Friday, July 29, 2016

Procrastination is Right For Me

By Kelly Bridgewater

How do you procrastinate?

I'm sure we all have our ways. Today, I'm not doing such a serious writing post, but showing how writing really doesn't get done around my computer.

Here are the three top ways that I do anything besides writing:

1.) Books

I know, as an avid reader, it is really easy to fall into the trap of picking up another book in your TBR pile and start to lose yourself in the book. As you can tell from this blog, I do A LOT of reading and reviewing from a number of different publishing companies. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting the books three months before they hit the shelves, but my review stacks of books, either on my bookshelf or my Kindle needs to be read and reviewed. So instead of working on my novel, I open the next book and start reading. It is comforting, yet so distracting. Plus, this blog won't write itself. Trust me. I wish it did.

2.) Crafts

I like to cross-stitch. I have done stockings for my family, baby blankets, a tree skirt for my families Christmas tree, and tons of pictures. These pictures are nice pictures of art, but I spend the time working on making the picture from string. It can take me anywhere from six weeks to two months to complete just one picture. Right now, I have a stocking for my brother's daughter that I need to finish before Thanksgiving. I have it all set up to go, but I haven't officially started the first stitch yet.

3.) Clean My House

I'm not really a neat freak, but I do have a problem with the floor being cluttered. You can have a whole bunch of clutter on top of desk and dressers, and I won't even notice it. BUT if it's on the floor, I will notice and become angry. Especially with us trying to sell our house for the past seven months, I have to keep the house clean for potential buyers to take a tour. I don't know how many times I sit down to write and remember that I need to clean behind the fridge. Someone might look there. :)

I know these are all excuses. But they are my excuses why I don't sit in the chair and work on my World War II thriller.

Why don't you write? Is there anything that holds you back from punching away at the keys?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

DiAnn Mills: Deadly Encounter *GIVEAWAY*

By Kelly Bridgewater

Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston’s airport. What she encounters instead is a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man’s motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747.

Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy’s community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.

#1: Deadly Encounter  -     By: DiAnn Mills

My Review:

I enjoy DiAnn Mills' previous books. She is a writer who I keep returning to over and over again, and she doesn't disappoint. In Deadly Encounters, Mills keeps the story moving with a realistic look at a secondary character that I really enjoyed getting to know. As for being a suspense novel, Mills keeps the story moving with throwing different obstacles into Stacy's path. Deadly Encounters has everything I expect from a romantic suspense. A character that made me want to watch him more, a unique storyline, and a setting that is different than previous romantic suspense novels.

First, the characters. As for Stacy and Alex, they were both determined to solve the mystery and see what had wrapped them into this mystery. Coming across a dead body would affect anyone. The underlying tension in the story is Stacy trying to earn custody of Witt, a son of an alcoholic and a lady of the night. Stacy is drawn to this kid and really wants to protect him. I could totally relate to that. I would love to learn more about this story between Stacy and Witt. The one downside to this side story is that Mills doesn't tell you what happens to their relationship. It is left in the air. As for Alex, he was an officer who had run for God and wanted to find his way back. There really wasn't much else to him. Alex was pretty much a bland character. I had a hard time seeing why Stacy should seek a deeper relationship with him. The secondary character of Witt was my favorite character in the novel. He was smart and just wanted to be loved while making a difference in the world. I would love to see a story that featured him more.

The writing was concise and strong. There was no point of view shifts, and Mills does a great job at allowing me into the mindset of Stacy and Witt. The writing makes the tension shine from the first chapter. With the discovery of a dead body with a dog next to it, the story peaks my interest. While the story starts out strong, it weakens as the story drags along. I really couldn't wait to find out who planted the disease and murdered the person in the opening chapter, but it took a long time to get there. Likewise, the romantic element wasn't that strong, but it was hinted at. I think Deadly Encounters could be just labeled a suspense novel.

Mills created a memorable setting outside of downtown Houston. She shows the underside of the poor part of town. By weaving doubt from property value, Mills preys on the fears of what people could assume if a tiny threat is received by the less fortunate. I really enjoyed how the setting takes place in the shady part of town and focuses on a veterinary clinic.  She dives into the practical aspect of how Whitt's parents choices affects their son and shows how the love of a parent doesn't have to be just by blood.

DiAnn Mills latest novel is appropriate for all audiences with no violence. The story was original, but Mills' allowed the ending to be conceived before she revealed it, so it was completely predictable.

Deadly Encounters began with a bang but the action became repeatable and slow down-not what I'm used to in a romantic suspense novel. While I enjoyed watching Witt, Stacy and Alex weren't that developed, in my opinion. I want a novel that features Stacy and Witt. 

