Friday, December 30, 2011

Isn't She Lovely!!!

Here she is in all her glory. My shiny new blog. Isn't she lovely? (every time I say that I can't help but sing it like Stevie Wonder) I have Lori at to thank for it. If you think you want your blog updated check her out, but don't dilly dally, she has a waiting list. I have been waiting since October.

So whats new? The pages for one. I just have so much to say I needed more places to say it. Also in a couple weeks will be my 1st Blogiversary and I will be hosting my first give away in it's honor. First I need to learn how to create the form in Google docs. I could also use Rafflecopter but I want people to be able to enter form their mobile devises.

So if any of you have a link to how to create the Google docs form, or if you have a way to make Rafflecopter work from an ipad, please let me know. I can't wait to get started.

It's nice being back, I've missed you guys.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Please Stay Tuned for the Regular Broadcast

As you can see I have taken a little hiatus from the blogging world. I'm not going far but I need some time off. This is why. As you already know I am a writer. A writer on a (self imposed) deadline.

I have been working on Jaded for the last year pretty steady. But there has been times that I would skip several weeks at a time. Back in October I contacted an editor (she's great, check out her services) and she worked me into her January schedule. Well January is coming up fast and my novel is not quite ready.

Between a vigorous round of revisions, Christmas party's, and life in general I need every spare second I have to go toward Jaded. I also am heading up my work's food and clothing drive. I'm calling it the "Keep and Body Warm and Belly Full" campaign.

So please, please, PLEASE come back and see me in January. I have also found a great  blog designer (see link) so I will be coming back with an all new look. There will be contests with prizes, book reviews, cover reveals and much more.

Happy holidays,

Kriston Johnson

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review....Untraceable

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

Release date: November 29th

Publisher: Coleman & Stott

I received an ARC from author

Book description:

16 year old Grace was reared in the wilderness. Her first pet was a bear named Simon. Her first potty, an oak tree. And, her first swing, a forest vine. Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her everything he knew about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. 

When Grace's dad goes missing on a routine patrol, unlike everyone in her sleepy mountain town, she refuses to believe he’s dead. After finding a Cheetos bag and stolen government file, Grace is convinced she’s one step closer to proving all the non-believers wrong.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from imminent danger by Mo, a hot guy who has an intoxicating accent and a secret. Grace has never felt a connection like this before, certainly not with her ex-boyfriend, the adoring, but decidedly unrugged, Wyn. 

After a few run-ins with the town's police chief, her father's partner, and some new evidence, Grace travels deeper into the wilderness that has always been her refuge only to learn that her father's disappearance is not a mere coincidence. 

Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to emerge from an epidemic that’s spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she’s ever loved.

First off...I love the gorgeous cover. Untraceable starts off with Grace looking for clues about her father after everyone else gave up. She refuses to believe she will never see him again and to the annoyance of the town sheriff she is keeping the investigation alive.

I have to admit, it is not very often I read a book that isn't fantasy or paranormal. Most stories that don't have some sort of supernatural entity do not interest me. This book definitely is the exception and I really enjoyed it. Grace is brave in ways I could only dream of being. She's a gutsy person and an extremely likable character. While out in the woods looking for clues she meets super cute Mo. It wasn't long before I was wanting to see a relationship between them unfold.

The descriptions given to us makes Grace's world very easy to picture. It made me want to grab a fishing pole (to bad I don't actually fish) and run out into the wilderness and enjoy all it's glory. The story is fast paced and the way it all tied together in the end was a whirl wind ride I never saw coming.

 Shelli is a terrific writer. What makes me like the story so much is that it made me feel real emotions. I really cared about Grace and those surrounding her.

Untraceable is a wilderness thriller in every sense and I recommend you read this book.

The Hunger Games HD Theatrical Trailer

This trailer gave me the chills. I will definitely see this movie opening weekend. As totally awesome as this looks I am trying to remain calm about it. Everyone keeps saying it will knock Twilight of its throne. I don't want this movie to get built up in my mind so much that no matter how good it is it doesn't live up to expectations.

The Hunger Games is one of my all time favorite books and from the looks of the trailer the movie is going to live up to its legacy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

And introducing...S.R. Johannes

Click here for dates and topics of blog tour.

Before I post my review I wanted to give you the chance to meet Shelli Johannes. She is an extremely talented  author and I was lucky enough to read an ARC of her latest novel Untraceable.

Book Title:
Untraceable, The Nature of Grace, #1

Release Date:
Tuesday, Nov 29th

Coleman & Stott

Author Bio:

Shelli Johannes-Wells started out writing for her local school paper, winning a state Nutrition essay contest for “Be a Smart Cookie”, and singing in a local Jazz band. Somewhere along the way, she earned an MBA in Marketing and embarked on an 18-year marketing career in Corporate America working as a marketing and communications consultant.
In 2000, Shelli traded in her expensive suits, way-too high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She started her own marketing & communications business,, and continues creating materials for a variety of large profit and nonprofit clients, including Spanx, Goody Hair Products, Chick Filet, Delta, CARE, and the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Shelli’s dream is to publish children’s books and magically imprint the imaginations of kids. In addition to juggling nap schedules while attending client meetings, Shelli focuses on her writing. She is a frequent marketing speaker at SCBWI conferences across the U.S and runs a popular marketing blog, Market My Words ( where she provides marketing advice for authors in the hopes of helping them better market their words.
In her spare time (yeah right!) and if the kids allow (yeah right!), Shelli obsesses over movies, reads children’s books (over and over), wishes she could squeeze in Bikram Yoga sessions, and dreams of sleeping in on the weekends.
She currently lives in Atlanta with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess that someday will change the world.
Shelli took the time to answer a few questions for her adoring and future fans.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?

