Apology

An Apology For My Behavior

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An Apology For My Behavior

Over the weekend I wrote a blog post that chronicled my thoughts on the Doubt monster and asked people whether or not I should continue to publish. Doubt is a thing that every artist—whether they be musician, painter, author, dancer, actor, etc.—faces at one time or another. I think it’s BECAUSE we create art in some form or another and we ask people for money that we have a problem with Doubt. American society (and maybe all of Western society) has never deemed art as an actual job. Like the creations we make and produce for the consumption of the people for their entertainment and escape should be given away for free since what we do isn’t deemed as actual “work.”

However, I feel like I have to apologize for my blog post. I’ve had some people reach out to me and it would appear that some have read it differently from my original intent. I know people are busy and I know people care. I wasn’t trying to blame or point fingers at anyone.

I also feel that I have to apologize to my online pals. My original post ended up sounding selfish and self-centered. I kept crying and whining and wondering, “What about me?” and that’s not fair. That’s not exactly who I am and I was embarrassed about it after the fact so I put down the post for a day. But after thinking about it, I put the post back up. Think of it…as a way to remind me about my stupidity and hypocrisy. You see, I’ve been busy. Like really busy. Like so busy, I haven’t really had time to share any of my friends’ works. And from a cursory glance, they’ve been pretty busy and I haven’t been there to help them. So it’s hypocritical of me to be an attention seeker and ask of anything from anyone when I’m not exactly paying attention to anyone else.

My original intent of my previous blog post was mostly to talk about Doubt and partly to question if publishing my work was really worth all the Doubt. And people have asked me to answer a rather interesting question: Why do I write? What was the whole point of me writing? Have I accomplished what I wanted or at least taken steps?

And as I was doing some yoga today, I also realized that without writing, without putting myself out there, I wouldn’t have met a lot of the awesome people that I know today. As I attempted to say before in a weird, round about, hypocritical, and possibly narcissistic way: it’s not the amount of readers that counts. It’s the connection. The people. And so I’ll keep going and trucking along. And, fingers crossed, the last book will be finished this year. My dad’s been helping me work on my time management, a mountainous task if you ask me, so I should be able to keep doing everything that I love to do while at the same time making an income from my full time job of running a press and freelancing.

So again: sorry. I hope I didn’t offend anyone or put anyone off. I didn’t mean to point fingers at anyone or blame the world for my inadequacies and depressive mood.

Photo by Volkan Olmez

And So We Reach a Fork in the Road…

Life 5 Comments

And So We Reach a Fork in the Road...

Last weekend I had a bit of a breakdown. A bit might be understated. I had struggled with whether or not to mention this publicly. And so I’ve kept putting it off. But since I’m stuck in bed (headache and vertigo are not a great combination) and cannot work on edits for a project at the press, I thought why not take this time to discuss the cycle of doubt?

Artists of any media have to be a bit brave. Courageous. They put their work out there for the world to see, to share, to discuss, to analyze. We know not everybody will like what we have produced. We know that someone out there will misinterpret our work from our original intent. If it happens enough, it almost becomes fact, much to our dismay (and sometimes humor). Most of the artists I know don’t care if they make millions. They just care that they’re being read or that their art is being shared.

I don’t know how it is among my artist friends (the ones who illustrate and work in visual mediums) but when it comes to my author friends, their main concern is: Does anyone even like my work? Reviews are precious. We see the sales numbers. We know that people out there are buying our work, but does it matter? Are we making a difference? Are we entertaining them? If we stopped writing today, would they even care? It’s a struggle I’ve seen time and time again. Authors are constantly questioning: Should I stop writing X and focus on Z instead? Is it okay to change gears? Why am I even writing?

You see, without feedback either in the form of a review, a tweet, an email, a comment on Facebook, whatever, we authors don’t know if what we’re doing is relevant. And in this time of oversaturation on Amazon, it gets harder and harder to keep on publishing.

And as it is, I too, have succumbed to the monster known as Doubt. It hit me hard. Or maybe it was just a combination of all sorts of things that were happening at once that made me do the thing that I did: I unpublished my work. And then I removed the words “author” and “writer” from my website (the place you’re reading this) and my Twitter bio. And then I went to my press and removed my books from the catalog and author roster.

That was it. It was as simple as that. And for a week, no one said anything. No one contacted me about it. No one really said anything. Not even my family, really, when they noticed my work was no longer available. They thought it was just an error on Amazon’s part.

