Setting Preview – Penelope’s Apartment

Hello all! How’s your Friday? So far so good over here. Today’s setting is Penelope Sawyer’s apartment. Since she is the main character in the Ashes & Stars series, I thought it important over the next couple of weeks to show you exactly where my characters live and what their spaces look like. Maybe tell you why certain things are there. You can tell quite a bit about someone by the things they surround themselves with. So, without further ado, let’s explore Penelope’s apartment.

Penelope lives in a two bedroom apartment that she used to share with her brother. Cohen wasn’t there often, but it was his home of residence when he came home on leave. He got the bigger room because Penelope liked the access to the outdoor patio from the smaller room. After her brother died, it took months before she was able to convert his room into a guest room, a feat that was only accomplished with the help of both her Mom and her best friend Bailey. Now the room lacks a lot of personality, which is the way Penelope likes it. It was easier. After which it has unofficially become Bailey’s room at her house, since they live in different states, it’s important to both of them to have a room that feels like their own.

While she isn’t very fond of living in an apartment, she’s made a home for herself there and doesn’t see herself moving. Though she’s thought about it, she hasn’t seriously made plans to do so. She is comfortable with her small kitchen, since it’s always just her.

All of the rooms in her house, besides the guest room, have a common theme that connects them. Specifically the use of the colors of gray and dusty rose. It’s comforting to her as the dusty rose is her favorite color. She loves it and it shows. (I certainly can’t blame her, I use that color with Navy blue in my office and absolutely love it!) While her apartment does appear feminine, and why shouldn’t it, it’s not overly so.

Penelope tends to spend a lot of time in the warmer months out on the patio or on the balcony. She likes to curl up with a good book, or bring her tablet out to relax in the sun with a movie. Some of the important conversations she ends up having take place in these two spots. Despite it’s smaller size, she enjoys that she can turn music on in the living room and anywhere on the first floor she is, she can hear it without the volume being so loud that it disturbs her neighbors.

Since she lives by herself, the separate dining room didn’t make sense to her, so she added bookshelves and a smaller table to the room to make it into a library/game room. When she has company they can sit in there and play cards or board games and have a good time. She eats either on her couch or at the island so there isn’t really a good place to play cards in the living room. Unless there are a bunch of people, like when her and her friends play poker at the coffee table for her birthday. There isn’t room at the table for that so they congregate elsewhere.

Normally, however, there aren’t that many people in her apartment at any given time. Since it’s been just her, she doesn’t have company too often and often ends up feeling isolated. Her parents live a couple of hours north of her and her best friends both live in different states. It’s one of the reasons she keeps coming back to the decision to move elsewhere, though she can’t seem to commit. It would mean leaving behind the last piece of her brother that she has.

I hope you enjoyed this brief look into Penelope’s apartment. A lot of the plot happens here, so I hope you got to look around and get familiar with it. Stay tuned next Friday for the next setting. What do you guys want to see? Do you have a preference? Reid’s house? The cabin? Bailey’s house? These are other important settings. Quite a bit of the series actually takes place in and around Vampire House (Reid and Asher’s house). Let me know what you think.

Book Review – The Summer Proposal

Hello lovlies! How are you this wonderful Thursday? I’m starting a new thing and so every Thursday you’ll get a book review from me. I used to do them all of the time on the old blog, but now I think I’ll do them here. You guys should see what I’m reading and recommending, or not recommending for that matter. This week, we’re talking about The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland.

*SPOILER ALERT*
There are potential spoilers ahead, ye be warned!

The Summer Proposal
by Vi Keeland

You guys have seen those Ads on Facebook and other places like that about books right? Well, that’s what happened to me. I saw this ad, and the story sounded interesting so I followed the link to Amazon and downloaded a preview of the book to my Kindle app. I read the first three chapters and then immediately ordered two copies, one for me and one for my cousin Steph who loves reading as much as I do. This book had everything we enjoyed; a romantic plot, hockey, some spice, and I learned in the first three chapters that the writer was funny. There were so many times while I was reading that I laughed out loud, scaring whoever was around me.

So I took this book to Stephanie, and together we read it. It was a pretty quick read, only 330 pages, but oh did those pages have me hooked! I read through it so quickly that it only took a couple of hours while I was at my cousins, and then a Friday night by myself in my apartment. We got together and asked ourselves ten questions about this, book club style, and here are the answers to those.

Q: What was your least favorite part of the book?

Steph: I was a little disappointed that no one attended the funeral, but seeing as how it was a side character, I’m not surprised.
Amber: I was too, I felt like there should have been some mention of Max attending if he did. It seemed to me like he just skipped it. Rude if they were actually friends.

