When life hits you in the blah

Sometimes things are just crap.

No, no, I’m serious. Some days are rockin’ and full of convertible cruising – sunny skies soaking – lollipop licking – best song ever jamming kind of days.

boss

 

 

 

 

 

 

Others… Well, not so much.

I’ve been having a lot of the latter.

Meh. This, too, shall pass, as the saying goes. And it will. But until then, I will binge on ri-donk-ulous things such as this video.

Enjoy.

Embrace your weird, people.

 

Revival of an artist

photo-2A couple weeks ago, something amazing happened and I’d like to share it with the world.

I sketched.

For the first time in YEARS — five, ten, who knows — I pulled out my sketchbook and drew. If you have read any of my intermittent posts here, you might have read this one here about my trip to Eastern PA. It was in the sketchbook I bought following this workshop that I drew for the first time in ages. The one that’s sat in my bag with a set of pencils just in case I ever had the inspiration.

And I did.

Actually, I’ve had a picture in my head for quite some time. See, I’m a very visual person. The whole artist thing, I guess. As a story unfolds in my head, I see it in pictures, movie-esque stills, or mini shorts. And sometimes, but not always, I see my characters faces. Most times, it’s a vision just out of my line of sight where I get a general IDEA of what my characters look like. Maybe it’s a smile, the way their eyes crinkle when they really laugh, or the firm set of a jaw when they struggle with emotion, but not the whole picture.

But I saw Tiani.

Tiani is a character in my first [officially] completed MS. Though it’s told through my main guy’s POV, Luc, I’ve seen Tiani since the beginning. Or at least how Luc sees her. I’ve always had a slight itch to sketch her, to put her on paper, to make her real, but shied away out of fear. I was terrified I wouldn’t like what I produced. That I would look at the CRAP I spewed on paper and it wouldn’t do Tiani justice AT ALL. To me, she’s beautiful, and I just knew I couldn’t match her beauty once I tried to make it real.

Then, one day, I decided it didn’t matter.

Sure, it’s been eons since I’ve put pencil to paper. Would it be prefect? No. Would the sketch be a perfect representation of how I saw Tee? Probably not. Would my technique show the lapse in practice and fall shy of meeting my self-instilled high expectations? Without a doubt. But that’s okay! Being an artist is much like being a writer, or an athlete. They all use muscles that NEED to be exercised on a constant basis in order to improve. And I hadn’t worked out in for-e-ver.

In the end, I’m happy with what I produced. She’s not perfect, my technique is way rusty, and I see loads of room for improvement. But for the FIRST TIME since I was a budding teenage artist, I’m okay with what I produced. I look at this sketch fondly with tears in my eyes.

She’s still there. My inner artist still lives inside me. She was buried deep, but with a little more exercise, I KNOW she will continue to thrive.

 

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RUINED Jus Accardo – For sure!

ruinedI’m just gonna come out and say it: If you have even the smallest soft spot for Daemon and Katy, you are gonna LOVE Jax and Sam. I’ve read some of Jus Accardo’s other novels and RUINED is by far my favorite. A twisted plot, realistic characters, and some major ‘kiss or punch’ chemistry that keeps you flipping pages.

Jax, a descendant of Cain, is one serious dude to be reckoned with. With a violence craving demon living inside him, Jax has to go to some serious ends in order to keep the demon fed and satisfied. If not, the demon brings the pain on Jax.

Samantha is just your average nineteen year-old. Her parents were killed in a home invasion, her aunt is a wannabe match-maker, and her job at the local dive isn’t exactly stellar. College didn’t work out either. After a random almost mugging after a party, Sam headed home with a bucket of insecurities.

What I liked most about RUINED was the ease of familiarity between the characters. These characters really knew each other, and nothing was forced between them. Sam, Jax, and Chase (Jax’s polar opposite but equally hot twin) all grew up together. Sam and Jax were inseparable after her parents were killed. Jax may or may not have been the cause of Sam getting into trouble as a kid, the mischievous and bored-in-a-small-town kind of trouble. Because of that, Jax was shunned most of his life. Chase, on the other hand, was the clean-cut golden boy everyone loved. Except Sam. Her heart would always belong to Jax.

