Finding My Way by Heidi McLaughlin

As I’m sitting here trying to figure out what I want to do with my blog, which has included reading over some old posts, I decided that Mondays are going to be ‘My Way Mondays’. This means that it’s going to be a free day for me to do what I want to do and do it my way.

How appropriate that one of my good friends has a book coming out today, on the first My Way Monday, and the title of the book is Finding My Way?

One of the best things that has happened to me since starting this insanity called chasing my dreams has been meeting some great people. Heidi was one of the first indie authors I got to know as more than just a writer of awesome stories. We bonded one day over silly chit chat about how authors never leave low ratings on their own books. After she posted that observation, I said I wanted to see an author give herself a two-star rating and admit that it wasn’t her best work. Just once. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Finding My Way is a prequel to Forever My Girl, the first book in the Beaumont Series. It’s where you learn what happened years before Liam came back to town. Now, after reading Forever My Girl, I was sure that Liam Westbury was the man and Liam Page was the persona. When I started reading Finding My Way, I even went so far as to tell Heidi I would never be #teampage because that wasn’t the real him. After all, how many celebrities do you know who are the person you see in the spotlight?

Let me tell you, after much screaming at my screen, I saw the light. Liam Westbury lived a lie for his entire childhood. It wasn’t until Liam Page was born that he truly lived and found his authentic self. And really, isn’t that what we should all strive to do?

Whether you’re an avid reader or a non-reader who sometimes reads, this is a must buy book!

I’ve Been Writing, Just Not Here

old-typewriter

Here’s something I find sadly amusing… I write just about every day. I write a lot of words just about every day. We’re talking 5-10,000 words if things go well. And then I sit down to blog and…

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WHY CAN’T I WRITE?!?!

I think the logical answer is that I’m using up all the good words in the stories I’ve become addicted to writing. I’m now a slave to the voices in my head. If a character screams at me to write their story, I will drop just about anything I’m doing to appease them. In the shower? Repeat their words and scrub faster. Sound asleep? Reach for a notebook and pray your sleep-writing is legible. Having sex? Okay, maybe we won’t talk about that one… but the point it, you haven’t seen me around here because I’ve been a captive.

Even now, I can hear them yelling at me to get back to work, but I refuse to listen. It’s a Saturday night, so I’m going to pretend I’m a “normal person” and take the night off. (Kristen, when you read this, know that I’m only rebelling against my character, not you. I want to send you more to write, but it’s high time I show Liam and the others who’s in charge here)

Think I’m exaggerating? When I wrote this post about NaNoWriMo, I was proud of myself for writing 50,000 words in a month and being on my way to my first completed novel. For the record, Bent, the book that started it all, was picked up by Montlake and re-released in November 2014!

Since that time, I’ve released three other books under HB Heinzer and four books as Sloan Johnson. So yeah, I’ve been writing, just not around here…

Is there an ICU for critically-neglected blogs?

I realized this week how much I miss blogging. I miss the randomness. I miss the community. And apparently, I’m missing the brownies that are hidden somewhere on this site.

When I realized that I had dropped the ball that is BubbaMack, I jumped on Facebook for advice. FYI, by “jumped” I mean that I screamed at my computer for a while as I tried to remember what email address I originally used for Facebook because I’ve been spending all of my time on my “work” account. You know, the one where I can post pictures of half-naked men and book excerpts about lewd sexual acts without giving my family members heart failure.

The question I asked was “If you had a blog that you didn’t post on for a year, would you try to revive it or start from scratch?”

Lucky you… the response was, overwhelmingly, revive that bitch. NOW! And so, I’m beginning a bit of blog CPR. While I’m sitting at the computer tonight, trying to figure out whether or not two characters are ready to take the next step in their relationship, I’m going to figure out what I’m doing here. Again, I say lucky you!

If you’re still hanging around, could you leave me a comment and let me know? Thanks! You’re swell!

I’m Not Dead, I Swear!

This could turn into yet another of those “wow, my life is so busy I don’t know why I haven’t blogged” posts, but that’s a flat out lie! I’ve been busy as hell, I still suck at balancing everything in my life and blogging was the first thing to fall away. The crappy thing is that I really do miss blogging; I miss that time in my day, I miss my friends I used to connect with and now that conference season is upon us, I even miss that craziness!

So, I’m going to do what every over-extended person should do. I’m going to try and stretch a little bit more to find time to blog for me, no one else.

Finding Energy

NaBloPoMo January 2013

 

I put up a pretty exciting blog post on my “author site” the other day. Sorry, that’s something I’m still trying to get used to, the fact that I’ve done something with my life that requires me to even have an author site.  In the comments, as well as on other social media platforms, I kept hearing how other people would love to write a book but they don’t have the time or the energy. Want to know a secret?