Q: What was your favorite part of the book?

S: The staycation and the end.
A: I think my favorite was that he never belittled her work and tried so hard to support it. I liked medicine when she was sick.

Q3: Which character did you relate to, or empathize with, the most?

S: Georgia because I’m an anxious creature like she is and I overthink everything so I can relate to how she feels during most of the book.
A: Maggie. I want to be her when I grow up. She was a fabulous friend and I absolutely adored her personality.

Q4: Did you like the “heat” level of this book?

S: Absolutely! It was steamy steamy! I was certainly effected.
A: Yes, I felt it was a good mix of spice and story. The spice was definitely well written.

Q5: Was the couple’s connection believable? If so, at what point did they click for you?

S: Yes, I felt like they were meant to be as soon as Max walked in and pretended to be her blind date.
A: Same, I felt like the moment he gave her the Yoda to hold on to it was a done deal. They were adorable. Especially when she showed up at the Garden.
S: Do you think he left it there on purpose?
A: Oh yeah he totally did. He was hoping she’d return it.
S: Yeah. It was a ploy to see her again.

Q6: What do you think happens to the leads after the ending?

S: They both continue to be extremely successful and have a couple of babies.
A: Adorably dimpled hockey playing babies.

Q7: What do you think of the romance’s pacing?

S: Vi had me hanging on the edge of my seat the whole time waiting to see what would happen next. I loved it.
A: I felt the pacing was good. It definitely lent to it being unputdownable and a quick read. I HAD to know what was going to happen next.

Q8: Would you fall for either of the leads?

S: Oh most definitely. Max is a hockey player, with dimples. I love hockey players, and dimples.
A: Max is on my book boyfriend list. I’d date him. He’s sweet and amazing and loyal.

Q9: Did this book melt your heart? Make you believe in love again?

S: Absolutely. It was a testing time for me.
A: Of course. It made me feel my single status so much more! I want a nice man who’s good in bed, ha ha.

Q10: Did the plot proceed in a way that felt natural? Or did you feel manipulated by the storyline?

S: I think the plot line proceeded perfectly. I liked the way it flowed and it seemed real to me.
A: I think it was perfect. At first I was a little confused as to the purpose of the flashback chapters, but that became clear as I read. They were misleading though, so that was a fun twist in a predictable “I know they’re gonna fall in love no matter what they say to the contrary” type plot.

Final Ratings:

We give this book five stars. We bought two more books by the same author that we can’t wait to read, so definite five stars.

We give this book four flames. It was steamy and really good, but it wasn’t overly abundant. We were satisfied by what was there, but Gabriel the jerk blocked more of what could have been.

In summary, if you like hockey, or romance, or just good spicy scenes, we highly recommend this book. It’s hilarious and a great read. Check it out. Until next time my loves.

I’m getting published!!!!

I am writing today with fantastic news! I am very very pleased to announce that I have signed a contract with a publishing company to publish the Ashes & Stars series! The first book is due out sometime next summer and I am very very excited to go through the process of getting it in print.

The publishing company I signed with will only be publishing my Paranormal Romance stories starting with Ashes & Stars and possibly progressing from there into other stories that I have written within the Arkane world that has been created. I am over the moon enthused to have signed with Clan Whelan Publishing.

Clan Whelan Publishing is a smaller publishing house just starting out and specializing in Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Women’s Fiction. Anne, Liz and the other writers with this publishing company have been extremely welcoming as I’ve gone through the process of joining this family. I cannot express how grateful I am that they have taken a chance on me and my story. I believe in these characters with all of my heart and I believe in this story.

Please take a moment to subscribe to my newsletter, and join the Facebook group for my readers, both called The Arkane Archive. Stay tuned here for the same wonderful content that you’ve grown to appreciate and enjoy from me. I am so happy with these turn of events that I am overwhelmed with happiness.

The last couple of years have been rough on me emotionally, as you well know, but the sun is beginning to shine once more in my life. It is all the brighter for the dark clouds that have graced my world. It is beautiful from where I sit, and the view is only getting better. Greener. I only hope that if you’re dealing with dark clouds of your own, that you will see the sun soon enough. That all of your hard work comes shining out all the brighter and restores your hope.

That’s all for today my loves. Remember to follow the link for the newsletter, which will publish the first Saturday of each month and join the Facebook Reader group, The Arkane Archive, for exclusive details not found anywhere else.

