Monday, April 30, 2012

Fame or fortune? Which would you prefer? By Terri Giuliano Long

Fame or fortune? Which would you prefer?
By the characters of In Leah’s Wake
Will Tyler

Fortune, no question about it. In high school and college, I played football.  When I was at Penn State, Beaver Stadium held 85,000 fans. You walk on the field, the noise is deafening. It feels like a million fans cheering for you, calling your name; you feel like you can do anything. You’re 1000 feet tall. Junior year, I dropped out of college and moved to California, with the half-baked idea I could make it as a folk singer. I’m not going to lie – I loved being the center of attention.  When you’re on fire, you’re invincible.
Then I met Zoe, we married and had kids. Being a father changes you. You realize it’s not all about you anymore. Your children depend on you. It’s up to you to be sure they’re cared for, they have a good life. Between my wife and me, we make enough to live in a good town. That’s important. Kids learn soon enough about all the crap that goes down in the outside world. They don’t need to witness it in their backyard. Fame just drags kids through the mud. With fortune you’ve got a chance to protect them.
Zoe Tyler

I’ve never had a good head for money. Every other therapist in my office requires a twenty-four-hour notice of cancellation; if a patient fails to show, they charge for the hour. I’ve posted a cancellation policy in my office, but I rarely enforce it. Most of the families I work with live barely above sustenance level. I don’t have the heart to charge for missed appointments. It’s a constant source of tension between Will and me, especially with money so tight.
I barely break even on my workshops, “Success Skills for Women on the Move” – I make a lot more through my practice – but I love the work. If I could get the workshops to turn a profit, I’d quit my day job at the counseling center. Don’t get me wrong: I love the kids. The parents wear me down. They come not for advice but validation, letters attributing their child’s misbehavior to brilliance, drugs to give their child an edge. To them, I’m merely a service provider. With the workshops, I help women make important changes in their lives. At the end of the day, their eyes shine with new confidence. The women look up to me. After the workshops, they send cards and letters, describing the changes they’ve made. I feel like I’m accomplishing something, helping the women, doing something useful and important. That makes me feel good.
Leah Tyler
For real? Fame! We’re thinking about starting a rock band, Todd and me. He’s going to teach me to play the guitar. We’ll be like a boyfriend-girlfriend or a husband-wife team, you know, like Jack and Meg White or John and Christine McVie. Or, I don’t know, maybe I’ll go solo and he’ll just manage me. Did you know Ani DiFranco moved to New York—alone—when she was only my age? She’s this huge success, which just totally proves I could be successful too. I’ve been thinking I should try out for American Idol or The Voice. I mean, look at Jennifer Hudson, right? She was nobody before Idol. OMG, Adam Levine is SOOOO hot!! It would be awesome if picked me. I can totally see myself rocking it on the stage. That would be the coolest thing ever.
When you’re famous you can do whatever you want. You can mess up and totally get away with it. I’m not saying I want to mess up. That’s just weird to like plan to mess up. I’m just saying you can. People might criticize but they still look up to you. Fame makes you somebody.

Fame or fortune? Honestly? Neither. I just want to be a regular person. Obviously, we have to have money to buy the things we need. But we really don’t need all that much, you know? We just need enough to get by. I push myself to accomplish things – like entering the science fair, for example – because I like the challenge. It’s cool to see how far I can go, what I can achieve.
Fame is weird. It’s like the whole world takes part in building you up, making you famous; as soon as you get there, they want to tear you down. Look what they did to Britney Spears! I’m not famous or anything, but I skipped a grade in school, so people know who I am. I hate that, my reputation preceding me. I’d rather people just liked me – or didn’t like me – for me.  My sister’s soccer success made her famous around town; because they’re jealous, people always judge her. They want to see her fail. If she wasn’t a soccer star, they wouldn’t be so quick to jump in and talk trash about her.  Fame stinks. I don’t know why anybody would want it.
Jerry Johnson
A little of both, I guess. I don’t need to be Bill Gates – guys who make that kind of dough give up a lot, always traveling, away from their family. I wouldn’t mind having a little more, though. Me and Maura live in the sticks. It’s a pretty street, but the location’s as inconvenient as hell. We don’t even get cable. We wanted to stay in town and this was house we could afford. If we had the money, we could live in a development closer to town, in one of the neighborhoods with young mothers with kids. Maura would be a lot happier, I think, less isolated.
Like I say, I wouldn’t want to be Bill Gates – anybody famous, for that matter. Being known in town is a different story. When people recognize and respect you, they’re more likely to trust you. With a platform, you can do more; you can make a real difference in your community.
Todd Corbett

