didn't feel obligated to agree with what others liked to fit in and that a difference of opinion was respected, not viewed as threatening. If that were the case, maybe we'd have an easier time releasing our work into the world.