Thoughts, opinions and book reviews from our authors
The fluttering feeling in my belly just started again. A thousand little butterflies trying to burst through from their tiny cage. I try to will it away by taking a deep breath, but the feeling only intensifies. I lose focus on what I’m doing. Nothing else matters except trying to will away the fogginess settling over me. I can’t concentrate as my heart starts pounding rapidly. Suddenly the pounding fills my ears and I go deaf to anyone or anything around me. The tremors have started in my hands. More deep breathes. No one look at me. At this point I just want to curl up in a ball with the covers over my head and sleep until these feelings go away. I reach for the pill bottle in hope that the tiny pill will work its magic enough to continue with my day.
This is a life with anxiety. A panic attack can induce fear in just seconds if you can’t get a handle on the feelings invading your body. Or for me, the anxiety can last all day. It’s a disease that can’t always be seen from the outside. I am actually considered laid back and happy when in public. Yet, I can laugh and have a good time and still want to escape to catch my breath. Many times I just want to shut down. From time to time I can’t even leave the house. Anxiety can be debilitating. Every so often I become scared of doing the smallest tasks like going to the grocery store or walking down the street to pick up the mail. I was told I also suffer from depression. Of course I do. I’m depressed that I feel anxious all the time. It is exhausting to keep up the charade that life is good and happy all the time.
There is help out there. There are support groups online. A really good therapist can make a world of difference. My therapist is a lifeline to a world of hope. I can gain control over my life so the anxiety doesn’t control me. A psychiatrist can help you find the right medications to help you cope with daily stressors that may trigger your anxiety. I’m not saying it’s easy. If you don’t feel like a therapist or physician is helping then try someone else. I even moved back home to see my previous therapist. After my first session I felt like I could breathe freely again. No more holding my breath and praying that one day I would feel better. I can feel better now at this moment in time and so can you.
Sometimes when you finish a book you realize the scope of the work makes for an impossible summary. I think on some level this narrative is something most can connect with in some way. But, don't let this comment water down the depth and uniqueness of the author's life.
The book mostly centers around Jano, an elvin character created by the author. Jano's development is described as a, “rediscovery”. From the reading I'd even go so far as to say Jano provided a “rebirth”. Jano counters the suffering going on in real life. That suffering is a depressed state in which the author, years ago, compromised herself and learned to go through the motions of daily life as an emotionless robot in an effort to cope. Living like this is the choice many take, especially when there seems to be no alternative. I'd argue when there seems to be no alternative, there isn't one. But when life lacks vibrancy and energy, and there is nowhere in which to belong, eventually one becomes a cold, breathless statue.
So Jano really is more than escape from reality. She offers a reason for life because she offers a place to breathe. Limited at first, Jano is able to slowly venture out in ways the author is not. Perhaps the most hope-filled, romantic moment comes when a real person (through the distance of cyberspace) enters. He opens a door to passion and life she had forgotten existed.
Incidentally, the poetry that is scattered throughout is among the best I've read. One line in particular, after reading the entire context, held such meaning to me:
“....that I can only give empathy where once a passion burned.”
This autobiographical book is shamelessly intimate, and filled me with intrigue all the way through. Because many parts of it made me feel like I was glancing at my own reflection of years past, I am a better person for reading it.
Click on the book above to be taken to the Amazon Page.
In my opinion most good stories start slow, and Magnolia Secrets does as well, but not for long.
There is a steamy scene that sets the stage for nice plot tension through the rest of the book; and as the narrative moves onward one can sense the "build-up", and that makes you want to read on to see what happens next. You'll be rewarded for your long bouts of reading by surprises at the end too.
The scene that stands out to me the most is worth mentioning. It is about midway through the book, when Evan is so angry with Lainey he won't (or can't) even listen to her. He will not trust her or listen to reason. For me this was the part that grabbed my emotions, and kept me fearing for Lainey, wondering if she'd be OK at the finish.
I like the plot, the dialogue is realistic, and the chapters set a good reading pace. This is a
solid story by Beth Hale, and I recommend it highly.