Fame? Fortune? Who cares?? I went on the road for a couple of years with a rock band. Let me tell you, it’s tough to make it today. Talent don’t mean squat. Record companies would rather invest a boatload of cash in some lame American Idol than risk a dime on an unproven band. In the sixties, my old man worked for an indie label in Boston. Back then, it was different. People cared about the music. Today it’s all about the denari. What they think they make off of you.
Fame, fortune—that’s what the consumerist pigs want you to want. You can spend your whole life working to accumulate things. And for what? So you can spend every second looking over your shoulder, pretending to be something you’re not? Not me, man. For me, it’s gotta be real.
About the Authors
Will Tyler sells projects for North American Construction, the largest commercial contractor on the East Coast. Project oversight requires frequent travel throughout the U.S. He lives in Cortland, Massachusetts, with his wife, Zoe, and their adolescent daughters, Justine and Leah.
Zoe Tyler holds a master’s degree in social work and is employed by Cortland Child Services. She is founder and executive director of “Success Skills for Women on the Move,” a motivational workshop for women seeking life changes. She lives in Cortland, Massachusetts, with her husband, Will, and teenage daughters, Justine, 12, and Leah, 16.

Leah Tyler was an All-Star soccer player, the MVP of her high school team, and a Boston Globe All-Scholastic Player of the Year. She’s 16 years old and lives in Cortland, Massachusetts, with her parents and younger sister, Justine.

Justine Tyler, 12, is an eighth grader at Cortland Middle School. A straight-A student, she has won town-wide awards in science and math. She’s currently working on a project on planetary movement for her school’s science fair.  She loves karate, vampire slaying, chocolate chip cookies and Dog, her yellow Labrador Retriever.
Jerry Johnson is a decorated officer in the Cortland Police Department. A lifelong resident, he lives in Cortland, Massachusetts, with his wife and two infant sons.
Todd Corbett dropped out of school in the tenth grade and spent two years on the road with a rock band, working as a roadie. He currently works as a clerk at a used record store and lives with his single mother in Cortland, Massachusetts. His girlfriend, Leah Tyler, makes his world go around. 

Author Bio:

Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest. A contributing writer for IndieReader, she’s written for news and feature articles for numerous publications, including IndieReader, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novel. For more information, please visit her website:

Follow Terri at her blog: The Art and Craft of Writing Creatively
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A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace
The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until Leah meets Todd, a high school dropout and former roadie for a rock band.
As Leah's parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Justine observes her sister's rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family - leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.
Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?

Leave a comment at Terri's CLP Blog Tour page to be entered to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blue Straggler: When Oddballs Form Their Own Sense of Family by Kathy Lynn Harris

Thank you, Michelle, for inviting me to guest post on your fabulosa blog               this week. I’m so appreciative of the chance to connect with your readers and spread a little bit of Blue Straggler gospel.                                               

In case you haven’t figured that out already, Blue Straggler is my debut novel out right now from 30 Day Books. One of the major themes in the book is that our born-into family doesn’t always have to define us, and that if you’re paying enough attention out in the world, you can actually invite people into your life who can give you the sense of belonging you may not always find back “home.”

The main character in Blue Straggler is Bailey, who is a misfit in her rural South Texas farming family. They simply don’t get her, who she is or who she has the potential to become. And frankly, she doesn’t get them, either. She’s disconnected in about a million different ways (except for maybe her penchant for drinking a bit too much on a bit too many occasions).

But luckily for Bailey, she has “collected” a set of friends who have become her main source of support. In fact, readers may wonder how Bailey would have even survived emotionally without her friends to prop her up the past few years.

The first character is Rudy, who is a complete misfit himself. Rudy and Bailey went to college together and have been best friends ever since. What’s pretty special about their relationship is that they both understand what it’s like to be on the outside looking in, they both see how completely weird each other is, and they both love each other precisely for who they are. They relish in the quirkiness of each other.

Rounding out the three-part friendship is Idamarie, who is a good 40 years older than Rudy and Bailey, and whether she likes it or not, has become their mother figure, offering stability and a tell-it-like-it-is attitude that keeps them both in check. Idamarie is alone in life, except for Rudy, Bailey and her regular customers at the diner she owns. So even though she teasingly complains about Rudy and Bailey taking up needed space in her café or not paying for their coffee, she needs them, too.

Together, these three oddballs have found a way to make it through life as a family unit. And it works for the time being. Of course, it’s when that friendship faces the threat of one of the members moving on that things get a little dicey.

So, what do you, readers of Michelle’s blog, believe? Have you collected your own set of people who give you what a typical family unit might? What binds you together? Do you ever wonder if your strong connections might actually hold you back from growing and changing?

