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Book Review: Lost and Found Mar 04

*Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate links. And, while I strive to avoid spoilers, there are details that need to be shared to make a thorough review.*

Oh, the betrayal.

Scarlet Moreno has no idea what she’s in for when she sends investigative partner, Krista Hart, on the search for a missing witness from the case that shuffled Scarlet out of the LAPD. All she wants is the answer to WHY she was set up to die by someone she thought was a friend. With Krista’s help, Scarlet gets her answers, but the cost is high.

While I doubt it is, this story could signal the end of Moreno and Hart. Can Scarlet overcome this much betrayal? Will she be able to pick up the pieces and move on?

Without spoilers, I can’t even begin to guess at the answers to these questions. All I ask of authors Allison Brennan and Laura Griffin is, IS there going to be another book? The depth of story that they have created over all four books in the series is phenomenal, but so many loose ends for both characters have been wrapped up in the most recent releases. What does this mean for the future of Moreno and Hart, both as characters and as a series?

Hopefully the answer is coming in the near future.

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Book Review: Frosted Jan 12

*Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate links. And, while I strive to avoid spoilers, there are details that need to be shared to make a thorough review.*

One of the more recent additions to my list of favorite authors is Laura Griffin. I’ve followed her Tracers series from the beginning. Frequently when I would search the internet to find a new author to try while waiting on my favorites to write a new book, the author Allison Brennan would come up. Her Lucy Kincaid series sounds right up my alley, but I know how I am with book series. If I like it, I will obtain and read them all. Start to finish, pausing only to eat and take or pick up the children from school. The series was already at least five books in at that point, and I just couldn’t commit myself to it. And then! During one of these searches, I discovered that a book co-authored by these two individuals was available for pre-order. And it would be a series.

I was ridiculously excited and pre-ordered it. And a new love was born.

As much as I would like to start at the beginning and review them in order (I love order), that would be a stumbling block for me to actually write a review. So instead, I start with a very recent release in the Moreno and Hart series, a novella titled Frosted.

Private investigators Scarlet Moreno and Krista Hart receive an all expenses paid weekend to a ski resort as compensation for helping up-and-coming actor Adam Brock determine if he is actually being stalked. He also happens to be Krista’s ex-husband. The interactions between Krista and Adam perfectly explain why their marriage failed, but you can’t help but feel affection for them.

Also invited along for the weekend are Adam’s manager, Dave, and acting coach, Trina. They all share the penthouse suite at the resort, which is the only one available after a wedding fills up the rest of the resort. The odd interactions between the wedding guests and Adam, Krista, Scarlet, Dave, and Trina make for some interesting distractions to the the case being investigated.

In order to get the answers that Adam needs, Moreno and Hart ask for help from Scarlet’s brother, who is a cop, and the interactions between siblings give you some nice background and updates to Scarlet’s life, since this book is more about Krista. I, personally, appreciated that glimpse.

There was one thing that really bothered me about the story, and it’s going to be hard to write about without giving away the ending. The reason that Adam is being stalked is unusual to me. The depth to which the plot goes that results in Adam being stalked is a little extreme. Part of me appreciates this. But, it actually read as very rushed. I just re-read the ending, hoping I had missed something because it was late and I was tired by the time I finished the book. I still do not actually understand WHY ANY of the events happened that resulted in Adam being stalked.

Despite this, it was an enjoyable 100-page read. I’m ready to tackle their next book, Lost and Found, which is waiting for me on my Nook. If you’re already a fan of either Laura Griffin or Allison Brennan, or enjoy mysteries with realistic characters, this book, and the entire series, needs to be on your list of books to read.

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Writers Gotta Write Jan 09

For many years now, I have put together bits and pieces of stories. For a few years now, I’ve promised myself that I would pay more attention to those bits and pieces, and to turn them into real novels.

But I got in my own way. That little voice in my head kept telling me that I wasn’t good enough. That my standards as a reader were too high, and therefore my writing would never meet my hypercritical qualifications.

So I did some research. The best way to write better is to write more. In addition to the bits and pieces I wrote for myself, I picked up a couple jobs as a freelance writer. The pay was good and the subjects were interesting, but the passion wasn’t there, and it showed. My fragile ego took a beating when I wasn’t good enough to continue writing, even though I’m not sure it could be any farther from the genre I wanted to write.

It took awhile, and several more bits and pieces of fiction written, for me to pick myself up and dust myself off. The ideas started fluttering through my head on a more regular basis. After Christmas was over, I had some free time for the first time in two months. Rather than stress myself writing, I downloaded several new books to my Nook and began to read.

