Review of “Girl’s Weekend” by Cara Sue Achterberg

The book Girl’s Weekend, by Cara Sue Achterberg was recently recommended to me through an online book marketing group. It is an honest review in exchange for a free copy. This review also appears on GoodReads and Amazon

This book is a delight!

Three lifelong friends, Meg, Dani, and Charlotte, go away for beach weekend to clear their minds and take a break from the hustle and bustle of being moms and wives. Each of them seeks to find that missing piece of themselves. This book is a wonderful example of female-driven story telling. I could practically hear the sounds of the waves as I read the words.

None of them are fully unhappy in their lives necessarily, perhaps just a little bit unsettled, with the exception of Meg. She had gone through the worst experience of any parent when losing her toddler son two years prior. She has become consumed by her grief but is afraid to acknowledge it. In her attempt to block out the pain she has perhaps grown numb, to her life, to her marriage and most of all to herself. Dani is an artist who has lost her muse. Desperate to reconnect with her creative side she pals up with a local art dealer along the beach hoping to rekindle the passion she once felt. Charlotte feels as if her marriage has gone cold and seeks to find a way to invigorate her restless soul in the worst way possible.

Each of the characters are complex and nuanced. There were times when I disagreed heartily with their actions, just as I would with real life friends. Walking along the journey with each of these women as I read this book was like standing alongside them. Wine, laughter, headaches, heartaches. Things we all can relate to.

Not everything in this book is packaged with a perfect bow and a neat resolution, but that’s how life works sometimes. Achterberg captures with finesse the pressures placed upon women in the modern world. The way the characters express themselves reminds me of the fragility of relationships and the strength of the bonds of friendship. I recommend this book to anyone as a great summer read, but be ready for the twists and turns which only come when traversing the trails of the human heart.

An Insider Look….

The following post originally published here on May 19 on the blog of fantasy and horror author A.M. Rycroft. Rycroft’s book The Taming is available for pre-order on Kindle and Amazon.
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An Insider Look at the Ash Rising Saga with R.G. Westerman

CONTRIBUTED BY R.G. WESTERMAN

First I want to say that I am super excited to be able to guest post once more with A.M. It is an honor. I want to share a little bit about my current project, the Ash Rising Saga (find it on Amazon). This is a serial so it is ongoing for five episodes. Readers should be aware of that going in. I like to think of it as something along the lines of those old radio serials which always ended with some drastic cliffhanger, ensuring that everyone would tune in the following week, like theShadow or the Batman TV series.

Personally, I think of self-publishing as sort of the garage band of the publishing world. There are so many examples of writers who developed and honed their online presence to such an extent that the publishing houses have taken notice. People don’t realize that this is how E.L. James was able to publish the Fifty Shades series. She already had thousands of readers before she was ever offered a publishing contract. Amanda Hawking is another author who has done this. Publishing online opens that door and completely changes the market and expectations. It removes the gatekeeper system and allows the readers to decide. I think that is pretty exciting!

I had the idea for Ash after watching a whole lot of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. I have always had this thing about the zombie apocalypse as a genre device. I was thinking about it one day and realized a couple of things. One, that most of the stories involve characters who experience the onset of the zombie apocalypse at the beginning. I wanted to see a world from the eyes of someone who had grown up in this reality. I guess my elevator pitch would be “Teenage girl that grew up in the zombie apocalypse”.

But it is also more than that. This is a very character driven series, and I really hope readers can get to know Ash in a way that keeps bringing them back. I think if she lived in this world she would be very active, maybe star of her sports team or head cheerleader. But she has this dark side too. She has to be very adaptable living in the world that she does. She has no memory of anything before the onset of the apocalypse, but she also has some traits that she does not understand. Not only is she trying to survive but she is trying to figure out her past as well.

I started writing for fun when I was in the fourth grade, I think. The first thing I ever wrote was the beginning of a retelling of Cinderella. I fancied it the Next Great American Novel, as one does with anything in the fourth grade. My creative past is in Theatre which is what explains my character driven method, I suppose. There are a ton of back-burner projects that I would love to just magically produce into reality, but that might be every other writer too, right?

I am also starting a Patreon project. When I first started being more serious about writing I attended a bi-weekly group. Eventually I got to where I was producing one completely finished short story each month. I would love to get back to that rate of production. Ironically I can’t devote too much to the Patreon project because I’m still freelancing. I have big dreams though.

