It’s my B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y and I’ll blog if I want to!

Okay, so I’m not really sitting in front of a laptop and blogging on my 29th (cough, cough) birthday. I composed this post on Sunday night, suckers! *shakes fist in the air* hahaha 🙂

So I went into my 33rd year of life pretty pumped. After all, I’d just signed a book deal last summer and I figured since Christ gave his life for me when he was 33, he’d expect me to do some pretty big things with my life this past year.

DSC05525

Monster Bday Cake my kiddos made for me last year–Num Num!

Well, life is full of trade-offs. My debut novel came out in January to instant best seller status on Amazon, but that quickly died down. Most people I talk to say it’s had a profound impact on them, that it was more than just a “good book.” That makes my heart swell, but I also wish it’d reach those thousands of rabid fans I was ready for, but still don’t know I exist. I can’t help but think maybe that’s how Jesus feels about the message of his love and grace too. The good news is . . . I ADORE a challenge, so don’t be surprised if 18 Things shows up on the New York Times Bestselling list someday 🙂 Now I am frequently misunderstood, so please don’t interpret that statement to mean I think I’m allll that and a bag of chips (What? I am a child of the 90s, heehee). Anyway, I have a banner hanging in my classroom that says, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” So, I’m staying positive and holding onto faith!!!

DSC06102

At the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. Look! I have 2 fans 🙂

I also recently made the transition from teaching elementary school for the past twelve years to teaching middle school Language Arts. Hopefully, we’ve all had those conversations with ourselves where we ask, “Who am I? Why am I here?” After two weeks of teaching at my new school, I think that question has been answered for me! There’s a quote by Thomas Carlyle that states: “Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work, a life-purpose; he has found it and will follow it.” That sums up my feelings on teaching middle school. I was created for this job! If you don’t know me personally, you probably think I sound insane. If you do know me personally, then you know I am insane!!! (and I love to use an insane amount of exclamation points, smiley faces, and hearts!)

DSC06859

My classroom . . . home away from home ❤

The other big thing that happened to me this past year is our house going through the foreclosure process. We can be kicked out of our home at any moment, but surprisingly, I am not living in fear. Sure, my heart will have a hard time letting go of this house when the time comes. We’ve had so many wonderful memories here as our kids have grown-up (wish they’d stop growing!). But you know that saying? Home is where the ❤ is. It’s true! My 13yo is probably the most sad over it, but I told her we’ll take the memories wherever we go. A home is so much more than just walls, floors, and rooms. Once again, I’m looking at the silver lining. From each of life’s misfortunes comes a new beginning, an opportunity to renew my faith. I love that I don’t know what the future holds. For everything there is a season, its own time and place.

DSC05856

Good times . . . NY’s Eve party at our house

My Birthday Prayer: Father God, another year has passed so quickly! I’m so thankful that the God of angel armies is a friend of mine. Even though lots of activities pull me in every direction, you show me every day what’s truly important. Thank you for your presence in my life. What a wonderful gift this past year has been! There were some not-so-good days along the way, but with you by my side, I was able to experience your grace and know that your mercies are new every morning. I’m looking forward to the next one! ❤ Jamie

Advertisements

My Review: Broken Forest by Eliza Tilton

Broken Forest Ebook CoverPublisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Release Date: May 1, 2013

Paperback, 236 pages

Intended Audience: Young Adult

Blurb: Hopeless he’ll never be more than the boy who didn’t save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables. And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn.His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn’s golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino’s world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free.

He failed his family once. He won’t fail again.

Review: I want to say in full disclosure that Eliza and I share the same publisher. I was given her book in exchange for an honest review. I wouldn’t have accepted the offer if I didn’t think it sounded like a book I’d enjoy, and I wasn’t disappointed! It had my four favorite things in a book: love, adventure, fantasy, and a twisted ending!

The opening page immediately drew me in and from the very start, I could tell Tilton had a gift for storytelling. There’s danger, there’s desire, and there’s decision. You won’t read the first few chapters of this book asking yourself, “Who gives a crap?” I’m a middle school Language Arts teacher, so I can testify that kids have short attention spans. They inhale violent video games. They think life can be encapsulated in a text message. I can say with conviction that my students would enjoy this book because there’s something for everyone here and because the story moved along at a good pace. Her plot and characterization were spot on. Every scene was manipulated for maximum impact. This was Tilton’s fantasy world, but I felt like I was a part of it (and who wouldn’t want to be . . . did you see that beautiful cover? Seriously one of my favorite book covers of the year!)

