Friday, August 31, 2012

Women's Lit/Real Issues - #Spotlight on Michele Shriver

This week I want to introduce you to another one of my critique partners from Michele Shriver and I met a few months ago, and I have been absolutely in awe of her writing abilities. She really tackles hard issues: Gay rights, addiction, adoption, and many more.

I have been privileged enough to read Michele's second book as she wrote it (which she is now getting ready for publication--I can't wait!) and I'm also reading her current work in progress. The format Michele follows for her books is to have four different women who are point of view characters.  She delves deep into each character's life and problems. They all have their own issues, flaws, and things to overcome. At the same time, there is a lot of joy in Michele's writing and humor. She has a beautiful style, and I really feel like I know each of her characters, like they are friends.

I'm just getting ready to start reading Michele's first book, After Ten.  Here's the blurb on that:

Four women, once best friends, have not spoken to each other in ten years. A drunken, decade old promise and a class reunion will bring them together again.

For Jordan, her lofty dreams now a distant memory and her life at a crossroads, a reunion with her one-time friends offers a chance to make amends and start anew, but only if she can avoid falling back into self-destructive habits.

After years of struggling with her identity, Sarah has found personal and professional contentment. Will she finally have the courage to reveal the secret she hid from her friends?

Beth thought she was on the verge of having at all, but after a personal crisis now risks losing it all. In order to face her future, she must first find a way to face the past.

Tracey is still searching for happiness and approval. Will she find what she is looking for at the reunion, or leave stronger because she doesn't?

A story of forgiveness, acceptance, the bonds of friendship and the age old question of whether you can go home again.

This book is endorsed by Grub Street Reads, and if it is anything like the work of her's I've read, I know I am going to love it.  I will post a review once I am finished and let you all know what I think.

You can buy After Ten on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and read it for yourself, too. If you want to find out what Michele is up to these days and learn more about her, you can visit her blog She is a very talented author, and I'm always excited to read something by her! Highly recommended!

Have a great weekend!

~ Chantel

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Might Be Crazy... Time Will Tell

Well, I've finally reached that moment I've been waiting for. Always & Forever's publication plan is on track and things will start on September 14, 2012. I'm really excited to send Zach and Lilly out into the world and see what people think. I've loved creating them, living in their world, going through their struggles with them. I hope other people enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

There is so much associated with publishing a book. I'm so busy getting everything ready that my head is spinning. It goes much further than writing the book and being done with it. You have to get the cover art, hire an editor, write the blurb, come up with an author bio. Not to mention read the book a ton of times trying to catch any errors you and your editor might have both missed (already found some of these and I have advanced readers on the lookout for anything else). On top of that, there now comes marketing. How do I get the word out about my book and let people know when it goes on sale?

I already joined the wonderful world of Twitter, I'm on Triberr, and I have some followers for this blog. I figure I'm a step up in the world as far as beginning marketing. However, for a new release it is important to spread word to the masses. Most of the people who know about me are authors, and while I greatly appreciate their support and the friendships I've made along the way, what I really need to reach are readers.  I already have a small base of reading fans through friends and family who are advanced readers, and I know they will be out there selling my book for me. But I need a bigger reach.

Entire blog touring. I knew about this in theory, but I wasn't sure how to implement it in practice. Well, all I really had to do was ask. I'm so amazed by all the generous folks who have agreed to interview me, do book spotlights, and just be a part of helping me spread the word for my book release. You all should check out their blogs in the meantime, but I'll remind everyone either through here or on Twitter when the blog tour starts. So many people reached out to help me, that now I'm worried about getting everything completed in time. Even though it's added a layer of stress, I am so thankful and grateful to all these wonderful people for their kind help.

You can get links to the other blogs and see my schedule by clicking on the tab above that says Always & Forever Blog Tour.  You can also read my finalized blurb and the first two chapters of my book by clicking on the tab that says Always & Forever.

Have a great rest of your week, everyone! On Friday I will have another author spotlight highlighting the work of my good friend and critique buddy, Michele Shriver.  Visit her blog at in the meantime.

