#Love Wins

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The month of June I read a novel for book club titled The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. As promised, ‘it illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war.’

I feel like you aren’t human if you can read a novel about the events surrounding the Holocaust and not be moved. This one was no different, but for some reason, it was even more poignant to me. Perhaps because I was reading it after the Orlando massacre. The tragedy happened while I was on vacation to Georgia and North Carolina to see family in the mountains, so I was shielded from most of the news coverage until we returned the week after.

My husband and I lived in Orlando for seven years. We graduated from the University of Central Florida. We got our first real jobs there. I gave birth to our two baby girls in The City Beautiful. We bought our first house there. A house that was just a fifteen minute drive to the Pulse nightclub. The husband of one of my best friends had a cousin who died in the shooting that night, which made it all the more real to me.

Reading The Nightingale set in France 1939-1945 and contemplating all the acts of terror still happening around the globe today, I’m reminded of how there are many events in our lives over which we have zero control. But we do have a choice to either press on or give up. Time and time again, I’m astounded at what humans have endured throughout history.

Many have concluded that the secret to survival is remembering love is greater than evil. That’s why the hashtag #lovewins has trended for over a year now. Maybe it’s why I can’t leave a little bit of romance out of my books. Remembering that #lovewins produces the endurance which sees us through all the tough stuff we face in this life. And in the meantime, we write, because it’s good therapy for our souls, as is reading a good book. I highly recommend The Nightingale, or *shameless plug* 18 Thoughts . . . because what’s summer without a book in your hand and toes in the sand? It’s a good life, after all is said and done.

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This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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#ReadOrWriteAnywhere Monster Giveaway!!!

 

Summer is about to begin! 

But just because it’s summer doesn’t mean we should stop reading and writing. I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing. This is open to all readers/writers of both middle grade and young adult books!

You can also take part in…

A MONSTER GIVEAWAY! 

32 Readers Will Win A Book!

32 Readers Will Win A Book!

I’ll be giving away ONE PAPERBACK EACH OF 18 THINGS, 18 TRUTHS, & 18 THOUGHTS!!!

That’s my ENTIRE TRILOGY!

And there’s more! Authors participating in this campaign aren’t just giving away books, but critiques, swag and/or Skype visits, too!!!

So are you ready?

Drum roll….

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Can you guess where I am?

Here are my 5 clues:

*It’s adjacent to the Caloosahatchee River

*There are lots of bamboo trees around (extra hint: used in light bulb filaments)

*One of the most visited historic home sites in America

*You’ll find the Botanic Research Corporation Laboratory on the property, which was constructed to help discover a rubber tree plant that could grow more quickly in the U.S. (extra hint: think tires)

*Open to the public since 1947, visitors can tour the gardens, the lab, the estate, as well as the museum, which features lots of inventions!

Once you’ve figured out where I’m reading, head over to the YA Chicks site and:

  1. Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win.
  2. For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).

For writer prize packs:

  1. Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it.
  2. For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you’re already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:

  1. Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag).
  2. Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don’t have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments–we won’t open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.”
  3. You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site.

We will keep the giveaway open from 9 am on May 22nd– 12 pm on May 31st so entrants have plenty of time to hunt for clues.

And I also have an exclusive giveaway here on my blog today! 4 complimentary copies of my 18 Thoughts audiobook! You need to be registered at Audible/Amazon to redeem your prize – if you aren’t, you’ll be prompted to register prior to redemption – but you do not need a paid membership plan.

How do you claim your prize?! Just make sure you like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, then leave a comment below . . . first 4 people to do so get the prize 🙂 (If you’re already a follower, please share this blog post and tag me). Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!

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Are Ya Looking For the Next Summer Read? Introducing Debut Novelist Teshelle Combs!!!

Tessie, Tess, Tessa, T . . . no matter what you call her, Teshelle Combs is just one huge batch of awesomesauce! She’s a UCF graduate like me (except she wasn’t afraid to take a chance and actually majored in English/Creative Writing), a soul singer with goosebump inducing abilities, a brutally honest Beta reader, a super nanny, and frequent volunteer for all things at our local church.

Now she can add published author at the ripe old age of 24! Add having a baby to the midst of all this, and well, you can see why I named one of my new characters in 18 Truths after her! Not even sure if she knows this, since it’s after page 100 where she left off in Beta reading. She might totally be creeped out now while reading this, but too late! I already got my interview *shakes fist in the air* Haha, sucker! Oh, and you can stalk her too at her new official FB author page!

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Thanks for joining us today, T! Help me introduce you to my 5 fans (heehee, inside joke from last week’s blog). Give us 3 words to describe your personality

T: Happy. Loving. Kind. –I actually just cheated and asked my husband for the answer for this one. Apparently, he likes me or something.

*mutters*Not as much as I like you!

T: What’s that Jaim-O?