The *BONUS* is the characters are inspiring. My favorite character remained Avikar throughout the book, but the other secondary characters were enjoyable too. As the plot unfolded, I was interested in what happened next for everybody. Needless to say, I can’t wait for Book Two in The Daath Chronicles, and I’ll be purchasing the print copy for my classroom!

Kudos to Eliza Tilton. Here’s more on the author if you want to stalk learn more about her:

Eliza author pic (345x640)

Eliza Tilton is the author of the YA Fantasy, Broken Forest, published by Curiosity Quills Press. You can find her blogging about video games and writing on her blog and doing bi-weekly posts on author media over at YAStands.

She graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing. Her stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

Twitter / Tumblr / Website  / Pinterest / Facebook

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / KOBO Goodreads

*How about you? Read any good books lately?

The Lure of Fools . . . Oh, How I Pity Them!!!

Today I’m pleased to welcome another CQ Author to my blog, Jason King! Who is Jason King and what does he write? I’m glad you asked!

????????

BLURB:

“Adventure is the lure of fools, and excitement glamour to the gullible. The siren song of the world is as music to the wanderer’s feet, but that dance leads only to the soul-less grave.” So Jekaran’s uncle has warned him. But that doesn’t stop him from leaping at the exhilarating chance to single-handedly rescue a beautiful woman from a gang of lecherous thieves.

But the bored farm boy quickly finds that he is no match for the group of angry street thugs, and only escapes death by bonding a magical sword that grants him the strength and skill of a master swordsman.  Unfortunately, a peasant wielding such magic is forbidden and punishable by death.

Thus Jekaran finds himself a fugitive with his fate tied to that of the exotic and mysterious, Kairah; a fey woman who must deliver a dire warning to the king that, if heeded, could prevent the very extinction of humanity.

Lure of Fools Cover

ENDORSEMENT:

“A deep and intriguing magic brings a fresh feel to fantasy in this visually stunning journey.  Jason King weaves powerful stories that grip the reader to the last word with a perfect blend of amazement, fear, love, and destiny.  Anybody drawn to dangerous adventure won’t be able to resist The Lure of Fools.  It’s Lloyd Alexander for a new millennium.”  -James Wymore

HA! Toooo funny he mentions Lloyd Alexander . . . I just read his short story, The Stone, with my class today!

And now, a word from our sponsor (or Jason giving a short introduction;-)

This is a promotional reading of the first chapter of my new book, THE LURE OF FOOLS, from Curiosity Quills Press. It’s an action/fantasy adventure in the same vein as books by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, or Jim Butcher.

My friend Mark Hanson is an actor and was a great sport doing the reading with next to no prior notice. Right now Lure of Fools is available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, but the paperback will be available before the end of the month. I will also be signing at Salt Lake Comic Con in September, so if you’re in the area come say hello. Enjoy!

Anyone can read the first three chapters by going here.

The rest of the book’s info can be found on Curiosity Quill’s website. And please share! If you’ve ever been a debut author, you know the exciting feeling of sharing your baby novel with your millions of rabid fans . . . but we can’t deliver to those fans if they don’t know we exist yet!

Congratulations on your debut, Jason, and I hope your release is as magical as your book:-) I pity the fool who doesn’t check out this great story! (Sorry, was I the only one hearing Mr. T’s voice through this entire post because of the title? Hmm, probably!)

If My Life Were A Book . . . Confessions of A Failure

This past week held two big milestones for me–my 15th wedding anniversary with my Prince Charming and my new adventure into the world of “Middle School Teacher.”

DSC06856

My Classroom

This afternoon I skipped (yes, skipped–I do that sometimes just to scare the students) down the hall to obtain a large sheet of white butcher paper so I could start my “Character Traits” poster with my classes. As I walked back to class, I started thinking (and yes, smoke did blow out of my ears), if I was the main protagonist in a book, what kind of character traits would my students, and better yet, my own family, write down for me?

I’d like to say my list would look like this: loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, compassionate, forgiving, grateful, honest, helpful, well-mannered . . . or anything halfway close to my own protagonist in 18 Things. The best time to catch me displaying some of these traits are after a few cups of coffee in the morning 🙂

Reality probably looks more like this: frazzled, frustrated, angry, busy, grumbling, bi-polar, worried, brutally honest (to the point of being insensitive to others), oversensitive (when comments are directed toward me), a “yes person” (most can see that “YES” sticker plastered across my forehead from a mile away which is why I get roped into too many activities). This Jamie appears after working all day without chocolate because she’s trying to be a healthy role model for her students and is therefore now suffering massive sugar withdrawals.

