Quote of the Week – May 31

With my son’s “graduation” from fifth grade being held tomorrow, I thought this quote seemed appropriate.

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#NewRelease – THE LOST by Cindy Cipriano

Author Cindy Cipriano released The Lost: Book Three of The Sidhe on May 19. Check out the excerpt below.

Excerpt – Prologue 

“I beg of you. Please don’t do this,” cried the frail man. He was gaunt and looked as if he hadn’t slept in months. “I’ve changed, give me another chance.”

“I’m in no position to judge you. Nor can I give anyone anything,” said Finley.

His gaze traveled over the man’s hunched shoulders to the green sky, searching, as always, for any way out of the Void. Finley had hoped he’d leave the Void before he had to push the next depereo into the Underworld. He always hoped this, but to no avail. There was always another depereo.

“Please, please,” said the old man, clasping his hands in front of him as if in prayer.

It wore on Finley when the depereo were awake, begging for mercy. Their pleas made his task more difficult. And, it was harder for him to forget about them after he sent them to the Underworld. Finley rubbed the bridge of his nose, wishing again for a way out.

“May I go then?” the old man asked, looking at Finley with hopeful, teary eyes.

Finley looked down at the shriveled old man. He looked like someone’s kindly grandfather. He wondered what the man could have done to wind up here.

How dangerous could this old man be?

An odd feeling traveled through Finley’s veins.

Compassion.

The feeling disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived, leaving Finley with his constant companion.

Desperation.

Finley reminded himself that the choices this depereo had made during his life had brought him here. Like the depereo who came before him, this Sidhe’s evil ways had put him onto the path that led straight to the Void. This man was already dead. His eternal fate had already been decided. Finley was just tasked with delivering the sentence.

I should have used the club like Sun showed me.

“To make sure they’re unconscious,” Sun had explained.

Finley wondered what had happened to Sun. Was his friend all right after his return to the Realm of Man?

No matter, Sun was better off. He had to be.

“May I go?” the man repeated, dusting grains of blue sand from his palms.

“There’s nowhere to go,” said Finley. He pulled the man to his feet effortlessly, as though he weighed nothing. As though the man was nothing.

Just as I am nothing.

“Please, don’t,” begged the man. “I have money. I will give you anything you want. I’ll do anything you ask.”

“Don’t you understand?” asked Finley. “I have no control over any of this. There is no bargain that can be made. I’m condemned. Just like you.”

“But, I am powerful. I can get you out of here.”

“No one can get me out!” yelled Finley. Of all the things the depereo said to him, that was the worst. If a depereo couldn’t change their own fate, how did they think they could change his?

The man stared at Finley, curiously. “How can you bear this?” he asked a touch of pity in his voice.

“I can’t,” said Finley. He shoved the man hard through the gash in the large black boulder then turned away. Finley walked back to the blood-red forest with the man’s horrified screams ringing in his ears.

Book Blurb

Calum Ranson is now closer than ever to finding his lost cousin Finley: he knows where he is, he just doesn’t know how to get there. Stuck in the Void between the world of the living and the Underworld, Finley needs to get home soon before he is changed forever. It’s up to Calum and his friend Laurel to figure out how to free him.

Adding to the challenge, Calum can no longer turn to his other cousin and best friend, Hagen, who has become mysteriously close to one of their school’s biggest bullies, Riley Sloan. Why has Hagen suddenly started treating Riley as his girlfriend when she used to be his enemy? And can Calum succeed in saving Finley without Hagen’s help?

From studying to school dances, field trips to first kisses, the third book of the Sidhe depicts a typical middle school experience, peppered with magic, faeries, and truly heroic deeds.

About the Author

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

 

Not really. Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems like 27. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

 

Cindy credits The Sidhe series to an idea that came to her when she was a small child during, “one of my many “time-outs.” The characters, particularly Uilleam, were born out of her curiosity about what might be found underneath one of the tiles in the floor. It is for this reason she encourages all writers to record everything because, “There is no such thing as an ordinary life. Each of our lives are filled with stories begging to be told.”

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You can find out more about Cindy on her website.

You can purchase The Lost on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

Dressing up for Alamo City ComicCon 2017

For the fourth year, my family has attended the Alamo City Comic Con. This year it moved from the fall to Memorial Day weekend and was bigger and better than ever.

