New Look ~ Same Blog

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Recently Betty @thegeekybibliophile gave her site a makeover. You really need to see her new look if you have not. It is stunning! I drew a lot of inspiration from her change and post. She was willing to lend some advice and I started playing with a test site.

I have been working on a new logo and contemplating my overhaul for sometime now. I love BVT, but I want something more “mature” and less busy. I use that specific word “mature” for lack of better. So with that said, I have made some changes and there might still be a few more to come. I really want to encourage each of you to give me some seriously honest feedback! Be nice, but tell me what does or doesn’t work. I want to make sure the changes still create a comfortable environment that is easy on the eyes.

Danielle ❤

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Celebrating The Holidays With Friends – Erin A. Jensen

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Many of you have seen my recent giveaway and posts regarding Dream Waters by Erin Jensen. It is one of my current reads, and I have been completely entranced with her writing and the very distinct story line.

This is probably my last “Celebrating The Holidays With Friends” guest post as the holidays are approaching rapidly and time seems to be limited. I could not be happier than to conclude this segment with Erin. She is always genuine and kind with each interaction, providing a wonderful and welcomed experience. She has been continually supportive and giving. I cannot thank her enough for all that she has done! I am excited to have Erin share a bit more about who she is. While I could spend a lot more of my time explaining how wonderful connecting with her has been, I will let her post speak for itself.

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A Guest Post by Erin Jensen

A few words about my journey, advice for my past self and my undying gratitude to book bloggers:
I’ve been tossing around different ideas for a guest post since Danielle generously asked me to write one.  I’ll be honest, this is the first guest post I’ve written.  I published my debut novel, Dream Waters, in April 2016 and Dream World (book 2 in the series) on October 31st.  I spent three years writing and editing Dream Waters without telling anyone but my husband, our two sons and my best friend that I was even writing a novel.  Eight months later, the grocery store where I work part time as a pharmacist is selling both my books, people walk up to me on the street and tell me they loved my books and people on the other side of the globe are reading my stories and tweeting about how much they loved them.  When I stop to think about it, I’m astounded by everything that’s occurred over the last eight months.  I mean, I’m still the same introvert that I was a year ago, except for the fact that I found the courage to step WAY outside my comfort zone and chase after my dream.  Maybe that’s why I felt so daunted about writing this post.  I’m not someone who feels particularly comfortable being the center of attention and quite honestly, I still find it hard to believe that people would be interested in reading what I have to say.  I’m not going to attempt some grandiose masterpiece of a post, because that’s not me and I doubt it ever will be.  So after much consideration, I’ve decided to share five things I’ve learned from my journey and wish I could go back and tell my past self.
1.  You’ve only got one life.  Don’t waste it being too afraid of failure to chase after your dreams.
Even if my books had tanked, I could look back on this experience and be proud that I went for it.  I’ll never have to look back on my life, wish that I’d been bolder and wonder what might have been.  No matter the outcome, I threw caution to the wind and put my heart and soul out there to be criticized and judged.  I’m not going to lie, there were plenty of terrifying moments and more than a few tears along the way but I’ve never felt more alive.
2.  Share your hopes and dreams with the people in your life.
If I’d known how supportive and enthusiastic my family, friends and coworkers were going to be, I would’ve told them I was writing a book so much sooner.  These amazing people in my life have become some of my biggest fans.  The first time one of my coworkers came into the pharmacy with my book in hand and asked for an autograph, it felt odd.  I stood next to these people every day and my signature was all over the place in the pharmacy.  Why any of them would want my signature was beyond me.  I’m used to family, friends and strangers asking me to sign their copies of my book at this point, but I’m still floored by their enthusiasm.  They’ve shared my social media posts, told their friends and coworkers about my books, chosen my book for their book clubs to read and basically shouted about my books from the rooftops because they’re genuinely excited about my writing.  Their words have also gotten me through plenty of days when I doubted myself and seriously questioned my choices.
3.  There’s more than one way to publish a book.
One of the reasons I waited so long to tell anyone about my book was that I spent a year sending query letters to agents and getting rejected.  Each rejection letter reinforced that voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough to do this.  My best friend kept encouraging me to self publish, but I needed that validation from a professional to believe that my book was good enough.  Eventually, I started reading more about the self publishing process and considering the possibility.  I liked that I wouldn’t be signing away any rights.  The final say on the cover, the story inside, the title and every aspect of the process would be mine.  Instead of waiting around and crying over rejection letters, I could be putting my work out there to find its way into the hands of readers.  I might never have worked up the courage to go through with it if my husband hadn’t sent my book out for a few professional reviews beforehand.  The positive feedback from those gave me the confidence to reach for the stars, start my own publishing company and publish Dream Waters on my own.
4.  It’s important to connect with other authors.
I live in a pretty rural town in upstate New York, so finding other authors seemed like an impossibility at first.  But I found other authors on Twitter and discovered how supportive the writing community could be.  Independent authors are happy to share the posts of fellow authors and help spread the word about their books.  I’ve even found an author friend on the other side of the world.  We write back and forth every day about our struggles to squeeze time to write into our day, our progress and life in general.  Other people in my life are supportive and sympathetic, but she gets it in a way that only a fellow writer can because she’s been there too.
5.  Book bloggers are the most amazing people on the planet.
I’m not just saying this to butter them up.  I genuinely mean it.  Whenever I read articles written by independent authors, they always stressed how crucial book bloggers were to their success.  I honestly knew nothing about book bloggers.  To me, the whole process of contacting them to inquire if they’d be interested in reviewing my book felt like querying agents all over again.  Maybe that’s partially because I read an article that referred to contacting them as “querying.”  I just didn’t have a thick enough skin to put myself out there to be rejected again.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and each rejection felt like a crushing blow back in my querying days.  I’m not sure what made me reach out and contact my first book blogger, but I couldn’t be more thankful that I did.  Book bloggers aren’t the cold pretentious people that I feared they’d be.  They’re MY people, book loving people who want what I want, to share the stories they love with fellow book lovers and spread the word about new books that are out there waiting to be read.  Every blogger I’ve contacted has been wonderful.  Many of the ones who had too much on their plate to review my book still graciously offered to post a spotlight or an interview, as did lots who were excited to read and review my book but apologized that they couldn’t do it immediately (which I never expected them to do).  I am truly thankful to all the book bloggers who’ve taken the time to help spread the word about my books.  You, my fellow story lovers, are the reason that I write.

