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New Adult Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to New Adult Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was inspired as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 96 hours!

Go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the Purple Team–but there is also a Red Team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the New Adult Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my lucky book number. Collect the lucky book numbers of all the authors on Team Purple, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by July 1, 2018, at noon Eastern Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



During her high school years, Kelsey Ketch could always be found tucked away in a little corner of the hall or classroom, writing her fantasy worlds and creating illustrations and maps. Today is no different, except now she’s writing in the break room at her office building or at the tables of the Barnes and Noble CafĂ© in Cary, North Carolina. She is also an avid reader, a part-time book blogger at Ketch’s Book Nook, and lives with her two orange tabbies and awesome and humorous flat-mate. Daughter of Isis is her debut novel.

For more information, please visit her site at kelseyketch.com.


Character Profile:

Name: Meriden
Age: 18, going on 19
Hair Color: Auburn
Eye Color: Green
Closest Mates: Matthew Kettlesworth, Rupert Railing
Courting: Gregory Wilson 

Personality: Hot-headed, sharp-tongued, protective, caring


The high-seas. Ever since she was a small child, Meriden dreamed of sailing the high-seas, as her father and great-grandfather once had. In her heart, despite the dangers, it is her true home.

Carpentry. Meriden learned carpentry from her father, who learned it from his father, who learned it from his step-father. But Meriden also has a natural gift when it comes to wood work. This is because she can feel the wood’s emotions, such as if it was crafted with love or writhing in pain from damage.

Children. Out of all the people in Meriden’s village, she finds the children the least judgmental about her status and behavior. Perhaps it’s because she weaves amazing adventures and teaches them how to sword fight. In any case, Meriden cares for them as if they were family, even though they are not her own.


Blake Baker. The man responsible for the disappearance of her father. She would never forgive him for treachery. But when she learns that Baker actually murdered her father, was responsible for Gregory’s kidnapping, and is now pursuing her, revenge slowly consumes her heart to the point of no return.

Disrespect. Don’t show any disrespect for this girl or her friends. Meriden has a very short temper for such things, and one might find a blade whizzing past their ear if you get on her wrong side.

Favorite Scene: My rage unleashed by his final words, I grabbed my knife from my belt, spun on my heel, and hurled the blade toward Scrapper’s head. While his violet eyes widened, several crewmen ducked out of the way of the flying object as it skimmed Scrapper’s ear and sunk itself into the foremast.

“Would anyone else like to comment?” I spat, my breathing rapid. There was nothing but complete silence in reply. “Good! If anyone on this ship crosses me again, I’ll aim lower. Much lower. Do I make myself clear?”

***Book Trailer*** 

To enter, you need to know that my lucky book number is 7.

Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on Team Purple and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author, SF Benson!


Movie Review Monday

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)

I don’t know if I was living under a rock at the time or what, but I don’t remember hearing about this on the news. The act in and of itself was incredibly brave and amazing, and I’m super glad no one was killed.

To be honest, I never had any intention of watching this film. No reason why. Just wasn’t on my radar. My mother-in-law was visiting, and she had heard it was good, so we rented it.

I think it’s amazing and fantastic that the real heroes had the opportunity to play themselves in the film. With that being said, I knew they weren’t actors, so I wasn’t expecting much in their performances. They are real people with a story to tell, and they had the platform to do that.

Having them play themselves was both a good and bad thing. The good is above, and the bad is that there isn’t much tension in the film. We know that they come out of the ordeal alive. Of course, we would know that through history and knowing the real story also, so this didn’t really give anything away.

The event on the train happened in a relatively short amount of time, yet the film needed to be 90 minutes long. This allowed for Eastwood to delve into the heroes’ history and give us insight into their childhoods and how they were shaped into the men they became. This was fine, but the film felt incredibly long and slow. We kept waiting for the exciting part, the train event, and it felt like it took a long time to show up and was over way too quickly.

While the story is incredibly fascinating, I think a different format would have made it more appealing. I know there’s a book based on the event, and maybe it’s more exciting in novel form. I haven’t read it, so I don’t know. The film just felt dry.

At the end of the day, I learned about these amazing heroes and what they did on a train heading to Paris. It wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it wasn’t the worst either.

Has anyone else seen this film? What did you think?

Behind the Story: The Ifs Audiobook

It has been another crazy week. I’ve had family come to visit, so my time has been divided between them and work; hence the late post this week. I should probably plan my time better, but I get to it when I get to it.

Today, I wanted to tell you the story behind The Ifs audiobook. It is now available for purchase on Audible. There’s a sample on the side of my blog for you to check out and listen to. I promise, it’s worth your time. The narrator did an amazing job!