As always, this comic con attracts some big stars. There are really too many to list but here are a few of this year’s stars: Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Val Kilmer, Karl Urban (most recent Star Trek movies), Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars), Peter Mayhew (Star Wars), Dolph Lundgren, Rob Schneider, and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings movie trilogy).

And as we did the last three years, we went ahead and got into the spirit by wearing costumes.

This year’s cast of characters….

Indiana Jones – My husband once dressed up as Indiana Jones for a video clip in a speech he was giving. So it wasn’t hard to decide to do it for Comic Con. Most of the clothes came from Goodwill. I added some make up to “dirty” it up. I ordered his bag, whip and hat from Amazon. He originally was going to 3D print his gun and make his holster but we ran out of time and ordered them from E-bay. The costume turned out great.

K2SO – The last two years, Jase has had my husband make him a costume. This year he decided to just buy one. Since he loves the droids from Star Wars, he decided to go as K2SO from Rogue One.

Pikachu – Lexie loves Pokemon so we bought her this cute Pikachu costume. Of course the weekend we receive it, she wore the gauntlets bike riding and tore one of them when she fell. My husband did a good job of patching it up. We replaced the hat that came with the costume with a Pikachu headband that was super cute. She decided that she needed yellow hair and red cheeks.

Lara Croft – I had been thinking about doing Lara Croft (from the Tomb Raider video games) for a while. Last year, I had a blast making my Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn costume. Lara Croft wasn’t too hard to do. I already had a bag. My husband had the holsters and guns. I ordered the boots from Amazon and the wig from E-bay. The shorts were from Goodwill and the tank was from Wal-mart. It came together pretty easily and of course everyone knew who I was which is my main goal.

It was a great event, and we look forward to doing it again next year.

Today’s Featured Author – Natasha D. Frazier

Please welcome author Natasha D. Frazier to my blog. Her book, Shattered Vows, the third in her Love, Lies & Consequences series, came out in January of this year.

Excerpt

Chloe exhaled when she heard his footsteps on the wooden stairwell. She didn’t realize that she’d been holding her breath ever since she felt his hands on her body. I have to stop doing that,she chastised herself. She knew he was feeling rejected. But how did he think he made her feel when that woman showed up at the coffee shop carrying his child?

She pulled on her dress and fidgeted with it until she slid the zipper into position. She slipped into her shoes and turned around in front of the mirror, giving her clothes, makeup and hair a once-over before meeting Rico downstairs.

Rico let out a low whistle as Chloe descended the stairs with her matching camel-colored clutch under her arm.

“I’m the luckiest man in the world to have you on my arm tonight. You look beautiful, sweetie,” Rico complimented as he took her hand when she descended to the last three steps. When she made it to the bottom, he lifted her hand and brushed her wedding band with his fingers before planting a kiss on her hand.

“Thank you.” Chloe blushed a little and returned the compliment. “You look nice, too.” She noticed that he was wearing her favorite cologne as well, but didn’t make mention of it. Rico placed her hand around his arm and escorted her to the car. Their drive to the Improv was filled with chatter from Rico about what they did on previous anniversaries. She didn’t add much to the conversation, only nodded and smiled mostly. She had to admit that those times were nice, but this one was much different. In her mind was the insurmountable obstacle in front of them.

Rico had purchased their tickets online so they walked straight past the ticket booth to the entrance, where they were greeted by a hostess and shown to their VIP table near the stage. Noting the dim lighting, soft R&B music and the newly renovated facility, Chloe remembered their first date at the Improv, where they saw the comedian Arnez J in standup. They laughed until their stomachs and throats were in pain. She was hoping she would get another whiff of that tonight, although she didn’t know who the comedian was going to be. She just knew that she could use a laugh right about now. And not just any laugh, but a magic laugh that would take away all of the pain that she was feeling and trying so hard to push aside. The type of laughter that would somehow wipe the slate clean for the two of them. She was sure there was no such thing, but she was ready for the magic she hoped the night would bring for her.

She ordered a Caesar salad and he ordered buffalo wings to enjoy before the show started. On cue, the show began when the waitress came to take away their empty plates. They were tickled a little by the warm-up acts but nothing like what she was waiting for. However, she was feeling more relaxed and her body didn’t stiffen as it did earlier when Rico pulled her chair closer to his and put his arm around her.

There were still a few residual laughs from the crowd as the host appeared onstage to announce the headliner for the night—Will the Thrill. Chloe didn’t recognize the comedian’s stage name, so she knew she hadn’t heard any of his jokes before. New material. Great.