How could I NOT be a fan of Fionna Guillaume after reading this? Warning: this review, while short, may sound like hyped fluff but I promise I am being objective!
First, the length was ideal for me. Second, the entire story was compelling, and I was intrigued by not knowing what was going to happen to Cassidy. I mean, you slowly figure out what is going to happen to her, but the fact that it comes so naturally and not forced makes you think again.
That is one thing I loved about the author's style. You know you are going somewhere,
(and that Cassidy is going to have an experience) but it never seems artificial and shallowly created; and the descriptions and details always fit the narrative and never feel as though they were added just to make the book longer.
For me, the end is dramatic. I picture the scene in my mind still. What a man, what a woman, what a city!
Always happy to talk about writing!
So you are going to self-publish your first book and want to know something that will help you? While not an expert by any stretch, I have published works and read the works of others and happen to have some things to share with you.
Self-publishing is not, as most know, a reason to settle for less. Self-publishing, while bypassing traditional publishers, does not and should not mean a book is less professional.
When someone reads any sizable amount of Indie books, sooner or later a book will appear before them that is amateur-ish. Perhaps that sounds judgmental, but readers want to know they are not wasting their time with misspells, bad formatting, repetitive sections and the like. These all add to a bad experience in which the reader loses faith in your story. The person you hope will read and enjoy your book has every reason to then put down your work and move on to something else. Even the casual reader can tell when the story has, "been worked hard on", when it rises to a level of class and professionalism; or when it doesn't deserve their late, sleepless nights from reading your intriguing story.
So when I say self-publishing is not a reason to settle for less, I mean that we as authors and self-publishers need to be sure the end product is top notch. This goes without saying, but how sad it is when some turn to self-publishing as an easy way to churn out books. This waters down the perceived talent among those who self publish. What can you do to put out quality work?
1. When entertaining your idea for a story, think about it A LOT. Think about possible plot issue, characters and so forth and write everything down, no matter how trivial it may seem to you.
2. Write everyday. Author Janet Evanovich has a great audiobook titled, HOW I WRITE. In it she suggests writing every day as if it were your job. Among other reasons, it keeps the juices flowing.
3. Don't bother family/friends for their opinions.
4. Read it, read it, read it.
5. Self edit. Then rewrite and self edit some more. Do this many times, then reread everything to be sure there are no plot issues.
6. Get a professional editor/proofreader. For the record, having someone to go over your work with a fine-toothed comb is perhaps the best thing you can do.
7. Get a professional cover design.
8. Whether paperback or ebook, get a pro to format the interior for you. This will make all the difference.
There are people that know more about writing than I, and surely they can give you some words of wisdom. But if you want to put your work out there, if you want it to have a level of professionalism so that readers won't put it down and move on, these tips will help you.
For several moments I sat at my laptop, trying to think of something that hasn't already been said. There are many great reviews, and it is easy to see many hearts have been made tender by reading this.
First, I am so glad this story has been written down and shared. As the father of two wonderful daughters, I cannot begin to imagine the horror that took place in this mother's life. How any man can be so evil is beyond me. Thank God for men like Matt, however.
There are a few happy moments in this story that made tears of temporary joy hint from behind my eyes: when Eli was able to drink apple juice without choking; the late-night trip mom took to get watermelon her son craved; when Eli and Noah played, as much as they could, in the hospital together. But sadly these moments too quickly moved aside, and the harrowing acts by a despicable grandmother and truly evil husband and father darkened the story. But this is real. That is partially what attracted me to this book. There is a time for the raw truth, it keeps one grounded.
To me, this book was more than a succession of events. Often, I felt like I was sitting across from the mother at a diner. My mind fades to gray images as she recollects her story from years ago. She opens her heart, and I listen to her thought process in awe. The mother is amazing for hanging on for dear life, even when it surely felt the bottom had fallen away and there was nothing to believe in anymore. She was there for her son regardless of all else. If you don't believe evil exists, you will after reading this. Above all, little Eli shows strength and heroism, and despite the bitter end, he triumphed over life.