Book Review: “Something Lost” by Bernadette Marie

Good morning ladies and gents. Once in a while, especially now that I’m trying to carve out more time in my packed days for reading, I like to offer up a review of some of the books I’ve read. In particular, I love being able to share authors with you who are great a story telling (fiction), offer excellent advice (nonfiction), and who’s styles are captivating, whether in fiction or nonfiction.

It makes it even more fun when it’s an author I’ve met and like, because I get more insights into their creative process, their style, and the quality of their work.

So, today, I’m reviewing “Something Lost” by Bernadette Marie, the first book in her Funerals and Weddings Series. Bernadette is an incredibly accomplished and prolific writer with more than 50 books published (Jesus, I’m slacking over here). She is also the head of 5 Prince Publishing as well as a mother of five (all boys…ya’ll this woman has raised 5. Boys.) And somehow, in her spare time she’s also earned a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do. So, she’s just all-around awesome. To find out more about her, her books, and audiobooks, please visit the links above.

Now onto “Something Lost“.

The book begins at the funeral of Coach Diaz, a beloved basketball coach, father and mentor. His favorite five players, now grown up, return to pay their respects. Among them, is Craig Turner, a once troubled youth who found balance and stability on his team and with Coach’s support. He also once dated the coach’s daughter, Rachel, despite being warned not to. The two meet and rekindle the flame after having lived through some rough and terrible events.

The book is so well written that the story almost plays out like a movie in your head. Readers experience the ups and downs of a relationship that has painful ties to the past, while hope for a different kind of future. Bernadette’s ability to connect readers to her characters through their emotional honest and head-on exploration of hard topics like suicide, depression, self-harm, and abusive parents deepen this book into more than just an average romance novel. “Something Lost” explores what it is to be human, what we do to survive terrible loss, and how we come back from it to be stronger people still capable of honesty and love. The story moves quickly and the chemistry between Rachel and Craig is playful and heated.

I love that Bernadette Marie gives such sexual power and freedom to her female leads. One of my favorite parts about the book is how Rachel admits and prides herself on the fact that she means to seduce Craig and make him hers. And she’s strongly determined in this goal. Another brilliant and timely theme in the book is about the awareness of mental health, the openness of the characters in talking about it, supporting one another, and justifying the importance of it with seeking help and being active participants in their healing process. It’s an important concept that is long overdue to be accepted and practiced in mainstream. I’ve always believed that genre fiction stands as a bellwether for societal change and Marie approaches it with love, respect, and honesty.

The character dynamics between the main characters are wonderful, passionate and sweet, but the dynamics between the side characters (the other members of the team, Rachel’s mother and brother, and her best friend) help to build an interesting world of connected lives that are each unique. This is an art for any author writing series as it makes the reader want to know more about the ‘side’ characters, and promotes the next books focusing on them.

All in all, I loved being able to wind down at the end of a busy day with this book. It wasn’t that it was mindless–quite the contrary, it was a way for my overworked brain to relax and let someone else tell a good story to me. I’ll definately be checking out the rest of this series and all of her titles. With over 50, it should keep me in books for at least a couple of years.

Westbury Falls is Live!!! And Other Cool Stuff

Two promotion blogs back to back? What the hell have I become? A corporate lackey? No–just an artist who’s excited to share her work as well as the work of some really stellar writers.

First things first. Westbury Falls is now available per chapter on Vella and here’s the link:

Westbury Falls

But why read it, you say, if I’ve gotten it up to chapter 10 for free here?

Well, because I’ve added things, changed the chapters around, and you’ll actually get to know what happens when things get steamier beneath all those layers of clothes and propriety. It’s a beautiful and intriguing mystery/sci-fi/steamy romance and I can’t wait to see how it ends (I’m mean–I’m pretty sure I know how it’ll end) Also, per legal reasons, I’m removing it from my website.

The good news is: You can read the first three episodes for free, and the tokens for subsequent chapters are really…really…inexpensive. (Like, I’ll make maybe $3.49 for everytime someone reads the whole book) So if nothing else, you’ll be supporting your friendly neighborhood author for a price less than a cup of coffee.