I received a complimentary copy of Deadly Encounters from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Even though Deadly Encounters wasn't one of my favorite books from DiAnn Mills, what do you expect when you read a romantic suspense novel?

Sorry the giveaway section is so small!!! I have tried and tried and tried to make it bigger, but Blogger keeps returning to this small font. Just SIGN INTO RAFFLECOPTER AND LEAVE A BLOG POST COMMENT  to be entered for Deadly Encounters!



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From Tyndale Publishing
More about DiAnn Mills:
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How about reading the first chapter of Deadly Encounters?
 Free Book Preview – Full Chapter PDF:             Deadly Encounter – Chapter 1


Friday, July 22, 2016

Plot and Structure

By Kelly Bridgewater

If you have been around the writing community for any length of time, all published and unpublished writers referenced James Scott Bells’s widely popular craft book, Plot and Structure. Although I haven’t completed the whole book, I have gotten through about 2/3s of it; it does contain a lot of helpful information.
From Amazon

 Plot and Structure uses tons of examples from many different contemporary pieces to draw the writer in. Bell will explain an idea to you like using Raw Emotion to start the novel, but then he will show you an example of raw emotion from The Quiet Game by Greg Iles. Even though I haven’t read the book or even heard of the author, it doesn’t stop me from understanding Bell’s example.

Another great part of the book is the number of exercises that Bell includes in the book. It isn’t about you, as the reader, just skimming through the book, gaining insight. You actually get to jump right in alongside Bell and practice your own hand at improving your writing. If you forget how to do something that he asks you to do in the exercises, then just flip right back to the place in the book and review how he explained it.

Toward the end of the book, Bell also shows how to revise and polish your book. If that isn’t enough, then he has written another book entitled Revision and Self-Editing to focus on more ways to make the book even better.

I know this isn’t a long post, but this book does have a number of highlights and notes in the margin for me. I’m still working on studying it and trying to pull all the help I can get from the pages.

If you have read Plot and Structure, what is the item that has stood out for you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kellie Coates Gilbert: What Matters Most

By Kelly Bridgewater

Deeply Emotional Writing Highlights the Complexities of Human Relationships
Leta Breckenridge is forced to drop out of college to care for her dementia-ridden mother. After learning a severely delinquent account may force her mother into a less desirable facility, Leta steps out of her comfort zone and lands a high-paying job at an Austin public relations firm. But her dream job turns into a nightmare when she learns the firm is a front for a political opposition machine--and that the research she's been collecting will be used against her new love interest, Nathan Emerson.

Nathan is a rising political star being pressured to run a bid to unseat the current governor of Texas. He's already in a relationship with a woman much better suited to be a politician's wife, but he's never met anyone like Leta. Could this feisty, challenging woman hold the key to his heart?


My Thoughts:

Kellie Coates Gilbert What Matters Most is a new book from a new author. I haven't read anything by her, but the synopsis sounded interesting, so I signed up to review the book. I'm glad I did. I finished the book in one evening and really enjoyed the drama that played out on the pages of the novel.

My favorite part of What Matters Most is how Gilbert showed the struggle having an aging parent with Alzheimer can be for their children. Yes, I, personally, know how hard it is to have a parent slip away because of Alzheimer, but people don't want to show what a difficult time it is financial or physically to take care of that patient. Health care costs are outrageous, and the person taking care of them wonders all the time if they are doing all they should be doing. This is a touching subject, and I'm glad that Gilbert brought it into her character's life.

As for the writing, it was great. The dialogue matched the character's personalities. It was a quick read that was easy for me to get lost in for a couple of hours.I finished the book in one evening. I couldn't wait to see if Nathan would become governor, and if Leta's life would implode on herself.

This book comes out in a good year. The underlying current of What Matters Most is the political arena. Since the United States is in the middle of picking our next president, this story is more relevant than ever. I enjoyed seeing how the political parties work behind the scene, whether it was real or part of Gilbert's imagination. It would be easy to see how this could be reality.

The characters of Leta and Nathan were relatable. I know what it is like to struggle paycheck to paycheck, wondering how the bills were going to get paid and still have money to upgrade your clothing or finish school. Except jobs don't even want college degrees anymore. It is about WHO you know, not what your experience or degree is in. I did find Leta and Nathan's whirlwind romance a little too hasty for my taste.  I found the plot completely predictable and knew what was going to happen before the end of the story.

With political sparks flying, Kellie Coates Gilbert in her latest book What Matters Most captured my attention with a riveting look at the underbelly of the political area but shows heart with completely relatable characters who struggle with jobs and dealing with aging parents.