Thanks for reading, and if you check out Blue Straggler, I hope you like the craziness that is wholly formed and refined by Bailey, Rudy and Idamarie.

Author's Bio:

Kathy grew up in rural South Texas — and comes from people who work hard, love the land and know how to have a good time on a Saturday night. As a writer, Kathy was lucky to have been surrounded by exceptional characters throughout her life, many of whom have lived their lives exactly the way they wanted. The rest of the world could take `em or leave `em! Inspiring, to say the least.

In 2001, Kathy made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. She lives in an authentic log cabin near the southernmost glacier in North America, at 10,500 feet above sea level, with her husband and son, plus two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes. It is there that she writes.

Read more from Kathy on her blog,You can take the girl out of Texas

Add Blue Straggler to your Goodreads shelf 
Follow Kathy on Twitter 
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Blue Straggler is available at Amazon in ebook or paperback  

 Leave a comment at the CLP Blog Tour page for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Review: Blue Straggler by Kathy Lynn Harris

A blue straggler is a star that has an anomalous blue color and appears to be disconnected from those stars that surround it.

But this is not a story about astronomy.

Bailey Miller is “disconnected” from the cluster of her rural south Texas family. She has never quite fit in and now in her early 30s, she finds herself struggling with inner turmoil and a series of bad choices in her life.

Bailey’s drinking too much (even for a member of her family), has a penchant to eat spoonfuls of Cool Whip, works in a job that bores her beyond description and can’t keep a relationship longer than it takes for milk to expire in her fridge.

Even with the help of her two outspoken friends, Texas gal Idamarie and her quirky college pal Rudy, she’s having a hard time.

So she packs up her Honda and heads out of Texas in search of herself and answers to secrets from her great-grandmother’s past. The novel takes readers on a journey from San Antonio, Texas, to a small mountain town in Colorado and back again, as Bailey uncovers not only the secrets of her great-grandmother’s life, but also some painful secrets of her own. All while finding love along the way.

If you have ever wondered why you got stuck with the family you did, what you are doing with your job and your life, or had a sudden desire to run off to the mountains, sit back and join Bailey for this laugh-out-loud, yet poignant ride. It’s women’s fiction at it’s best!
Kathy Lynn Harris has an amazing talent for telling a compelling story that had me hooked from beginning to end.  Her character of Bailey was an interesting one to read about.  She was oh-so-damaged and while she had a heart of gold, wanting to just find her happiness, she stumbled from one bad situation to the next.  Luckily she has two friends behind her to support her - the outspoken Idamarie, who was more of a mother to Bailey than her own mother, and her best friend, Rudy, who is quirky, nerdy, and clearly in love with Bailey.
After finding a picture of her great-grandmother and hitting a brick wall in trying to get her mother to talk about her, Bailey heads off to  Colorado to find out about this mysterious relative.  She runs into a whole new host of quirky characters, including her landlord, Adam, clearly haunted by his own demons. Relationships begin and end, secrets come out, and the meaning of friends is put to the test. This was one of those books that while I did really enjoy the lead character, I was much more interested in the story of the supporting characters.  I felt that ultimately Bailey ran away from her problems and while I understood why she made the decision she made, I was disappointed in her. Kathy Lynn Harris has a brilliant career in front of her and I can't wait to read more. (I hope that Rudy and Idamarie show up again!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Genre inspiration by author Jolyn Palliata

I asked author, Jolyn Palliata, what inspired her to write in the YA genre and what genre would she like to write in. She was kind enough to share the following with me.

Hi, Michelle. Thanks for having me on your blog today! :)

I’m going to start by answering your second question first.

Each of my writing projects has started with “I wonder if I could write...”. And because I like to challenge myself, I’ve written a YA paranormal romance, a paranormal romance intended for adults, a YA crossover action/adventure fantasy romance (longest genre ever—I know!), a medieval fantasy romance, and a contemporary romance with an edge of suspense. The only thing I haven’t written much of is horror. That being said, I’ve made the attempt, but I didn’t know where to take it so it got shoved to the side. One thing I know for sure is that anything I write will have some sort of romantic entanglement in there. I can’t not include it. Maybe that’s why I had trouble with the horror book. How do you successfully blend horror and romance? Hmm. I’m going to have to work that one out. Love a challenge!