Until next time my loves,

Character Profile – Kestral Sherwood

Today’s Character profile is about a character that first shows up in this upcoming weekend’s Short Story Saturday. He’s going to be the counterpart to the main character of Ailee Creed. The two of them will go on an epic journey that you’ll get to read about but only here on the blog. So, without further ado, let’s meet Kestral Sherwood.

Kestral is a Gorlass, a descendant of long ago Dragon shifters. They can no longer shift but retain several characteristics of their previous Dragon ancestors. Kestral himself is the only son out of five children. He’s the youngest and his sisters live to make his life complicated. While his sisters all have jewel colored eyes, his are the same gold as his fathers. When threatened, his skin takes on a golden sheen that is strangely reminiscent of scales, and though his skin is impervious to fire, it is not impenetrable. 

Kestral works with Wilder as a Diffuser. Since he is fireproof, it made sense to him that he could use his gifts to help people. He moved to Port Shadeau two years prior and despite his willingness to settle down, no one had yet caught his eye. 

When he isn’t working, he loves to read books and drink coffee. His favorites are mystery and detective stories and he can spend hours on his days off doing nothing but sitting in his favorite chair and devouring books. When he has enough time to leave the city, he prefers to spend time in wide open spaces. He loves stargazing and watching the night sky while he sleeps next to a campfire.

Ten get to know you questions with Kestral Sherwood:

What makes you happy? A good cup of coffee and a good book on a rainy day.

What is your favorite flower? Sunflowers

Who was your childhood hero? My father. He was honest and unfailingly kind.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Buy a house out in the country and some land. Then build a room that was all windows and fill it with books and comfortable chairs to relax in when the rains come.

Are you a dog person or a cat person? Dog person more often than not. But I don’t mind cats. 

What would you name your future child? Lawson Sherwood, after my father, if it was a boy. And Caroline Sherwood if it’s a girl. I’d be willing to compromise on the middle names, but the last names are fixed in my mind. 

Something you hate that you used to love? Spinach. When I was a kid I’d eat it all the time, but now I can’t stand it. 

What did you want to be as a kid? I’ve always wanted to be a Diffuser, so I guess I did that right. 

What is the last thing you bought? [laughs] Groceries. I bought groceries, though they were minimal. 

That’s the brief introduction to Kestral Sherwood. At least as much as you’ll get for now. Tune in this Saturday to actually meet him in the story. Let me know what you think so far. For now, I’m off to get some work done around the house. Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday friends!

I’ve been thinking

If you’re on my personal facebook, or even follow the Amber Marie Writes facebook, you may have seen this already, but I felt it worth repeating here. I had a bit of a rough year last year, as did everyone. It hasn’t gotten much better this year but I’m pushing through and I’m determined to make something good this year. This post kind of came to me after I saw a graphic in my memories and I thought it was important enough to share here with maybe a little more detail than I’d put on my facebook. Some of it is a little difficult to talk about but the overall idea is about making art out of the difficult stuff that happens.

As most of you know, if you’ve paid any attention at all over the last year, I lost my Dad March 13th of last year. What only my brother knows, is that the night before Dad died, Damien and I were at the hospital until two in the morning. We were emotional and trying to distract ourselves. I had been gearing up for Camp NaNo which happens every year in April. I had written out an outline that I had spent the last couple of months creating from a random thought into an actual story. It wasn’t easy but dealing with everything those last couple of months with Dad gave us, it gave me something else to focus on while working nights. So, my brother and I sat there, three foot from my dad, talking about this outline, talking about my ideas, to distract us from what was happening in the bed right next to us. Dad died the next afternoon. And despite everything that happened in the years leading up to that moment, and no matter how many time we told ourselves we were, we weren’t ready. I wasn’t ready.

Then the world shut down in almost the same breath as we lost Dad. We were trapped at home. People were scared. I was grieving. Hard. I had no idea what to do and my brain desperately was searching for something to do. So a couple of weeks later, when April started, I did what I had planned to do. I did Camp Nano. I set goals, and I smashed them. Quickly.

It had been a very long time since I had finished anything besides a short story. I’d get almost to the end of something and then I just couldn’t finish it. It was frustrating. I started to feel like that with this but I pushed on. I made myself write every second I wasn’t working, or helping the kids with school, or cleaning the house. I did my best. I distracted myself to escape the pain. And this amazing thing happened. On April 25th, 2020, I finished Hold On. Sure, it was just a first draft. Sure, it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was just a piece of fanfiction that I may or may not publish anywhere. It was for me. I wrote my emotions out. I took that grief and turned it into something beautiful.

