Literary Support Crews

Here’s the thing about being an author: it’s a solitary, always in your head kind of thing. I can ask for help with the very tangible steps in the process (critiques, beta-reading, listening to passages), but there are times when an idea or image is a whisper of a thought in my head, something that hasn’t been worked out yet, and may not be for years. But it’s there, and I want to know everything I can about it while it’s swimming around in my brain.

So how does a writer take a whisper of a thought and turn it into a total sensory experience? Well you imagine each and every sound, sight and sensation that could go with that (imagined) moment in time. And sometimes, you risk exposing the humiliating randomness of your brain, and you ask for help to “experience” what you’ve imagined.

Being the friend of an author isn’t the same as being friends with a photographer, painter, or musician (or so I imagine). To take part in the process with a writer or photographer, you might be asked to pose, with a musician you can hear the creative process as the piece is developed. With an author–well, a lot of time we don’t even know where the piece is going, can’t describe it, and you won’t even see it until it’s done-ish.

But what’s important is to have those people in your life that you can turn to and say, “So, I have this totally random thing I’d like your help with.”

And so it was, in Scotland when my own family and friends (my literary support crew!) helped me capture the sounds and images of what it might be like to march into an enemy castle…

Storming the castle…

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A Colorado Girl and Harry Potter Fandom

A few weeks ago I was in Scotland. Aside from the castles, thrones, and really old stuff (more to come on that later) I had the chance to indulge in some Harry Potter fandom. Just to clarify, I’m not someone who knows Harry Potter trivia in detail. I’ve read the books, seen the movies, and I’m a fan of both and of the mystique that surrounds all things Potter-ish.

That said, while in Scotland I did engage in some literary fandom. Months before our trip my sister-in-law, Kate, sent me a link to The Elephant House. This (for those who don’t know) is a lovely little tea & coffee shop in Edinburgh where JK Rowling spent some time writing Harry Potter while looking out the windows at amazing architecture of that historic city. After some more research I discovered just how rooted in Harry Potter this little cafe has become. People from all over the world visit and, because it’s become the thing to do, write messages on the bathroom walls. Initially, the owners and staff tried to paint over the graffiti, but it’s rumored that by the end of the day the walls would be covered again. And so they gave up. Now, the walls of the bathrooms, the mirrors, pictures, towel dispensers, even the ceilings have messages to and from Harry Potter fans from across the world.

And so, not only did I have a beverage–Fleur’s Fantasy–and a delicious piece of Victorian sponge cake, I made a point to use the bathroom (and I brought a marker and put my name on the wall!).











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Book Review: The Canary Club by Sherry D. Ficklin



Expected publication: October 16th 2017 by Clean Teen Publishing
1634222504 (ISBN13: 9781634222501)
Edition Language






*I received a copy of The Canary Club in exchange for an honest review.*

I’ve had the pleasure of reading each of The Canary Club novellas while waiting for the release of this novel. I loved each of them and really felt like I got to know the characters, but each novella was leading up to something bigger…this novel!

Masie is the golden girl daughter of a mobster. Benny is just trying to get by and do whatever it takes to help his family. Each of them are pawns in the fight for power that has gripped the city, and tossed Masie’s family into chaos.

With rival gangsters, Prohibition agents, and even a murderer in the mix, Masie and Benny may be pulled apart just as they’ve found each other.

I can’t tell you how much I love this novel. Sherry Ficklin has done an amazing job of fully immersing readers in the time period. The music, the clothes, & the dialogue: everything seems so authentic to the period. The excitement of the jazz age just jumps from the pages. The Canary Club is equal part sweet romance and gritty gangster-era drama.

The characters are unique and interesting and I found myself rooting for (almost) every one of them. I finished the book wanting more and I hope there are sequels in the works, because I need to know what happens to them all.


You can preorder The Canary Club from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Google Play & other book vendors

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Book Review: Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts







Hardcover, 352 pages

Expected publication: May 30th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion

1484767659 (ISBN13: 9781484767658)
Edition Language






I requested a copy of ROYAL BASTARDS from NetGalley after the cover caught my eye.
I’m a fan of light fantasy and heavy battles, so I hoped this would be the kind of book I usually enjoy, but I was cautiously optimistic because it’s so hard to find the kind of fantasy novels that I really enjoy. And then…

I freaking loved this book! This is the kind of fantasy novel I’ve been craving lately.  I was hooked from the beginning.

First, I love the title. It’s edgy, spot on and clearly defines the primary characters. Tilla, Jax, Miles and Zell are all the bastard children of powerful rulers. As bastards they exist on the periphery of their parent’s powerful circles: neither fully included, nor fully removed from the Lords and their “legitimate” families.

Then, during a dinner to honor the visiting Princess Lyriana, the princess does the unimaginable: she opts to be seated at the Bastard’s table in the back of the hall with Tilla and her fellow bastards. In the dark of the night they find themselves leading the Princess through the underground tunnels so that she can dip her toes in the sea. Instead they witness a heinous crime, perpetuated by Tilla’s father and Miles’s mother, that is certain to lead to civil war. Worse still, they’ve all been seen, and now they are on the run for their lives.