When Jax turns up back home, the heat cranks into sweltering between Sam and Jax. She wants him in all the right ways, but she also wants to junk-punch him for being a total insensitive prick to her. But that’s the only way to keep Sammy safe, unharmed, and away from the monster that resides in Jax.

RUINED started with a little more backstory than I would normally like, but when it planted its feet in, it grabbed me by the hand and wouldn’t let go. The fast pace kept me flipping the digital pages and provided for a twist that I (sheepishly enough) didn’t really see coming. And that’s fantabulous in my book. Pardon the pun.

I’m not familiar with the story of Cain and Abel, but RUINED lays down enough ground rules that the average non-church going Jane Doe can follow along. The hot chemistry between Jax and Sam scorched to singeing, but kept things nice and clean so I didn’t feel the need to hide in a ’50 Shades of Good Lord’ way. Very tasteful, Jus! I bow before thee.

Of course, Jus leaves us with a bit of a cliffhanger and I for one cannot wait for the next. So keep her comin’ Jus! RUINED was a deeply satisfying read full of an interesting plot, super cool characters, and hot chemistry. In other words, the trifecta of awesome!

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JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. At the last minute, she realized her path lay with fiction, not food, and passed on the spot to pursue writing. Jus is the bestselling author the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing and is currently working on the first book in a new adult series due out summer 2013. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

 

DARKER DAYS by Jus Accardo – Sinful!

I would like to say THANK YOU to Anjana At Entangled Publishing for the awesome copy of this read. I’m a big Jus Accardo fan. In fact, I’m a HUGE Entangled fan! Below is the review I posted on Goodreads. If you get a chance, pick up this puppy! It’s fun. It’s hot. And it’s certainly kick ass!

DarkerDays-500

 

Darker Days (The Darker Agency, #1)Darker Days by Jus Accardo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy biscuits and gravy do I love the Entangled group! Jus Accardo’s DARKER DAYS is another Entangled book that I absolutely loved.

Jessie Darker is NOT your typical teen. She’s not even a ‘normal’ one, but I won’t get into that for fear of dropping too many spoilers. Nana nana boo boo! Jessie works for her mom at the Darker Agency, which is a PI office of sorts. But they also specialize in some of the ‘darker’ aspects, such as zombies, demonic possessions, and any other thing that goes bump in the night. The Darker gals are at the top of their game, but when someone finds, and opens, a box containing the Seven Deadly Sins, all best are off!

If you are a fan of Miss Jus’ DENAZEN series, you will love DARKER DAYS. Jus has a fantastically twisted brain that I just love. She’s created a world that isn’t like anything I’ve read (so far) and was a pleasure to immerse myself in it.

The town of Penance (total tongue in cheek moment) has all your everyday stuff: high school, the wrong side of town, the better side of town, deep rooted history, and all that jazz. Unseen by most, and what the Darker Agency keeps a tight lip on, is the ‘other.’ Penance also has witches, weres, necromancers, and a healthy dose of demonic activity. When the box of sins is opened, it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

Our leading lady, Jessie, is a hoot and a half. She’s a self proclaimed “spunky” type of girl who definitely walks the walk. Jessie actually reminds me of Alex from HALFBLOOD or Rose from VAMPIRE ACADEMY. She’s tough, she’s got a serious mouth on her, and she’s simply wicked with quartz powder. Her mom trained her to take care of the ‘alternative’ cases the Darker Agency acquires, which happen to be Jessie’s favorite. But Jessie isn’t without faults. She tends to DO before she THINKS and it often gets her in above her head. Jessie also holds many people, especially boys, at arms length because the “L” word is something of which she wants nothing.

And then she meets Lukas.