Oh, nothing! Nothing at all *coughs* Can you give us a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a debut novelist? Any insights about self-publishing?

T: I am very, very new at authorship. My debut novel, Core, was just released on June 1st. So far, my favorite part is being able to hold it in my hands. That tied with my very first sale. I did my crazyhappy dance for about ten minutes, which is pretty impressive at 7 months pregnant.

Self-publishing –or indie publishing, which is what I call it because it makes feel all cool –is a lot of fun and a lot of work. The fun part is designing everything, choosing exactly what I want to say, setting my own royalty prices, and involving a team of people I love to help me. The hard work part is the marketing, the ordering of three proof copies because you can’t figure out how to set the margins just right, the hiccups that you have to figure out to fix everything all on your own.

I was afraid I wouldn’t feel like a “real” author if I indie published, but honestly, I was wrong. I feel accomplished, like I worked hard for what I have.

You should! The world of publishing is constantly changing, and wise is the author who changes with it!  Tell us about what you write.

T: I write contemporary YA fantasy and sci-fi. Core falls into the fantasy genre. The story is about an emotionally calloused boxer, Ava, who is catapulted into the world of dragons, sirens (nightfolk and werefolk), and danger. She’s chosen to be the rider of an honest, caring red dragon, and life-wrecking mayhem ensues.

Besides boxing, there are a slew of combat scenes, utilizing dragon abilities and swordplay, which makes for action-packed reading. (I like to run these scenes by my brother, who’s great at all things action).

I love bad guys, so I have quite a few villains in my novel, and–rather disturbingly–they are some of my favorite characters. The more twisted, the better.

What else? I also like to travel to places (even if it’s through research and imagination), so my characters start out in Miami, and get to visit Peru and Ireland in this story.

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Oh, I’ve been to Ireland! One of my top 5 moments on my life list! *Shameless plug: If you like life lists, you should check out my debut novel too, 18 Things* Speaking of books, what’s your favorite craft book? Favorite fiction book?

T: My favorite craft book is probably Research in Writing. I love to include interesting facts in my work and before I wrote Core, I probably typed up about 30 pages of research on dragons, Chimbote, Peru, Ireland, sirens, and some other secret little tidbits.

My favorite fiction book? If we’re going fancy-pancy literary, it’d be Beloved by Toni Morrison. But if I’m thinking all-time favorite, changed-my-literary-life, pee-my-pants-it’s-so-good? THE HUNGER GAMES. I love kick-butt female protagonists, I love dystopias, and I love the dryness of it all, the reality woven through the make believe.

I also have a problem peeing my pants while reading books. Started 13 years ago . . . well, you’ll see after you give childbirth! Oh, I see you’re doing the potty dance yourself, so I’ll just ask one closing questions. Tell us anything FUN about yourself, related or unrelated to writing.

T: I have these special powers: my toes can swell to remarkable sizes in just a few minutes. I can smell anything unpleasant, even if it’s miles away. I can go to the bathroom 15 times a day. I can use my belly as a portable reading desk. I’ve evolved past the need to remember anything, even details that would be significant to other people, like what the current month or where we parked the car.

Jealous yet? Well go incubate your own baby! This one’s mine!

Hahaha! You’re a hoot, T! I love you . . . in a completely sisterly way, I promise! *watches T bolt from the room and shrugs*

Well now that it’s just the eight of us (last week proved I have at least 7 fans!), I want to thank you all for your encouraging comments after sharing my pity party publicly. If you missed the blog, you can find it here. My family cheered me up by taking me to Disney. We hit Hollywood Studios the first half of the day for Star Wars weekend, then moved on to Magic Kingdom!

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Also, thanks for giving me some easy questions! Cheryl wanted to know what kind of coffee she should drink. I’m still scratching my head at the fact she’s never drank a cup! If you invest in a Keurig machine,

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which you should because it’ll allow to try hundreds of flavors any time of the day whenever you want within seconds with just the press of a button . . . even though it may cause you to be all hyper and write really long-winded sentences, you could also drink tea and hot chocolate if you end up not liking coffee, but I think you will love it. I have a sweet tooth, so I love the Cape Escapes, especially the caramel. So sweet you don’t even need cream and sugar! When I’m not using the Keurig, I’m slightly less squirrely and like Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas with some Baileys coffee creamer. But I’m a coffee snob and Barnie’s can be damn hard to find, so Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla will also do the trick. I do love Starbucks, but their coffee is rather bold, so you may need to ease yourself into it.

Now for Marisa’s question . . . what movie should she rent? This is sooo easy since Oz the Great and Powerful just released today on DVD! Saw this one in the theatre and it quickly became a family favorite 🙂

What about you guys? Any good picks for coffee virgins? Any other movies we should rent from that big red box? Interested in reading Core? Hope you’ll all join me next Wednesday for the tale of one amazing squirrel–it’s gonna be nuts!!!