Sunday, February 18, 2018

YA Book Review: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

The Gallery of Unfinished GirlsThe Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars 

A repost from my review on The Kidliterati 

A piano appears on the lawn one week after seventeen-year-old Mercedes Moreno’s mother has left for Puerto Rico to watch over her abuela, lying in a coma. Mercedes and her fourteen-year-old sister, Angela, wait for their mother’s return in Sarasota and try to the best of it. But it’s not easy. Her sister becomes better and better on the piano they keep in the living room, growing as a musician, while Mercedes is unsure of what to paint, or why or how she’ll create anything of artist merit since her award-winning piece last year.

That she’s fallen in love with her best friend Victoria and keeping it a secret might have something to do with her lack of inspiration. A mysterious new tenant moves in with the neighbor they share a porch with. Her name is Lilia Solis. She’s also Latina, and a painter, and seems to live in an entirely different world. Lilia works to move Mercedes out of limbo, toward her next work of art, asking questions and sharing her own work.

Mercedes wishes she could return to the feeling of being on the brink of creation, “a little like falling in love.” When Lilia introduces Mercedes to the Red Mangrove Estate, a beachfront artist’s community where the artists can “be their best selves”, she spends more and more time there, meeting other artists, in a whirlwind of dreamy creation, where Tricia’s deepest secrets spill forth, while her sister spends time upstairs playing piano like a virtuoso. They both want to stay and live in endless creation.

An absorbing, and beautifully written in a way you’re sure you’ve entered another dimension, blurring the lines of reality in this delightful magical realism, that had me racing through, so I could get to painting and playing music too! I’m pretty sure I burst into magical tears in the last chapter. This book was that inspiring. The relationship between Victoria and Mercedes is warm and tender and very loving. Positive bisexual representation.

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Free Verse Friday!

Am I to do this, too?

Clean the dishes,
Sweep the Floor,
Paint the bathroom, but today I’m torn.
Write a poem, draw, or clean?
It’s really not so hard to see, right here on my pad of paper.

But decisions are made every weekend, and most nights—tend to my family and home, or breakaway—
And play for the day?

Dreams and eternal things  … hold hope and joy.
But I need order, to begin.
Chaos can be tempered, with glue:
Holding tight to what’s bubbling inside my chest,
Pumping at my heart.
Rise, rise up foolish thoughts and dreams of another world.  You win!

Last Summer I found volumes of poems from years ago, and I'm having fun re-discovering old emotions, many I still struggle with.   

I'd like everyone to join in "Free Verse Fridays".  If you do, leave your blog link in the comments. This may become a weekly project. 

Write. Write. Write. 
In any form, or thought.   And don't you ever stop!     

Monday, February 12, 2018

YA Book Review: The Hush

The HushThe Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A repost from my review on the Kidliterati Blog.

“There were creatures in the Hush, creatures of twisted magic, formed from the remnants of real-world sorcery. The Hush was a dumping ground for the leftovers. The residual, dregs of Music and broken tunes …”

A musician traveling with his fiddle, and searching for his father, enters the town of Hamlin. Pegasi patrol the skies. He hopes the locals will like his music enough, he’ll be able to eat that night, and he sets up in the local saloon. Never expecting what would happen when he plays the fiddle, that his music would touch the Song, and he’d be arrested. He didn’t mean to, but he was a natural, raised in the slums by his father. Only Songshapers were supposed to sense the tune of things in a physical way.

Chester is doomed, sentenced to death. The resident Songshaper explains his sentence, while locked behind bars, preparing to be hung. Chester feels music in the stone walls, in the slivers of wood, but there’s no way out. He doesn’t understand how his music connected to Music so quickly. It’s a crime for the untrained in the Song to use it.

Chester stands ready with the executioner, confused about how he got to this point, and the blade comes down, but he’s suddenly someplace else, and not in front of a horde of townspeople ready to watch him die. It’s dark, and he’s with the older teen who requested that difficult song, back at the saloon, the song that got him arrested, and now he’s helping Chester escape. They travel through the Hush, and it’s rife with Echos, and other twisted sorts of magic. Chester meets the others teens in the Nightfall Gang. The legendary gang, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, he hopes they can help find his father, but they need Chester, and the trials begin.

An absorbing, and a beautifully imaginative world, a musical fantasy like none I’ve read before. The characters deal with tough knocks and adventure at every turn, inventing and utilizing fascinating magic devices and inventions.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Just Keep Writing!

What I’ve been up to lately.  

You may know I’ve had a couple giveaways for The Unmoving Sky. While my GoodReads giveaway had near 1500 entries my blog less than ten, I wonder if blog giveaways are a thing of the past. As I’ve seen several Twitter RT giveaways over the last year. Quick and to the point. Live and learn, I suppose. 

I’m not self-published, and I’m not with the Big 5 publishers, I’m published through Leap Books, a small press that’s under “traditional” press in the SCBWI Big Book, etc. The Unmoving Sky is my little novella that could.
The book was too short and I was too late to join a debut group in 2016, the year I was published. I’d joined the International Thriller Writers, but when they found out my book was a novella, I lost a few of the marketing/awards benefits that come with membership. Apparently, I’d slipped through without anyone noticing my book was a novella. They were wonderfully kind, but unhelpful promoting my book.