Pre-sales for Ash are available now, and the book goes live on June 7th. Pre-sales for the following episode will be available at that time, along with a cover reveal for the second book. I can’t wait!

I can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The absolute best way to follow along is to sign up for my newsletter. I send this out bi-weekly and it includes easy links, upcoming release dates, and more fun things. Come find me!


ABOUT R.G. WESTERMAN

Author R.G. Westerman can be found on Twitter (@rgwesterman), Facebook, and Instagram (@rgw0628). To get updates on what is new with her, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter athttp://rgw0628.wix.com/author. You can follow her Patreon campaign athttps://www.patreon.com/rgwesterman?ty=h.

To pre-order Ash Rising on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ash-Book-One-Rising-Saga-ebook/dp/B01F4JXACG.

My Interview with Veronica Rhine

The following post was originally published on May 5th, here at the blog of acclaimed fantasy and horror author A.M. Rycroft. Rycroft’s latest book “The Taming” is now available for pre-order on Kindle, with physical sales coming soon. The giveaway promotion for Veronica Rhine is no longer active, but follow her on Twitter for more promotions, @writerveronica. 

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An Interview With Paranormal Romance Author Veronica Rhine

Veronica Rhine is a prolific author of romance and paranormal romance titles. The Dream Walker Series is now available on Kindle and Amazon.

R.G. Westerman: Who is Veronica Rhine?

Veronica Rhine: I’ve been called complicated, but I don’t think that is necessarily true. I am a human animal trying to survive, just like everyone else. That is what I write about. Survival. I think that means different things to different people.

R.G: What does it mean to you?

V.: It means having all your needs met. One of my favorite devices to use in writing is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Once the basic needs are met, food, shelter, clothing, all of a sudden a whole new layer of needs appears. Comfort, happiness, enlightenment. I am sitting here craving a plate of bacon, because let’s face it. I’m always craving a plate of bacon, and I realize that if I were to get that bacon the next thing I would be aware of is the need to… I don’t know, find the meaning of life. It is as if we are never truly satisfied.

R.G: Tell us a little bit about your current series?

V.: It is good. I am allowed to say that about my own work, right? But it is that measure of satisfaction, I guess, that drives my characters. They all have the same desire to find the thing that makes them feel complete, if even for a moment. For Athena it is about escaping her dismal reality. The dreams she has makes her realize just how unhappy she is in her waking life.

R.G: Where did you get the idea for this series?

V.: From my mind of course! No really, I get asked that a lot. I am never sure how to answer that. I guess you could say I had a dream and when I woke up I asked the question.

R.G: What question is that?

V.: The same question all writers ask themselves when they begin a story. “What if…?”

R.G: Ah, yes. I know that question. So back to the Dream Walker series. Can you describe it in a nutshell?

V.: The main character is Athena Maze and she keeps having these dreams. This gorgeous man keeps visiting her and hot and steamy hijinks ensue. Of course this may or may not be real, and she may or may not be traveling between realms. It is loosely, (very loosely) based on Sleeping Beauty. I guess you could say “inspired by” more than based on.

R.G: Is there anything else in the works? What do readers have to look forward to?

V.: Funny you should ask. I’m toying with a Cinderella trilogy. Of course it would be just about as much like the fairy tale as this one is like Sleeping Beauty. I’m still knocking the idea around. I have a lot on my plate right now. But one thing I don’t have on my plate right now is bacon! I need to go and find some.

V.: I almost forgot to mention. The first book of the trilogy, Athena, is available for a free download on Amazon until May 5th (http://www.amazon.com/Athena-Book-Dream-Walker-Walkers-ebook/dp/B01EP4UP8I/). Everyone should flock to the site, literally right now and download a copy. It’s brilliant. You become a better human being by reading it.

R.G.: Duly noted. I’m going to get my copy right now.

Follow author Veronica Rhine on Twitter @writerveronica.

 

 

 

BANNED!!!

Well, this is a first…

A couple of days ago, I am scrolling through my Facebook feed, as I do and I come across a post, responding to the bathroom debate. This post strikes a chord with me and so I repost it. I click through to the original post, and I find that it is in the early stages of going viral. I believe it was stated that it had been shared 15,000 times in the first 24 hours. That’s viral, y’all.