Oprah, Steve Jobs, Ghandi, Dali Lama, Joan of Ark
Maybe Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves – but that would be for breakfast - ha!!

If you were a superhero what would your name be?
SuperScribe (I would be the dorky superhero who beats people with words)

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Don’t give up and go with your gut!

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

A new young adult wilderness thriller with a missing father, a kickbutt heroine, and of course - two hot 

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 
There is a special edition coming in Jan/Feb with a different ending and the first 5 chapters of the next book.I do have a second book planned – Uncontrollable set in the winter.

Shelli has a great blog where she talks about books, being a writer and my favorite, her journey to publication. She is very open and honest and fun to read. Reading about her journey has been a huge source of inspiration for me and my journey as a writer.

Sign up for Shelli's newsletter and you will be able to get Untraceable at a discount for the first 24 hours of release. 

Author newsletter -

Tune back in on Monday for my review and cover reveal for Untraceable

Snow White and the Huntsman movie trailer!

This movie looks super cool. I am a little worried about Kristen Stewart in this role but I absolutely love Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.  Enjoy.

This is one of two Snow White movies coming out. Between Grimm and Once Upon a Time (which I love by the way) we are really getting hit with the classic fairy tale remakes. What other classic would you like to see hit the big screen?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On My Shelf

Look... I actually have real books to add to my shelf. I've really embraced my Kindle and have not been to a brick and mortar store since my local Borders went bye-bye.

As you can see I got "The Son of Neptune" and I bought it at Costco. *gasp* I know...Costco...but what's a girl to do? It is part two of The Heroes of Olympus series. In efforts to avoid spoilers I did not read one single thing about this book before buying it. I figured we would get to follow Piper, Leo and Jason's journey so I was a little surprised to see we are following Percy Jackson. I'm a little disappointed though, I don't want to wait another year before I find out what happens to the trio I fell in love with in book 1.

From Barnes & Nobel I got "Matched" by Ally Condie. It is a YA dystopian and the first in a trilogy. It was released November of 2010 but with the recent release of Crossed, book 2, I remembered how much I have been wanting to read it. Plus I love the cover.

I also got a book on Wiccan spells, Druid power and their relation to the Fay and a book about supernatural beasts and their impact on today's society. All in the name of research of course. *smiles like Cheshire cat*

Now from Amazon I am impatiently waiting for "Inheritance" by Christopher Paolini. It is book four in a series that started in 2003. I love love love this series. I should have it in my mitts by this weekend. *crosses fingers*

Also, this post is some what of an experiment. I found a handy little Blogger app in the iTunes store and composed this entire article on my beloved iPhone. As I write this I have no idea what sort of  format it will take once posted. Depending on what it looks like I may or may not be doing this again via iPhone. I have just been so busy at home editing my manuscript I thought I could save some time by sneaking this in during the day.

What books have you added to your shelf lately?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Favorite Cover Reveals of the Week

Last week was a good week for cover reveals. I picked these two to share because they are both for books that I am very excited to read. Plus they are both gorgeous.

Endlessly by Kiersten White is book three of the Paranormalcy series, scheduled for release July 24th 2012.  I am currently listening to Supernaturally on Audible and really enjoy this series. Look for my review on Supernaturally in upcoming weeks.

Destined by Aprilynne Pike is book four in the Wings series, scheduled for release April 28th 2012. I was a little disappointed with the ending of Illusions (book 3) so I am hoping this book will restore my faith in the series. I have a minor crush on Tamani and I hope things work out to his favor in the conclusion of the series.

An interesting thing about the title Destined. Doing a quick search on this title I found 9 other books with the same title.  Aprilynne mentioned on her blog that she and her team knew this title was shared with other books
including the newly released book 9 of the House of Night series. She said they figure since there is a significant gap in between release dates and that the stories were different enough from each other, fans should not be confused between the two.

That help led me to my most recent revelation. I have been tossing around different titles for the last year and have not really found one that sticks. Every time I thought I liked one I would do a  search and more often than not I would find it being used. So I figure if sharing title names is good enough for established, published authors I can do it to.

So here it it folks, the big reveal.  The title I have chosen for book one of the Eternal Elements series is ...... Jaded.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Review...The Iron Fey series

The Iron Fey series
Author: Julie Kagawa
Published by Harlequin Teen
Modern day fantasy, faerie, YA

Book 1- The Iron King
novella- Summer's Crossing
Book 2- The Iron Daughter
novella- Winter's Passage
Book 3- The Iron Queen
Book 4- The Iron Knight

 Recently I reviewed the The Iron King. (for that review click here) I have since read up to book 3 and decided to review the series as a whole. The series is about Megan Chase, who is half human half faerie princess, and her adventures in the Nevernever with Prince Ash and Robin Goodfellow. Megan is the daughter of the Summer King of the Seelie court.