Reading has me analyzing how great stories are written. What it takes to make a story capture you and leave you satisfied when it’s over. These are qualities that I want my own writing to have, and to improve them, I have to know them.

How do you recognize those qualities? I’m not sure, but I know that sometimes when books end, I have questions. Or feel disappointed. And taking time to discover why will ultimately improve my own writing.

I’ve decided to post some book reviews. I know, I know, I’ve said this before, and the ones I started are still drafts. But this time, not only are the posts about the most recent books I’ve read already written, but they’re already scheduled to post. So stay tuned. The first step towards improving my writing is on its way.

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Road Trips with Young Kids Jul 15

I’m going to continue to ignore the half dozen draft posts that have been staring at me for months. Daydreaming about fiction books can wait, because lately I’ve been not just dreaming, but planning an east coast road trip for our family of four.

We are not strangers to road trips with kids. We took a similar trip to the one we’re about to embark on when our oldest was just 22 months old. The youngest took her first 8 hour car trip at 14 months, and has repeated it every year since. Some say we’re crazy, but we enjoy the freedom traveling in our own car gives us.

My daughters are now 6.5 and 3.75 years old, and this might be the hardest age to plan a trip for. Well, other than infancy when feeding and changing occurs every two hours or all hell breaks loose.

Both girls are potty trained. Neither have life threatening allergies (that we’ve discovered). So why is this the hardest age?

Because the little one copies the big one, and the big one asks, even on trips around town, “Are we there yet?”

So here are 4 ways that I hope to avoid hearing “Are we there yet?” on our next trip.

    1. Planned stops. As an adult or even a teen, you can just drive until you absolutely must use the restroom and then get right back on the road. With young kids, this can be a recipe for disaster. Their bladder control is just not that good. So I have planned stops in active areas ever 2 hours throughout the trip. Why search for active areas and exits? Clean bathrooms. If any of you have ever had young kids refuse to use a public toilet before, you understand how crucial clean bathrooms are to a happy trip.
    2. DVD player. I know there are all kinds of studies calling screen time the devil, but it helps the sections of the trips fly by for kids. I’ve picked a surprise new movie, they picked a new movie, and we’ll pack 3-4 favorites to take with us as well.
    3. *NEW* Map reading skills. Now that the oldest can read and has studied basic geography, we’ve spent a lot of time this summer talking about the map and our route. The girls both know all the states we’re going to, the order we’re visiting them in, and where they are located on the map. Where are we? Are we there yet? Let’s check the map!
    4. *NEW* Surprise toys. In the past, I have allowed the girls to pick whatever toys they want as long as it fits in a certain bag or bin. This trip, since our only real downtime is in the car, I’m packing for them. Colored pencils and paper, Crayola Wonder markers and paper, school workbooks, Busy Books which include a play mat and mini figures to play with, a soccer ball for exercise at our planned stops, and – the biggest surprise for them – a new LeapPad (the youngest broke ours over a year ago) and the use of my old Nintendo DS. They will be allowed to top off the bag with their comfort items – blankets, stuffed animals, iPods, and one item of their choosing.

Have you tried any of these before? Were they successful? What have you done successfully on a road trip? What has been an epic fail?

Category: Alyson, Emma, travel  | Leave a Comment
What is my “Brand”? Apr 12

Since the moment I decided I wanted a blog, everyone has asked me about branding. What’s my brand? What will my blog be about? Who am I writing for? What will make my blog unique?

I never had an answer to those questions. Or, if I did, it was very vague. 

I’ve been blogging for five years now. Inconsistently, randomly, and not always valuably, to myself or the world. But sometimes you need an outlet to get something off your chest, or be uncharacteristically unreasonable and illogical.

I’ve done all those things. I want to continue to do all those things because they’re important to my mental state. But it needs direction. It needs a reason for me to come back and create new content regularly. 

So, let’s dream together. 

My husband and I have had some incredible traveling opportunities in the 14 years we’ve been together, and it’s time to share. Not randomly like in the past, but purposefully. I’d like to start with a more recent trip. Prague? Nassau? Or one of many reviews I could do of Disney World resorts?

Do those seem too far out of reach at the moment? I’m an avid fiction reader, what is your favorite book world to escape into? I have several must-read authors and will be reviewing their books, and I’d love to add new authors to my list. 

What should we dream about first?