Then, some time later, I return to facebook to find that I have been completely logged out. When I go through the steps to log back in, a page sized warning appears, containing the very post which I already know has gone viral. I have already posted it twice as the original poster has said that hers had been removed several times as well. Okay, fine. I log back in. Now I don’t consider myself TOO MUCH of an online activist. I have at most dabbled in the whole SJW scene, but this post was good. Very good. Like Killer Martinis good, and obviously, I am not the only one to think so.

I reposted it. Last night I opened my phone for one quick check. Once again I have been completely logged out. Once I go through all the steps to log back in I receive a page sized warning that I have been BANNED from Facebook for 24 hours, and the offending post is named as the reason. Much eye-rolling ensued. This is a description of one person’s perception of her own experience. Nothing more.

So why then, did it continue to be removed? One of the warnings I received stated that it contained “nudity or descriptions of nudity”. Unlike, for example, the group I found rather easily who’s description contains a well-known slur and who’s icon depicts a celebration of rape? Or another page which contains memes such as one describing the “perfect date” followed by a picture of a chloroform bottle, a black van, and a forest. Both pages show followers in the thousands. These are just two examples.

Checking out facebook’s  Community Standards pinpoints objections towards nudity and hate speech as I was informed in my wrist slap ban notice. Apparently rape threats do not constitute hate speech? I cannot fathom what within this post would constitute nudity or hate speech, especially compared to what is already so easily found on the social media platform.

My intention is to re-post the offending letter here, but I do wish to gain permission from the original author for doing so. As I have been banned from facebook for the time being, I cannot contact anyone through the platform. But a quick Bing search of the name Kasey Rose-Hodge should give you a long list of the various outlets which have picked up the story. Why would this be banned so vehemently and consistently by a platform which encourages “People [to] use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions, and practices.” What do you think?

EDIT: The number of shares has been updated to 15,000 in the first 24 hours. The post originally said 4500.

 

Scully and Moulder: Life Revisited

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.
-Ecclesiastes 1:9

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Before there was Supernatural, True Blood, Ghost Hunters, Monster Quest, Walking Dead, Being Human, iZombie, Fringe, Grimm or any number of television delicacies produced for viewers consumption, there was the show that started it all. The original supernatural cop show in which good looking people fought monsters, picked apart and gathered evidence on a variety of cases, largely delving into the unexplained. All the while each of them wrestling with their own set of personal demons, regarding their levels of skepticism and belief. FBI Agents Fox Moulder and Doctor Dana Scully made it cool to be a weirdo in the original X-Files, which first aired in 1993. Those of us who had grown up on Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf and Ghostbusters realised that all that is strange and unusual had finally reached Prime Time.

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Words cannot fully express the influence this show had on my media consumption. I was one of the original X-philes, watching every Sunday with religious fervor. My college dorm room was lined with X-files pin-ups, with both Duchovny and Anderson equal rivals for wall space. I wanted to BE them, more so than I admired them. One running joke in my Improv class whenever we played “Props” was if someone had run out of ideas, inevitably one of us would throw the prop into the air, regardless of what it was, point to it and say “Look Scully! A UFO!” I was hooked. I had it bad.

The will-they-or-won’t-they relationship shared by the two main characters only added to the appeal. Moulder, having suffered the childhood trauma of what he believed to be the alien abduction of his younger sister, carries with him all the angst and fervor of one with something to prove. Enter Dana Scully, the sceptic put in place by the FBI to disprove her partner’s work. Like two sides to a coin, they worked together, him bringing the emotion and passion while she offered a level-headed response. Though one of the most compelling through lines was that while Agent Scully liked to scoff at the idea of aliens and monsters, she often showed a more malleable side when it came to the miraculous. Her Catholic faith made appearances throughout the show and when it did the script became flipped. She was the one trying to convince the Agnostic Moulder of the possibility of miracles. I always enjoyed this dynamic as it showcased the depths of each of their characters. But perhaps most of all was the mutual respect the characters showed for each other. Sure there were those who hung on for a budding romance, but all of that was overshadowed by the way they acted like equals, like peers. Find me another show which successfully pulls this off.