About Erin

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Erin Jensen is a part time pharmacist and a full time creator of imaginary worlds. She lives in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two wonderful sons that she couldn’t be prouder of and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. She’s an unapologetic coffee addict, and her happy place is anywhere she can squish her toes in the sand while listening to waves crash onto shore with a good book in hand.

 

 

Learn More:

erinajensen.com

Follow Erin on Twitter @ErinAJensen

 

 

 

The Untold Tale by JM Frey Read-Along

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“Scars are scars; they don’t just vanish.”: The Untold Read-Along Part 8

Welcome to The Untold Tale read-along! The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey is the first book in the Accidental Turn series, the second book of which, The Forgotten Tale, will be released on December 6th. To prep for book two, we’re sharing a ten-part series that will be part recap, part review, and part discussion of the book that has been called the “most important work of fantasy written in 2015.”

If you want to read along and avoid the SPOILERS that will follow, you can pick up your copy of The Untold Tale from major online retailers.

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About the book

Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head.

Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence.

Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.

Part One: “I assume the body is a corpse.” Chapters 1 and 2

Part Two: “Information, at last!” Chapters 3, 4, and 5

Part Three: “Your brother is a slimeball.” Chapters 6 and 7

Part Four: “It’s not cheating to know your enemy.” Chapters 8, 9, and 10

Part Five: “I’m allowed to want it.” Chapters 11 and 12

Part Six: “I wasn’t any help.” Chapters 13 and 14

Part Seven: “That’s the magic of being a fan.” Chapters 15 and 16


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Part 8 – Chapters 17 & 18

In the aftermath of the showdown with Bootknife, traumas come to light not just for the newly released Pip, but for Forsyth as well, as he reveals to Kintyre the abuse he and their mother suffered at the hands of their father during the hero’s absence. Jealousy swells in Forsyth at his brother’s open affection with Bevel.

Pip refuses to share details of her capture and enchantment, so Forsyth secretly scrys her first moments in his world. The heroic but badly bruised band moves on from the graveyard and into the forest, where they end up on a side quest that challenges the narrative of one of Kintyre’s most famous victories.

Forsyth attempts to push his luck with a still-recovering Pip, and fails. Majorly.

There’s a lot of material to work with in these two chapters, and for me it comes down to two main ideas: first, that it’s difficult to conceptualize someone elses trauma no matter what one’s own might be, and second, the expectation that love is more important than recovery.