I'm going to make this nice and simple.....Read it, read now, if you don't you're missing out and life will cease to exist. Seriously, I loved it that much.

Julie Kagawa does a great job at world building. Her characters are very believable and easy to fall in love with, especially Prince Ash. I could go on for hours about him and he's in my top five most memorable literary crush's.

I have to admit, I wasn't exactly in love with how book 3 ended but as luck would have it we get a book four. To top it off it is from Ash's point of view. I also have to admit I'm scared to read it.

As much as I want to read it I'm holding out because I don't want it to end. It has been so long since I found a series I care for this much and I love the thought of it not being over.

So if you like faeries, romance, cute boys and a kick ass heroine, I recommend this read.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Learning Along the Way...Emotion in Dialogue

While revising my manuscript I noticed something...I write a ton of dialogue. I mean probably over half my story is dialogue. I haven't made up my mind yet if this is good or bad but I think I need to add a bit more narrative to avoid over telling.

I also realized I have a lot of angry characters. Why shouldn't they be? I've killed off half the members of their family. So while I have all these half crazed, angry, teen age warrior's running around they tend to get a bit nasty with each other some times. My job is to show their anger and express some of it through dialogue.

First thing, every one expresses anger different but there are some common elements. When people get in a verbal fight the goal is usually to say something to make the other person mad. The better you know a person/character the easier this is to do. You can attack their flaw's, looks, cast blame, defend yourself or destroy a dream. An angry person will often say things they don't even mean. The words are usually spilled out before a person has thought about what they are actually saying. Your characters should be doing this to.

When my characters are fighting I like to use shorter sentences and paragraphs. I don't like to bog it down with descriptions or narrative, the stage should already be set. I also write in physical movement the help keep the pace up.

If you have hints how your character's express anger I would love to hear them. As usual I get all my dialogue tips form Gloria Kempton's book "Dialogue".

Saturday, October 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo...Do you dare?

That's right. I am a 2010 NaNoWriMo Winner and I have the totally awesome badge (and key chain) to prove it.

Am I going to do it again? No. But that is because I am revising a work in progress and am making a push to finish and get it in the hands of an editor by the first of January. I don't want to lose the momentum.

But I am very sad about it. NaNoWriMo was a huge, like mega huge, accomplishment for me. By this time last year I had never taken on a task as big as writing 50,000 words in one month and I had no idea the discipline it would take. I was frustrated, stressed, mentally exhausted and  a social pariah.  It was awesome.

If you've never  participated you should, at least once. Being a writer requires hours upon hours of solitude. But for the month of November I was part of a group, a member of the community, one of the cool kids. The community may be filled with maniac writers staggering around in a WriMo daze but it was my group of maniacs and we were in it together.

The best piece of advice I can give a future WriMo not under estimate how many hours you will need to set aside to accomplish this task. It goes by quicker than you think.

If you want to read an in depth article about my experience see my interview about it  at The Capable Garnet. It was done a week after NaNoWriMo so all the feelings were fresh.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Book review....White Cat

By Holly Black

White Cat (book one of the Curse Workers trilogy)
I give it 4 out of 5 stars

from Good Reads

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

This is book one of a trilogy, followed by "Red Glove". I will admit, I put off reading this book for a long time. The cover didn't really appeal to me (I know, don't judge a book by it's cover..I do, can't help it) and I wasn't really interested in reading about mobsters and con artists. But it kept popping up in my little world and I decided it was time to read it.

In this world, curse workers are a regular part of life. Everybody knows about them and they have just always been there. They are not considered "paranormal"  but there is a certain amount of...lets just say certain groups of people are prejudice toward them. The character's in this book do not suffer a direct back lash from that but it is mentioned enough, it feels like the author is laying a foundation for  future books.

Cassel is a great character. He is the only non-worker in an all worker family so of course he feels like an out cast. With his infamous family ties he is an out cast at his private school. Before you feel to sorry for him he compensates by being a skilled con man and bookie for his fellow classmates.   All the characters in this story have a unique voice and play some very interesting parts.

It took  a while to finally get  into this book. There is a lot of world building in the beginning and I was not getting into it. I even put it down to read something else. With all the positive things I heard about this book I knew I had to dive back in. If this was a stand alone novel I would have liked it to have more action right off. But if you take into consideration she is creating a world and writing a trilogy it is probably paced pretty well. By the time I hit 33% (I know it was 33% because I read it on my kindle) I was sucked in.

You should defiantly add this to your "to be read" pile.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

For a person I had never met, or ever would have had an opportunity in the future to meet, I cannot believe I am so sad. We all know what he did for the world, for he truly made an impact. I shared on my blog in January 2011 how his innovative thinking and dedication to bring his ideas to us, is one of the many things that gave me the courage and inspiration to become a writer. "Make Your Own Place"

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book review....Sundered

Sundered: A Paranormal Romance (Nevermore Zombie Apocalypse Trilogy)

by Shannon Mayer
available on Kindle

description from Amazon

A miracle drug, Nevermore, spreads like wildfire throughout the world allowing people to eat what they want, no matter how unhealthy it is and yet still lose weight. It is everything the human population has ever dreamed of and Mara is no different. Only a simple twist of fate stops her from taking the drug.