I’m kind of addicted to creating audiobooks. It started out a bit rocky, but then things really took off and fell into place. It’s so much fun to hear other people reading my words and bringing my characters to life. One day, I hope to have all of my books in audio form.

The first book I converted was Life After the Undead, my young adult zombie book, and I didn’t exactly have narrators beating down my door to read the book. Not a big deal. The one who ended up doing it did a wonderful job, and I’m happy with how it turned out. I assumed the process would be the same for The Ifs. 

For my middle grade book (which The Ifs is), my narrator parameters weren’t as stringent. I didn’t care if a male or female read it, and it was totally fine if they had an accent. I put the script up and waited for the auditions to come in—although I didn’t hold my breath. Past experience told me not to expect much.

I got my first audition in, and I really liked how the guy read, so I figured he would be the narrator. Then, I got another one in. And he did an awesome job too. After that came another and another.

When all was said and done, I had EIGHT auditions, and my mind was blown. I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t expected that at all. And then I had a tough decision to make.

There were a few auditions that I knew wouldn’t work for the book, so they weren’t in the running. I asked my spouse and my kids for their opinion of who they liked best, then we decided from there. It was agonizing—seriously—because I appreciated everyone taking the time to audition, and it was so fun to hear how they interpreted my work.

In the end, though, Peter J. Taylor did a phenomenal job with the narration. His accent is fantastic, and he does voices. He even adds in a few sound effects—which is really what sold all of us on having him narrate the book.

I can’t wait for you to be able to hear the entire story. I think you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do.

Movie Review Monday

Black Panther (2018)

For a long time, I’ve claimed to be a DC fan. It would take a lot for me to watch a Marvel movie, although I would do it grudgingly. However, after the string of successful films Marvel has put out, I’m debating whether I should be a bit more flexible in my fandom.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ll always be a huge Batman fan, but the heroes of Marvel are finding a way into my heart.

The boys and I have wanted to see Black Panther since the trailers came out. It’s pretty difficult for us to make it to the theater, so we waited (and waited and waited) for it to be available to rent. I think the greatest compliment a movie can receive from my kids is that they re-enact it after it’s over—and that’s exactly what they did after watching this film.

I’m fully aware of the controversies with this film. That’s why I believe we needed this movie. It’s not shy about talking about the issues. It offers a hero and some really strong and smart female characters. It doesn’t apologize for what it is and what it does—and it shouldn’t. It offers a leader that everyone can look up to. It offers the chance of inclusion and starts a dialogue.

I loved this movie for everything it does (including raising social issues) and the hope it inspires. I’m a huge fan of flawed superheroes, those who really want to do what is right but struggle to find that path, and Black Panther falls right into that realm. No one is perfect, and figuring out what is right is challenging, but we all have the power to step up and do our part. Even superheroes with their inhuman powers and strength stumble and fall, and that’s makes them human.

The boys really enjoyed this movie too. Even weeks later, my oldest comments about how much he enjoyed this film. I think it will be one to add to our collection.

The Story Behind The Ifs

Ugh! I’m behind on my posts this week because I had to take my computer into the shop to get fixed. It’s been trying to update since last August without success. After trying to fix it myself and not having any luck, I sent it to a professional. Apparently, they’ve been struggling too. Hopefully the issue gets resolved soon.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you the story behind The Ifs, my middle grade fantasy novel. Currently, there are three in the series (The Ifs, The Ifs Return, and Undead Ifs), and the first book will soon be available as an audiobook. 

I started writing this series about 6 years ago. I wanted my boys to have a story they could call their own where they got to be the heroes. I knew they were going to be middle grade books, and I wanted them to be filled with action and adventure, along with a little danger.

At the time, my boys were much younger than their counterparts in the book, and I had a lot of fun imagining how they would behave when they were finally that age. I guessed some of their traits correctly, but I was off the mark on others. But it’s not a big deal. These are fiction stories, so I used my imagination.

I think the best part about writing these stories was how the boys reacted when I read them to them. I think they were able to imagine exactly what was happening and put themselves in the characters’ shoes. There was a relationship there that they might not feel with other stories—which totally makes sense if the story is about them!

My oldest enjoys these stories so much he shared them with his classmates. He asked one night if he could take The Ifs to school, and I told him sure. The next day, he told me that the kids had the choice of three books for the teacher to read out loud, and they picked The Ifs.

At parent-teacher conferences, the teacher told me that my oldest would often interject side notes into the story—behind the scenes stuff—while she read. She said he really enjoyed having insider knowledge, and it kept the other students interested.

It makes me swell with pride to know that my boys are proud of these books. I put a lot of work and love into them, and I’m glad they enjoy reading them and having others read them. That’s the true goal of an author: to impact the reader.

