Loving Lady Lazuli – A Book Review

I do most of my reading in the early morning hours between two and four a.m. So since I’m sacrificing valuable sleep to engage in my absolute favorite pastime – reading – I want to make sure the book is really, really good. And I’m happy to share I’ve only had a few misses. Most of the stories I’ve read this year have been great, enjoyable, recommendable. As is the case with Loving Lady Lazuli by Shehanne Moore.

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When you have a story where the heroine has a wicked background and the hero, too, there are soooooo many interesting ways the story can work itself out. So many interesting ways for the characters to grow and change…or not. So many interesting ways to put a nice, red bow on the ending. And that’s exactly what Moore has done: created an interesting story that is ripe with potential and the fulfillment of expectation; one that doesn’t disappoint.

Page three puts the main characters—Devorlane Hawley and Sapphire—in a forced encounter, which we quickly learn is not a first for them. Their attraction is rekindled immediately, and readers, hold on to your e-readers because it goes fast from there. In the next few hundred pages, there’s lies, sex, betrayal, bloodshed, sex, conditions, misunderstandings, sex and finally, love (breathy sigh!).

I won’t spoil your enjoyment by sharing story details but I do want to point out that this is a historical fiction novel. Moore expertly blends English customs, various dialects, and factual points of history into the telling of the tale. All combined, it adds even more depth to a story pregnant with strong story conflict, a cast of savory and unsavory secondary characters, humor, and an ending to please.

You’ll be glad you read this one and here’s an additional bonus (drum roll!)…it’s book one in the London Jewel Thieves series. That means there are more gems (characters and books) to come.

Loving Lady Lazuli is a creatively-thrilling and engaging read. I hope you’ll join me on this wickedly jeweled reading adventure.

To learn more about Moore and additional titles she’s written, click here.

Happy reading and happy holidays!

God Help!

The recent election of the president of the United States hit me hard. In fact, I am still struggling with the outcome. I have not turned on the news. I have not listened to analysis reports. I have spent little time on social media. I am just not at acceptance yet because I am still in shock. And I think what shocks me more than electing a man of questionable character is knowing that millions of Americans chose hate and fear. Of course I am not naïve. I know hate has deep roots in this country, stemming as far back as the arrival of Christopher Columbus. And of course I know fear has been bred in this country from the beginning. But I honestly thought we, the United States of America, had made huge advances toward love, acceptance, inclusion and peace. Apparently not. Apparently there’s still lots of work to do and for me that work begins with a prayer.

God, Creator, Eternal One, Universal Spirit…

Help me!

Help me ease past the disgust, shock and sadness that has me stymied;

Help me move beyond the tears, fear and anger;

Help me remember that you are in control and what happened was sanctioned by you for a greater purpose that we know not today;

Help me remember that all is not lost, that the only way evil wins is if good people do nothing;

Give me the strength to move beyond the darkness and embrace a path that promotes all things that are “good, just, noble and right;”

Empower me with wisdom and courage, faith and hope to operate day-by-day with an open heart, an open mind and a love that surpasses hate;

Grant me peace with this outcome and above all I pray your special blessing on…

  • The white people in this country who understand our current condition is not survivable for any of us, and who are working tirelessly to end racism, sexism, colorism and white privilege;
  • All people who are poised to challenge the incoming administration by holding it accountable to the lofty ideas of our founding fathers;
  • All people who are dedicated to the attainment of civil and human rights as well as social justice for all people;
  • All people who are committed to the progress that has been made and will continue to be made;
  • Organizations and groups that are working to eradicate barriers (in all its many forms) so that all may enjoy the liberties and privileges guaranteed in our founding documents;
  • All people who understand that “none of us are free until we are all free.”

This prayer I ask in your name…Amen!

Now excuse me while I continue working on myself by listening to “Rise Up” by the talented Andra Day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmHfo_3EGFA

20 Questions with Ann Fields

Thank you Don for the author interview and for your support of writers. The interview was fun and your hospitality unmatched. Write on!

Don Massenzio's Blog

Today we sit down with author, Ann Fields. She is going to tell us a bit about her writing journey, her work and her inspiration.

Please enjoy this edition of 20 Questions:


ann-black-white-01 Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Even though I wrote my first story when I was in middle school, I didn’t give much thought to being a writer until college. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) held a conference a few miles from the college I was attending and one of my sorority sisters went. She returned to campus very excited, telling us all about the conference. I remember muttering something like, “I want to do that.” But I secretly believed that being a writer was not a viable career option for black people even though I knew of Langston Hughes and Phyllis Wheatley. So years passed and in 1990 I bought…

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Halloween Reading

In about three weeks, one of my favorite holidays occurs–Halloween. Naturally, it’s a favorite because I am a paranormal/supernatural writer. Naturally, it’s a favorite because I am a paranormal/supernatural reader. So considering all this, I thought it appropriate, not to mention fun, to feature a paranormal book this week. I choose…

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Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

by Charles F. French

The paranormal/supernatural genre chose me through weird circumstances so I am always curious how other authors fell into this particular genre. I posed this question to Charles and his response is below. I hope you find it as revealing and interesting as I did.

