Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Books I've Loved: History is All You Left Me

This book offers one of the most realistic portrayals of grief I've ever read.  Everything about it felt real and raw and I related to it completely.

Griffin is mourning his first boyfriend who drowned after moving to California.  The book traces their relationship in the past, from the moment they realize they are in love and through the painful, but inevitable break-up when Theo leaves for college.

In a parallel narrative, the book explores Griffin's attempts to deal with his grief and the paralyzing guilt he feels every time he takes a step forward, a step away from the past he shared with Theo.

Theo's presence is felt in every page.  Griffin addresses him as if he is still there even if he can't see him.  He imagines Theo is watching his every move, something that weighs heavily on him when he starts finding comfort in Jackson, Theo's West Coast boyfriend.

Griffin struggles with OCD, and as his emotional state becomes more fragile, his compulsions start taking over and he pushes people away, even those who love him and may be able to help him.

This isn't always an easy book to read.  Griffin's pain and suffering is so vividly evoked, anyone who has felt themselves spiraling out of control will recognize the headspace he's in and know how vulnerable he is.  But it's this that makes the book so special.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekly Goals 24-4-17

I already know this week is not going to be a productive week as far as writing goes, so my goals are very small.

Wednesday is the day the tender closes on our house, so until I know the outcome of that, I'm not going to be able to focus much on anything.  If the house sells, then I'll be able to start breathing again and thinking about other things I need to do.

If it doesn't….  Well, I actually don't know what I'll do.

So for this week I'm just going to try and chip away at those 1000 words I need to cut out of my MS.  And if I get the material back from my ghostwriting partner, I'll do a little more polishing up on those too.

But basically, I'm just trying to keep my head straight and not give in to the panic that keeps creeping up on me whenever I think about not selling the house.

What are your goals this week?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 21-4-17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend again!  And Tuesday is a public holiday, so it's almost another long weekend.

It hasn't been as productive a week as I hoped, partly because I'm anxious as heck about the house selling.  Interest has not been nearly as high as I was led to believe it would be in this market and now I'm starting to freak out that it won't sell and I'll have to sell the new house before we even move in!  My realtor assures me that won't happen, but I'm still anxious.

But on the plus side, I have almost finished editing the project I had hoped to get finished about three weeks ago.  I've managed to cut about 3K, but still need to cut about 1K more to get it to the length the publisher I want to send it to is looking for.  I'm not cut out for 70K novels!  Mine all end up hovering around the 90K mark, even when I try to write as lean as I can and go back to cut out all my crutch and filter words.

I'm waiting for my ghostwriting partner to get back to me so we can move on to the next step with that project.  But it's nice to have had a week away from it and to focus on my own stories for a bit.

The kids are on vacation from school and I had two days off to spend with them this week as well as the long weekend.  We didn't get up to too much except multiple library visits,  but we did see the Lego Batman Movie

What are you celebrating this week?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Author Interview: Dianna Gunn

My friend Dianna Gunn has a new fantasy novella out this week, and she popped by Fiction and Film to have a little chat with me about the book and her writing.  But before we get into the interview, checkout the gorgeous cover!

Welcome, Dianna.  So nice to see you here at Fiction and Film.  I'll just ask you the questions I ask any visitors to the blog...

If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be?

Do I get to pick the 24 hours? I'm going to assume the answer is no and choose Tessa, the love interest/roommate in Good Bye, because she has the most peaceful life overall. That said, if I get to pick the 24 hours, I would much rather be Rolf, a dragon in a completely different fantasy novel I'm currently rewriting. Because duh, dragon.

Why? And what would you do that day?

As Tessa my day would be all about climbing the mountain, enjoying the sunrise and the sunset and the clean mountain air. As Rolf, well, obviously I want to fly. Who wouldn't?

In what way is your story unique compared to other books in this genre?

The main character falls in love with a woman AND they actually get to be happy together. No tragic LGBTQ romance here!

Also, I tried really hard to take common things in fantasy—things like pantheistic religion and magic—and use them to make a society that is much more forward thinking than most fantasy cultures, who seem to be stuck in or around the dark ages.

What part of the story was the most fun to write? The most challenging?

Keeper of the Dawn has been with me for a long time and has gone through dozens of drafts, so it's hard to decide what scene was most fun the first time I wrote it. There is a scene where Tessa takes Lai(the main character of Keeper of the Dawn) to an art vault. Every Sunrise Guardian who ever lived has a portrait in that vault, and Tessa tells Lai stories about them. I love this scene because it says so much about the world and the culture, but also because it's the first time I really hint at romance between Tessa and Lai.

As for the most challenging scene to write, I definitely struggled most with the ending, but I can't really say why without spoilers. So, suffice to say, the ending is the part that's changed most significantly since the first time I wrote this story.