Movie Review Monday

Game Night (2018)

This movie was picked at random from the list of available rentals. I had seen at least one preview before and thought it looked funny. I was not disappointed.

This movie had the laughs. It was a great way to spend the night with the family (aside from some language, there wasn’t anything that my kids couldn’t watch—no sex, no over-the-top violence). We all shared some laughs while watching this movie, and everyone enjoyed it.

There were a few twists and surprises that I wasn’t expecting, which made the film that much better, and there were some predictable parts. It was 100 minutes long, but didn’t drag. There was even some action and adventure, so everyone was happy with the film.

If you’re looking for a fun movie with some surprises and laughs, I recommend Game Night. It’s a great movie to unwind to.

Anyone else see this film? What did you think?

For Your Reading and Listening Pleasure

My boys have 2.5 days left of school, and they are chomping at the bit to be done! Summer is upon us, and so is the time for summer reading adventures.

For your middle grade reader, Undead Ifs is now available in paperback. You can also find it for Kindle.

Landon and Broden have been successful in defeating Gage twice. With him safely trapped in the hourglass and locked away, they can go on with their lives without a care in the world.

And the first thing they are going to do is enjoy a banquet with Slade and his Ifs where the brothers are the guests of honor. Now that the If village and the brothers are safe, a whole day full of food, fun, friends, and flying on hawks is just what they need to move on from the battles.

The boys discover more than good times hanging out with the Ifs, however. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that something sinister is buried just beneath the surface of celebration and fun. Something is in the trees, hiding in the shadows, something that may or may not be undead.

Could Gage be behind whatever evil lurks in the woods? Or is this a new danger? Join Landon and Broden in their new adventure to discover what wicked thing threatens their world.

Undead Ifs is the third book in The Ifs series. If you’re looking for the other two, they can be found here.

While not available quite yet, The Ifs (the first book in the series) will soon be available as an audiobook. Here’s a little teaser to get you excited about its release.

I hope you all have an amazing summer filled with fun. I also hope you find some downtime to curl up with a good book.

Movie Review Monday

I hope my American friends are having an amazing Memorial Day weekend!

The Shape of Water (2017)

I really like Guillermo del Toro movies. He does such an amazing job of balancing stories and surprises. I’ve wanted to see The Shape of Water for a while, then when I found out it won some awards, I wanted to see it even more.

I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this film. I can certainly see why it won the awards it did. It’s a beautiful movie, with great use of colors, music, lighting, and camera angles. It touches on a lot of social issues, including racism, classism, and sexuality, among others.

The film also takes a common horror film trope and turns it on its head—well, sort of. It takes the notion of the monster being sympathetic and expands it (this is actually quite common in recent horror movies, so that’s why I say sort of).

If you’ve watched any classic monster movies, including The Mummy (1932), Dracula (1931), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), etc., then you know there’s a notion that the monster is coming in to society to take the attractive women away. The monsters are dangerous and evil, and they must be vanquished by a hero, but there’s also a sense that they are misunderstood and lonely—if they only had the love of a good woman, they could turn their world around.

Sure, the monsters don’t necessarily go about wooing the woman in the right way. And they are a them instead of an us, so they have to be avoided/vanquished at all costs. The women are pawns in the game of love between the monster and the hero, so they rarely have a choice in who wins them, although social conventions say it has to be the human.

The Shape of Water takes that notion of the monster being lonely and misunderstood and runs with it. It shows us how sympathetic the monster can be and how it is treated unfairly and cruelly. As is typical of horror movies, there are characters who see the monster as nothing but a monster—a them—and do what is necessary to keep it in its place. But then there’s Elisa, who sees the monster as so much more.

This, of course, takes traditional horror movie tropes and flips them around. She’s not afraid of the monster. She doesn’t need to be rescued from it. She’s the one who does the rescuing.

I don’t want to give too much away for those of you who haven’t seen the film. I had no problems with the social issues the film portrays or the changing of the tropes, but while I was watching it, it felt weird to me. And as I’m writing this, I think the reason it felt weird is because it turns expectations on their head—a trait that del Toro is really, really good at.

The film is 123 minutes, and parts of it really felt like they dragged. If you had asked me right after watching The Shape of Water, I probably would have wrinkled my nose and said it wasn’t worth the watch. Now, however, the more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and pick apart all the horror traditions it undermines. And that is the sign of a good movie.

Who else has seen this film? What did you think?

Summer Reading

Summer is right around the corner. I’m looking forward to it, and I know my boys are too. They are counting down the days when school will be out. Our days will be filled with fun, baseball, and visits from family. There will probably be late nights and movies also.