My goals, as you can see, were simple, 10k words minimum. That was my goal. just something on paper. Anything. Create Art, which I created a lot of art. I really did. And to finish it. Which I did. 25 days and I finished it. Ending with 18 chapters and a total of roughly 63, 457 words. I have never won a full NaNoWriMo before since I started competing in 2013. And the goal there is only 50k in 30 days. I wrote 63k in 25 days. It was huge.

That feeling allowed me to keep going. It allowed me to keep writing and to write everyday. When it’s not a NaNo month (April and November are when I participate), the timeline I give myself is somewhat more relaxed. And by the time October of last year rolled around, I had finished 3 stories, one was primed to go to my editor, and I was working on three more, as the ideas struck. I was making art, so much art, I had perfected my writing process. I was doing so well and I knew, without a doubt that I was going to kick NaNo’s ass in November. If I could do it in April, I could do it in November.

Then my Mom died. And it was, ugh. I shut down. Immediately. It was like my brain had a moment where it went “We’ve already done this, we are NOT doing this again!” I tried to do what I’d done earlier in the year, but I’d stare at the screen and couldn’t make the words come. I just couldn’t. They were gone. The words, the ideas, they were still there, I could feel them but they were silent. For once in my writing life, the voices that guide me were silent. And it was deafening.

I didn’t do NaNo last year. I barely made it through November. Dad’s funeral, finally, then Mom’s the next day. It was, a lot. Then the kids started acting out. Jay almost missed Thanksgiving. Emily hated her 16th birthday, even though I tried. Emily has been acting out since. Sneaking out, and taking off for weeks at a time. This has been constant since November. It hasn’t made the words come, if anything they feel farther away.

I’ve started editing again, because despite everything, life goes on. As much as I’d love to sit and never have to process the things I put off at the end of last year so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it, life doesn’t work that way. So, while I still can barely write, I’ve been editing. I’ve been plotting. I will make it through whatever I have to, and not lose my identity as a writer. I have to, because who am I if I’m not?

My 2k20 Camp NaNo Goals graphic was in my memories recently, and I saw it before I’d even had my first cup of coffee and when I saw it, I immediately remembered that sense of pride I felt when I was done. I felt my chest swelling with it again. I felt my shoulders squaring and my head lifting just a bit. It may be just a simple fanfiction that got me through a large portion of my grief. 63k words that I wasn’t sure I’d ever show to anyone. But I’m so glad that I did. It was officially published on August 31st of last year. Since then I’ve gotten 22 comments telling me what a great story it is. 22 comments telling me I was good at this. 22 comments that helped me get through the hardest year of my life, so far. As of yesterday, I’m up to 107 kudos, which if you read anything on AO3, you know that isn’t that great, but it’s not bad either. And the newest Kudos was just yesterday, according to my email.

I created something that will last. I created something. I took my grief and shaped it into a stepping stone for my goals. This stone may be a bit harder and I’m still working on it. I may be juggling more than one stone right now, but that’s all they are. Stepping stones to my dreams. Stepping stones to my goals. Each painted a different color of memory. I can take this, and I can use it. Art is emotion after all.

If you read all of this, thank you. It’s really just to remind myself that even when it hurts, even when it feels like you’re going to break, you never know what’s going to happen next and that next thing, may be everything you ever needed.

Character Profile – Mason Runyon

It’s Monday! As you may have noticed, Character Profiles have moved to Monday’s and Settings will now be on Friday. I don’t have a good reason for the switch other than I was almost done with my schedule for the month before I noticed I had done it. Oh well, we shall adjust accordingly.

This lovely Monday, we are going to talk about Mason Runyon. He’s the main male character in No Ordinary Love. I’m not gonna lie, he was barely more than two dimensional when I went back and read the first draft of No Ordinary Love, and that made me really sad. So I’ve been thinking a lot about him as a character. I knew who he was, but it didn’t come through in the writing so well. I’m still in the process of editing the first draft and working on the second draft, but I’m already much happier with Mason’s character development. So, without further ado, let’s get to talking about the man of the hour shall we?

Mason James Runyon is the only child of Levi and Sarah Runyon and grew up in Florida. His parents still live in his childhood home and have a happy family life. They didn’t have much money when he was coming up, but he’s more than made up for it. He enjoys being able to take care of his parents and some of his extended family.

He joined Between Sundays when he was sixteen, and has been working hard ever since. He plays piano and guitar and occasionally dabbles in songwriting thought he doesn’t believe he’s that good at it. If he ever quit the music industry, he isn’t sure what he would do with his life, but knows he’d have plenty of time to figure it out.