We are now two episodes into the reboot of the X-files. I have read reviews which state that the first two are slow, that the season does not gain footing until the third episode. I do not know what reviewers thought the X-Files were. Where they saw slow, I saw growing tension and huge moments of awesome. The X-Files were never about the Monsters and Conspiracies for me. Instead, these elements simply gave a colorful backdrop to the shifting sands of Moulder and Scully’s relationship. This is the kind of program which is written in such a way that when things go quiet it is time to sit up and take notice. I will say that so far the show is perfection. It is not a rehash of the same dynamics. Instead, we as the viewers get to see the evolution of each of their personalities, stepping back into their lives like reconnecting with an old friend. Time has passed for Moulder and Scully, as it has for us viewers. The world has changed. We have changed. Moulder now has the life of what seems to be a paranoid recluse still plugging away at breaking through to find the truth. Scully works as a surgeon at a Catholic hospital, helping children born with deformities. The performances remained flawless. With a glance they could communicate every nuance, instantly bringing the audience up to speed to the state of their relationship.

Everything we love about the show is present, the snarky banter, the dubious evidence, the hints of a larger overarching conspiracy. Moving forward in time, gives us a wiser more subdued Scully and a more wild-eyed Moulder, glancing over his shoulder. He is perhaps out-paranoided by guest star Joel McHale, who plays an online host to conspiracy theorists. His presence is an obvious reach to bring in younger viewers to the show, albeit perhaps a successful one. I cannot help but want Agent Moulder to look him over and say something like “Paranoid? Ha! I could teach you a thing or two,” while Scully gives them both the silent sardonic green-eyed stare.

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I look forward to the rest of the mini-series though I would easily watch these two if they ran a Paranormal Cozy mystery series out of their nursing home. For the duration of the remaining episodes, I shall be floating on a triangle shaped cloud that I once more live in a world in which the X-Files is on television.

The truth IS out there, yall.

The One About David Bowie

I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.

Ah, yesterday the King of the Misfits’ returned to the stars.

Today I have regained the ability to form sentences to some degree. Grief sometimes makes no sense. We were not friends. My daily routine is not affected in any way by the loss of this icon. My husband is still here. My children are still here. I am in relative health. So it would make sense that my seven-year-old son should ask me why I am crying.

“There is nothing upsetting happening right now…” he claims with some puzzlement.

You are right. It’s just a reminder. That is all.

A reminder that sometimes a person can be touched by a moment, something that can change a person, get in deep and under the skin, becoming part of who you are from that day forward. Art in many forms can transfer that meaning between people who have never met, and who never will. It is for such a moment that I want to remember you by, Mr. Jones.

I remember sitting in my high school bedroom, listening to the borrowed vinyl “Space Oddity” being mesmerized by the sadness of the lyrics as if he were speaking directly to me. Just coming out of the super saccharine sugary lyrics of 80’s pop radio, and not yet cresting the cultural horizon into the 90’s grunge scene, I began to realize that there is sadness, there is heartache, there is that strange weakness within us to sometimes want to take that step from the safety of one’s tin can, to float in a most peculiar way. And that sometimes feeling that way was okay…  

But that is not the moment.

There are people in the world who seem to be born to performance, who hold within them a spark, a light which draws to them the eyes of every person in the room. Call it charisma, charm, beauty, inner light. Whatever it was you had it. Through the course of your career you embodied the ageless, the magical, as you did playing the iconic Goblin King in the movie Labyrinth.

For anyone living under a rock since 1986, “Labyrinth” is a magical tale of a young girl who accidentally wishes away her baby brother to the realm of the Goblin King. He appears and commands her that she must solve the imposing maze to save her brother, or the baby will become one of his goblins forever.

But the Evil King was no monster. Your performance of Jareth embodied everything that could tempt a young girl into turning away from her task at hand. You were beautiful, brimming with power, magic, glamour, pretty boubles, sparkling enchantments, the promise of castles, dresses, eternal devotion. And then…

And then…

You became defeated by an ordinary girl.

sara

This was a benchmark moment for all of us ordinary girls watching, when Sara uttered those now famous words, “You have no power over me!”

It made a difference that you were so dynamic, so magical, so charismatic, so powerful, so strong…

But Sara was stronger. And becouse of that moment we all became stronger. And the defeat in your eyes as she spoke those words, breaking the spell. We knew it was true.

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If Jareth had been played by any other actor it just would not have worked. Anyone else would have come across as just a man wearing eyeliner and a wig, but you, sir. You stepped into it, as you did with every character making it fully realized. You brought with it every nuance and beat, the bricks which build a performance. You never hesitated.

You became the Goblin King. Larger than life.

And for that I thank you… Rest well, Starman. Until we meet again.

david with cig

 

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