And so Doubt continues to creep, forever lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to smother me in its embrace.

I first published my work at 19. Or maybe I had just turned 20. And people patted me on the back. And when they heard I had written a YA fantasy, they just smiled at me. I told myself I was okay with it. I was a newbie, but no one really took me too seriously, despite all the nights I would stay up at night, reading and studying my craft. I refused to write mindless drivel. I read books. All sorts of books from all sorts of genres. I worked hard. And when I heard those same people who had just patted me on the back praise a 17-year-old for finishing a novel and tell everyone about it and how they should support this young author and buy their book at once, it made me stop and wonder: Was my work not good enough to be shouted about? Was there something wrong with it? Was it just not their cup of tea? No one was giving me any feedback of any sort. Did they just not see me? Hear me? Was I invisible?

And so the years passed. And I continued to write. And I wrote another novel and a handful of short stories that were published in a handful of anthologies and my own collection. My third novel is in the middle stages of being done. And Doubt continued to grow. And I would tell other authors who faced Doubt how wonderful I thought their work was. I would point out things they could work on, praised the areas I loved, showed them all the places their work was being shouted from rooftops. I became their cheerleader. But I never told them that Doubt constantly latched onto my back like a sloth.

Which brings us to today. I’ve now reached a fork in the road. I’m not sure what to do. Do I continue on with being an author? I know that I’ll keep writing for myself. Tucking stories away here and there into a drawer. But is it worth publishing? Is any of this worth it? The wondering if anyone has seen a work, if I’ve touched someone, if…if…if…

Doubt is a horrible thing. It’s a monster that doesn’t kill you all at once. Instead it gnaws at you. A nibble here. A nibble there. But it’s ate away at me and I know that there isn’t much of me left it can nibble on.

And so I come to you, dear reader, friend, acquaintance, fellow artist. Whomever you are. If you’ve ever read any of my free short stories, purchased a book, or even pirated one of my books: Should I keep publishing? Have I helped you escape? Made you feel? Has my writing ever touched your soul? What areas should I work on? I want to hear from you, whether it’s words of praise or a critque of my work.

Review: How I Fall by Anne Eliot

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Review: How I Fall by Anne Eliot

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This review was written for a blog tour. I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review. Stick around until the end and enter the giveaway!

How I flyTitle:How I Fall
Author: Anne Eliot
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Series: How I Fall
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Blurb

*WHAT IF YOU HAD AN IMPOSSIBLE CRUSH?*
Impossible because she’s Ellen Foster. The beautiful, smart, and possibly fragile photography-girl. You’re Cam Campbell. The guy who plays football 24/7 with no life. But what if during junior year, you decide to finally try for her phone number—until this glitter-crazed new girl ruins your plan. Worse, the girl is Irish, awkward, and insists you and Ellen should become best friends—with her! Only, you don’t want to be friends with a human tornado, and you think Ellen might need to stay a crush. This is because after one interaction you’ve discovered Ellen Foster really is fragile. Your problems and secrets are too big for anyone to understand.

*WHAT IF YOU COULDN’T RESIST?*
But what if the three of you wind up assigned to a group photography project, where rumors are already circling about the new girl being ridiculous? You know she’s nice but very alone, so you convince your crush to help protect the new girl. Suddenly, working on the project makes hanging out, texting, talking—and even high school—seem fun and completely normal when it’s anything but normal.

*WHAT IF YOU KISS?*
What if you kiss Ellen Foster and it’s perfect enough to make you believe in things you shouldn’t. You tell her secrets and share your dreams. You make the kinds of promises and create plans to be together that might be impossible to keep when you’re only sixteen and your parents control your entire future, but… WHAT IF YOU HURT HER?

Review

I’m trying to figure out where to start with this review. This book is absolutely sweet, hilarious, bittersweet, and above all: refreshing. First off: It’s set in Canada and they talk about American football. The female lead has Cerebral Palsy and the female lead’s best friend is half First Nations. The characters come from a variety of circumstances, class, and the huge theme of the book seems to be: don’t judge a book by its cover. Because seriously, just because the popular kid is popular, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own set of problems.

The book flips between Ellen Foster’s POV and Cam Campbell’s POV. I absolutely love the different POV. Not only does it remind me of Eleanor and Park (this won’t be the first time I mention this comparison) but it’s kind of adorable to see how they each see how a certain event went down. It sets up for some really funny comedic moments and also some really sweet moments.