Eventually he’d love to get married and settle down, have a family, but he’s only 25 and isn’t really ready for that. He’s currently still in his party phase and maybe enjoys that just a bit too much. His current girlfriend of just over a year, Natalia “Lia” Patterson, and he are on the same wavelength as far as where they are in life. It isn’t until Mason starts to make some changes that they start having issues.

His best friend, Parker Anderson, is also in the band. At 24, he’s the closest in age to Mason himself and they developed a close bond quite quickly. While on the road, and at home, the two love to get together and play video games or go out and do things that they may have missed out on in high school, like putt putt golf. They’re known to be a little wild when they get together, but no one knows Mason like Parker does. Except for maybe Mason’s other best friend Ember.

Ember Kelley and Mason were classmates starting in kindergarten. They were thick as thieves growing up and ended up sharing their first kiss in the treehouse in Mason’s backyard a couple of weeks before Ember and her family moved away. They were barely thirteen at the time. Once Between Sunday’s started getting some local attention, Ember found her way back to Mason, paying to get into a meet and greet just on the off chance he’d remember her. She didn’t have much expectation when she saw him, but Mason remembered her very quickly. It didn’t take long for the two of them to return to the closeness of their former childhood friendship.

Although in the three years since they’ve been reunited the two haven’t dated or said anything about wanting to, the people closest to them wouldn’t be surprised if that eventually happened. Mason and Ember are quick to deny any feelings between them other than their close friendship, but no one else is disillusioned to their blind spot for one another. There aren’t many people that Mason would drop everything for, and Ember is one of them, and she is the same way about him.

Things kind of come to a head between Mason and Ember after she starts dating someone new. Mason, after some big lifestyle changes of his own, becomes a bit more self-aware of his actual feelings for Ember. He can finally see what everyone else has been talking about. Ember, however, remains oblivious. This leads to quite a bit of conflict for these two characters.

About a hundred bad decisions later, Mason is convinced he’s lost his best friend forever. He struggles with how to make things right and move on from there. He hopes that Ember will forgive him, and at the very least they can get their friendship back, even if it isn’t the same as it was before. He hopes that she might feel the same way for him that he does for her, but he isn’t confident enough in that thought to allow that hope to grow too much. He really just wants his best friend back so they can lounge on the couch and eat junk food while they watch a movie or play a game together.

I’m hoping with the new found information about Mason, or at least a better awareness of the lack of him that I put into the story, that the story will only be better this draft. I’m excited for it. Thanks for checking it out! Have a great day guys!

Leftovers

I know that it’s been a while since I’ve been here, but there have been a lot of things going on personally the last few months. But here I am, back at it and hopefully there won’t be too many more interruptions.

So we are going to kick off May with a lovely new Short Story Saturday. I’m going to pick up where we left off with Ailee Creed and her time in Port Shadeau. So, enjoy!

    Ailee set down the boxes she’d been carrying and wiped her forearm over her brow.  A quick glance at the clock as she opened the top box told her she wasn’t too far from the end of her shift.  With a smile she went back to unloading the boxes and putting the products on the shelf.  When she was finally done, she checked in with her Assistant manager who was working the evening shift, said goodbye to employees still on the clock, and then clocked out.  

    She made her way downstairs toward where Marlowe was also finishing her shift.  Ailee waited, leaned against the end of the counter flipping through a magazine while she finished doing what she was doing.  Once Marlowe was done they walked to the back to grab Marlowe’s coat and went out into the city to find something for dinner.  

    The next couple of days went the same way, and Ailee was happy to finally have a friend. It made her new life in Port Shadeau a little more bearable.  After work on Friday, Marlowe and Ailee met up at Marlowe’s for a couple of drinks and to make dinner.  Marlowe’s husband Wilder was at work for the weekend and so Marlowe had the apartment to herself.  They sat around at the counter and discussed the options for dinner.  

    “I have a lot of easy stuff because I’m not a big fan of cooking.” Marlowe explained standing in front of her fridge and trying to find something to make for them. “It’s such a difference cooking for me as opposed to cooking when Wilder is home.” 

    “Just because you make easy food doesn’t mean it has to taste easy.” Ailee said setting her beer on the counter and sliding off of the stool.  She moved to stand beside Marlowe.  

    “I don’t know how.” Marlowe said, shaking her head.  Ailee just grinned. 

    “I can teach you.  Let me see what you’ve got in here.” Ailee spent a couple of minutes looking through Marlowe’s fridge and cupboards.  She amassed a small collection of things on the counter and then looked at Marlowe.  “Okay.  Let me grab a couple of seasonings from my place that you don’t have, and I’m going to teach you to make something really delicious that isn’t complicated at all.” She said with a grin.  