As the weeks roll by, it becomes apparent that Nevermore is not the miracle it claimed. A true to life nightmare, the drug steals the very essence that makes up humanity and unleashes a new and deadly species on the world, a species bent on filling its belly. Locked down within their small farm home, Mara and her husband Sebastian struggle against increasingly bad odds, fighting off marauders and monsters alike.

But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear them apart, it threatens to destroy them both and the love they have for each other. 

The secret forces Mara to make the ultimate choice. Will she live for love, or will she live to survive?

Sundered is a very entertaining story and written very well. I have never been into zombie's but I read some of the authors blog posts, liked her writing and decided to give it a shot. This story has a short list of characters but each were unique and easy to care about. I have to admit, a couple things were easy to guess what was going to happen (isn't that common in most stories though?) but the timing and way the conclusions came about still made me feel for these characters. Mostly because by then I cared about the characters and felt a certain amount of sympathy for them.  

Sundered is part one of a trilogy and I will definitely be reading more of Shannon Mayer's work in the future.

In the vast sea of the world wide web it amazes me how a person comes across certain things. I was on Twitter (no surprise there) and Shannon Mayer popped up a suggested person to follow. About half of the time I ignore those suggestions but I clicked on her picture, saw she was a writer and decided to follow the link to her blog. I was very glad I did.

You can also see my review on Amazon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Act 1 - My Formula

So you decided to write a book. Now you can join me as we descend to the center of the earth in a downward spiral of depression and despair.  Just kidding (not really).

The hardest thing for me is the actual structure of the novel. What goes where? There needs to be a beginning, middle and an end but where exactly do those points start and stop. Over the last few years I have taken a few classes, read over a dozen "how to books", surfed about a million blogs and have compiled a list of what has gotten me to where I am at today. 

There are three main sources I used to complete act one. They are......(and in no particular order)

1. The Plot Whisperer  A blog where you can find links to a series of YouTube videos that break down the essentials to a complete plot. The videos are very well done and entertaining. Get your pen and paper handy to take plenty of notes for this is a guide that will take you from the beginning to the end and everything in between. 

2. Story Engineering A book by Larry Brooks. There is to much information in this book for me to tell you about. I will tell you one thing though, every single person I know that has read this book (that would be four people plus myself) found it amazing. 

3. A writers boot camp class I took from author Carolyn J Rose. Carolyn is no longer teaching this class but I have included what she taught us about the hero's journey.

So here it is, the guide line/check list I created for myself to complete act 1...

-Act one should be about 25% of the story. There should be NO back story in act one.

-Open the story at hero low point. We need to get a sense of inner demons.

-Set the first hook in the opening scene within the first 3 or 4 sentences.

-Introduce main character within first 2 scenes (The hero at home or in their normal life)

-The "hook" should be within the first 20 pages or 5000 words. (The hero's call to adventure)

-The mission, set up plot by creating stakes, empathy and foreshadow conflict. (The hero refuses the call then meets mentor)

-Set up, enticing incident (the hero commits to adventure)

-Establish stakes that happen to hero after part 1. Despite tension plot does not begin to roll till the end of act one.

-End of act one hero has turning point and begins new life.

Notes I remind myself of

-Characters must have over all goal. They need to be meaningful and achievable.
-Each scene furthers the plot. (Need an example? Watch True Blood and Sons of Anarchy. Every character and every scene furthers the plot. Nothing happens without a reason.)
-Every character needs a flaw or fear.
-Ground reader as soon as possible (who's involved,where are we, what's going on)
-Invoke feelings.

I am not saying I am an expert or that this is the one and only way to complete your first act. This is just the resources I have used and wanted to pass it along.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book review....The Iron King

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

published by Harlequin Teen
February 1, 2010

Amazon description

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

"Prince Ash, oh how I love you, let me count the ways." Yes, Prince Ash is my latest literary crush. Now I'm not talking I love him on an Edward Cullen level but he is right up at the top. 

About a month ago I came across a blog that conducted a "crush-a-thon" where two literary characters were pitted against each other and fans debated which one of the two were the most crush worthy. The finals came down to Prince Ash and Jace Wayland of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. Jace is wonderful in every way possible and I thought if this character is tough enough to go head to head against Jace he is definitely worth checking out. 

Not only did I find this new character to love but I was also introduced to a talented author. Julie Kagawa painted a beautiful world full of rich characters and scenery. The Iron King follows Megan Chase and her adventure where she finds out all the characters of "A Midsummer Nights Dream" and the land of Tir Na Nog are real. Her best friend Robbie, aka Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck shows her the way into the faery realm where she finds herself wanted by The Summer court as well as the Winter court. Faeries in Tir Na Nog do not like humans so Megan must watch her back as well as accomplish the mission that forced her into their world. 

I love strong female leads and this story does not disappoint. The authors portrayal of Puck steals the spotlight in almost every scene he is in. He has an excellent sense of humor and made me laugh out loud on several occasions. That leaves us with Prince Ash. Overall he is good looking, a great fighter, a total gentleman but can still be a bit of a jerk at times. (with good reason of course)

If your looking for a great faery story or romance with some butt kicking fight scenes this is a must read

Friday, August 26, 2011

I'll never see my book on the shelves in a book store.