But through it all, we need to find time to read. Studies have shown that kids who don’t read over the summer will see their skills stagnate or decline. That’s scary. It means they’ll have to work that much harder when the school year starts to get back to where they ended the previous year. But there’s an easy remedy: reading.

During the school year, kids’ days are filled with required readings; stories and books that are more often than not assigned to them so they can learn some lesson. But in the summer, that’s when freedom prevails. That’s when they get to read what they want. It’s a very exciting time.

I’ve never been one to abide by age or grade recommendations when it comes to reading. If my boys think a book looks interesting and fun, I’ll let them get it—even if the vocabulary is outside of their range. After all, that’s how kids discover new words. If they have a question about the content, I’m right there to answer it for them. That’s how they learn. That’s how they expand their horizons.

I’ve never been afraid of my kids reading graphic novels and comic books. There are benefits to reading graphic novels and comic books, including fostering a love of reading and enjoying new stories or classic stories. The same can be said about audiobooks. There are a variety of benefits for kids listening to audiobooks, and I feel I should encourage this more in my household.

Getting your hands on books over the summer is as easy as heading to the library. I get it: books can be expensive. But libraries offer a plethora of books at no cost. And my boys love going to the library and picking out which books they want to read. You can even find audiobooks there.

Reading should be an activity that your kids want to do, not something they have to do. Fostering a love of reading in kids can be accomplished by letting them pick which books they want to read. You can force them to sit down for a certain amount of time each day, or you can find a time (say, right before bed) to enjoy a story as a family. That’s what we do in our house. This helps my kids keep their reading skills top notch, let’s us spend some time together, and helps them unwind after a fun-filled day. It helps me too!

Movie Review Monday

Terminal (2018)

It was another slow movie-rental weekend. My spouse decided on this film because he’s a Margot Robbie fan. The trailer didn’t look terrible, so we decided to give it a go. The boys had no desire to watch this movie, so they didn’t.

Terminal does an interesting job of using color throughout. There is a definite noir feel to the film. There’s mystery and intrigue and betrayal and death.

The movie wasn’t awful, but it could have been a lot better. I had it figured out from the beginning, but I don’t know if that’s because I watch too many movies or because it was just that easy to figure out. There was a small twist in the film (that I won’t give away), but it wasn’t ground-breaking shocking. My mouth didn’t fall open at the reveal. I felt more like, “Meh. I guess that can work.”

As a revenge film, it works very well. Annie does a great job of laying out her plans, being patient, and then seeing the fruits of her labor. The film uses Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland throughout to create a surreal and somewhat irrational landscape, and it works. I’m a huge fan of that book, so I found that part interesting.

The film is 90 minutes long, and it didn’t feel burdensome. There was enough intrigue and mystery to keep the story moving forward. There was one point when it flashed back to 3 weeks previously, and I wasn’t quite sure when we got back to the present. That may have been the point to add to the surreal feel, but I’m not sure. It didn’t make it difficult to follow the action, I just thought it was weird.

If you enjoy noir films and visually interesting moves, Terminal might be the film for you. The story wasn’t lacking, but it was predictable (which is probably expected in noir). It wasn’t a huge waste of time for a Friday evening.

Anyone else watch Terminal? What did you think?

New Book Release: Undead Ifs

Undead Ifs is now available on Kindle. It is the third book in The Ifs series, and it is a special request from my boys.

Book 3 in The Ifs series

Landon and Broden have been successful in defeating Gage twice. With him safely trapped in the hourglass and locked away, they can go on with their lives without a care in the world.

And the first thing they are going to do is enjoy a banquet with Slade and his Ifs where the brothers are the guests of honor. Now that the If village and the brothers are safe, a whole day full of food, fun, friends, and flying on hawks is just what they need to move on from the battles.

The boys discover more than good times hanging out with the Ifs, however. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that something sinister is buried just beneath the surface of celebration and fun. Something is in the trees, hiding in the shadows, something that may or may not be undead.

Could Gage be behind whatever evil lurks in the woods? Or is this a new danger? Join Landon and Broden in their new adventure to discover what wicked thing threatens their world.

My boys are 11 and 9, and they are huge zombie fans, but most zombie movies are still too scary for them to watch. They wanted something with the undead that wouldn’t keep them up for weeks and made them the heroes, so I wrote this story for them.

In celebration, the first two ebooks in the series—The Ifs and The Ifs Return—are free through Sunday. Now is the time to catch up on the series and get ready for a whole new adventure!

I’m also looking for reviewers, so if anyone is interested, drop me a line!

Movie Review Monday

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

The pickings for movies to rent were pretty slim this weekend—especially for family-friendly films. There were several horror films I wanted to watch, but I wanted my kids to sleep for the next week. We dug deep into the movie list to find something that appealed to everyone. Murder on the Orient Express was the winner.