No one has the time or energy!!!

Seriously, if you wait until you have the time and energy to chase your dreams, you’re going to wind up looking back on your life with regret. We’re all busy. We all have other things going on.

Once I came to this realization on my own, I started trying to carve out the time and energy for myself. Sometimes, that meant five minutes here and there. Believe it or not, those were often the most productive times, word for word, because I knew I wasn’t going to be sitting down and I needed to make the time count.

Other times, I could be found brewing a pot of coffee at eleven at night. Healthy? Nope. But it got my butt back in the chair to do what needed to be done.

Where do I draw my energy from? Drive and caffeine. They’re the only two things that have kept me going for the past few months.

This post is part of the January NaBloPoMo challenge. When I miss days, which I’m sure I will, I’d love to blame it on the fact that I’m participated in NaNoWriMo and I’m busy trying to finish my first novel so I can publish it but the truth is I probably just forgot. I would quit trying, but that is the only way to guarantee you will never succeed!

Dear Hollywood, Please STOP

Stop-signDear Hollywood,

While I fully understand that you think you’re doing something great by taking books we love and turning them into movies, I respectfully ask you to stop. No, I don’t care how many readers beg you and provide casting suggestions, it just needs to stop.

Do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing time and time again and expecting a different result. You’ve had years to figure out how to take an amazing work of literature and turn it into a big-screen blockbuster and you’re just not able to do it. Well, you are, but far too often at the expense of the original story.

Think I’m kidding? Let’s take a look at one of the most hyped series of the past few years. I avoided Twilight like the plague for a long time because of said hype. After reading the first book, I was scared to watch the movie because I wasn’t sure you could do it justice. Sorrily, you managed to meet my expectations.

  1. The truck - It didn’t even take you five minutes to deviate from the original story. I suppose it worked out well that Jacob and his dad brought the truck to the house so they could meet rather than having the truck sitting there waiting for it. And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t all jazzed when she first found out that her dad bought her a truck.
  2. Killing humans - Unless I’m mistaken, and I really don’t think I am, Laurent, James and Vicki didn’t kill humans in the book. Yes, I understand that a vampire movie without killing humans isn’t the same, but Stephanie Meyer did a good job with the families meeting and Laurent saying they wouldn’t jeopardize the Cullen’s safety. Kind of hard to do that when they’ve already killed two people.
  3. Tension at school - Where was Tyler asking Bella to the dance and then saying he was going to take her to prom? Oh yeah, you pulled out the first dance and he never did ask her to prom. That was a really good bit of tension there. In fact, you seemed to remove just about all tension between Bella/Edward/anyone else except Jacob.
  4. Alice - This was, by far, my biggest disappointment in the book to movie butchering. I love Alice. There was so much tension in the airport hotel that wasn’t touched on. Alice never sketched Bella’s mom’s house. Bella didn’t know that James was going to be there. Oh, who am I kidding? That whole sub-plot sucked in the movie. You could have done so much with Bella trying to escape Alice and Jasper in the airport. But back to Alice… when James revealed the reason Alice didn’t remember her life before she was turned was brilliant in the book. It explained so much, including adding a layer of motivation for James hunting a member of the family. You pulled it all out. Hell, if I had watched the movie first, I wouldn’t even know that Alice had that pain within her.

Now, because I’m not wholly evil, you did do a couple of things well. First, the fight scene in the ballet studio was entertaining. I think that’s just because stuff was breaking, bodies were flying and eventually the bad guy had his head ripped off, but it was good. Second, Edward and Bella dancing in the gazebo? Well played, Edward!

Two good things aren’t enough to make me forget that you have completely bastardized a good story. I had been looking forward to a few movie adaptations of books that I’ve read recently, but now, I’m almost scared for what you will do to the characters that I love.

Please, do the world a favor and stop trying to make a buck off amazing novels. Screenwriters and novelists are different creatures. What works for one may not work for the other.

ps, if you’re a reader reading this, please stop begging Hollywood to make your favorite book into a movie. You’re setting yourself up for failure even more than if you think the hero of the book is going to step out of the pages and rescue you from your mundane life.

kthxbai

 

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover #bookreview

hopeless colleen hooverSeriously, I’m going to start a feature on here called “Insomniac Book Reviews” for all of the books that are so amazing they’re worth the hellacious day I’m going to have because I couldn’t put them down! Hopeless by Colleen Hoover is the newest book in the club. I swear, I was only going to read the first chapter, maybe two, and then I was going to be. My daughter’s school bus will be here in 30 minutes and I finished the book about the time she woke up.