Will the Thrill jumped straight into his routine after the round of applause subsided. His first joke was about dating and how he wasn’t ready to commit to his girlfriend by getting married.

“C’mon now men. Y’all know how much extra work it is to hide the side woman when you get married. Gotta put all these codes in your phone, use aliases and lie, lie, lie. Even when you get caught, stick to the lie. Ain’t that right my man?” he joked as he gestured toward Rico.

Her anticipation waned at those jokes. In fact, they weren’t funny at all. Bad choice in her mind. What began to tick her off was that Rico was doubled over in laughter . . . clearly, something he shouldn’t have been laughing at given the situation they were in.

“What in the hell is so funny, Rico?” she sneered, leaning to the side to look up at him wiping tears from his eyes.

“What?” Rico asked, clearly confused.

“So cheating is funny?”

“Sweetie, these are just jokes. C’mon now.”

“I’m glad you think ruining our marriage and our lives is funny. I’m getting out of here!” Chloe scooted away from the table, snatched her purse and walked away with Rico following close behind.

“Looks like someone got caught doing what I just said not to do!” the comedian joked to their retreating backs as they exited the room, causing an uproar in the crowd.

Rico grabbed her hand and she spun around. She yanked her hand back and folded her arms across her chest. The look she gave would have killed him if looks could kill. Infidelity was a sore spot with her and definitely not a laughing matter. Rico couldn’t understand why she took it so seriously. Everyone in the room, except her, knew that those were only jokes. There was no reason to get upset over nothing. But to Chloe it wasn’t nothing; it was the reason her life was turned upside down.

Book Blurb

Rico gambled with his marriage when he cheated on Chloe. Breaking his vows and risking everything for temporary pleasure, he lost his wife’s respect and trust.

Rico returns to God, searching for a quick fix to win Chloe’s heart back, but his heart is the one that is changed. He is a self-proclaimed changed man, willing to go the extra mile to restore his marriage, but he just may be too late.

Has Chloe given up on him? She has forgiven him before, but this is different. “I’m sorry” isn’t enough when vows have been shattered. With the law and the Word of the Lord on her side, she finally gathers enough courage to walk away.

But then tragedy strikes. Is it enough to make Chloe stay, or will she start a new chapter in her life?

About the Author 

Natasha accepted the call to write in 2011. Since then, Natasha has authored three devotional books. Her first book is The Life Your Spirit Craves, a 30-Day devotional and journal that encourages readers to seek, accept and pursue their God-given assignment.  Her second book, Not Without You: 365 Days in the Lord’s Presence, encourages readers to make devotion a part of their everyday life by seeking God every day. Not Without You has been nominated for the Henri Award. The Henri Award recognizes excellence in Christian literature. The Life Your Spirit Craves for Mommies is a 52 week devotional for mothers that encourages them to see God at work in their lives through their role as a mother. Both devotionals in The Life Your Spirit Craves series won the Readers’ Choice Award presented at the Christian Literary Awards. Natasha is also the author of the Love, Lies & Consequences Christian-fiction series that focuses on real and relevant issues in today’s society, such as pre-marital sex, adultery, blended families and more! Currently, the series contains three published titles:  Love, Lies & Consequences, Through Thick & Thin, and Shattered Vows.

Natasha resides in Missouri City, TX with her husband, Eddie Frazier, Jr. and their three children, Eden, Ethan, and Emilyn. Her greatest joy and commitment is to her family who she hopes to inspire above all else. One of her many mottos in life is: Faith removes limitations. Natasha and her family are members of Higher Dimension Church in Houston, TX. Natasha is also a member of the Houston Area Alumni Chapter of Jackson State University and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

You can find out more about Natasha on her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can purchase Shattered Vows on Amazon.

 

Getting book reviews

Last week, I wrote about whether book reviews were an important marketing strategy. As it turns out, a good, well-written book review can benefit your sales. When choosing between a book with numerous reviews and one with only a few or no reviews, many readers will pick the more “popular” choice.

So how do you go about getting those reviews?

1.) Ask for a review as part of the back matter of your book. It is simple to include “If you enjoyed this, please leave a review. Thanks!” to the end of your book. Amazon does a good job of asking readers to write a review before they exit the book on their Kindle.

