Solar Eclipse Tomorrow!!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Image Credit: Rick Fienberg, TravelQuest International and Wilderness Travel


Tomorrow is the Solar Eclipse! Have you heard? We will be traveling for the event, so I wanted to be sure I shared this here today so you can get all the information you need before tomorrow! 

Guest Post: Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Saturday, August 19, 2017




Hi Everyone!

I am excited to be here today to bring you a guest post from Mandy Jackson-Beverly. Please help me by giving her a warm welcome to the blog!

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What inspired you to write the book?

First up, lovely to meet you, Valerie!

So, what inspired me to write The Devil And The Muse? To answer this question I need to start with the first book in The Creatives Series, A Secret Muse. The story unraveled itself slowly over a period of a few years, but the catalyst of Coco Rhodes and the Allegiance came to me in a moment of separation anxiety early in 2014.

At the time, I was teaching art at a high school situated on nearly two hundred acres in Southern California. One evening, while going over my Advanced Placement Art student portfolios, I reached out to one particular painting, purely because I was so taken with the beauty and the creative power of the piece. I observed every brushstroke, the tone of the colors, and the emotions it brought out in me, and then realized my cheeks were wet with tears.

When I thought of my students venturing off to college and work, I wanted to protect their hearts from the harshness of the real world. But in reality I knew that no matter how cruel the world can be, these contrasts of life are also a vital part of the puzzle of inner growth that would help stretch my student’s creativity to a new level. What I was experiencing was similar to saying goodbye to my sons when they left for college.

A few hours later, I packed up my car and stood in the dark for a moment and listened to the sounds of the oak woodland around me. That’s when Professor Coco Rhodes, and her protector and leader of the Allegiance, Gabriel, came to me. I imagined a world where artists were honored and treasured for their creativity - a world where something or someone would keep artists and their artwork safe. Deep down I guess I crave another Florence Renaissance, and Lorenzo di Medici.

As for book two in the series, The Devil And The Muse, I knew this book would tell the backstory of Kenan; what made him so evil, and devoid of his past humanity. The challenge was to link Kenan’s backstory into present day. As it happened, my research led me down a rabbit hole where present day events collided with history and fiction. My hope with book two is to bring awareness to three areas: young girls missing in the United States, the misrepresentation of religion in politics, and the never-ending fight for women’s rights. And of course, for my readers to enjoy the ride!

Do you have a favorite character from the story?
No, because I love all of my characters equally. I can’t imagine writing a character into a story if I didn’t like him or her.

What is a typical writing day like for you?
No day is ever the same, and my schedule changes depending on where I am in the story. Currently I’m in a deep research phase, which means my time is filled with reading, painting characters and locations, and making notes. It’s typical for me to be up around 5:30 a.m. I exercise, browse over three newspapers, check my social media platforms, write and edit blog posts, and then bury myself in reading.

The writing of books kind of morphs into its own animal - it’s not like I suddenly think, “Oh, I’m going to start writing this baby, today!” The actual writing of the story happens organically, and I’ve found it normally begins with a poem. I’m not one to document my word count, purely because my focus is on quality, not quantity. I may spend an entire day working on one paragraph, and the next day I write pages. The book is done when the story is told, regardless of word count.

When I’m immersed in a plot-point or character arc, I tend to just go with the flow. I need absolute quiet to write, which means that if my husband is at the other end of our house recording music, I shut the door to my office, close the blinds and put in earplugs. I get food when I’m hungry, coffee when needed, and surface once the voices of my characters have faded along with my ability to concentrate.

When it’s time to hand over the manuscript to my editor, I move forward with other relevant publishing needs: book cover, synopsis, and publicity. Once the edits start coming in, I’m glued to my computer until every word has been scrutinized, rewrites completed and sent back for copy edits. I have a wonderful editor who calls me on everything – no letter left unedited!

What would you like people who read/other book bloggers to know about your book?

First up, this is not a book for YA readers. The Devil And The Muse deals with complex issues regarding religion, drug use, and sexual abuse.

The Devil And The Muse is the second installment of The Creatives Series. This is a fast-paced, cross-genre series, about an ancient organization called The Allegiance. This group protects art and Creatives (mystic artists), and gives sanctuary to those threatened by religious zealots.
The story opens with my lead protagonist - newest member of The Allegiance and Creative - Coco Rhodes, viewing a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. This leads to the discovery of a link between an education-finance fraud, girls disappearing from Washington D.C. schools, and a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance's sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan's whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.
From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict.

Keep a watch out for some exciting additions to The Creatives Series, soon to be posted on my website and social media platforms. That’s all I’m saying for now!

Here’s where you can find me:

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Thanks Mandy!! So glad you could come by today!!
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Mandy Jackson-Beverly

Mandy Jackson-Beverly was born in the bustling town of Pyramid Hill, Victoria, Australia ... Population: 419. This remote childhood kick-started Mandy’s imagination, as did the rugged coastline and rolling hills of Tasmania, where her family relocated when she was four years old.

In 1982, Mandy moved to London, where she discovered the importance of the creative collective: The 1980s fashion scene. A year later, in Los Angeles, she found her own creative freedom among the thriving, no-holds-barred visionaries of the music video world. As a costume designer and stylist Mandy worked for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few.

Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, written and directed high school theater productions, is a contributor to The Huffington Post and a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. She resides in Ojai, California, with her husband, Brian Beverly, a crossed-eyed cat, Luna, a dog named Cash and, sometimes, her sons, Angus and Jack.

www.mandyjacksonbeverly.com


Happy Reading!