I’m normally not a fan of romance novels with main characters under 23 or so. Why? Because I’m getting old and if they’re written well, they’re more often than not far too angsty for me to resist the temptation to slap them and tell them to get over themselves. I didn’t get that vibe at all from the characters in this book. In fact, I saw a bit of myself and my high school BFF in Sky and Six. I’m not telling which one I was…

You’re going to realize pretty quickly that there’s a special connection between Sky and Holder. After that, have fun trying to figure out the secret! I was sure I had it figured out a few times and was still surprised when I learned the truth!

The world record for best kiss without kissing…

How could NOT kissing be hot? Well, it is. Seriously, if their first kiss was anything less than earth shattering, it would have been a huge let down. And I love the reason that they don’t kiss on the night they set the record. Seriously awesome.

These kids know how to have fun…

Nothing’s more obnoxious than sugary-sweet characters who are totally infatuated with one another. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a sarcastic person by nature so I like reading fun banter. Sky and Holder are definitely good at that! Yes, some people might get offended by some of the text messages Holder sends Sky, but they’re totally awesome! And no, I wouldn’t flip if my daughter received that type of message as long as they weren’t being sent maliciously.

I’m really dreading spending all day with you. This doesn’t sound like fun at all. Also, your sundress is really unflattering and way too summery, but you should definitely keep it on.

Your cookies suck ass. And you’re really not that pretty.

 Luddite Teens

Yes, it’s hard to believe that a teen in 2012 is as technologically challenged as Sky. Don’t let it pull you out of the story. It will all make sense later on.

Time Warps

Normally, I get really annoyed by books that jump back and forth in time. This is the second book I’ve read (okay, third since there were two books in a series that did this) that handles telling the story in the past and present without losing me.

The Characters

Six – I really hope that the day will come when we get to learn more about Six. It just isn’t right that she spent most of the book in Italy. If there was an award for the character I loved but barely got to know, it would go to Sky’s best friend.

Sky – I really wasn’t sure I was going to like her until I got so totally sucked into the book that I couldn’t put it down. She’s the girl that you have to get to know in order to love.

Breckin – I’m not going to name names but I totally went to school with Breckin, I’m sure of it!

Holder – So many facets, so little time. I’m in love with Holder and will probably dream about him when I finally close my eyes.

There are a lot of books out there that are hyped to death. Hopeless is one book that lives up to the hype. I’d never heard of Colleen Hoover until recently and bought her newest release as soon as I saw it available. Totally worth it! I don’t have a fancy-schmansy (yes, it’s a word in my world) rating system, but I will say that as soon as I get some sleep, I’m starting again at chapter one!

Where in the Hell Have You Been?

Apparently, if you don’t touch your blog for almost a month, people will start to notice. Okay, so I’m not saying I’m cool enough that my email was blowing up with thousands of people demanding that I start posting again but I did have a few people ask. There are a few things that pulled me away from this little corner of the world. Now I’m trying to resolve those issues so life makes sense again.

NaNoWriMo

Winner-180x180 (1)I finally did it! After one failed attempt and many years of being too much of a chicken to try, I finally won NaNoWriMo! What does that have to do with the fact that we’re over halfway through December and my butt still isn’t back to posting? Well, it’s not going to do anyone any good, least of all me, if I waste the nearly 60,000 words I wrote in November.

Now my days are filled with trying to finish my novel. I won in the sense that I wrote over 50,000 words. That doesn’t mean I finished my book. It’s a story that can’t be told in 50,000 words without feeling like I’m cheating the characters so I continue to write. After that, it will be time to edit. After that, it will be time to edit some more.

If you want to see where I’m at now with the novel, feel free to read it on FictionPress! It’s not complete (as of writing this) and there will be plenty of edits, but this is where I’m posting as I write so my friends who ask me about it can read. I don’t think that the title will stay the same when it’s done. Trying on titles is like trying on wedding dresses; there are a lot that seem okay, but when you find “the one” you know it!

Listening to Others

Blogging is a tricky business. I can sit down at this computer and write what I think is an amazing post and no one reads it. I can write a post that I think people will like and they hate it. I can write about things that I love and I get to listen to people tell me how certain things have no place on my blog.

I was an idiot. I listened to them. When I started posting book reviews, I started getting emails telling me that people didn’t appreciate having to read about “smut” on my blog. So, I did the same thing I’ve done several times and I tried to put my love of romance novels into a neat little box. Now, it’s stacked with the box that holds my (sometimes failed) attempts at healthier living, going green, being content with being a plus-sized woman, crafting and many others.