Not a pretty picture, aye? I’d say that’s more of the “home” Jamie than the “Mrs. Ayres” at school. If I acted like my real self at school, I’d probably get fired! Luckily, my family hasn’t figured  out a way to get rid of me yet.

It’s not like I want to be this way. So it’s funny when I opened up my book to do my bible study tonight and read the words of Paul in the book of Romans, chapter seven: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it . . . What a wretched man I am!”

Yep. Luckily I believe in a very forgiving God who gave me a very patient husband 🙂

wedding kiss

Our wedding kiss *don’t everyone aww at once*

My faith has taken me through 15 years of marriage with two beautiful daughters and no doubt will take me through my years as middle school teacher!

At the end of my Bible study today, I had to write a description of a good role model. I simply wrote this:

Someone who always loves. Without love, actions are empty. A role model’s criterion for their actions isn’t based on what they like best, but what’s best for those around them.

While I’m on the subject of love, Ima gonna break down dat definition for ya like it’s 1990 and it’s Hammertime at my middle school dance:

Love isn’t a feeling *Gulp* I don’t think I could ever “fall out of love” with my husband. Instead, love is a decision to meet the needs of others before yourself. It’s not a natural inclination past those first days of marital bliss. Love is something we must choose to live every day.

Now, as a writer of love inspired stories and a teacher, I’m an expert on definitions, so there’s no need to confer with Webster *steps down off pedestal*

I’m taping my role model definition to my bathroom mirror as a reminder of the type of person I should be each day, not just on the days when I feel like it and not just at work. There’s a quote by Erma Bumbeck that goes, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything that you gave me.”

Or as Master Yoda puts it: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Talk is cheap. Words without action=failure. When I look back at the chapters of my life, I want my traits to resemble the characters in the books that inspire me.

What’s  your definition of a good role model? (Lord help us if anyone says Justin Bieber, lol. Thankfully, I don’t think any of my middle school Language Arts students have found my blog yet! *looks around with crazy eyes*

Until next week, Live~Laugh~Love!

(Never) Again!!

Never_Again-5Today is the beautiful cover reveal for my blogger buddy, Theresa Paolo!! I know from personal experience with my debut novel, 18 Things, how crucial it is to share things like cover reveals to help create buzz for an upcoming release, so help spread the word on your social media hangouts! Now what better way to get this party started than to give the lowdown on her first book:

Just when she had finally moved on…
…He moved back.

When college freshman Liz Wagner hears her ex’s voice for the first time since he moved clear across the freaking country, she does what any respectable girl would do: Dive into the girls’ bathroom.

Zach Roberts—the Zach Roberts—is back. And he’s everywhere Liz looks—infiltrating her friend group, buddy-buddy with her brother. It’s enough to ruin college altogether. But what choice does she have but to put on a happy face and pretend he didn’t leave her vulnerable and alone in a pile of emotional wreckage?

Pretending works, until tragedy strikes and the only person available for comfort is the one person she wants to stay away from. When Zach turns out not to be the jerk she convinced herself he was, but the boy she used to love, Liz needs to decide whether to open her heart again to the boy who tore it out.

Add it to your Goodreads now!

And if you haven’t heard of Theresa yet, let me introduce you:

tmpmarkmajorauthorpic

Theresa Paolo lives in the same town she grew up in on Long Island, NY with her boyfriend and Milton, their big eyed goldfish. She has a hard time accepting the fact she’s nearing thirty which is why she writes New Adult and Young Adult books, reliving the best and worst years of her life through her characters. She put her love of writing on hold while she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from Dowling College. On November 11th 2011 at 11:11 she made a wish. Two hours later she was laid off. Jobless for the first time since she was sixteen she was determined to make her wish come true. Writing became her life again and after many nights of ignoring her boyfriend to spend time with her characters, she finally received the call that all her hard work, finger crossing and eye crossing paid off. She signed with Berkley (Penguin) and her debut novel, (NEVER) AGAIN, a NA romance, will be out in Fall 2013.  When she’s not writing, she’s behind a camera or can be found in the blogosphere or on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

 

So what do you guys think? Plan on reading (Never) Again? Is there anything in your life where you said ‘never again’ only to find yourself eating your words later on? I can think of two off the top of my head: gaining my weight back after my second pregnancy (yeah, writing is a huge workout time suck) . . . and moving back to my hometown (if someone would’ve told me at 18 that I’d move back here to raise my kids, I would’ve moved to Africa just to make it not come true).

See you Wednesday for IWSG!