I received a complimentary copy of What Matters Most from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Another good book that shows the underside of the political system is All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. I had to read this novel as a undergraduate, and I really enjoyed it. What concept about political novels grab your attention?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Not of This World

By Kelly Bridgewater

Ever had that experience where you open a book and the real world just disappears?

I have.

As an avid reader, there our a number of books that have captured my attention and allowed me to escape the chaotic world and disappear to somewhere else.
The first book that did that for me was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. As a little girl, I wanted to find a key to a secret garden and disappear for hours where no one would see the beauty that I saw. I re-read that book over and over as  little girl.

Next, the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. I loved how he captured the child-like quality of wanting to escape the boring realities of this world and into something better. The characters of Lucy and Edmund become very important in Narnia, but in our world, they were just in the way, either for their parents or their cousin's house. I don't blame them for wanting to go away.

I enjoyed becoming part of Sweet Valley, California in Francine Pascal's widely popular Sweet Valley High series. I have read every single one of those books and couldn't wait to grow up and become a teenager. I found that I mirrored Elizabeth, but I wanted to be Jessica who was popular and got in all kinds of trouble.

As an adult, I read the Harry Potter series. Still in awe of how great a writer J. K. Rowling is. She took a child story and made it something that even adults wanted to loose themselves in for a couple of weeks. I know my boys couldn't wait to turn eleven and see it they would receive an invitation to Hogwarts. If only, I could jump into the story and join Harry, Ron, and Hermoine on their adventures.
Why, do you believe, that reading creates such a personal experience between the reader and the characters?

Are we all looking for some pure enjoyment for us to escape our boring lives? Who wants to work 9 to 5 for forty plus years, then wait around in a nursing home to die, hopefully with some dignity?

I believe we read to experience more in our lives. George R. R. Martin in his widely popular book (Haven't read them yet!) A Dance with Dragons says, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

Stories allow us to fall in love over and over again.

Stories allow us to go on an adventure to Middle Earth, Hogwarts, Narnia . . .

Stories allow us to be pirates who look for buried treasure.

Stories allow us to be a brave knight hunting for the Holy Grail.

Stories allow us to save a kingdom before it is utterly destroyed by injustice.

I believe stories are important for any person, no matter what genre you read.

Do you agree? What about stories allow you to leave this world and do things you normally wouldn't do?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dina Sleiman: Courageous

By Kelly Bridgewater

Inspired by the vision of the Young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She gladly gives herself to the cause, as she's haunted by a tragic mistake and no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring.

Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church, but dreams of protecting the innocent as a knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of young adolescents. When they face political machinations, danger, and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.

From Amazo
My Review:

I have read and enjoyed Dina Sleiman's first two books in the Valiant Hearts series, Dauntless and Chivalrous. Even though the books are young adult novels, I enjoyed spending time jumping back into the historical realm of the middle ages and following the heroines and heroes on their journeys. With Courageous, there is no exception.

I believe the most important aspect of a historical novel is the research. If the research isn't done right, than the story falls apart. Sleiman has definitely done her research. With all the information into the Muslim heritage with what they believe to the Crusades to the Holy Land with the children Crusades to Jerusalem, I never once doubted Sleiman's story. She wrapped me in this original adventure and took me for a great ride. I enjoyed the novel, but there are moments where the story drags and features repeated actions, for instance, battle, camp, battle, camp. I still enjoyed the novel though. The setting of traveling through the wilderness to accomplish what they have believed God allowed them to do jumps off the page.

What would a crusade story be without some sort of lesson to take away? With Courageous, Sleiman does a good job at allowing the heroine, Rosalind, and the hero, Randel to fight and struggle with their past mistakes. But they both learn the power of God's forgives and his ability to allow them to forgive themselves and move on with their life. Because of God's grace, Rosalind and Randel were able to fall in love and move forward with their life. Randel and Rosalind both have a desire to protect and love children. It brought out the innocence and purity from their past mistakes.

Courageous is written in Randel, Rosalind, and the person seeking revenge's perspective. The dialogue matched the characters. Even the internal monologues showed the struggle all three of these characters experienced throughout the book. The pace of the prose and dialogue moved at a good clip. Once I was engrossed in the story, I did not get taken out of the story.

With Dina Sleiman's conclusion to her Valiant Heart series, Courageous is a great researched novel that reminds me a lot of a Arthurian legend with the hunt of something greater than oneself. With a memorable cast and a unique premise, Courageous is a book that will stay with me long after I finished the novel. A must read for fans of Dina Sleiman's other books and fans of Melanie Dickerson. 

I received a complimentary copy of Dina Sleiman's Courageous from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Do you read young adult novels or do you leave them to the young adults? Why or Why not?