I have dreamt many times of the day when I would stroll into my local bookstore and lay my eyes upon my very own creation sitting on the shelves. Propped on a pedestal, all shiny and new in all her glory for the world to behold. I would be armed and ready with a ball point pen and secretly sign random copies for an unsuspecting reader to find.

I realized that dream will most likely never come true. The sad truth is by the time my book would be ready to publish there will not be any book stores left to put it in. In my immediate area there are were three bookstores. One Borders *searches for tissue, RIP Borders* and two Barnes and Noble's. One of which is set to be demolished and a new Target will stand in its place. 

As much as I would like to be mad at Amazon for bringing death and destruction to my most beloved, I must admit something. I saw a blog post about "The Iron King" late one night and got really excited to read it. So I picked up my Kindle and downloaded it and began reading within two minutes. I said to my husband "This is so cool, I didn't even have to wait till the store opened. I bought it instantly." 

Then in dawned on me, I contributed to the destruction of my dream. What can I say? What are we suppose to do? Sit back and get upset or join in? (can we do both?)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The sympathetic character.

You never know when they will strike. Those "ah ha" moments. When something you have learned and been told a hundred times finally sinks in.

I have been coming across the phrase "sympathetic character" lately. One such place is the book "Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. The author discusses five basic plot elements and lists this as number one. It is followed by conflict, complications, climax and resolution. But without the sympathetic character nothing else that follows is going to matter as much. If we don't care about the character will we care about the story?

Cheryl Klein, senior editor at Arthur L. Levine Books worked on the U.S. editions of Harry Potter. She posted on her blog a very informative speech titled "A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter".  One of the top things on her list is how readers sympathize with Harry. (read the speech, it's a good one)

That brings us to the moment it finally set in. I have been telling myself all along to make my characters likable and that is what it takes to make readers care about my story. But it is not just about being likable, it is about being drawn to a character and sympathizing is the way to do that.

I saw the new movie trailer for Real Steel. The first trailer didn't do much for me, it was mostly fighting robots and cool special effects. Of course I was planning on seeing it anyway because Hugh Jackman is one of the hottest men on the planet is a very talented actor and usually makes a quality film. But the second trailer really sucked me in. It shows a down on his luck, out of work athlete who befriends a child and takes on the task of teaching an old worn out robot to box, and all these characters seem to be the under dog. This trailer took me from a "Ya, that looks like it will be a good movie", to a "I will definitely be seeing that movie". Now depending on your movie preference this may not appeal to you; but for me after seeing what kind of journey our hero's have to face sucked me in and opened my eyes to the sympathetic character.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book Review.....Hemlock Lake by Carolyn J. Rose

Description from Amazon

For generations only a few families held title to land in the isolated Catskill Mountain community of Hemlock Lake. But with the turning of the century one man, lured by easy money, sells his inheritance to a developer of luxury homes. As the contractor bulldozes farmland and forest, neighbors cry environmental rape, and someone threatens to burn what is built.

Hoping to stop the arsonist, but tormented by personal demons, Sergeant Dan Stone reluctantly returns to his family home on the shores of the lake. The previous autumn his wife died in its dark waters and his brother put a bullet in his brain. That tragedy sent Dan's father drifting toward death.

Isolated by his pain, Dan is thrust into the no man's land between newcomers and longtime residents who stonewall his investigation into threats, graffiti, theft, and a blaze that nearly kills the construction foreman. Townspeople blame outsiders, eco-terrorists, a ragged tramp haunting the woods and the mysterious creator of rock cairns that often mark the sites of crimes to come. But as summer sizzles on, the arsonist turns killer, and Dan suspects it's someone he knows well: a firefighter, a friend, or a woman with a killing in her past.

Hemlock Lake

Now for those of you that know me or follow my blog on a regular basis this book review may come as a surprise. For one, I have yet again read a "grown up" book and it's my third one this year. *Stands up, speaking to support group, My name is Kriston and I'm  addicted to young adult and children's novels* Second, this is not a fantasy, supernatural or paranormal story. Scouts honor... not a faerie, vamp or any member of the walking dead community to be found.

So let me start by saying I really like this novel, in fact I more than like it. This story follows a mans life after he loses his brother and true love to a tragic accident. While coming to terms with his inner demons, his old hometown treats him like an outcast while he is trying to protect them from a crazed arsonist.

The characters we get to know make a great team, their wit and banter will make you laugh and they love disrupting Dan's life every chance they get...and these are his friends.

Carolyn is a talented writer and this book was fun to read. The writing is superb, the setting believable  and the story moves along at a good pace. If you are looking for a good mystery this book is worth checking out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My how time flies...when your not writing.

Last weekend was nine weeks since I had written anything new. I finished revising act one, then nothing. Every night for two weeks after that my fingers hovered over my trusty keyboard and nothing. Nothing except cutting words, over 20,000 in fact.

Lets not think about how many hours it took to write those 20,000 words (30-40) that at one time I thought were poetic, beautiful and necessary. But guess what, they weren't. Okay...moving on.