Hopefully by writing this I will remember it… This is my blog. This is my life. I live a life that is not compartmentalized at all. I live a life that, to those not living it, seems like it is filled with contradictions. In many ways, it is. But isn’t that part of the joy of life? We are all gems with many facets. I’m not going to keep fighting to only write about what I think “fits” on a site that was started as an outlet for myself.

If you like that, awesome. If you don’t, I can respect that. But as we move into the new year, I need to find a balance in my life and that balance is going to start with being true to myself and my family. If I feel it’s important or interesting enough to blog, it will be here.

Filter Modifications

There are people out there who buy perfectly functional vehicles and then take off the muffler only to replace it with a high-performance muffler that muffles nothing? Yeah, let’s just say I’m going into high performance mode. I’ve struggled for a long time with trying to censor what I say on my blog. It has resulted in many of my blogging friends telling me that I’m much different here than I am on Facebook, over the phone or wherever else we meet.

I kind of like being me. I like making people laugh. I like pissing people off if it forces them to stop and think about their side of the argument. I’m done pushing those parts of me back into the cellar. If you like the real, more raw me, welcome to my world! If not, don’t let the door hit ya on the way out!

So, there you have it. I’m not saying I’m going to make sense all of the time. I’m not going to promise any sort of consistency. Those are things that don’t work for me in my world….

Choose a Job You Love…

NaBloPoMo December 2012

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life

I’ve seen this quote many times but it always seems like some sort of a pipe dream. Sure, we’d all love to work at a job we love, but is it practical to think it’s a possibility?

When I was younger, I was the butt of many jokes because of the number of jobs I held and how different each one was from the job before. I like to think of that as a time where I was trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. The truth is, I turned 35 yesterday and I think I’m still trying to find the answer to that question.

I do, however, think there’s something to be said for not doing something you hate simply because it pays the bills. I’ve had plenty of jobs that were in line with what I “should” be doing, what I “could” be doing based on my potential and what I thought others expected of me. I hated it. I’m not cut from a cloth that allows me to be happy in certain settings.

Now, I’m trying to find a way to make something that I love to do work for our family. And while we’re certainly not wealthy, I think I’m a much more tolerable person for it. I’m still not sure it’s possible for every person to do something they absolutely love but I have to believe that if you try to find something that allows you to stay true to the person you are, working every day will be easier.

This post is part of the December NaBloPoMo challenge. When I miss days, which I’m sure I will, I’d love to blame it on the fact that I’m participated in NaNoWriMo and I’m busy trying to finish my first novel so I can publish it but the truth is I probably just forgot. I would quit trying, but that is the only way to guarantee you will never succeed!

Effortless by SC Stephens – Book Review

After being caught in the middle of a love triangle which led to a devastating betrayal, Kiera pledged to learn from the mistakes she’d made. She was determined to never again inflict that kind of pain on anyone, especially the soulful, talented man who held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it survive? Love is easy . . . trust is hard.

The first thing that struck me in Effortless by SC Stephens, the sequel to Thoughtlessis that Kiera is finally growing up a bit. Yes, she still has plenty of insecurity but she’s not the fragile, immature girl she was in the first book. And about that insecurity… you would probably have some too if your man was on the brink of stardom and your relationship started with an affair. Think about it, it’s not exactly the best foundation.

I was drawn in by reading how Kiera and Kellan grew as a couple, as well as on their own. As a couple, they have to try to repair what was broken between them and learn to trust one another. I would have been more upset if Ms. Stephens had tried to make it seem like the issues weren’t there, once again beginning to fester. And just like a bad blister, the issues erupted in grand fashion.

Denny may not have been prominent enough to be considered a main character in the book, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s tangled up in Kiera and Kellan’s lives. Sure, his re-introduction was a bit too coincidental to the point of bordering on cheesy, but like everything in a good book, it was something that had to happen.

See, and this is the part of any book review that I hate… I really want to say something about Kellan’s demons but I hate when I read reviews that give away too much of the plot. So, let’s just say that when you combine trust issues with the past coming back to haunt you, it’s going to be good. Again, very well written. Good tension. And an heartwarming resolution. I really hope that we’ll get to know more about Kellan’s family in the third book.

Now, since this is a romance, I suppose I should tell you that bathroom sex during a party… HOT! We’re talking flush in the cheeks, embarrassed to read the scene with others in the room steamy. Phone sex in the Waffle House, hot and hilarious. The sex, the tension, the love in the Effortless was much better developed. Now, let’s just hope Kiera and Kellan don’t turn into a married couple who never see any action…