2.) Join book reviewer groups on places such as Goodreads or Google+. Here you can find people who like to review books. Just make sure you follow any of the posted guidelines before you post looking for reviews.

3.) Contact book bloggers for reviews. When doing this, make sure they read your genre and be sure to follow any guidelines they provide. Beware that often the reviewer’s to-be-read list is long. You will also want to find out if they post only on their site or if they post on Amazon and other e-book retailers’ sites.

It sometimes helps to cultivate your relationship with reviewers before you ask for a review. This means get involved on their blog by asking and answering questions related to their posts. Think of these book bloggers as potential business partners.

4.) Approach top reviews on sites like Amazon. Often in their profile, it says if they review books and many provide an email address for author to contact them. Remember to be polite in your inquiry. You can also look for people who reviewed books similar to yours and contact them to see if they would like a free copy in exchange for a review.

5.) You can of course pay a company to find reviewers for you or to even review your book. It is one thing to pay a reviewer and quite another to pay for a positive or five-star review. And I think reviewers will not put as much credibility of a “bought” review. So this option should be used only if you have considered all the pros and cons.

6.) One of the best ways to get a lot of reviews is to giveaway many copies of your book. The more hands you get your book into, the more likely it will be read. An increase in the number of readers will hopefully increase your chance of reader reviews.

It is easy to offer a free copy. On Amazon, you can gift a copy of your book. On Smashwords, you can set up a Free Coupon, or you can use a site such as Instafreebie that allows you to send readers free copies of your e-book.

Reviews are obviously a benefit no matter when you received them, but if you can get reviews out BEFORE your book is released, it can only help the momentum of any book release promotions you do. This means you will need to start early to make sure the reviews coincide with your book release date

But no matter when you get a review, the important thing is to get reviews.

Throwing two pool parties

School is in its final month. The days are getting warmer. OK, we are in Texas so the days are getting HOT. The temperature is already in the 90s. It is time to think about cooling off in the pool. And pools mean it is party time!

My neighborhood kicks off every summer with a party at our pool. And for the past eight years, I have been in charge of it. Yes, this means I have it down to a science so it takes very little work.

Neighborhood Pool Party

This summer’s party will be June 3, so I have a few more weeks to work on this party. The key to our party is to keep everything simple. We started out with only serving ice cream sundaes but the past few years we added in hot dogs, popcorn and sodas.

The popcorn started as something for our Fall Festival, but since we have the machine, we might as well use it. Hot dogs also started out being served at the Fall Festival. It was a pretty easy meal. We just warmed them in a crock pot.

In addition to food, we do a few games. We have done cannon ball diving contests and the limbo but the kids’ favorite and one we repeat each party involves gummy worms and whipped cream. You place a gummy worm on a plate and top it with tons of whipped cream. The goal is for the kids to eat the gummy worm without using their hands. They love it!

Then at the end we give out water squirters, bubbles, chalk and other summer fun prizes to every kid.

This year in addition to planning the neighborhood party which usually has about 70 people (adults and kids), I am throwing a party for all the fifth-graders at my son’s elementary school.

Fifth-Grade Pool Party

It is a tradition at Jase’s school that the fifth graders get a party at a local pool. They are after all “graduating” from elementary school and moving on to middle school. The party is thrown during the school day on the last Friday of the school year.

Because the lady who was going to run the party backed out, I and two other parents stepped up to take care of it. I am the organized one, so I have taken the lead role. This event is more than just one school day at the pool. There is a lot of decorating and planning that goes into this. Thankfully, most parents enjoy helping out.

In order to build up to the big day, we decorate the fifth-grade halls in some sort of water theme. Rather than spend hours working on this, I am just taking items used in previous years and mixing them together to decorate the walls, doors and bulletin boards.

We also decorate the sidewalk with chalk from the school to the pool – which is a little less than half a mile away. This gives the kids something to look at while they walk! This is done the evening before the party. Again, if we get lots of help, this should go well. I have already bought 240 pieces of chalk and have requested parents to bring some with them.

Now the party is from 10 am to 1:30 p.m. We will serve the kids lunch. They voted for Chick-fila. And of course we will have snacks and snow cones. And we have to plan a few things to keep them busy. But really the pool should provide most the entertainment.

It felt like a big chore, but it is coming together well. (I won’t know how well it goes until this Friday!)

And now that I have done this party, maybe I will decide to be in charge of it in two years when Lexie is in fifth grade. But for now, I am just looking to be done with both these parties!