Second: My charming, delightful and wonderful co-paneling author and friend, Courtney Davis just released her newest book “Princess of Prias” (click on the title to take you directly to the order page). Davis is an author with 5 Prince Publishing, a wonderful small publishing company founded here in Colorado that has a fantastic and diverse line up of romance writers. Check out more of their titles here:

5 Prince Publishing

I’ll be doing some book reviews in the next few weeks of some of 5 Prince Publishing’s major authors as well as some of the cool writers I met with over Fan Expo.

Because I don’t want this to be entirely about promotion, here’s a little writing advice for the week:

I’m in the thick of my first real edits for my 8th novel and I’m realizing that I’m rewriting a great deal of it from scratch. But although its labor-intensive, I’m crafting a story that I like even more than the original and building a world that I want to spend some time in (say two more novels at least?) At the same time I’m trying to multi-market my work as much as possible. I sometimes wonder if I’m spreading my creative energy too thin. This is a new world for writers and authors. We are our own marketing staff. We have to have an online presence and a platform, and still manage to find the time to actually write and edit books.

Don’t forget your purpose. Don’t get so bogged down in the business side of writing that you forget to come back to the joy that drove you to start. I once heard someone say, “Don’t let your ambition get in the way of your joy” and that really struck me. I also believe that when we start with our joy, it is easier to believe in it and feel good about sharing it with others. So here’s the advice…let your joy be the source of your ambition, but make time to enjoy what you love without the endgame always being financial success.

Catching Up and A Whole Lotta Links

Just a quick blog this week to let you know I’ve finally gotten Westbury Falls set up on Kindle Vella, and the first episode will be available Sunday, July 10th. I’ll send a link out via all the socials on it’s release date. There will be additional goodies written into the chapters, so even if you’ve been keeping up so far, you’ll get new insights to Lillian and Matthew’s adventures.

For those of you waiting for the next books (The Sweet Valley Series) I’m afraid you will have a little while longer to wait. I’m exploring some different opportunities but I guarantee that when I hear news you’ll hear it too. My goal is to have them out sooner rather than later.

Also worth mentioning. My science fiction adventure novella is now a completed audiocast! Here are the links in various formats to listen to it.

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/ff4ba549-f715-4fa8-b6f0-a6bc3b9727af/saturn-rising?refMarker=null&

https://www.audible.com/pd/Saturn-Rising-Podcast/B09SNLTJ6B

https://podbay.fm/p/saturn-rising

I’m so proud of this project, and love hearing the story brought to life. A thousand times a billion thanks to Ngano Press Studios and their amazing work. I hope I can collaborate with them in the future on other projects.

Submissions for The Beautiful Stuff Anthology 2023 are still open! Contact me here for more details or visit the submissions page to get a list of the rules. The theme is “A Beautiful Twist” and I’m accepting multiple formats (poetry, short story, flash fiction) of writing.

I attended the Fan Expo in Denver last weekend and was blown away by the amount of talented, generous, and wonderful writers in attendance. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing up some reviews on their books and services they offer.

In the panels I was able to attend, I met a lot of beautiful humans, both readers and writers, and was able to engage in some great discussions about where the genre of Romance is headed, why it’s important to utilize it in other genres, and how to expand your audience and reach. All in all, it was a successful, fun, and engaging time and I wanted to thank everyone who stopped by.

I’m always heartened by how many people are out there, aspiring to write, working hard on finishing their works in progress, and struggling as we all do. Keep up the good fight. Keep writing. Don’t let life, distractions, or self-doubt kill that desire. Write. Write. Write.

That’s my quick catch-up and I hope in the next weeks to get you some book reviews, write ups on Point of View, how romance has changed and evolved, and what we can look forward to in the future with genre trends. Also, links to more of my work and some exciting things coming out.

Again, feel free to contact me with questions about submitting to the anthology!

Until then. Write. Write. Write.

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

My Random Summer Reading List

I know it’s been said that a writer must read a lot in order to write well.