 

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Why I Prefer the Written Word Mar 02

The more I am required to interact with other adults and children, the more I find myself responding to things with, “I’ll email you.” Or, “Shoot me an email.” 

I have never been a spontaneous or instantaneous person. Everything I do, say, or write has been analyzed for as long as the situation will allow. The longer I am allowed to analyze and decide, the more confident I am in my choice of words or actions. 

By choosing the written word, I allow myself the maximum time to formulate a response. 

Does anyone else need this processing time? Or are most people able to interact more spontaneously? Has anyone taught them self to be more confident in their spontaneous interactions?

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An Attempt to Describe Jan 05

This might be the most jumbled post I’ve ever written, and this is only the first sentence.

I posted a couple days ago about having my Mind Blown by an image in my FB feed. An image that made me want to write ALL THE THINGS.

But I can’t. Because the noise in my head is too great.

And it’s not currently the noise of doubt or failure, but the noise created by the rest of life.

Only another parent can comprehend the love I have for my kids. I have an awesome husband who took off winter break with the kids and we’ve had some great fun.

But the noise distracts me from immersing myself in reading and writing. And most of me feels bad about it. These are fantastic times in all of our lives, and there’s a constant distraction in my brain. A constant buzz to fall into another world. Itching to create until all the creative things have been created.

How do you balance all your loves? And then how do you balance all your loves with the daily minutiae?

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Mind Blown Jan 03

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This image came across my Facebook feed on New Year’s Eve and blew my mind. At one page a day, I could complete a novel in one year. I got so excited! And then froze. Do I start from scratch? Do I push forward on one of my many ramblings? Do I just resolve to write in all the genres this year in preparation for THE PUSH (whatever that may be) next year? Always, always the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is ourselves, and this is a classic example. Too many options, the illusion of not enough time, the fear of failure. It all adds up to projects that remain incomplete.

Have you ever had to push through? How did you make the necessary choices?

Category: Writing  | Leave a Comment
Countdown to Christmas Dec 03

Last year I put together a 24 Days of Christmas Togetherness list of activities to help the kids and I celebrate the season. With just 27-ish days between Thanksgiving and Christmas again this year, I’m going to do the activities again and add a few more to fill the season with holiday cheer. Here is this year’s revised list!
1. Put up and decorate the Christmas tree.
2. Watch a Christmas movie. (What’s your favorite??)
3. Take a drive and look at Christmas lights.
4. Take a selfie
5. Bake Christmas cookies (possibly gingerbread people)
6. Sing and dance to Christmas songs (I’m thinking this will happen several times ;))
7. Go for a nature walk. This won’t be nearly as pretty in central Florida as it would be in, oh, say, the Smoky Mountains, but we’re going anyway
8. Have a fire in the fire pit.
9. Buy and wrap a present for Daddy
10. Enjoy delicious holiday beverages from Starbucks. Or Dunkin Donuts. We love all things with a pound of sugar and caffeine.
11. Take an informal family photo
12. Make a foam wreath and stockings as interior decorations
13. Check out the tree and lights at Cranes Roost Park
14. Go to Disney and see the dancing lights at Hollywood Studios
15. Make hot cocoa. And not the instant kind.

How do you celebrate the holidays? Does your family have a favorite activity that I can add to our list?

Category: holiday  | Leave a Comment
On Writing Sep 26

The written word fascinates me. I’m a voracious, though often limited, reader. This has led me to create many pages of my own fiction writing that have never seen the light of day. I read them, and occasionally add to them, and they just sit on my computer’s hard drive gathering virtual dust.

A few months ago I kept seeing someone asking for writing help. Non-fiction blog posts. Paid. Extra money sounded good (and turned into a blessing) and I needed something to do that was on an adult level rather than the under age 5 level. So I gave it a try. And it was good.

But some days, despite my love for words and need for income, I find it difficult to write. I sit at my computer and stare at a blank screen. Or I’ll open WordPress on my iPhone with the intention of posting here and stare at a blank screen. And then I walk away and ignore one of the things I love, though usually in favor of another.

My husband shared a post with me a few days ago that hit the nail on the head when it comes to the difficulties of writing. How I Trick Myself Into Writing. I do SO MANY of those things, and have discovered that I can be very picky about my writing environment as well as my reading material.

I need a quiet environment and to be alone. Until I find the groove, even the cat yawning is a distraction.

But I have two young kids. And a husband who works from home. There is no quiet and alone.

So how else, in addition to the aforementioned post, can I trick myself into writing? How do you convince yourself to write?

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