Which of your characters is most like you?

Ohhh another tough question. In Good Bye I'd have to go with Lai, the main character. She's extremely devoted to her beliefs, even when she runs away from home, and even when she doesn't become a priestess she's still determined to serve her gods. She is as dedicated to those gods as I am to writing.

That said, I'm nowhere near as good in a fight.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?

The ability to always know whether or not a person is telling the truth. I would use it mostly as a tool for understanding people and their motivations, but hey, it sounds like a great way to get some blackmail too…

If you could reenact a scene from any book (not necessarily your own), what would it be? Who would you choose for your scene partner(s)?

Oh wow. This might be the toughest question anyone's ever asked me. I'm going to cop out by saying that I was once asked to drunkenly reenact the Iocaine powder scene from The Princess Bride, and it was hilarious. Also, the book and the movie are about as close to identical as any book and movie can possibly be, probably because the same guy wrote both of them.

Tell us something we’d be surprised to learn about you.

I went to an alternative high school (that's not the surprising bit) where I learned how to make and sell skateboards (surprise!). And I really miss making skateboards.

What other interests do you have outside of writing?

I love art of all kinds, especially performance art. I've done some improv in the past couple of years and hope to do a lot more this year.

Do you have a nervous habit when writing? A guilty pleasure when writing?

My big thing is biting my lips, but that's not only when I'm writing—it's a nervous tick I can't seem to get away from no matter how hard I try. It's endlessly frustrating because my lips are always sore.

As for a guilty pleasure, frankly I don't believe in guilt, so no. If anything, I probably should be guilty about the amount of pop I drink, but I'm not.


Sometimes failure is just the beginning

All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.

From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace.

Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai's own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.

Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.

Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.

Dianna Gunn is a freelance author by day and a fantasy author by night. Her debut YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is out now through the Book Smugglers Press. She also blogs about life, books and creativity at http://www.thedabbler.ca.


Amazon Ebook

Amazon Paperback





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Books I've Loved: This Song Will Save Your Life

I loved this one. It's  about finding your niche in the world, your tribe. And for me, that's one of the most powerful moments in anyone's life.  Especially when you've never had a niche before.

Elise is a deliciously awkward protagonist.  Her parents are divorced and she spends her weeks shuttling between them, spending a few nights with her record-store owning dad, then a few with her mother and her new family.  She has no real friends and at the beginning of the book, has spent an entire summer studying every resource she can to make herself fit in when she goes back to school.

It doesn't work.  You can't learn how to fit in or be popular from reading teen magazines, and buying a new wardrobe doesn't change who you are on the inside.

Still burning from this failure, Elise starts walking the streets at night when she can't sleep.  She stumbles on an underground warehouse party and meets some girls who invite her to join them.  Through them, she meets Char, the DJ who eventually lets her have a go at spinning the discs.

As soon as she has control of the music, Elise knows she's found her place in the world.  With the same focus and determination she threw into her summer makeover, she teaches herself to DJ (with a little help from Char) and soon has the dance floor in the palm of her hand.

But can she make it to the top without hurting the people she now considers her friends?  Her family?

I loved this book and read the whole thing in a single afternoon.  It's what YA books are there for, to show awkward kids that no matter how awkward you feel, there is a niche for you somewhere.  You just have to find it.  And it doesn't hurt that the music Elise loves and plays is music I love too...

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice,
This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weekly Goals 17-4-17

I pretty much finished the book proposal for my ghostwriting project, and will send that off to the subject today.  So it's back to those final little bits of copywriting on my other book.

I have had a relaxing long weekend, and managed to catch up on some reading, which is good.  Not sure how I've managed to get so far behind on that…

Our second open home yesterday went well, although much smaller than the first one.  Fingers crossed we get some action happening this week.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things 14/4/17

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

So what am I celebrating this week?


Yes, it's a four-day weekend because of Easter, and on top of that, I have an extra two days off to hang with the kids because they are on vacation for two weeks.  It's been a crazy-busy week at work, so I am looking forward to having a little time off to relax and re-charge.

Although of course we still have open-homes and viewings to deal with, so I can't relax TOO much…

But I'm kind of hoping we might at least get through today without anyone wanting to look through the house.  There's a big storm supposed to be tearing the country apart, so fingers crossed everyone is at home, hunkered down to keep dry.  It doesn't look too bad yet, but who knows what will happen later on.

I made some good progress on the ghostwriting proposal this week and will send the next sections off to the subject this weekend.  Hopefully we'll get together in the next few weeks to get some real interviews happening and I can start writing the first sample chapters.

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone!

What are you celebrating this week?