It’s going to be really hard to talk about this film and not give anything away. Since it’s a murder mystery, every detail is important and a potential spoiler for the ending. I’ll do my best…

When we watched the trailer for the film, it reminded us of the movie Clue. We thought it was going to be similar—perhaps without the humor—and as far as being a murder mystery, it was. However, that is where the similarities ended.

Murder on the Orient Express needed to have been structured differently. As it was, it was confusing as to what the focus of the film should be. Was it the detective or the story behind the murder? Personally, I thought the story behind the murder was fascinating and should have overarched the entire film. It would have made things make more sense.

The film has a star-studded cast, and they do a fine job. It is 114 minutes long but feels about twice that length. There’s very little action and a lot of talking. My youngest, who is 9, gave up on the movie less than half way through. It didn’t hold his interest. My oldest stuck with it and enjoyed it. I thought it was meh. My spouse didn’t like it. Stylistically, the shots in the film were beautiful. But those couldn’t keep the film interesting.

Murder on the Orient Express got us through movie night. Has anyone else watched this movie? What were your thoughts?

Movie Review Monday

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018)

We started with the first movie, so we figured we’d see them all the way through. My boys really enjoy these films, so they wanted to see how the series ended. You can read my reviews for the first film here and the second film here.

The Death Cure picks up where the last one left off, with Thomas attempting to save his friend Minho from the WCKD corporation. The film begins with an elaborate, grandiose train “robbery” to rescue Minho. I was a little confused as to why Minho and the others were being transported on a train, especially since they have pretty advanced jets. I mean, a train is pretty ancient compared to the flying contraption, and it can only move so fast (it wasn’t a super train). If the company was so concerned about a rescue attempt, why make it easy?

Of course, the point was so that Thomas and the other rebels could steal the plane (or jet, I’m not sure what they called in the movie) to be used later in the film. But why would the soldiers in the plane/jet/flying contraption allow themselves to be hijacked? You’re in a plane/jet/flying contraption! You can shoot the rebels from the sky. You don’t need to land and take them into custody. Ugh! Use your brains people!

That was the introduction to the film, and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the movie. The characters do quite a few things that don’t make a lot of sense, and we don’t get an explanation as to why. As I mentioned in my review of the second film, several of the “immunes” turn out to not be immune, but it’s not explained why. There’s a cryptic comment about them being in the glade with the others so WCKD can tell the immunes from the nonimmunes apart, but that just seems silly. Why waste time and resources on nonimmunes if you’re trying to save the world? And it doesn’t explain why the so-called immunes could still get infected by Grievers.

Like the other films, there was an inordinate amount of running. I even commented that Thomas has been running since the first movie and hasn’t really stopped—he must be getting super tired. Plus, it doesn’t make a lot of sense why he would put himself and his other friends in harm’s way for one person.

Sure, there was the whole promise thing and being true to his word, but at some point I would think that Minho would be like: “Dude, you’re going to die if you come in here. There’s no reason for both of us to be killed.” But maybe Minho is super self-centered and wants others to put themselves at risk to save him. I don’t know. And also: Thomas wouldn’t be the hero and there wouldn’t be a story and we wouldn’t have a dystopian world with a corrupt corporation that has to be destroyed if he didn’t go after his friend. I guess Minho is just a plot device.

The film had its share of action and explosions. It was 141 minutes long and felt every bit of it. The end dragged out for way longer than it needed to be, and then the very end left me shaking my head and asking a ton more questions. I won’t tell you what those were because I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s possible there’s another film and if not, the ending was a WTF? type of ending.

I’m not upset that I watched the movie, but I probably would have survived if I hadn’t seen it. I wasn’t dying to know what happened, and now that I know what happened, I’m bothered by it. Maybe I need to read the books. Maybe they’ll make everything make sense.

Who else has seen these movies? What did you think?

Projects In Progress

Is it just me, or is anyone else a little weirded out that it’s May? That means that school is almost out and summer is right around the corner. It means FREEDOM! I’m not sure I’m ready for the boys to be away from their schedule. I’m sure they are.

Despite my unreadiness, time will keep marching forward and summer is the perfect time to lose yourself in some great books. I’ve got some in the works, so I wanted to share what projects I have in progress and what you can expect from me in 2018.

Death to the Undead Audiobook

The second book in the Life After the Undead series has been recorded and should be approved any day now by ACX. If you haven’t listened to the first, you can find it on Audible or iTunes.

The Ifs Audiobook(s)

I am also getting The Ifs series turned into audiobooks. The first one should be available mid-summer. I will let you know when that’s available.