~ Chantel 

Monday, August 27, 2012

#BookReview Books I Love ~ Deadlocked

Okay folks, so sorry it has been a long time since I posted a book I loved. With my rheumatoid arthritis problems, I literally could not hold my books. Deadlocked I bought in hardback format when it first came out, and quickly found I couldn't read it. My family did buy me a Kindle for my birthday last month, which has solved my problem nicely. I'm able to prop it up next to me if holding it becomes too difficult. So, I've been reading once again, and so happy to be doing so!

DeadlockedCharlaine Harris - Deadlocked:  4 stars

Honestly, I almost didn't buy Deadlocked for the Kindle. The price was a little steep for an ebook I already paid for in hardback, and the 1-star reviews this book generated didn't encourage me in paying the price a second time. However, the Sookie Stackhouse books have been some of my most favorite ever, so I went ahead and got it, hoping for the best. I'm glad I did. While I would only give this book 4 stars, I definitely don't think it deserved the 1-star reviews, and I'm looking forward to the last book in the series scheduled to come out next year.

Sookie and Eric have a lot of problems in this book and Sookie is trying to decide what direction she wants her life to go. While I would agree with the reviews complaining that Eric doesn't receive enough page time, Vampire Bill made a lot of appearances, and it was nice to have him in the spotlight again.

The faries are restless and Sookie is caught in the middle of both farie and vampire issues, trying to keep herself out of trouble and stay alive - as usual. It is a nice, quick read that I finished in a few days. A lot of questions posed in the series are answered, but there is still plenty of mystery left as far as what will happen in the 13th and final book. I would still count this series among one of my favorites and I recommend this book.

Happy reading everyone! Have a terrific week!

~ Chantel

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hilariously Funny ~ #Spotlight on Travis Casey

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the importance of receiving critiques and how important my critique partners are to me from (cannot recommend this site enough). I thought it would be fun to introduce them to you all over the next several weeks and let you get a little sample of writing from these talented people.

Travis Casey
Today, I would like to introduce you to Travis Casey. Funny is not the word to describe this man! He has two books written in a trilogy he is working on (of which I was lucky enough to read them both as he wrote them!) and is working toward publication. One way or another, I know he is going to get published. Part of me hopes he goes self-pub so I can get the book faster! Seriously, I would sit and read the chapters in his book and laugh so hard my kids would always ask me what the heck I was doing. Sometimes, I'd have to wipe laugh tears away before I could answer. Good stuff here. Hopefully I can entice Travis to do an author interview when his first book comes out.

While we're waiting for the book, Travis has some articles published at In the humor section, out of 30 articles, his is rated #1 (not that I'm terribly surprised by that).  For a good laugh, check it out at You can also check out his author bio and the other articles he has published there by clicking on Travis' name at the end of the article.

Also, Travis has some great stuff on his blog (which he hasn't written anything new on in a while, but maybe he will soon *crosses fingers* though, in fairness I would rather urge him to write more books for me to read).  You can see more of his sense of humor and what you'll be getting yourself into when you read his books. One story is my absolute favorite on his blog at If you read nothing else, this is the one - Haircut? But I don't speak Chinese.

Trust me, you'll laugh! As soon as Travis' book is published, I'll be letting you all know. Laughter is the best medicine, and Travis delivers a lot of it!

Have a great week! Thanks for reading!

~ Chantel

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Is Self-Publishing Taking the 'Lazy' Way?

Sue Grafton is a writer I've respected over the years, read a few of her books based on a recommendation from my best friend's mom, and generally thought highly of her. After all, she's one of the lucky few who had lightening strike and was able to make a career from her writing. I know a lot of people feel this way. Imagine my dismay when I read her interview at and read her response to the question of whether she had words of wisdom for young writers. Her response?  "Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work."

Lazy... really? While waiting for the Universe to come to your aid, you can read the entire interview--the digs against self-published authors continue. Many authors I know in the SP world are highly offended. I have to admit that I am as well. She makes it sound as though we aren't taking classes, learning our craft, putting in hours and hours of work writing, critiquing, editing, editing, oh - did I mention editing? On top of that, so many of us that want to do this right hire cover designers, content editors, copy editors. The book then needs formatted and a few more reads to make sure the formatting came out okay before it can finally be published. If all that isn't work, I don't know what is.  Besides the fact, Indie authors pay for all of these things out of their own pocket, just hoping it will turn out to be worth it in the end. It's a labor of love that most of us do because we've found that we can't NOT write.