This was probably said by someone whose only job was to write. It was definitely not written by a mom who works two extra jobs in addition to writing and parenting. I know that time is limited. And although I LOVE to read, I also know that it sometimes takes a back seat to the ‘have-to’ list that is my life. So I would amend that you should read as often as you can. And it doesn’t have to be grand, sweeping novels of classical literature. Reading articles (well written and somewhat brain stimulating), short stories, poetry, or flash fiction all count.

Being what it is, when I get to sit down and read a book, I will often fall into lighter genres of fiction, usually, with a preference for romance, suspense, psychological thrillers, fantasy and urban fantasy, speculative, some sci fi, and a dash of historical fiction. That’s not to say I don’t read non-fiction. But I tend to reserve those books for book club invites and I’m not too proud to say there are some of those I never finished.

So, in thinking about reading, I’d like to offer you some good rules for every writer to follow when it comes to the limited time you have.

  • You should always have three different books on your nightstand at all times.
    • Something you love (by genre or author)
    • Something that challenges you (out of your genre, or tougher content)
    • Something that broadens your knowledge base or improves your craft.
  • Take a book along whenever you
    • have more than five minutes to wait
    • are traveling, anywhere
    • want to feign being ‘busy’ in the company of people you’d rather not talk to.
  • When you find yourself dreading a book, not because it’s challenging to your beliefs or makes you similarly uncomfortable, but because it’s nauseatingly boring or poorly written…stop reading it and move on. Life is too short to waste reading time on something that doesn’t bring you joy or positive change

So, now that you have a good reference for how to choose a book and how to get it written, here’s a list of books I’ve recently finished reading or are on my nightstand. I encourage you to be eclectic and curious when you chose your books, but always have something familiar for the nights when you need the comfort of an author or genre you’re familiar with.

Check these out:

In the category of craft/professional development:

  1. Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life by Teresa R. Funke
  2. Breakthrough: How to Overcome Doubt, Fear, and Resistance to Become Your Ultimate Creative Self by Todd Mitchell
  3. Write Naked by Jennifer Probst
  4. Ed Parker’s Encyclopedia of Kenpo by Ed Parker
  5. Seishin Shuyo: Mental Training in Traditional Martial Arts by Jimmy Lockett
  6. The Trail Runner’s Companion by Sarah Lavender Smith

For something that challenges/stretches my worldview and brains:

  1. Killers of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  2. Rising Strong by Brené Brown
  3. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  4. How to See Yourself as You Really Are by the Dalai Lama
  5. TransQuality by Bethany Beeler
  6. Ornkey: A Historical Guide by Caroline Wickham Jones

In the category of somethings I love:

  1. Mr. Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson (all of his books thus far have been phenomenal)
  2. The Miriam Black series by Chuck Wendig (again, a smart, beautiful writer, with a heavy dose of IDGAF bravado)
  3. Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater (haven’t read yet, but looking forward to it)
  4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (I couldn’t put this one down)
  5. The Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts (both of these series are ones I could reread every year)
  6. The Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts

Well, there you have it. Go forth and spend some of these beautiful days, beneath the shade of a tree, losing yourself in the written word. Voracious readers (in the time they have to give) make better writers.

A Writer’s Summer Reading List

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

Stephen King once mentioned that if you, as a writer, didn’t have time to read, then you didn’t have time to write. Even more recently, at the closing remarks of this year’s NCW writing conference (https://www.northerncoloradowriters.com/) I was reminded by the incomparable Teresa Funke (https://www.teresafunke.com/) that writers who read shouldn’t consider that time ‘wasted’ or a guilty pleasure. Every book we read teaches us something about the craft, our own voice as writers, and provides us with inspiration and information that will be useful in our own projects.

So, as the warmth of lazy days approaches (ha ha–just kidding, if you’re a parent, summers aren’t ever lazy), I’ve compiled a list of books that may be of interest to writers, as well as some good-ol-fashioned brain candy. Let’s be honest, no one wants to spend their summer vacation slogging through a MFA reading list–gag me. The books below should be helpful AND entertaining. Each has been selected because it offers insight to the craft of writing or has brilliant use of good writing…or it’s just plain fun to read.