Tall, dark, mysterious, and dare I say hot? Oh and he needs their help! Without giving too much info (no spoilers), I will say that Lukas has some serious intel on the box of sins and needs the Darker girls’ help to track it down.

Right off the bat, I liked Lukas. Despite Jessie’s ogling eyes, he was very adamant about hiring Jessie’s mom, not her. Ouch! Lukas is your down-home old-fashioned guy. He doesn’t always ‘get’ Jessie, but the two find some common ground and eventually hit it off. Speaking of old-fashioned, probably one of my favorite lines from DARKER DAYS was “‘I don’t spit anything, and I’m not sure what pissy beams are, but I’m fairly sure I don’t do them.’” Lots of laughing. Out loud.

To add to Lukas’ hotness factor, let’s just say he has some anger issues, and Jessie’s mojo is the only thing that seems to help him. SWOON!

DARKER DAYS was full of action and just enough swoon-worthy moments so it didn’t feel like a Bourne movie. Jus keeps us guessing throughout the whole story. She never gives us the whole deal and continues to drop important details to the plot/story as the time is right so as to not be overloaded. And believe me, there was tons of detail. The visuals were awesome and though Penance is a totally fictional place (I think), I had this revolving image of East Village New York. But that might just be me.

When the time came to cross over to the Shadow Realm, I was not disappointed. Jus weaves this sort of Tim Burton-esque world full of simply wicked visuals of dripping walls and rotten teeth.

The pace of DARKER DAYS left me gasping for air. Just when I thought I’d reached a point where I could do something, like eat, Jus dropped a bomb that begged to have the next page read. And the next. And the next…

Overall, the only part of DARKER DAYS I wasn’t too keen on was the similarities with the DENAZEN characters. Granted, (small confession time) I’ve only reach TOUCH so far, but the main characters of both books had parallels. But I didn’t mind too much as I really enjoyed TOUCH. There were just enough differences to make them not repetitive in nature.

In any event, DARKER DAYS is a nice twist on the norm, and not so norm, we live in. The action is breathtaking and the humor is second to none. Jessie is the kind of character I want to root for, and Lukas the kind I want to crush on. Even Jessie’s mom plays an integral part to the story and she’s 100% in Jessie’s corner, despite her daughter’s tendencies to break ALL the rules.

Get DARKER DAYS. Read it. Love it. Douse the pissy beams, just do it!

View all my reviews

Writing Stay-Cations gif style

Writing is hard, yo! Really hard.

Finding TIME to write is next to impossible. At least for me. Between working 40+ hours each week at the day job, being a mom of a four year-old with a serious case of ‘the mommies,’ and life in general, there isn’t much time left for writing. Unless I don’t sleep. And nobody wants that. Really.

Me without sleep is somewhat like this…

baby freakout

To fix my writing fixation, I took a stay-cation from the day job. For a whole week I pretended to be a big-girl-panties writer and work on my WIP.

My goal was to complete my first draft of Terraza (working title). That meant I needed to pump out about 60k in a weeks time. I had a goal, a plan. Hell, I even had a very rough outline! [Side note, I’m not an outliner] At the start of the week, I was PUMPED! I was charged, ready to show my master skillz. Kinda like this…

Waterninja

By mid-week, my high hopes were dashed. I wasn’t even halfway to my goal. Mostly because of a little sum-sum in the form of this…

cob

Yum.

Anywho, my grand plans fell flat, like this…Spiderman-wall-flip

I wrestled with myself to focus, to gain the upper hand of the situation much like this…

legattack

Or this…

defense

BUT… It ended up looking more like this…

closebutno

So what started out as a 60,000 word journey into my imagination…

swag

Turned out to be a very modest, yet admirable 30,000 word journey.

bean

I may not have met my initial goal, but I accomplished a LOT over the last week and still feel like this…

tina fey high five

And as I look forward to the next leg of my journey, I know I will KILL IT. I will show those words who’s boss and BRING IT.

Like this…

boss

Here’s to conquering you dreams!