ROYAL BASTARDS is a fun adventure story. It has intrigue, excitement and humor. I loved the modern humor and voice set against a very antiquated type of society. This book was a fast and exciting read and I’m hoping there is a sequel (it’s definitely set up for one). My only complaint is that I haven’t been able to get my book club to read it yet, as it isn’t available until 5/30/17!


You can order ROYAL BASTARDS from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play & other book sellers.

I’m sharing the following only because I truly loved this book:

ROYAL BASTARDS Advanced Coverage:

Entertainment Weekly’s “35 Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2017”

 Goodreads “Most Popular Books Published In May 2017”

Bustle’s “The Most Anticipated Young Adult Debuts of 2017—From February to June”

Brightly’s “17 of the Most Exciting YA Books to Read in 2017”

Culturess’s “12 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2017”

B&N Teen Blog’s “Your 2017 2017 YA Pre-Order Guide”

 “This is one of those rare books that had me laughing and crying within a paragraph.”

—Cinda Williams Chima, New York Times bestselling author of the Seven Realms series

 “We cannot wait for this high-stakes, edge of your seat fantasy.”


“Adventure-loving fantasy readers will eat it up.”

Kirkus Reviews

First in a planned series, Shvarts’s action-packed debut champions diversity, counsels perseverance,

and highlights the human cost of war.”

Publishers Weekly


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NaNoWriMo Day 3: Survival Tip of the Day

Many of my friends and acquaintances are currently in the midst of the sheer madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The goal: to write a book (yes, sir, that’s right a whole book) in (gasp) 30 days!

As you can imagine, when writing an entire novel in 30 days, a lot of things will fall by the wayside. A person is forced to give up many things, including sanity, to make time for writing. One thing that causes a lot of stress is meals. You can give up many things for 30 days, but eating isn’t one of them. Some of you have families to cook for, some are only looking after yourselves. Whichever the case your NaNoWriMo meals should be stress free. And so, I give you my NaNoWriMo tip of the day (part tip, part recipe):

Slow cooker cooking: Easy Slow Cooker Korean Beef For those in the know, cooking in a slow cooker can’t be beat. With the easiest of recipes, sometimes it’s a dump & run preparation. Now, if you’re the kind of parent who serves only natural, organic, non-GMO meals, well…I can’t help you. I’m the kind of parent who admires my effort and dedication if I offer a meal that hasn’t been purchased as a value meal combo.

So, for a really tasty, seems-like-someone-made-an-effort meal, that won’t get in the way of your NaNoWriMo progress I recommend this recipe. To save steps I bought pre-cut steak and served with fast cooking rice.


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John Krasinski:Action Star?

In case you haven’t read 13 Hours in Benghazi, it’s a good book which gives the full account of the operatives who were on the ground, and under fire, when US personnel were attacked in 2012. I had the honor of attending an engagement in which three of those operatives–Kris Paronto, Mark Geist and John Tiegen–spoke and I remember thinking immediately, “This would make a great movie.”

Several months later this is how I found out about the movie:

Someone: Did you hear that they are making a movie about that 13 Hours book?

Me: Really? I knew it *fist pump–or some other ridiculous gesture of triumph*

Someone: Michael Bay is going to direct and John Krasinski has already signed on.

Me: John Krasinski?!?! The dude from The Office? *checks the internet, certain this was a monumental mistake on Someone’s behalf*

As it turns out, John Krasinski–from The Office– had indeed been signed. (?)


To clarify, I wasn’t horrified at the thought, but was admittedly a doubter. He seems like a nice guy, he’s cute and decent and, well, funny. How would that translate in a movie which is based on thirteen hours of intense danger, gun fights and the bad ass heroics of men who had served in the real life special forces?

And so, I waited…and waited..and waited (Dear God, it seems like I waited for this movie a lllooonnnggg time–a curse of the book to movie lover). Finally I saw a still of John Krasinski in character.

images  “Well, he looks the part.” I had to admit. (Loved the beard, by the way). But, would he be able to be as intense and serious as I imagined the role called for or would there always be a Jim Halpern gleam in his eye? The trailers rolled out and I just couldn’t tell. And so I waited…and waited…(Damn the waiting!!!). This weekend I finally got to see the film adaptation of 13 Hours in Benghazi.

13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was a solid movie. I think it was true to the book (and, according to the men it’s based on, was also true to the actual events), Michael Bay did not go too crazy with the explosions (which, lets admit it, was a real possibility!). Most importantly though, the actors were great. The biggest surprise though, John Krasinski is great in action movies. He was serious and walked like a guy who was used to kicking ass and had made a career of it. In an early scene he had the deadpan, steady gaze of a man who was just daring someone to “Go ahead, punk. Make my day.”

imgres  Really, who’s going to mess with this dude?

So, now I have to make the official announcement that John Krasinski is my new favorite action movie actor…ok, action heart-throb too, I mean, really, now he’s a cutie and has a dangerous edge to him. Now, if only he’ll make some more action movies, because honestly, I can only stand so many Rom-Coms (blech!).


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