Bout of Books Readathon

Friday, August 18, 2017



Hi Everyone!

It's that time again! Bout of Books will be running August 21-27. It should be a great event and I hope that you will get a chance to join in on the fun! :) 


Here are few details:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Footsteps

Thursday, August 17, 2017



Author: 
THE NEW YORK TIMES is a daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed internationally. Founded in 1851, the newspaper has won 119 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper.

MONICA DRAKE is the editor of the Travel section at the New York Times.
 
Summary from Publisher:
A curated collection of the New York Times‘ travel column, “Footsteps,” exploring iconic authors’ relationships to landmarks and cities around the world

Before Nick Carraway was drawn into Daisy and Gatsby’s sparkling, champagne-fueled world in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald vacationed in the French Riviera, where a small green lighthouse winked at ships on the horizon. Before the nameless lovers began their illicit affair in The Lover, Marguerite Duras embarked upon her own scandalous relationship amidst the urban streets of Saigon. And before readers were terrified by a tentacled dragon-man called Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft was enthralled by the Industrial Trust tower– the 26-story skyscraper that makes up the skyline of Providence, Rhode Island.

Based on the popular New York Times travel column, Footsteps is an anthology of literary pilgrimages, exploring the geographic muses behind some of history’s greatest writers. From the “dangerous, dirty and seductive” streets of Naples, the setting for Elena Ferrante’s famous Neapolitan novels, to the “stone arches, creaky oaken doors, and riverside paths” of Oxford, the backdrop for Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, Footsteps takes a fresh approach to literary tourism, appealing to readers and travel enthusiasts alike.

Personal Review:
Do you love to travel? Ever think about what inspires someone to write what they do? Then this may be the book for you. This book is full of short stories that talk about the experiences that had lead to some of the great works of literature in the world.

My favorite part of this book was understanding why the authors said what they did. It makes me certainly want to go visit those places and to read the books along with the essays. What a wonderful perspective.

I enjoyed this book and appreciate the opportunity to have read it. Thank you.

 Disclaimer: I was awarded this book as part of the Blogging for Books program. Though I did not pay for the book, the opinions are strictly my own.

Happy Reading!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Great Hibernation

Wednesday, August 16, 2017



Hi Everyone!

Stopping by to let you know about a book I am Waiting on Wednesday for! This author was one introduced to me by my friend Karen. If this one is half as cute as her last series, then we are in for a big treat! 


The Great Hibernation 
Author: Tara Dairman
Release Date: Sept 12 2017

 
Summary from Goodreads:
The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founder's fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy's first time to taste the liver. It doesn't go well. A few hours later, all the adults fall asleep. And no one can wake them.

The kids are left to run things, and they're having a blast. That is, until the town bullies take over the mayor's office and the police force.

Jean suspects that this "hibernation" was actually engineered by someone in town. She starts to investigate, and inspires other kids to join her in a secret plan to save St. Polonius.


Happy Reading!

Dog Days of Summer Dog Tag

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


IN CELEBRATION OF THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, CO-HOSTED BY JO’S BOOK BLOG AND LA LA IN THE LIBRARY, A FUN 7 QUESTION DOG TAG WAS CREATED. I WAS TAGGED (Thank you!!) AND I AM SO EXCITED TO SHARE!

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT BOTH OF THEIR BLOGS TO SEE THEIR ANSWERS.

QUESTIONS

1. WHAT WAS THE NAME OF YOUR FIRST DOG?

Actually Funny you SHould Ask! Kuiper is my first dog! Many people dont know that or believe it, but I always grew up with Cats. My husband had a dog growing up and he was the one to push us to get the dog. 


2. DO YOU HAVE A DOG NOW?

YES, KUiper. :)

 3. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BREED OF DOG?

Of course I love Greyhounds, but I love the look of the Collie/Sheltie Dogs. That said I have not really found a dog that I dont love. Dont talk to me on the phone while I am walking around because I am constantly cooing over the Dogs in my midst.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CANINE THEMED BOOK?

ADOPTING THE RETIRED RACING GREYHOUND. (The book is super informative and gives you lots of insight about greyhounds that I never knew anything about!) 

5. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE FICTIONAL DOG?

I would say as a kid it was probably ribsy. :) (Beverly Cleary Is the BEst)

6. WHAT IS YOUR TOP MOVIE CHOICE WITH A FEATURED CANINE?

I love the Dog in Oliver and Company as a kid. BUt I also loved the Milo and Otis. Probably one of those guys. 

7. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A DOG OR A CAT PERSON? WHY?

I am def both! I think that its amazing when you can have both in your life. 

BONUS QUESTION
TELL US ABOUT A PERSONAL DOG RELATED MEMORY.

Probably the Day We brought Kuiper Home. We had been planning to adopt him for a month and the kennel had a square with Kennel cough, so we had to wait an extra two weeks. When we finally saw him and got to bring him home, I just started to cry. It was love at first sight.

I TAG YOU!
IF YOU DO THIS TAG, LEAVE YOUR LINK IN THE COMMENTS

OR

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BLOG AND WANT TO ANSWER SOME OF THE QUESTIONS FEEL FREE TO LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENTS.  I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW YOUR ANSWERS.


It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is a weekly meme hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. I learned about this meme from Lori at Palmer's Page Turners. Thank you for sharing this fun meme! 



What I Just Finished Reading


This was a very cute read!

What I'm Currently Reading



What I am Reading Next

TBD!



Happy Reading!
 
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