Why I Write Horror, Paranormal, and Speculative Fictioncharles-french-maledicustee

“I am Charles F. French, a writer of speculative fiction, including horror, paranormal, and young adult fiction. I have had an interest in the genres of Gothic, horror, and science-fiction since I was a youngster. As a young teen, I read Dracula by Bram Stoker and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, and these books immediately appealed to my youthful imagination.

I continued reading works in these genres throughout my life, including in my academic studies, as well as for pleasure. Now I teach some of these books in various courses as an adjunct professor at Muhlenberg College and Lehigh University.

One of the great strengths of books in these genres is that their authors are able to make social critiques about their real worlds but offer them as metaphor in the fictional environment. The plots capture the readers’ attention but then often go deeper into discussions of life and societal concerns. Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein, deals with such issues as limits of scientific research, abandonment of children, the position of women in the 19th Century, and justice/injustice.

While I am not placing my writing on the level of Mary Shelley, I hope that I both create a compelling story and also include important themes. It is in the writing of speculative fiction that I can work simultaneously on both creating interesting plot and characters but also speak to matters that I find important about the world. But always, story comes first. If the piece is not interesting, if I lose the reader, then nothing else will succeed.

I believe that in Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I, I have created a novel that will capture the readers’ interest and imagination and also aid them in considering important thematic issues.”

I am in total agreement with Charles’ thoughts on writing and reading paranormal/supernatural fiction, and am pleased to feature his book. If it’s been a while since you’ve indulged in a paranormal read I can think of no better time than now, what with Charles’ new book and Halloween. Click here to purchase your copy. Go on, I dare you!

Conflicted Hearts – A Book Review

Conflicted Hearts by D. G. Kaye is the latest book I’ve read, enjoyed and reviewed.

 

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Conflicted Hearts is a memoir — well-written, emotional and full of life lessons that we can all embrace. It chronicles the highlights (and lowlights) of Kaye’s life as she moves from co-dependence to freedom; from duty and obligation to healthy choice; from emotional insecurity to a solid emotional base; from fractured to wholeness.

The story begins with Kaye as a child, a product of a two parent home with a loving dad and a less loving mother. I believe there is no other relationship more powerful and influential than that of mother and child (unless one is blessed to find their soul mate and of course setting aside the relationship we have with ourselves and our Spiritual Deity.). Get that relationship wrong and it can negatively impact a life, which it did in Kaye’s case. Or at least it did until as a young adult she realized the hazards of maintaining an off-balanced relationship and took appropriate means to restore herself. dg-kayeKaye used two major means to counter the effects of her mom’s early influence. She journaled to identify and understand her mom’s issues and how they impacted her, and she surrounded herself with honest friendships. People who told her the truth, who supported her, cared for, inspired and encouraged her. If not for those means, I’m thinking the ending would not have showcased a woman as balanced, purposed, strong and emotionally stable as Kaye.

I found this a bittersweet read. One likes to think all moms are natural caregivers, giving priority to their children. But Conflicted Hearts reminds us that not all women who birth children want to be or should be mothers. That’s the bitter part. Thankfully we have the sweet…where Kaye overcomes her childhood neglect to lead a productive, loving life. That’s not only sweet but encouraging for all.

In addition to being bitter and sweet, I found this an emotional read. Because Kaye withheld little in the sharing of her overcomer’s journey, we feel her anguish, her fear, her joys, and tension. We are there with her when she ends toxic relationships. We feel her pain when she goes through illness and uncertainty. We share her happiness when she learns to love and prioritize herself. We feel joy when a good-hearted, caring man enters her life. In the telling, she gives full access to her heart, mind and emotions, displaying at the end, her strength and wholeness.

October is a month where we recognize a number of issues related to women (cancer awareness, domestic violence awareness, baby loss and mental illness awareness, etc.) and I can think of no better month to buy and read this book. It just seems fitting for the focus on women and the issues buffeting us. Besides, what better month to show off such an attractive cover!

This book is worth your reading time. Buy it. Read it. Be blessed.

October Approaches

…which means it’s time for the Granbury Paranormal Expo in Granbury, Texas.