So I cut a 1/4 of my novel out, not a problem, just rewrite it. Let's think, what should I write? After all I've read every  "how to" book lately to help me hone in my craft. I am a novice after all. Let's see what have I learned? Don't use adverbs, show don't tell. Don't fill in with back story, flash backs or dreams....don't do this....make sure to do that..... AAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

So while trying to follow all the rules I ended up following none, because I wasn't writing. I felt overwhelmed. Now I'm not saying a person should not read books to help themselves, because I have learned a lot of valuable information form these books. I just need to take them in moderation.

Now here is the kicker, even though I wanted a break from my story and the work, I was miserable not writing. After a few days the voices in my head  my characters wouldn't shut up. I'm not really sure what I've learned from my little hiatus, if anything, but back into the trenches I go. Before writing this post I added over 1600 words to my manuscript. Man, I forgot how good it felt and remembered why I started writing in the first place.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

Collection or obsession?

The energy in the theater had a life of it's own. Movie patrons were bursting at the seems with excitement. People were laughing, munching popcorn, seats were sparse and it was only 10:00 am!
Like millions of others, my anticipation could barley be contained, yet a dark cloud kept creeping over my head. The realization that is has finally come to an end.

Part two starts off with the exact scene that ends part one, then dives into action without missing a beat. I've read The Deathly Hallows twice but the technique in which the movie was filmed kept my anticipation at a high. I was amazed at how captivated the audience was, no one stirred or fussed or got out of their seats.

I went to the first showing, opening day because that is when all the die hards go. I knew that every person in the theater was just as excited as me. We laughed out loud, clapped, cheered, and several times I heard sniffing as people dabbed the tears in their eyes. Yes I was one of the tear dabbers.

About half way in I realized something. It's not only the story that I covet and love, it's the feeling that I get when watching.  The directer slipped in a few tributes to the first films, that reminded me of how I felt when it was all new. For me this film was a roller coaster of emotion and a ride I never wanted to end.

Now in my opinion, the person who really stole the show was Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. He did not get  very much screen time but he owned that role. The flashback scene was ripping and Mr. Rickman showed Snape's tragic and undying loyalty to the one and only person he ever loved, with expertise. This movie is epic. If you skip it you'll be missing out.

There is one last thing I need to do to finally put my Harry Potter obsession to rest. That is to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando Fl. I plunked my first quarter into the "Send Kriston to the Harry Potter theme park" fund.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Menacing and the Magical

Having just seen The Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides, I found my inspiration for this post.


Mermaids are like beautiful maidens form the waist up, with the tail of a fish below. They carry a comb and a mirror, they are to be seen combing their long beautiful hair and singing with irresistible sweetness on a rock beside a sea. 

But mermaids have a darker side. They lure young men to their death and their appearance presages storms and disasters. According to such beliefs they not only bring misfortunes but also provoke them, and avidly seek human lives, either drowning men or devouring them.
(From The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures

So what is the moral of this story? Things may not be what they seem. What do you take from it?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book review....Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Flap copy description

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

So I have to admit, I have never been drawn to "dystopian" stories. There's no magic, faeries or demon slaying and the thought of a dismal future in a post apocalyptic/anarchy setting has never been to my liking. But recently there seems to be a number of them popping out at me and an employee at my local Borders recommended it. I originally bought Divergent from Audible to listen to on my iPhone. I love it. In fact I love it so much I went back to Borders and bought the book to add to my collection of favorites.  I am reading it now to make sure I didn't miss anything and wanted to recommend it as soon as possible.

This book is written in first person, present tense which is something I have not come across a lot. Coming from that point of view really gets you deep into the characters head and in the "now". I think it helps add an urgency to the events as they happen.

Tris is a  great character. She is strong and independent (I love strong female leads!) and very likable. I found myself cheering for her from beginning to end. Coming from a person who is afraid of everything, it was fun reading of her daring feats and bravery. I would not say this is a love story but there is a romantic story line weaved through the chapters in which I enjoyed. Parts of the story were a little hard core and the romance gave it a good balance.

Now be warned, there are a few violent scenes, nothing offensive according to my standards, but there was one thing that I found unnecessary. There is also a scene toward the end that contradicts a couple of previous scene's that are pretty major. I don't know if I just missed something but it left me a tad confused. But I enjoyed the story so much it was easy for me to over look.

Over all, I love this book and Veronica Roth has spun a tale to be proud of. The character growth and pace of the story are spot on. Pay attention to her folks, I have a feeling she's going to have a lot to offer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Live Your Legend

Mother Earth
dancing with veils
My sister after the Circle Dance
My faun friend's

Melissa Marr
It was a gathering of the mythical and magical to celebrate the sun, solstice and song. I introduce you to Faerieworlds.

I hit the road with my sister and nephew on an unforgettable road trip to Eugene Oregon. As we traveled mach-five down the freeway corridor we could only guess at what we were about to experience. I must tell you Faerieworlds completely exceeded our expectations, we weren't there for longer than an hour when we were already making plans for next year.

We started off the festival with a ceremonial tribute to the Fea. We listened to a chant, watched a fire and participated in a Circle Dance of celebration.