The difference is, at this point, Ms. Grafton is pretty much done with her book. She sits back while her big publisher promotes her book and helps it sell, with very little work on her part. Maybe that's not fair. I'm sure she does some things. Attend book signings and whatever else, but the heavy lifting is done by her publicist and her publisher. Don't get me wrong, that's great for her. She got lucky and her books took off. A "lazy" self-pubber now has the long, arduous process of promoting their own book, paying for their own advertising, and doing everything they can to make that lightening strike for themselves.

No one seems to know why one book does better than others, but sometimes everything comes together perfectly, and an author takes off. I would rejoice for them all, normally. But reading this interview, I have to wonder what makes some traditional authors think they are so much better than anyone else. Self-published authors are getting lucky too and having their work read by millions. It happens. I would think any author would be happy for another one who became successful. If most readers are like me, I have room for more and more great authors. I'm not going to quit reading my favorites just because I found another one I like too--I get to enjoy them all. Obviously, there are a few people sucking on sour grapes in the publishing industry. I feel a little sorry for them.

I do need to say that I think there is a valid point in this argument against SP. Indie's who put their work out without editing, without having it critiqued by others, basically write a book and slap it on Amazon without any work are taking the lazy way and make me angry too. I thought this was what all Indie's did for the longest time (based on one SP book I bought and tried to read), and I'm a bit ashamed I didn't know better. Anymore, Indie's are taking much pride in their work. We are hiring some of the same people the Big 6 publishing houses are using. We learn our craft and do everything traditional authors do, we just choose to do things differently.

My writing hero, Holly Lisle, has decided to self-publish all her work. She's putting all her old books (at least the ones where the rights have reverted back to her) out herself and she is planning to self-publish her new book and is in the process of self-publishing her writing courses/clinics. It is heartening to me to know that some highly successful authors, people I truly respect, are taking this as a viable route.

The reasons I finally made the hard (for me at least) decision to self-publish were these: I want to control customer cost, making the price affordable for them while still making a profit myself. I also want creative control. Always & Forever deals with some tough issues, that are very important to me, and I have a few scenes I'm not sure would be acceptable to the traditional publishing world. I wanted to tell the story I had in me, not a watered-down version that fit someone else's vision. Finally, I have heard horrible things about the current trend with contracts signed with traditional publishing, where the writer is basically being paid almost less than nothing for their work and retaining none of their rights for foreign, movie, and electronic editions. If they want to stay with the publisher, they are forced to agree to these terms that strip them of most of their ability to make money. If you can't make money at your craft, it won't be long before you cannot continue doing it.

So, maybe I'm lazy, but I didn't want to deal with that. I wanted to tell the best story I had in me to tell. If people enjoy it, I don't really care if I took the supposed lazy way. I'll be grateful to whomever takes the time to read it, to appreciate the world I created, and the story I wanted to relay.

For a few interesting articles on self-publishing, these are some I really enjoyed and they deal both with the way publishing is being looked at and the difference in the amount of money an author stands to make going the Indie route:
Sticks & Stones: The Changing Politics of the Self-Publishing Stigma (This one deals with the money and was very eye-opening for me)
Ebook Publishing Trends

Is there room for both traditional and independent books? I've read many books in my life, and I have to admit that there are many a traditional published book that should never have received a contract. There are also some traditionally published books I love so very much, I read them over and over again. I recently read a few independent books that are so fantastic, I'm going to share them on my blog in the coming weeks to help spread the word about them. I think there is room for both sets. I think readers don't care about it one way or another, as long as they are getting a good story worth the money they paid for it.

Where do you stand on this issue? 

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful week!

~ Chantel

Since I wrote this article, Ms. Grafton has issued a clarification on her statement. I will post the link so you all can read it.

Write with joy, friends!