The book handles teens in such a realistic and beautiful way. Everyone is trying define themselves and become their own person, but the adults in their lives keep trying to push them to be someone or something they don’t want to be or hold them back unknowingly. There’s some angst, yes, but not an overwhelming amount of angst. Mostly, there’s a lot of hope. And believing. And dreaming.

Ellen Foster has Cerebral Palsy, a disease I hadn’t really heard of until this book brought it to my attention, and she is, by far, one of the strongest heroines I’ve ever come across. She can’t kick anyone’s butt because her disease has rendered her left side almost useless and her bone density is a lot less than average and she struggles to gain weight. And despite all of that, she works every day to get stronger, to prove to everyone she’s not a charity case, she can be independent, and she doesn’t need assistance. Despite her stubborn streak, I thought she was at her strongest when she put down her walls and allowed herself to ask for help because I think it takes a lot of strength and courage to do so.

Cam Campbell is the star quarterback. His father is an ex-NFL quarterback who was a huge star and he forces his son to lead the same path because of Cam’s immense talent. Despite Cam’s good looks and popularity, he has no true friends because he’s not allowed to do anything. His entire life has to be football 24/7 because his dad dictates his life. Cam gets verbally abused almost every single day by his father on the field and off the field and all Cam wants to do is pursue a photography career and break away from his family. He doesn’t think anything is possible until fate brings him and Ellen closer together.

How I Fall has that one element in it that I really wished Eleanor and Park had: the non-perfect main male lead character. Park’s family and social life seemed to be absolutely perfect in every single way, despite being the only Asian in school. All the struggles seemed to be happening from Eleanor’s side, but How I Fall has both characters struggling to break out of the stereotype they’ve been cast in. Together, they’re wonderful and you can see how the compliment each other and it even appears to be more than just a first-love type of thing. Together, you can’t help but root for them because they seem like the high school sweethearts who get married and stay together forever. By the time the book ended, I knew I would have to get How I Fly to find out what happens to the “star-crossed lovers.”

There’s also so many writing gems in this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a first kiss quite like the way Anne described it. It was so much more innocent and sweet and warm and scary all at once.

Recommendations

Anyone who’s loves sweet contemporary romances. I think if you’re a fan of Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars, you’re just going to fall in love with Ellen and Cam’s story and Anne’s writing.

Last Words

I feel like I should also mention that there’s no love triangle. And Ellen and her guy best friend are purely platonic. And there’s an Irish exchange student who I imagine looks like Eva Lynch. And they’re both wonderful and funny and super supportive and there’s no secret loathing between any of them. I’ll say it again: totally refreshing. Just seriously, go read the book. And then read the author’s note about this amazing 14-year-old girl that helped inspire the book because her story is just as equally amazing.


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Anne EliotAuthor Anne Eliot

Anne Eliot is the author of the, How I Fall/How I Fly two book series, and bestselling, young adult teen issue romances, Almost and Unmaking Hunter Kennedy. She loves writing about teens who live outside the ordinary and she’s devoted to stories about teens who live outside the ordinary but who also get to find sweet first kisses and first loves.

Anne resides in Colorado with a very patient husband, two teens of her own whom she adores (an some teens near and far thanks to hosting many exchange students) who are all growing up too fast.

 

 

 

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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Spotlight: The Last Order by Angela Marie Caldwell

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Spotlight: The Last Order by Angela Marie Caldwell

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The Last Order by Angela Marie CaldwellThe Last Order by Angela Marie Caldwell

Lana forms a secret order of women knights to fulfill her father’s final request: find the queen who was thought to be dead and return her to the throne.

Lana Crewe is a strong, fiercely driven seventeen year old living in a village ruled by fear. With their king and queen both dead, strife and division have taken hold. Ruthlessly attacked by an Order called Talons, Lana’s father is fatally stabbed. Before he dies, he imparts upon Lana a directive to save the statue of Saint Peter, and tells her that the queen yet lives. Now it is up to Lana to unravel the mystery of Saint Peter and bring an end to all of the war by finding the queen.

A medieval tale of hope and mystery, The Last Order is an action-packed story with one of the strongest female leads since Disney’s “Brave.” Not your average YA novel; The Last Order takes upper teenage angst and spins it on its head. You’ll be gripping this book as hard as it will be gripping you.

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Excerpt

LANA RUBBED HER ARMS, still shivering under layers of clothing.

You should have worn your cloak, her father’s voice warned, mixing within her thoughts. After years of his lectures and training, he had become a part of her—one that she assumed would eventually go away, or at least quiet down a bit.