    After she grabbed the few things from her apartment that she needed, she got to work in the kitchen teaching Marlowe how to make Chicken Penne.  They spent the time laughing and talking and Ailee was happy to really feel like she had a new friend here.  When the food was done, Marlowe was impressed about how easy it was to cook and it smelled amazing.  They sat down and shared a good meal with a lot of laughs and had a great evening.  When dinner was done, they worked together to clean the kitchen and pack up the leftovers.  

    “So, I’m gonna take these home with me since I don’t have to work tomorrow.” Ailee told her with a grin picking up the container off the counter.  

    “Oh no, those are staying here. I have to show Wilder I can actually cook.” Marlowe told her with a grin as she attempted to swipe at the container in Ailee’s hand.  

The girls devolved into a silly play fight over the leftovers before Ailee let Marlowe take them with a proud smile. She went home feeling happy that she had taught her friend the benefits of good food. Marlowe waited no time in taking the leftovers down to the fire house to share with Wilder. It took only one bite before he had shared with a couple of friends, offering a bite or two a piece. He was proud of his wife. When Marlowe got home, she had texted Ailee and asked her to do weekly cooking lessons, and Ailee was happy to agree. It was something wonderful and she was happy to be settling into her new life in Port Shadeau and settled into bed that night with a smile on her face.

Setting Preview: The Librarie

This week we are talking about The Librarie. This is the fictional bookstore and Cafe that Ailee Creed and Marlowe Lark manage in the Short Story Saturday series Port Shadeau. I kind of hope you guys love it as much as I do.

Many years ago I read a series by Nora Roberts about these women who live on an island and it still is one of my favorite series. My mom loaned it to me and I remember looking at her and telling her that I wanted the bookstore from the story. It had a cafe upstairs and it was also a metaphysical shop and I wanted to live there. So, when I was gathering inspiration for Port Shadeau, I found this picture of a bookstore somewhere and I knew that I wanted a cafe bookstore combination.

Now, to prevent copywrite and all of that, I changed it up. A cafe/bookstore isn’t a new idea so that wasn’t the problem, but making sure it didn’t resemble the one I read about a long time ago was essential. So, I set about creating the perfect environment.

It’s two stories, with the Cafe on the first floor near the back of the shop, and there are bookshelves that line the walls. There are new books, used books, a spiral staircase to get to the second floor where there are a few scattered chairs and small couches where you can read and sip your latte. It’s got brick walls and gorgeous windows for plenty of natural light. There’s a wonderful mixture of used books, and new releases, and several wonderful gifts for book lovers and coffee lovers alike.

Marlowe takes great pride in keeping the bookstore easy to navigate but also giving off the vibe of an old forgotten bookstore that you’d find down some alley in Europe, with books piled high not just on the shelves, but scattered on tables, placed carefully on carts, and any bibliophile would love to enter here. I want to go and it doesn’t exist. The smell of old books mixing pleasantly with the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. It sounds like a sanctuary to me. There’s even a section of the store that’s more like a little library, you can check out the book rather than buy it. It’s wonderful. I kind of want to open this place now.

Can you imagine it? Spending hours wandering the aisles, looking for a long forgotten story that calls out to you. sinking into a comfortable couch and losing time while you read and drink a delicious cup of coffee or tea? I can. And I want to go there, like now.

What does your dream bookstore look like?
Have a great week guys!

2k21 Reading List

When I was in high school, I could devour 3 novels in a week in addition to school, sports, chores, and friends. I was also writing at that time. On deployment, I was reading a book every week or so. Now, being a single parent of two teens, writing, working, going to school, and trying to balance what free time I have with friends and family, there isn’t enough time in my life to read books. I read a lot of fanfiction, but not many books. I hate that. So, one of my goals this year is to create a reading list and read at least half of it.

Because everything in my life is split into quarters, just cause it’s easier to look at a three month block rather than the whole year, I have done the same with my reading list. There are sixteen books, mostly from the genre I’m trying to write for and some just because I wanted to read them. So, check out my reading list for 2k21 below and I will explain a little why I chose each book.

Keep in mind that while I chose these sixteen books for the year, I had so much trouble figuring out how to organize these sixteen into four books a quarter, so I asked for help from my best friend. She decided, the only two requirements that I had were,
1. Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes had to be in the first quarter since I’ve already started that one.
2. Don’t put Midnight Sun in the last quarter because I got it for Christmas and I’m super excited to read it.