This year’s expo marks many firsts. For the first time in five years it will be held outdoors. For the first time in five years it will be free. For the first time it will be held on the downtown square. For the first time ever, it will feature a Zombie Pub Crawl. To read more about the Granbury Paranormal Expo, see the press release below from one of the organizers, Brandy Herr.

Fifth Annual Granbury Paranormal Expo Kicks Off Halloween Season

Street Festival Brings Together Paranormal, Horror and Sci-Fi

The Fifth Annual Granbury Paranormal Expo will kick off the Halloween season on October 1, 2016 from 10 am to 5 pm with a street festival in the middle of Granbury’s historic downtown square. This festival is free to the public and will feature ghost hunters; psychics; horror, sci-fi, cosplay and fantasy vendors; and much more.

“We are considering it to be a ‘Comic Con’ with ghost hunters,” said Brandy Herr, co-founder of the Granbury Paranormal Expo. “We wanted to bring everything together into one big event to ensure that we have something fun for everybody!”

alex-vincentThis year’s special celebrity guest will be Alex Vincent, best known as Andy Barclay from Child’s Play 1 & 2. He will facilitate a Q&A session about his work on the horror franchise. Joining Vincent as a guest speaker will be Shelley Kaehr, Ph.D., aka “The Past Life Lady.” And finally, the Austin Ghost Tour Gals will also lead a special session on ghost hunting.

 

For the animal lovers, Tugg the Superhero Bull Terrier will be making a special appearance to promote his comic book series. tugg

Several restaurants on the square will be showing their support for the Granbury Paranormal Expo by hosting a Zombie Pub Crawl, a separate, ticketed event to be held the evening of October 1.

For more details, visit Granbury Paranormal Expo and the Ghost Scribes.

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I’ll be there as a vendor, promoting Fuller’s Curse and the Ghost Scribes, a collective of paranormal/supernatural fiction writers who write good books about bad people. If you’re in the area, stop through. If this year’s expo is like last year’s (and it will be), it’ll be great fun.

Being a Good Literary Citizen

In a few months, American citizens will elect a new president, a new leader who will set and direct the country’s agenda for the next four, maybe eight years. While I don’t want to talk about which candidate has my vote (I promised when I started my blog four years ago that I would avoid the BIG THREE–politics, sex and religion), I do want to share that I take my citizen duties very seriously and will be at the polls bright and early on November 8th.

Being an American citizen is not the only citizenship I claim. I am also a literary citizen and I take those responsibilities just as seriously. At least I have, starting this year. Let me explain…

Earlier this year, the Writers’ League of Texas (WLT) sponsored a panel discussion on the topic:  what is means to be a good literary citizen. The panel was moderated by the president of WLT and panelists consisted of a book publisher, authors and an ex-literary agent. One by one they shared their views on the topic with remarks ranging from the use of social media, book reviews, networking, attendance at conferences/festivals, mentorship, community outreach, bookstores (retail and online) and more. I should stop at this point and explain that the moderator defined the word literary to include all aspects of writing, publishing and marketing, this being a more expansive definition than the usual application.

I spent a lot of time after that session thinking about how being a good literary citizen plays out for me. What, in fact, it means to me and that brings us back to 1) deciding that I was indeed a literary citizen; 2) what that looks like for me in practical, everyday life; and 3) my commitment level to that role.

So since I have decided I am a literary citizen, an invested member of one of the world’s greatest fraternities, and because I want to be a good literary citizen, this is how it plays out in my life.

As a good literary citizen I PLEDGE to

pledge-of-allegience

  1. As a reader – attend books fairs/festivals; buy books from local bookstores and online; support my library with attendance at hosted events and by utilizing their many services; write and post book reviews; use social media to promote authors, books and festivals; encourage young readers; read aloud to the young (and old) ones in my family; give books as gifts.
  2. As a writer – tell the best story I can; commit to continuous improvement in my craft; maintain involvement in writing/critique groups; honor my writing time; focus on my writing goals; find ways to keep the creative juices primed; be open to changes in the industry.
  3. As an author – support the players (readers, writers, book clubs, writers groups, non-profit literary groups, libraries, bookstores, literary publications, events and programs, etc.) in the literary field; promote, advocate or comment on legislative regulations and business practices impacting the literary world; protect the image of the written word; teach young and adult writers about the craft.
  4. As a publisher – publish quality books at a good value for readers; share stories that entertain but also cause readers to think and feel; work to improve the literacy rate by sharing my love of reading; embrace new technologies and practices; support the host of players that make this the absolutely best industry to work in.

I  know this is a mouthful (or rather a pageful) and I reserve the right to adjust and update these duties as I collect more experiences in this great experiment we call literary. But I’d like to hear from you. What are your thoughts about being a good literary citizen?

Photo courtesy of Wesley Hitt/The Image Bank/Getty Images