Undead Ifs
Speaking of The Ifs, the third book in the series, Undead Ifs, will be available in Kindle and paperback format soon. Again, if you haven’t read the other two books in the series (The Ifs and The Ifs Return), now is a good time to get caught up.

Edge of Humanity

I’m assuming that toward the end of the year Edge of Humanity will be available as an ebook and paperback. It’s the second in the Saving Humanity series—Humanity’s Hope is the first. Check it out if you haven’t had a chance!

What happens when humanity's hope rests on the shoulders of a teenager?

Caleb didn’t come out of the zombie uprising unscathed. He’s been scarred—both mentally and physically. The rest of humanity is trying to rebuild, to make the world normal again. Caleb is trying to return to a normal life also, but after all he’s seen, after the loss of his family and friends, the transition is difficult. The darkness that led him down a path of self-doubt and self-harm has never left his mind.

Things only become worse when he discovers he’s immune to whatever makes a zombie a zombie. Fighting zombies was predictable. He knew what to expect. Fighting humans is volatile. They are malicious and treacherous. They won’t stop to get what they want, and Caleb has to figure out exactly what that is.

Summer is the best time to get find yourself in new and exciting worlds and to meet some new imaginary friends. I hope to expand and enrich your reading experience with my latest releases and the first stories from the various series.

Movie Review Monday

The Greatest Showman (2017)

I remember seeing a few trailers for this movie, but it wasn’t something that stuck with me. My boys’ friend said he saw it in the theater and that it was good, but other than that, I didn’t think much about it. My oldest commented that he wanted to see it, so we decided to watch it on a Saturday.

Right before watching the movie, I saw something about it online or on a commercial (I can’t remember where), and it made me realize the film might be a musical. At that moment, I had high hopes. When we started the movie, I crossed my fingers and hoped for great music. My wish was answered.

I know I talk a lot about action movies and horror movies and zombies, but I’m a fan of all types of films, including musicals. My mom is a church organist, so music has always played a role throughout my life. I took piano lessons as a kid, and I was in band (I started out playing flute, then I switched to French horn). I like all genres of music, and my iPod is an eclectic mix of heavy metal, show tunes, country, 80’s hair bands, and pop music.

The music in The Greatest Showman is phenomenal, and the story line works too. The film explores how P.T. Barnum established his circus, although Hollywood takes a few liberties with the story. Not a big deal. It was still a fun film.

The film is apparently 105 minutes long, but it doesn’t feel like it. The plot and music pull you forward and keep you entertained. The relationships between the characters are fantastic and rarely feel awkward or forced—unless they are supposed to. The film examines race and disabilities/physical differences and how they are perceived socially, so the discomfort comes from social tensions and disapproval. The class system is also scrutinized.

I’m not sure the point of the film is to find an answer to the questions it raises, but it does an amazing job of raising them and presenting them in a nonthreatening way. It’s easy for us in our modern society to look at the film and say, “That happened a long time ago. We’ve evolved since then,” but then we have to question whether or not we have.

The film did an amazing job of balancing social issues with wonderful music that was touching and upbeat. Immediately after the film was over, I downloaded the soundtrack to my iPod, and the boys and I have been listening to it like it’s going out of style.

I absolutely recommend this film, especially if you enjoy musicals, but even if you don’t. This one might surprise you. The story feels applicable to today, and it’s a fun film with deep meaning.

Who else has seen this movie? What did you think?

This is my favorite song from the movie, although all of them are fantastic!

What Would You Do?

A few weekends ago, my spouse was watching a show on Netflix called The Fastest Car. I didn’t catch all of the episodes, but I caught a few.

In essence, the show is about owners of supercars (Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Vipers, etc.) racing against sleeper cars. Each driver gets an introduction and tells the world about their life and their car. As you can imagine, there are a lot of hard luck stories.

While watching the show, I really wanted to hate the supercar owners. I was convinced they were going to be pompous, condescending, and self-absorbed. And some of them were. But some of the sleeper car owners weren’t perfect examples of humanity either. Both groups were human. They had their good qualities and their flaws, and that made the show interesting to watch.

There was one episode in particular (Episode 4: The King of the World) that I really wanted to dislike the supercar owner. He was a lawyer with a Lamborghini Aventador that had been painted chrome. He was eccentric and had a pretty little thing that hung out of his car while they drove around.

But as I watched the episode, I had a realization.

Sure, the guy was loud and flashy and outspoken. He was eccentric and his car could blind people if the sun hit it in just the right way. But at the same time, he knew exactly what he wanted out of life and went after his dreams. He knew it would take hard work and dedication, and he didn’t shy away from the task. Once he became a success, he used his rewards (the money) to buy the things that made him happy. In addition to his car, he had a bunch of specially made outfits that fit his personality and style. His car and his wardrobe were his art.