  1. “On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft” Stephen King: I read this one every year. He’s down to earth, helpful, at times hard-assed, and others vulnerable. A beautiful book.
  2. “The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience” Chuck Wendig: Holy shit snacks… If you haven’t followed Chuck Wendig’s blog (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/)or read ANY of his books, you need to rethink where your life is heading. Part heart-felt genius, part sacrilegious savant, “Kick-Ass” is a fun and mildly irreverent romp through the derelict world of writing and I can’t love the man’s sense of humor or talent more.
  3. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” V.E. Schwab: I told you it wasn’t all about writing manuals. This book is poetically beautiful, curious and heart wrenching. It’s a little tragic, a little romantic, and has just enough magic realism to make you feel like you’re cheating on your homework by reading it. Schwab also does a beautiful job transitioning through time, space, and POV.
  4. “Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You” Ray Bradbury: I’d like to think, because we share a birthday, some of his playful brilliance will soak into my brain by some sort of weird Zodiac osmosis…hasn’t happened yet. This book is full of good advice, and assurances that the writing mind is not meant to be ‘normal’ and also that writing what we love, even if it’s labeled as low-brow or ‘not literary’ is more important than trying to get our books into an MFA program. As Bradbury says: “I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
  5. “Save The Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need” Blake Snyder. Is it the last book on screenwriting I’ll ever need? Probably not. But even if you’re not a screenwriter this book has good information about story beats, plotting, character development and writing a story that audiences (your readers) will both love and be satisfied with. On a side note, if you’ve ever wanted to write a book that may someday transition to film, this is a great book to check out in understanding the process of writing a compelling story that live audiences will love.
  6. “Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life” Teresa R Funke. https://www.teresafunke.com/ This book is not just a boost of energy and inspiration, it’s a good ‘life skills’ book. We all need to know that our ideas matter, that it is possible to pursue our dreams and find the time to make them a reality, but this book offers helpful insights on how to do it and why it’s so imperative that we do. Teresa is not only a brilliant author but an amazing, down-to-earth, and kind human who has enough experience in the world of writing to know what she’s talking about.

Well, there you have it. I hope you get to read some of these this summer. If you don’t, I encourage you to pick up a few books in your genre and a few outside of it. See what you can learn. Even–try something out of your scope of practice (Non-fiction/Fiction) and see how the other half lives. Something is to be gained from every page we take in. Happy reading out there!

It’s Here, It’s Here! It’s Finally Here!

Hey ya’ll.

I know I’ve made a lot of empty promises and delays in this project, which is misleading because it is something so dear to my heart. But there have been life hiccups and unexpected formatting issues (one just last night that came to my attention and pushed back the release by a day!)

Needless to say, this project has been on the drawing board far longer than I anticipated.

But like all good things…sometimes you just have to love it (warts and all) and let it go. So, without further fanfare, I invite you to purchase and peruse “No Small Things: The Beautiful Stuff Poetry Anthology 2019-2020”, available later today at Amazon.

Here is the link:

No Small Things Poetry Anthology

Thank you so much for your patience and support for all of the great poets who contributed. Share this around and help spread the love for artistic endeavor. Sometimes this life can be so ugly and harsh, we have to nurture the beautiful no matter how small.

If you are interested in purchasing a signed copy directly from me, please feel free to contact me via The Beautiful Stuff contact page or at sereichert@comcast.net

Until then, Happy Reading.

 

Book Review: “Before Understanding Life, Love Yourself: 101 Acrostic Poems Reshaping Words Used by Bullies”

 

If I could tell you one thing that I know to be true it’s this: Words are power.

Words have weight.

Words matter.

What we say to others will shape not only their perceptions of themselves, but also their perception of us and the world at large.

 

The old adage of sticks and stones breaking bones but words as ineffectual, is dangerously incorrect. Physical wounds heal over. But harsh words, implanted on the heart and brain of a young, impressionable human last and can shape the way a person’s brain is formed.