Under the short skirt layered over her leather pants, Lana retrieved her dagger from its custom pocket. Leaves rustled behind her and she spun around, ready for her opponent.

“One day, I will catch you off guard,” Bowen said, twisting his lips.

“You’re late,” she teased.

“What’s the wager, Lana?” he asked, holding up his sparring sword, ready to fight.

“You’ll mend my sword without payment.”

“And if I win, you’ll run double errands,” he answered. She swung her sword and lunged at him. “Deal.”

Their swords sliced back and forth, making for an almost equal bout. Bowen stood taller than her by a few inches and weighed double. She glided around him with ease. He turned, whipping his blade around expertly. Sweat already beaded on his face. Lana’s heart pumped and her blood warmed. She jabbed her blade. Bowen swerved unsteadily, almost escaping her weapon, but her final swing landed perfectly along his ribcage. Bowen stumbled sideways and fell to the ground, his playful expression turning bitter.

Lana bowed her head. A smile began to creep along her face as she raised her eyes back up to meet his.

“Next time, I will finish you more quickly,” she tried to joke, attempting to ease her conscience.

Bowen held his side and cringed. “You’ll do anything to win,” he said.

Lana offered her hand, but he refused. “I’m done,” Bowen said as he stood up and walked away from her.

Done? What?” Lana balked. “Bowen, wait.” Lana dashed around in front of him and pushed her hand out against his chest. He stopped, seeming unsettled by her touch. His eyes turned sour and far from amused. “We’ve always been a team,” she pressed him.

“I don’t have time to play knight with you anymore,” he argued, but didn’t try to push past her.

“Oh, too good are you?” she teased again. Seeing no change, she got serious. “I suppose it’s your mother?”

“Who else is going to mend your sword and everyone else’s? Father’s ill. You know that.”

She stared into his eyes, begging. “You’re the only one left who can still keep up. Who will train with me?”

“There’s more to life than fighting, Lana. You need a skill,” he said.

“I have a skill.” Defending herself was an invaluable skill that few women possessed.

“One that matters, like… I don’t know.” Bowen seemed to blush a bit.

She cut him off. “Cooking? Sewing? A skill more fit for a woman, so that your mother would approve of me?” His eyes agreed with her words and the realization sliced at Lana’s heart. She thought Bowen would stand by her, but he had stopped dreaming. She stepped out of his way.

What do you say now, Father? she thought. You won, but not over your anger. She kicked the ground and gritted her teeth. Walking away, she struggled to listen over her footsteps, wishing that Bowen would chase after her and beg her to forgive him for his lapse in judgment. Instead, stillness affirmed her fear. He had deserted her.


Angela Marie CaldwellAngela Marie Caldwell

Angela M Caldwell is an author, photographer, and digital filmmaker. She studied video production and photography at Radford Univeristy then relocated to Los Angeles for an adventure. After seven years of city life, she moved back to Virgina.

Angela loves a good story and she has a broad range of likes when it comes to reading. Give her characters that she can root for and take her on an adventure. Angela’s journey back to the written word is a story of its own with dyslexia keeping her from writing for years.
But, she is a storyteller at heart. Through the years, she enjoyed expressing her stories through a variety of forms: photography, painting, music, film-making, and writing.

She lives with her husband and 4 kids, who are her biggest fans. They have one dog, and two cats. Perhaps one day they will have a farm. And her dream of having a horse will be realized.

Learn more about the author at the following places: Official website | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Twitter

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Angela is hosting a BONUS giveaway over on her website. Random winners will have a chance to win these gorgeous leather bracers and bracelets:

In order to enter for a chance to win, head on over to Angela’s website for more details!

Confession

Story 4 Comments

Confession

This month we go back to a slightly more somber story. I don’t know what it is about me and somber stories, but I promise I’ll post something a bit more sweeter for next month since next month has Valentine’s Day. I know I have a story somewhere that’s sweet anyway.

An important announcement in regards to my Patreon! I’ve decided to give anyone who supports me free access to all the behind the scenes nitty gritty associated with each story. I’ll be going through and getting the other behind the scenes notes together for the previous free stories and posting them slowly throughout the month. “Confession” doesn’t have a lot of notes, but I did manage to find a character sheet I wrote out for Satan (unfortunately, I can’t find the questions, but I have the answers!) AND I found a document full of editor notes. So that’ll be available to Patreon supporters later today.

If you enjoy the story, consider sponsoring me at Patreon.