While listening to the guy talk, I thought about what I would do if I had the opportunity and money that he had. There’s no doubt in my mind I would do the same things he did. I would find those things that made me happy and buy them—although it probably wouldn’t be a chromed-out car, but it’s possible I would have a special paint job on my vehicle. More than likely, I would spend my money to travel the country to go to horror conventions and conferences. I guarantee you I would have specially made clothes—shoes especially. I would be just as eccentric as he is.

If I didn’t have to worry about money but had it to spend, I would definitely live my life to the fullest. I would do the things that made me happy and be the rich weirdo people look at sideways with lips pursed. I think most of us would act like that if given the chance.

If you didn’t have to worry about money but had it to spend, what would you do with it? 

YA/NA Sci-Fi & Dystopian Giveaway

Movie Review Monday will return next week so that I can bring you a YA/NA Sci-Fi & Dystopian Giveaway.

Register for your chance to win here.

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3 Cheap Author Marketing Ideas You Can Implement Today

Today, I am happy to share a guest post from Reedsy author Martin Cavannagh about book marketing.  Enjoy!

When an author is putting together a marketing plan, a lot of consideration has to go into making sure that the money you’re spending gets some return on investment. Results like ‘exposure,’ ‘buzz,’ and even additional book sales can be tough to justify if they cost too much time, effort, and money to achieve.

There are also, of course, a couple of no-brainers: book marketing ideas that are cheap, straightforward, and always worth including in your launch plan. In this post, I’ll give you three of these easy-win tactics.

1. Optimize the first line of your Amazon book description

The description is the short piece of text at the top of your retail page on Amazon (or whatever platform you’re selling on). Along with your cover design and your choice of title, these words will make all the difference between someone buying your book and someone clicking ‘back’ on their browser.

As you might notice, only the first few lines of the description are displayed — before the user has to click ‘read more’ — so it’s important to get this right. Here are some tips:

Make the very first line bold. You can do this using HTML styles in the text editor.

Consider starting with a line from a review or an endorsement.

If the book or the author has won (or been shortlisted for) an award, consider including that (see above).

2. Include a link to join your mailing list at the end of your book

Take advantage of the fact that a lot of readers will be enjoying your work on an e-reader. Seeing as you’ve already set up a mailing list (if you haven’t, do that now), why not make sure you capture every reader who likes your book enough to finish it?

You can include a page at the end which encourages people to sign up for more news about upcoming books. Even better, give them a real reason to sign up by offering them some additional content. If you’re writing fiction, this added content might be a short story or a preview of your next books. Non-fiction authors will often get people to sign up to receive a spreadsheet or a pre-recorded webinar.

Engaged readers are like gold dust: when you find them, you should do everything in your power to never let them go.

3. Contact your local bookstore

Bookstores are always looking for anything that can get more people walking through the doors. It only takes a few minutes to draft an email to your local independent (or Big Box) bookseller to ask about hosting a reading. If they say ‘no,’ you’ve only wasted the 2 minutes you spent typing an email. If they say ‘yes,’ then you’re in!

Once you get to know the person who buys for that particular branch, it’s easier to convince them to stock your title. And who doesn’t like the idea of seeing their book on the shelves of their local bookstore?

So go ahead and try these ideas today. They’ll cost you nothing, so what do you have to lose?

Martin Cavannagh is a writer and a member of the team at Reedsy. The world’s largest marketplace of experienced publishing professionals, Reedsy has helped thousands of authors create great books work with the help of top editors, marketers, and even ghostwriters.

Movie Review Monday

The Titan (2018)

We found this movie while perusing Netflix. I love that Netflix is paying for and distributing original films/programs on their service. What they’re doing for film is what Amazon did for self-published authors: it gives the world more films and movies and takes chances on new ideas.

Of course, when you take a chance on a new idea, there’s the risk that it won’t pan out. I wouldn’t say this film was completely horrible, but it was problematic. It classified itself as science fiction, which is a good general category to put it in.

On the surface, the idea of the story is intriguing. Humans have destroyed the planet and must now head into space and colonize other planets or moons—in the case of the film, the goal is to head to Titan, a moon of Saturn. However, since the environment there isn’t conducive to human life, science has to evolve humans so that they can live there.

Okay, for the most part, I was still on board for this notion. Humans evolved to live on Earth, so I was willing to accept science could force evolution to live on another planet. As the movie progressed, however, my doubts crept in.