I stood hand in hand with my sister, Julie, on one side and a new acquaintance to the other. The music started, the inner circle of people, facing us, began first. They pranced round and round to the beat of the celtic music and we waiting in anticipation for our circle to begin. After a quick moment I looked to my right to see my circle start its rotation. We started with  tiny steps, mostly marching in place, as the music picked up tempo so did we. In the blink of an eye we were consumed in a whirlwind of winged creatures and dancers of young and old.  Our two circles become three or four, maybe more, as we dodged on coming faerie wings, horned creatures and hurdled tent stakes it was hard to tell. Running hand in hand, laughing and screaming with glee, I looked back to my sister to notice I was no longer holding her hand but someone else's. How'd that happen? When the song ended we jumped and cheered, I think I started hugging random strangers. 

We walked among vendor tent's, ate wonderful food, watched a play in the cool shade of the Neverworlds and had a drink on the bow of a pirate ship. But the music, oh the wonderful music called to our souls, luring us to a stage adorned with waving flags, set along a line of leafy trees.  I danced, took pictures and almost collapse from heat exhaustion, I can't wait to do it all again.

Now I save the best for last. I am a huge fan of Melissa Marr, the best selling author of the Wicked Lovely series. Knowing she was there, I kept and eye out for her throughout the day. When I was recovering from my heat exhaustion I tweeted about how I wish I could find her. A short time later I received a tweet from Melissa telling me her location. My sister  pointed out that we were at the exact location. I described Melissa to my sister and the search was on. After a few frantic minutes, I was afraid that I had missed my chance, but I did not.

 When I have met authors in the past it is usually at a signing where there is a line of people behind me waiting their turn to speak or get a book signed, but that was not the case here. Melissa was very sweet and took the time to chat with me for a minute. I could of taken my time to tell Melissa all the things I love about her novels, but in my excitement I could not even recall a single name of any of her characters.  I didn't  tell her half the things I wanted to.  As you can see from the above picture I at least had the sense to get the camera out. So if by the off chance Melissa ever reads this blog post I want to say thank you. Thank you for Aislinn & Seth, and Rebekkah & Byron and sharing their stories with all of us.  Authors are the Rock Stars of my world and your talent inspires me. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

painting by Darrel Clark

painting by Darrel Clark
As a tribute to my dad on Father's day, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite pieces of art work he recently put to canvas.

My dad has taken up painting only a couple years ago and I am so proud of his accomplishments. He is self taught and his creativity, dedication and practice have proved themselves beyond measure. I draw inspiration from that every time I sit down to write. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thank you mom and dad for everything you do for everybody.

 Thank you for giving us a happy, functional home to grow up in. Thank you for letting us be who we wanted to be and never judging what we did, God knows the crazy ideas my sister's and I have come up with over the years. Thank you for letting us make the mistakes, for some reason all kids make, and forgiving us when we finally realized what we were doing, raising three girls could not have been easy. People like the two of you make this world a better place.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review.....Illusions by Aprilyne Pike

Synopsis from Barnes & Noble

"I don't do patrols, I don't go hunting, I just stick close to you. You live your life. I'll keep you safe," Tamani said, sweeping a lock of hair from her face. "Or die trying."
Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.
But just as life returns to normal, Laurel realizes that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

As this is book three in a four part series, I recommend you read Wings and Spells as this story is not complete on its own.

Illusions takes place a year later in Laurel's life and is joined by her faerie protector, Tamani, at her high school in the human world. This creates a problem with her loving and loyal boyfriend David as Tamani interjects himself into their day to day lives. Laurel is forced to finally come to terms with her feelings towards the two of them while trying to decide if she wants to continue to college in the human world or return to the faerie realm in Avalon, her birth place.

In addition to her day to day struggles with her future, Laurel is confronted and asked for a favor by Klea. Klea was introduced in book two and we do not know if she can be trusted. Laurel is asked to keep an eye on Yuki; who Klea suspects is a dryad. Without revealing that she can sense Yuki is actually a faerie, Laurel accepts the request in efforts to find out more about this mysterious new comer.

This book was a delight to read. Tamani is a great character and we get plenty of him in this installment. The tension between him and David has risen to a new level and the romantic tension between Laurel and Tamani is escalated as well.

This tale does not come without it's down falls. Laurel was a little immature in some of her decision making and it made me feel like the author took the "easy way out" to forward the plot. The mystery surrounding the new character's was interjected well through out the whole book but left me with an unsatisfied feeling for the ending. The story continued on at an anti-climantic pace until the very end. About ten pages from the end we get the climax dropped in our laps and a cliff hanger for the next book.

The reason this upset me was because the climax and the cliff hanger are very good and I wanted it to be longer. But it comes out of no where then stops cold in its tracks.

Overall I still recommend the read but I think you should wait closer to the release of the next book.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vampires by Tucker Johnson


by Tucker Johnson,  12 years old

I THINK that I shall never need
A pet that's of the vampire breed.

Always wearing a big black hood,
Vampires are evil, and not good.

Using lots of Vampire might,
He goes out for a late night bite.

He flies all around in the dark,
He's a bat, not a meadowlark.

Slicking all their blonde hair back,
They don't look the part to attack.