Those were the only two requirements that I had. Pele didn’t know what most of them were about, so her decisions were based solely on the cover art. It was an interesting way to do it, but I kind of like the way it came out.

For information on what the book is about, click the title of the story and it will take you to the corresponding page on Goodreads. That way you’d get what they were about from the book blurb themselves. Now, the reasons why I chose them, that’s all me. They are listed by quarter, but in no particular order within that quarter.

Quarter One Reading List
(January – March)

From Blood and AshJennifer L. Armentrout

I chose this book because it seemed like a really good read. I love the idea of being forced into one role when you really want something else. Add in that the world hangs in the balance, um, yes please! I cannot wait to read this one and find out what happens to Poppy, why she was chosen as the Maiden, or why the guard, Hawke, gets under her skin so badly. This has disaster all over it and I am so there!

Manners and Monsters – Tilley Wallace

When I made my list of reads for the year, there were twelve books. This one, was one that Amazon recommended to me, and after reading the description, I was all in. Thus, my reading list grew just a tiny bit. I am so excited for this read.
1. I LOVE (and I do mean LOVE) historical romance. My favorite book ever is Pride and Prejudice. And this, this is a historical piece.
2. Monsters and the Ton….I am so excited.

This is but the first in a series and I cannot wait. Mystery, Monsters, the Ton, historical….This read is going to be amazing!

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness

Okay, who hasn’t heard of this series yet? It’s a got a TV series, and it’s rumored to be an amazing story. It’s been on my reading list for a while now, so when I put together the list for this year, it just had to be on it. I am so excited! The ads make this story seem like something right up my alley. Witches, Vampires, a governing body, rules, laws….. um, yes. I cannot wait to dive into this and honestly, as excited as I am about the other two books, I will most likely read this one as soon as I’m done with Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

I am a HUGE fan of the Hunger Games series. I loved the books, I loved the movies (until we get to district 13 but that’s a different story). I loved it. So when Suzanne Collins said she was going to release another book from that world, I didn’t care what the subject matter was, I had to have it. It was loaned to me by a friend at Christmas and I was so excited to read it, I started immediately. So far I am in love, but you’ll have to wait until I get done.

Quarter Two Reading List
(April – June)

Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

I specifically looked up books that have Kitsune’s. This book was at the top of the recommendations, and after reading the synopsis, I added it to the list. I’m not sure how I’m going to like it yet, but I know it sounds awesome. Since I’m writing about Kitsune’s and they aren’t featured too often in literature, I thought it might be nice to see how someone else does it. I’m excited about the opportunity. Add in a samurai and the fight for survival, I am almost always hooked.

The Blacksmith Queen G. A. Aiken

This story, again, came from a recommendation from a list that I read. This one, however, caught my attention because of the characters. The main character, her name is Kelley Smythe. And as my spell check just tried to remind me, my last name is Smyth. No E. I had to read it. Especially since it actually sounds like a really great story. A sister trying drastically to save her younger sibling from the Royal family all because of a prophecy? Sounds like a great adventure. I’m down.

The Vampire Debt – Ali Winters

This book was on my reading list back in the fall, before my life fell apart and reading was something I just couldn’t fathom. So, it’s back on the list this year. This one actually was recommended by my editor and I can’t wait to get to read it. I think I started it, and got a couple of pages in before disaster struck so I’m super excited to actually get to read it this time. Vampires, that was all I needed to know. Combine with that the description I first read had the line “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single vampire in possession of a great fortune must be in want of a mortal snack.” Or something to that effect and I was sold. Every time. Never fails.

Mother of Shadows – Meg Anne

This is the first book in a series and as always, that intrigues me. The idea that a simply prophecy can change everything makes me happy. How many of these are self-fulfilling? I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for them. I want to know so much about this world, the description has my writer brain tingling for the world building and the reader in me anxious for the story. I can’t wait to read this one.

Quarter Three Reading List
(July – September)

The Courier’s Tale – Peter Walker

I have already mentioned that I love historical romance. I am fascinated by Henry VIII. I have read almost every Phillipa Gregory book out there. This story, is actually about the couriers who took the kings messages back and forth from London to the Vatican when he was requesting his divorce. It’s super on the list and I cannot wait to read it.

Darklight – Bella Forrest

A world where Vampire’s were extinct and then the aftermath of that….sign me up. This was another one that got added to the list late. I cannot wait to read this. it’s going to be really good. The never ending struggle to find balance in the fight between good and evil. Dude, yes. I am excited to read this one.

Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco

Streghe, Princes of Hell, a murder, AND it’s presented by James Patterson? That is literally all I needed to know. This was an easy choice for the list. I used to think that I didn’t like mystery too much, but then I started examining the books I read, and well, apparently I do, as long as there is some sort of magical element to it. Go figure. This looks really good and since it’s from the author of Stalking Jack the Ripper, which didn’t make it to my reading list but according to the reviews I read, was fantastic. I am so excited to meet this author on the page.

Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer

Do I really need to explain this one? I read Twilight, and while I found a whole host of problems with the writing, the story wasn’t a horrible idea. I loved it enough to read all four books. I knew about this when it got leaked…but I didn’t read it. (I feel like leaked work is the property of the author and as a fellow writer, I would hate if that happened to me. So out of respect I didn’t read it). I also love Vampires. I can’t wait to see if Edward is portrayed as the Sociopath I believed him to be in the original series. I’m so excited for this.

(And Pele’s dark sense of humor strikes again. This book isn’t in the last quarter as requested, but it isn’t anywhere near the first half of the year either. Conclusion: My best friend is a troll.)

Quarter Four
(October – December)

Casually Cursed – Kimberly Frost

This is another book that was on the list from October that I regretfully didn’t get to. So, it’s back on the list as well. I picked it up at Dollar General and I liked the idea of it. Apparently it’s part of a series called The Southern Witch Novels. I’m not sure what that means, I haven’t read it, so I’m looking forward to actually get this off of my TBR list.

Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth

When I picked this up at the store, I generally had no idea what it was about or anything like that. This was one of those impulse buys because of the Author. I loved the Divergent series about as much as I loved the Hunger Games. I read them really close together and loved the different stories. Veronica Roth created such a wonderful story. The writing was fantastic and I was drawn into the story quickly. I didn’t know what this was about but I assumed it would be the same. Once again, there’s a prophecy rearranging people lives and turning them on their heads. I love the idea of examining what happens to the “chosen ones” after their big battle. After they’ve done what they were supposed to do. What do they do now? I love that this tells us what happens next. I honestly cannot wait to read this.

The Awakening – Nora Roberts

1. I love Nora Roberts
2. One of my favorite series ever is one of her trilogies.
3. Dragons.
4. Picking this was the simplest decision ever.

House of Earth and Blood – Sarah J. Maas

Like both Veronica Roth and Nora Roberts, I love Sarah J. Maas. The three of them make up over half of my top 5 modern author list actually. Go figure…
So when I saw this story, it was another of those no brainer things. Angels, murder, Fallen Angels, and Demons….. seriously, how do you look at that and go, “mmm, nope.”

Right. You don’t.

I’m hoping to finish out the year with some well loved authors since the last part of the year is always the busiest for me with NaNoWriMo, my kids’ birthday, Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years…you get it. It’s busy. So, well loved authors will be like a hug at the end of busy days.

What’s on your reading list this year? How did you pick the titles you wanted to? Let me know what you think! Have a great day guys!

Character Profile – Marlowe Lark

This week I wanted to tell you guys all about Marlowe Lark.

Marlowe Lark is the manager at the bookstore, the Librarie, and makes friends with Ailee Creed on her first day. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to become good friends.

Marlowe married a Diffuser, or Arkane fire fighter, named Wilder Lark when she was twenty two. They were high school sweethearts and didn’t let anything stand in their way. They moved to Port Shadeau about five years prior to the start of this story because of Wilder being transferred there. She started working at the bookstore shortly after and about a year later, they bought the larger of the two studio apartments above the Librarie itself. While they have no children, Marlowe and Wilder live a full life.

Marlowe loves to travel, and when their schedules align, they tend to go somewhere new. It averages out to one vacation a month. Although sometimes they prefer to stay at home and never leave their bed.

Marlowe spends a lot of time on her own because of her husband’s work schedule. Since she doesn’t work weekends, she usually spends her time reading and drinking tea. She also likes to wander around Port Shadeau and Seattle trying to find things no one else has. She hikes sometimes out to remote locations so she can play a little with the air discipline that she can’t use as much inside the city. Normally, she will sit on rooftops in the summer with a book and let herself play with the wind around her.

She takes great pride in the way she runs the Librarie. She likes to do special themes every couple of weeks to try and bring people into the shop. Ailee, once she hears about the plan, does her best to create special drinks to match the theme as well.

I don’t know if there are going to be too many surprises with Marlowe. So far she seems like the steady, kind of crazy, force you’d want as a best friend. This week’s Short Story Saturday features heavily on Ailee and Marlowe’s budding friendship as they hang out after work one day. I can’t wait for you guys to read it!

Let me know what you guys think of Marlowe, I’m excited to hear your thoughts!