If the subjects are being altered so that they can live and thrive on Titan, how is it that they are still able to function on Earth? The two places are completely different environments. Maybe the point was supposed to be that the Titans were supposed to be able to live in any environment? I must have missed that part in the story line.

Then, it became problematic that 3/4 of the test subjects didn’t survive the adaptation. That was expected and explained at the beginning of the film, but how is that supposed to help the rest of humanity? If the goal of the experiments were to make it so humans can live on Titan, but only a few out of the many will survive, doesn’t that kind of doom humanity? PLUS, if we have to change to live on Titan and become Titans, are we still humans?

I’m not exactly sure if that was the purpose of the film and actually asked those questions. I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of the film was. There was a lot going on, including the science-is-bad thing but it’s not totally bad and humans are bad because we destroyed the planet but we’re not totally bad because we can fix it and there’s hope we can live on another world but only a slight hope because not everyone will be able to evolve.

The film was also an incredibly slow burn with no tension. Since I wasn’t exactly sure what the point of the film was, it was hard to feel anything for the characters or figure out what their motives were. Again, I think the idea of the film was much better than the execution.

The movie was only 1 hour and 37 minutes long, but it felt every bit of it. It’s not a film I would watch again or necessarily recommend to others—unless I was hoping they could explain to me what was going on.

Has anyone else seen this movie? What are your thoughts?

Reasons to “Read” an Audiobook

Audiobooks have been around for a long time, since 1932, to be exact. They were originally developed for the blind, but have evolved and progressed throughout the years.

For a long time, the only way you could enjoy an audiobook was by purchasing a tape (I sometimes still call them books on tape), then technology evolved so you could get them on CD, and now you can download them on a variety of different electronic devices.

It’s easy to access audiobooks, assuming that the book you want has been converted into this format. However, with audiobooks being the fastest growing division of digital publishing, the chances of getting new releases in this format are pretty good.

If you’ve never “read” an audiobook before, I suggest you try it at least once, and I’ve listed some reasons why.

1. You Can Multitask

Sitting down to read is supposed to be a relaxing experience. It takes us out of our mundane lives and lets us experience countless other lives and new places. I love curling up with a book or my ereader and being immersed in another world.

However, I don’t always have time to dedicate to sitting down to read a book. I work a full-time job and take care of my family. I have a house to clean and laundry to fold. I’m running kids from one practice/event to another. At some point, I need to sleep. But that doesn’t mean I can’t read.

One of the amazing things about audiobooks is that you can “read” and do other tasks. I’ve listened to stories while at work, driving in the car, and cleaning my house. I love that I can be engaged in a story but also get other tasks accomplished. And if I want to sit down and just listen, I can do that too.

So, if you have a busy schedule with little to no time to sit and read but you crave time to “read,” download an audiobook and listen while you do other things.

2. Audiobooks Aren’t Cheating

Apparently, there’s an idea floating around that listening to an audiobook is cheating. I’m not exactly sure where this idea came from (book purists maybe who believe that reading words on the page is the only way to read?) or why, but it exists. Because this notion exists, it has been studied by scientists, and it turns out that our brains process the information the same whether we read a book or listen to a book.

So, if you’ve put off listening to audiobooks because you think it cheapens the reading experience or because you aren’t getting the same brain activity from it, you don’t have to anymore. Feel free to listen to whatever you want and enjoy it.

3. Everyone Can Enjoy an Audiobook

As the mother of two children, I know how much my kids enjoy being read to. They are working on improving their reading accuracy and fluency, which means that reading can sometimes be a chore and exhausting. I know that one day they’ll get over this issue, but until then, they still want to hear stories, and audiobooks help them accomplish that task. It’s also a great way for kids who can’t read yet to enjoy stories.

Think back to when you were a child and someone read to you. Didn’t you enjoy the hell out of it? Wasn’t there something magical about listening to the reader change their voice for the characters or a particular scene? Well, the same thing happens when you listen to an audiobook. You get to enjoy the story on another level. The narrator brings the words to life in ways you can’t imagine. It’s amazing!

4. Audiobook Availability Keeps Increasing

As demand continues to grow for audiobooks, more and more become available for readers’ listening pleasure. As the amount of books available increases, prices become more reasonable—which can be a deterrent to purchasing audiobooks. Sometimes, they are ridiculously expensive. I won’t fault you for not buying audiobooks based on price, but as they become more reasonable, they are worth looking into. 

There are numerous reasons to give audiobooks a chance, but the biggest is to enjoy a story. I want to help you experience the magic of audiobooks by offering a chance to win a code to download my audiobook Life After the Undead for free. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what your preferred weapon would be for the zombie apocalypse. 

If any of you are totally for or against audiobooks, I would love to hear why. Leave me a comment with your thoughts!