But when they do, your in trouble
You better run on the double.

So keep running through out the night,
Until you see the morning light.

For all you children, here's the deal;
Those wretched vampires are all real.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Do you ever dream of walking among the fae? Have you ever wanted to live life among our winged & mischievous friends? Well I tell you now that you can. I embarked on a perilous journey that took me to the the four corners of the world (wide web) and I found a way to cross into a fantasy filled faerie realm.

Faerieworlds in Eugene Or. is a three day art and musical festival dedicated to the whimsical world of faerie's. Please take a moment to view the website and watch the video. If you are reading this at work, turn down the volume on your computer, otherwise enjoy the tune.

Not only will you be delighted with song and dance but check out the workshops you can attend.

2:30 pm Fortune in a Cup - fortune reading
4:15 pm Dance with the Wings of the Fey
5:30 pm Meet Your Faerie Guardian

12:30 pm Tarot and the Turning of the Wheel
2:00 pm Group Drumming Class
4:00 pm The Art of the Rapier Sword
5:30 pm Discover the Inner Fae -Goddess in Dance

12:30 pm Special Presentation
3:00 pm Pirate and Gypsy Fusion Dance
6:15 pm Folkloric Dances - of the Near and Middle East

You can believe this or not, but the weekend adventure serves a dual purpose. I have a pivotal scene in my novel taking place at a festival that kicks the events of act three into motion. (We have a confession of love, a kiss that never should of happened, mystical music from an elven realm and a show of fire) So this is actually research. *winks eye* This will be an ideal venue to observe group dynamics at a real life event that could apply to the setting in my book.

Plus to top it all off I can totally stalk Melissa Marr.

There will be several author's and artist's attending to meet and give autographs to fans. Costume's are expected so don't be shy. My biggest problem is deciding if I want to be a good faerie or a dark faerie. Oh the decisions.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tools of the Trade...Scrivener

I have been using Scrivener since November 2010 but it was not until a few days ago when a fellow member of my critique group asked me if I knew of a good writing application. I said, "As a matter of fact I do."

It all started when I submerged myself deep into the chaos of NaNoWriMo. Scrivener offers a free 30 day trial and I heard so many good things I decided I would give it a shot.

I cannot say enough good things about the customer service and technical support I received from them. I was over 20,000 words into my novel and I decided I should back up my words onto a flash drive. At the time I did not know how I did it but in the process I thought I lost all of my words. (well more like displaced, I accidentally changed the title so I was looking for the wrong thing) My heart stopped, panic set in. My masterpiece lost forever. (I went back and read it recently and trust me, it's no masterpiece. But I love it all the same)

I emailed Scrivener and of course tried to blame the program. "It ate my words," I cried.  Knowing these things are usually operator error I must thank Scrivener for being so kind to me. After they asked several questions of what I had done leading up to the lost words, in a very polite way and never making me feel stupid, they let me know there was no problem with the program. They first wanted to make sure there really was not a flaw in the program because they want to offer a quality product. After we ruled that out, they seemed just as concerned for my missing words. What they told me was Scrivener has an auto save and even though I may not be able to see my words, they were indeed saved on my computer, we just needed to find them.

After several hours and emails I told them I accepted my fate, my words were gone. They did not accept that answer and continued sending me options to try. When all hope was lost, they were my beacon of light in the dark, dismal tunnel of which I roamed.

I found those words later that night,  they were in front of me all along. I then had to tuck my tail between my legs and tell them that my village found its idiot, that would be me.

Scrivener offers a simple lay out for you to organize your novel that lets you move things with ease. You can open multiple pages at a time, see your character sketches, organize links, outline,  sync with Simplenote, compile for export and much more.  I suggest you go their website and watch the tutorials.

I use Scrivener on my Mac but there is a beta version for Windows as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review...Graveminder

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

description from

Product Description
The New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series delivers her first novel for adults, a story about the living, the dead, and a curse that binds them.

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

I am a fairly new fan of Melissa Marr and now that I read this book I am sure to be a long time one. My first experience with her books was reading "Wicked Lovely", a young adult, modern day story about faeries. This is Melissa's first adult novel and I'm pretty sure it is only the second adult novel I have read in over a year. (You'd think it would be more considering, well...I am an adult. Legally anyway.Many years past legal I should say) 
*waving hands in air and shaking head* Back to things at hand.

Rebekkah Barrow is a likable character faced with many obstacle's; the death of family members, turmoil with surviving family members, the graveminder legacy, the walking dead and Byron. Oh how I like Byron let me count the ways. 

The story takes place in a small tranquil town and... some place else really cool. (I want to tell you but I don't want to spoil it, so trust me, it's cool) Melissa gives us a believable setting and the story moves at a steady, entertaining pace. 

There are a few swear words and a mild bedroom scene so if you have a young teenager that is an established fan from previous published young adult books you may want to read it first. Then you can decide for yourself if your youngster is mature enough for it. For me it was not offensive and we all know how PG I am.

Over all, this is a good book. The eerie setting really appealed to me, until now I never realized how much I like cemeteries. Is that weird? Don't answer that. Despite the darker tone this is a great summer read. Pick up your copy and let me know what you think. 
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