As I said, all of my writing projects have begun with “I wonder if I could write…”. For Amber Eyes, the full thought was “I wonder if I could write a novel.” The answer (apparently) was Yes, I can. And now the thought as become “I wonder if I could stop.” LOL The answer to that one is No! ;)

So, there I was—contemplating writing my first novel. I knew (loosely) what I wanted to write about: Soul mates. And it grew from there. But I needed a setting. When would be the most ideal time to meet your soul mate—someone who has this intimate, otherworldly link to your soul? When would you be most open to it? Most accepting of everything that came with it: the emotions, the memories, and the purest love imaginable?

As an adult, you have all these external struggles in life (job, house, etc), and all the responsibilities that come with it. And let’s face it, by the time most of us are adults, we’re just a little bit disillusioned and jaded by love in general. Would that be the best time to meet your soul mate? Probably not.

As a teen, you have all these internal struggles in life (identity crisis, self-discovery, etc.) and all the new and raw emotions that come with it. It’s the most volatile time in your life, and yet pivotal in so many ways. This is when you’re most open to the possibilities in life, when you’re the most emotional, when you’re getting in touch with who you are deep down and being okay with that person. It’s confusing, exhilarating, and terrifying. And at the same time, it’s the simplest time, before the burdens of the world are put on your shoulders, distracting you from life and love. Now, would this be the best time to meet your soul mate? Yeah, it made sense to me. And that was why I wrote Amber Eyes as a young adult book. :)

If I could, let me ask you this…

If you were to meet your soul mate (given you haven’t already ;) ), when would the best time be for you? When would you be most open to it?

Thanks for stopping by! And thanks again, Michelle, for having me!


Author Bio:

Jolyn’s writing career began in 2009 when she looked across the sea of cubicles at work, and thought, “I was meant for something more than this.” That thought was immediately followed by, “I wonder if I can write a novel.” Four novels and one novella later, that question has been answered. She started with Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One), a young adult paranormal romance. They always say, with the first book, you write about what you know. And she certainly did! Drawing off her teenage years in Oshkosh, WI, Jolyn incorporated her high school and favorite haunts. She even pulled out her favorite music from back then to help recapture the teenager within.

Jolyn has absolutely no qualifications whatsoever to be a writer, other than a knack and a passion. The knack she worked hard for through betas, critique partners, writer sites, editors, etc, but the passion she’s had since she was in middle school.

Being married, and mother to one very precocious six-year-old, doesn’t leave her with a whole heckofalot of time to write – not to mention working full-time – but that is where lack of sleep comes in very handy. Jolyn has a gift of functioning on minimal sleep when totally absorbed by a writing project…although she crashes like dead weight when it’s fully completed/edited (usually 2-3 months later).

Her current listing of published books includes:

· Amber Eyes (Entwined Souls Trilogy – Book One) – young adult paranormal romance

· Connected (Twists of Fate #1) – paranormal romance

· A Modern Love Story – contemporary / romantic suspense

Random information and quirks about Jolyn (because everyone has them):

· She likes to listen to loud music. Period. But especially when she has a headache (helps to drown it out).

· When she's overtired, she gets slaphappy. (Heaven help those around her.)

· She titles a book before she writes it, because she's anal enough to where that would bother her.

· She can't walk into a Barnes and Noble without buying a book. Even if she has a pile of unread books at home (which she does), it just doesn't feel right to leave empty-handed.

Links to Jolyn’s world:
Amazon (full store listing)
FB - Entwined Souls Trilogy
FB - Twists of Fate series

Review: Amber Eyes by Jolyn Palliata

After an accident, one she shouldn’t have walked away from, Lexi’s life finally begins. She meets Dez, a new student with the most beautiful eyes she’s ever seen. And since gazing into them, Lexi has had vivid waking dreams that pull her back through time, and into the warm embrace of a mysterious stranger—a stranger who becomes all too familiar. When offering an explanation for her detailed visions, Dez changes her world forever with two simple words: Soul mates. For the first time in her life, Lexi feels safe and complete. But lingering in the shadows is the embodiment of evil, coveting the light within her. He’s a threat to Lexi’s very existence, and to a love that has transcended time.

Soul mates are such a fascinating topic and in the YA world they embody so much of a young woman's thoughts. Lexi finds her soul mate, the mysterious Dez with the intriguing eye color. I love the vivid imagery that Jolyn Palliata weaves with her tale of Lexi and her introduction to the world of entwined souls. (Where were these types of books when I was growing up?)

The evil presence that you feel throughout the whole book keeps it edgy and as it is part of a series, you get left with a cliffhanger, wanting to yell in protest on behalf of Lexi. If you are a fan of YA and paranormal romance, this is a series for you! Jolyn will not let you down if you give your imagination over to her talented hands.


Stay tuned for a great guest post from Jolyn coming up in a few.

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