 

As a parent and mentor I can tell my kids in countless ways and repeatedly why others sling these arrows and try to reason with them that the hatred and hurt is a result of the bully’s own feelings of inadequacy. But it does little to sooth the pain.

 

In the higher stakes of a social-media driven society, words are slung at a faster pace, with a farther reach then we ever had to deal with as kids. Farther than the playground, and in more permanent ways that have lasting and sometimes deadly consequences.

 

So how do we change these verbal arrows from something potentially life-altering, into something that can offer hope and let the victims of bullying take back their power in the situation?

In Dean K. Miller’s latest poetry anthology, “Before Understanding Life, Love Yourself: 101 Acrostic Poems Reshaping Words Used By Bullies” he utilizes acrostic language to change the most common words used by bullies into more positive, life affirmations.

The time he spent analyzing these words and what they could be changed to is evident and Miller offers us a bright light in an otherwise dark topic.

As he says:

“Through the use of acrostic poetry, my goal is to reshape the words used by bullies into positive pictures, thereby creating new lists of a thousand words that spark upbeat feelings, inspire positive self images, and defuse the stress associated with bullying words.”

 

In “Before Understanding Life, Love Yourself”, Miller takes the worst and most cutting words and breaks them down into ideas that can, hopefully, offer an alternative way for victims to think about the word. Like taking a tarnished penny and turning it over to reveal the untouched copper shine, this poetry anthology gives victims of bullying a tool to reshape the negative words into positive ideas.

 

If you’re familiar with Mr. Miller’s work, I don’t need to gush about his poetic prowess (though I could if you had a few hours). If this is your first time hearing of him, I urge you to check out his work. Miller is a master at crafting poetry that resonates and paints images in your mind.

 

If you are a teacher or in another profession that holds responsibility over the health and wellness of our kiddos I highly recommend you check this book out.

 

You can even contact me and I’ll offer it through The Beautiful Stuff at a discounted rate.

 

Here’s the link on Amazon:

 

“Before Understanding Life, Love Yourself: 101 Acrostic Poems Reshaping Words Used by Bullies

 

Also, I highly recommend that you read some of his other work:

 

Dean K. Miller Poetry on Amazon

He does excellent work and programs for Veterans with the use of poetry and the outdoors as therapeutic methods.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Kathryn Mattingly’s “The Tutor” Will Stun and Captivate

I was lucky enough to pre-read a wonderful new novel out by one of my favorite authors and an all-around amazing woman, Kathryn Mattingly. I just wanted to take a moment, on this site that expunges on the beautiful and chaotic journey’s our lives take, to promote “The Tutor“. A wonderful book to begin your Autumn reading list.

Here’s a little review:

Kathryn Mattingly’s newest novel, “The Tutor” delves into the dark underbelly of the horrifying international baby-trade business and the unscrupulous men who profit from it. This page-turning thriller captivates readers as it follows the story of one woman’s desperate escape from her controlling husband to save their traumatized son from being locked away.

Following Natalie Giovanni’s flight with her troubled and beloved only son, Matti, lands us across the globe, in the lush world of Roatan, Honduras and paints a striking difference between the world that Natalie is accustom to and her new life, hidden away.

In her trademark style, Mattingly paints a vibrant world of crystalline beaches, reefs teeming with life, colorful people, and a vivacious culture. The reader is offered an inside perspective from the men and women living on the island and becomes part of their day to day lives in striking detail.

Mattingly explores both the differences of life in the United States and life on the island and also the similarities in their systemic patriarchal controls. This contributes to the complex plot and journey Natalie takes in finding herself and in helping her son recover from the shock and trauma of witnessing his father’s unspeakable act of cruelty.

The dynamic between characters is complex and engaging and begs the reader’s investment in what will come with every turn of the page. Her dynamic heroine remains relatable and captivates the audience with the trials and transformations she faces on her path to self-reliance and helping Matti to heal.

As always, Mattingly is an artist at character development and gives the reader a thrilling adventure that offers a deeper theme of the heartening bravery it takes to do what is right and protect the ones we love.”

 

Find it here:

 The Tutor by Kathryn Mattingly