Pip shuts Forsyth out in order to cope with what was done to her, a strategy I know well. He knows and understands that she was enchanted by the evil Viceroy before she was “rescued” by the Shadow Hand’s men, and that the Viceroy had been controlling her more and more completely over their whole acquaintance. Despite this knowledge, Forsyth begs Pip to tell him the “things [the Viceroy] said. That he taunted [her] with.” (pg 436) When she refuses, saying he doesn’t have to know everything about her, he implores her not to keep secrets about this, her trauma.

It’s really astounding, given that not much later, Forsyth is telling Kintyre, apparently for the first time, that their father physically abused him and their mother.

Hypocrisy aside, Forsyth’s narration in these chapters show him to be really, truly bad at imagining that Pip’s road to recovery looks different than his. He reminds himself to give her space (and resents advice to that effect from Kintyre and Bevel), but then spends twice as much time being bitter and upset at what he’s lost, and still manages to confront her with his needs several times–and, in a pivotal moment, barrel over her explicit request in order to satisfy his morbid curiosity about her imprisonment.

Forsyth’s childhood is long over, so the only view of his experience we have is the knowledge that his resentment of Kintyre is driven in large part by Kintyre’s failure to protect him from their father. His trauma is shared in the narrative only, it seems, as one of two options for Proper Manly Backstory, and does not come up again in this section. It deflects for a moment from Pip’s pain, but in the end, it further complicates our view of his behavior.

What we see in Forsyth through these chapters is a person who is perhaps too well-shielded from their own painful memories to accommodate the freshness of Pip’s–chapter 17 is literally the night of her liberation–and lend a truly unbiased ear to her in their wake. He is consistently more interested in his own current pain at her loss than he is in really conceptualizing why she has pulled away. It’s that common situation where he knows, intellectually, what she must be feeling, but has not connected it to any kind of visceral emotion that he can relate to and respect.

This comes to a head near the end of chapter 18, after he scrys Pip’s capture and after Kintyre suggests that perhaps Pip began to love him before the Viceroy began to aggressively control her. Though Forsyth was heartbroken by what he saw when he scried, he obviously never intended to tell Pip what he’d done. She catches him when a slip of the tongue reveals it, and her anger at his betrayal is met with indignation, claims that she’s being unfair, that he was just researching–and he never apologizes. At least not in this section.

What does he do instead of apologize?

He grabs her and says he will not let go until she listens, declares his love, and then kisses her–imagining that this is his “heroic task”, a meaningful way to convey to Pip that she is not alone. He intends to “kiss her until she understands.” (pg 504)

Pip is furious, and rightly so. Frey is obviously and deftly calling out one of the tropes I dislike the most, the Forceful Kiss. In this instance, Forsyth is ignoring Pip’s words–her line of dialogue before this, as she’s trying to escape his grasp, is “There’s nothing you can do!”–in favor of his macho “knowledge” that deep down inside, she’s actually in love with him.

Even if that were true–and we’ll get to that in the next section of the read-along–it is, shall we say, incredibly short-sighted of Forsyth to not realize the depth of his failure here. She’s spent weeks, months, as the puppet of a truly evil sorcerer, forcing her to have sex with Forsyth, which he acknowledges to be rape. And he makes this mind-bogglingly stupid heroic gesture that forces intimacy on Pip, and has the nerve to be frustrated by his “own inability to help Pip, to make her understand, to make [himself] understand what she needs.” (pg 505)

I mean…

What’s happening here is that Forsyth is falling into the trope that romantic love overcomes everything, even severe PTSD, just days after the torment ended. After Kintyre figures out that Pip may have actually started to care for Forsyth before the Viceroy really took over, Forsyth hardly waits to try the theory out. It doesn’t even matter that he got this interpretation from Kintyre and not Pip. It gives Forsyth what he needs, and so he abandons what Pip, current Pip, has asked of him in favor of what months-ago Pip might have felt before being actively mind-controlled for weeks on end.

More on this in the next section.

Coming Up

Next week, hosted by Pug and Books, hits chapters 19 and 20 and covers the final showdown with the Big Bad!


About J.M. Frey

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Toronto-based J.M Frey (pronounced “fry”) is a science fiction and fantasy author, as well as a fanthropologist and pop culture scholar who appears in podcasts, documentaries, and on television to discuss all things geeky through the lens of academia. Her debut novel TRIPTYCH has been nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards, won the San Francisco Book Festival award for SF/F, was nominated for a 2011 CBC Bookie, was named one of The Advocate’s Best Overlooked Books of 2011, and garnered both a starred review and a place among the Best Books of 2011 from Publishers Weekly.

Find more of J.M Frey online.