 I was on my own, with a middle-grade (SFF) book coming out – (editing two books simultaneously was quite the endeavor.)  Alas, the rug was pulled out from under me, and the publisher culled 50 authors. I’ve never quite recovered, I’m still writing – of COURSE! It’s where I go to feel better, have a little happy. 
My short story Charger Nine was published in the October 2017 in the Anthology Alien Dimensions. I have a couple short stories out there, awaiting decisions, and I’m currently revising my Historical, YA with a touch of Fantasy, for THREE YEARS now (almost ready to query. Again.), and last November I finished another YA contemporary—it’s with readers.
While researching my latest NaNoWriMo draft, I pulled out old diaries of mine to get back into my YA head. It was a trip!  I advise everyone to keep a journal, you will learn so much more about yourself looking back. I laughed because I actually talked to my future self often:  “I have to write through these tears, so in years to come, I’ll remember.” A hoot! And much like time traveling. It was mind-altering, and I live for that! It’s also what I like to read.  J

 As far as my MG, my cancelled book, I may rewrite it and change the characters – when there’s a window of downtime. I enjoy writing short stories when I’m between projects or my work is with readers being critiqued. 

I’m still seeking an agent! I can’t wrap my head around organizing the business side when I’m a writing machine! Ha! Until my bottom hurts! I really need a standing desk at this point. But I LOVE talking to people, it actually comes pretty naturally, but the publishing stuff – help! 

For 2018 I’m shouting it out to the Universe, I want a GOOD agent. I have to say after querying for so long, with a couple shelved projects, I know who my top agents are – and can’t wait to meet them!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Another Book Giveaway!

Hello, Wonderful People!

My GoodReads giveaway was so successful I thought I'd have another. I'm giving away two print copies of The Unmoving Sky

If you're a US resident, all you have to do is leave a comment below. What was your favorite book of 2017? Just one, I know it's hard. :-)

I began writing my Young Adult book, The Unmoving Sky in 2011. In part, for my sons, who loved the author Gary Paulson and nature vs man narratives. It was also my exploration of domestic terrorism. My mounting fear of homegrown terrorism as it escalated in the United States. Untempered by the current Administration.  

" ... between 2001 and 2015, more Americans were killed by homegrown right-wing extremists than by Islamist terrorists, according to a study by New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC."

Snopes: "... trump is quick to condemn Muslim terrorist attacks, but he has been largely silent about hate crimes carried out by white terrorists."

This POTUS spreads lies and misinformation and hate as he tries to divide us and eliminate the freedoms we've gained over the years. He's trying to destroy everything President Obama worked to for, to help the people of this country. 

Stand up to hate and discrimination!  
I don't think there's anything I despise more than bigotry and racism. 
The mark of an unevolved soul.     

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Women's March 2018 in New York City! Here We Are Again.

We began the march by following the pink pussy hats ... 
 I read that over 200,000 marched in NYC, however, my hubby, being a numbers man, estimated that number to be MUCH higher. Millions of PEOPLE screamed shut this regime down around the world!  

The GOP is complicit in Terrorizing the Nation! History will judge. The one good thing to come out of the illegitimate election: LOOK AT ALL OF US COMING TOGETHER. Against Hate, against Discrimination, Bigotry, and Racism, which holds this COUNTRY BACK.  I want to move into the age of enlightenment but ignorance keeps us locked in the upside down.  Keep RISING UP!  and Speaking Out! 

There were so many people I stood in the same position for an hour! 

I LOVE my fellow Americans who are standing up against INJUSTICE and RACISM. 
There is Hope!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book Review: The Crystal Ribbon

The Crystal RibbonThe Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reposting from my review on The Kidliterati

During the Northern Song dynasty in Taiyuan province of Medieval China lived a girl named Li Jing.

Spirit guardians protect the villages, such as the Great Golden Huli Jing, the five-tailed fox jing that saved hers years ago, and Jing shares a name with. Teased constantly, she’s reminded to be proud of her name because it’s a part of her. The village shamaness says her name ties her to their village jing, like a crystal ribbon, that it will protect and help Li Jing “find the home of her spirit.”

Since Li Jing’s mother died in childbirth, she watches over her younger brothers. Her aunt Mei and Grandmamma live with them, and her Baba. With hardly enough to feed themselves, they offer the tutelary spirits their best crops. And in order to survive, Jing’s family sells her to a family in Xiawan, where she becomes a tongyang-xi — wife, and nursemaid to a three-year-old. Jing’s life goes from hard to worse and she’s sold once again.

Facing unimaginable adversity, Jing’s only option is to run away, and she wants to go home. A magical spider, a nightingale, and a traveling stranger help her find a way.
A richly depicted historical fantasy, emotionally charged, filled with magic and hope, and some of the loveliest metaphors. Readers will be inspired by Li Jing’s resilience and strength.

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*** You still have time to sign up for my Goodreads Giveaway!  link on the side panel >>> 

Open to USA, UK, Australia, and Canada!