Download the PDF version of this story here! 
 

Creative Commons License
Confession by Sheenah Freitas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Confession

“F orgive me Father, for I have sinned,” a man said. His voice was angelic.

I nodded as I sat in the dark confession booth. It had been a long day and this was the last of the confessions. “When was your last confession?” I asked as I straightened my robes.

The man hesitated, “I don’t remember.”

I glanced at the screen. “You shouldn’t lie during a confession.”

“It’s been a long time, Father…I’m…I’m too embarrassed to say, and even I can’t tell you how long it has been. I just know it’s been many, many years.”

Sighing, I waved my hand. “Proceed.”

I heard the man shift in his seat. “I have a very long confession…”

“And I’ll be sure to hear all of it, my child. No matter how long it takes.”

The man sighed again and thus, began his tale…

“Please, Father, refrain from interrupting me for, like I said, my tale is long. I was a man that was beheld by all. I had reached the top and was favored by all, but I wanted more. I wanted to be served, I didn’t want to serve. Thus, I was shut out. There have been many things that I have done since then, but I confessed to all during my last confession, and feel no need to bring it up here.

“I come here today to confess of the crimes I have partaken in. Things that my servants have done that, I regret to say, I have enjoyed because it’s an act of revenge against the man who has shut me out.

“There are many, many things that I have done and alas, I do not remember all. But I will start with the most recent of things that I have done…One that I can certainly say was my doing, because of greed, is the oil spill in the Gulf. This world that He has created is so vast and rich, but I’m afraid that I’ve become envious of his doing. I have seeped the minds of many; it wasn’t hard to do, and because of me, hundreds of animals that He loved are gone and the ocean is now tainted with black. I admit, Father, that I take some pleasure in knowing that His work isn’t so perfect anymore.

“I have been with many that have gone to war and I have been the one to tell each leader that they are the right ones. From the War on Terror, to World War I, the American Civil War, and even as early back to the Crusades and even earlier still, I have always been there whispering glories in their ears. Millions have died for what they thought was right, and He has felt every death stinging in his side.

“Some of the things that I have been most proud of are my abilities to conjure up plagues and famines, as He is able to do so, and I wish to be like Him. The Black Plague was brilliant. His children wondered what they had done wrong to deserve such a cruel death, and nobody suspected that it was me. Even the Great Famine during the Depression, they thought it was He who called upon the locusts, but it was rather I.

“I have been among His children, whispering of greatness that they could claim if they followed at my side. Some of my followers have become legends: Jack the Ripper and Charles Manson.

“Thus I come today to confess of these crimes that I have partaken in.

“I am sorry for these and all the sins of my life,” the man concluded.

I glanced at the screen. “Are you telling me the truth?”

“Aren’t I supposed to tell the truth during these things?”

A shiver ran down my spine as he turned to glance toward the screen. It felt as if he was looking through me, into my very soul. Something about this man was strange…

“What’s your name?”

“I thought these were supposed to be anonymous…?”

His voice was still angelic, but I suddenly noticed, there was a slight roughness to it. It was raw and primeval, almost—dare I say it?—demonic.

“Er, yes, that’s right.” I sat back and thought about what the man had said. If everything he said really was true…I glanced back at the screen. The man was staring back at me, waiting for me to finish.

“These crimes are grave indeed,” I began, “If what you say is true then I’m not sure where you can even begin to atone for these crimes. Perhaps you should try to gain the forgiveness of this man whom shut you out.”

“That’s why I am here, Father. This is the one place that He will always listen.”

“Will you ever stop?”

I thought a saw a glimmer of a smile through the screen. “Maybe…”

“Maybe?”

“I want to reach the top no matter what it takes.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Then there is nothing I can do for you.”

“Should I say the Act of Contrition?”

“You won’t stop. So why should I or God forgive you?”

The man sighed and stood up, making his way out of the booth. I heard him stop outside just beyond the curtain that barricaded me from the church.

“Perhaps in another thousand years I’ll try to be forgiven, but it’s difficult because your kind has never quite forgiven me for being the cause of your abandonment from Paradise. But here’s a question for you: If you, who are so Holy and in His service has been a faithful servant, why hasn’t He forgiven you and allowed you into Paradise? That man isn’t as forgiving as you might think.” He made his way out of the booth.

I pushed the curtain roughly aside. “Who are you to talk of the Lord like that?” I demanded. But nobody was there. On the floor, right where the man should have been was a shiny, red apple and balancing precariously on top was an olive branch.