Monday, June 27, 2016

Medeia Sharif's Disturbing New Book

Disturb: interfere with the normal arrangement or functioning of; cause to feel anxious; interrupt the sleep, relaxation, or privacy of

Of all these definitions the interruption of privacy may be the most appropriate for Medeia Sharif's shocking new book. When Haydee Gomez and Maysa Mazari fall in love, they hide their forbidden relationship, knowing their peers and families will be surprised, angry, and even hurt. Unfortunately, they underestimate the consequences and what happens is no less than cataclysmic.

This tragic couple is composed of polar opposites. Haydee, covered in tattoos, is ashamed of her past participation in a gang and is terrified that people will discover she is a prostitute. On her first day in a new school she meets Maysa, someone kind, beautiful—and wearing a hijab. 

The characters' differences extend well beyond physical appearances. Haydee’s family is nice but remote, ghosts in the background, relatives who neither hold her back nor know her enough to intrude when they should. Freedom has left her alone.

On the other hand, Maysa is under strict control. Her mother trots out suitors for a future marriage she doesn't want, and her father criticizes her every move. Maysa’s rigid life is one of tremendous pressure to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and to always keep her hijab tight. Surrounded by three seemingly loyal friends in a clique where non-Muslims aren’t allowed, Maysa despairs that she'll never get a chance to get close to Haydee.

This striking dichotomy in the girls' family life is balanced by what they share. Along with Maysa and Haydee's budding romance (which Sharif handles delicately, but believably), each girl must contend with a villain who threatens to destroy their new relationship.

Maysa’s enemy is the super-nasty Aamal, the leader of her Muslim clique. Haydee’s nemesis is her pimp, Rafe. Sharif pulls no punches in describing the horrors of forced prostitution. As with 52 Likes, this is no tame “after-school special” type of story. Conflict is not resolved with the villains recognizing the error of their ways and everyone exchanging hugs at the end. No sir. In the last third, the tale plunges into dark territories. Which I wouldn't dare spoil here. It's just too juicy.

If there is any criticism, for me it would be a bit of reader spoonfeeding. Major plots points are reiterated along the way, dialogue occasionally steps beyond what I would expect of a character in order to justify or explain something, and characters' feelings are stated even though the situations and the character reactions make this unnecessary. Then again, the target audience is YA. Like Haydee and Maysa, with their noses pressed to their cell phones every other minute, these writerly helpmates may be exactly what teens need to hook back into the story.

Overall, A Love That Disturbs is an important book about tolerance. Tolerance for Muslims, tattoos, and people with a dark past. And tolerance for peoples’ choices, like being gay—an especially timely message considering recent events. Highly recommended.

Evernight Teen, June 17, 2016
Purchase from AmazonEvernight TeenAll Romance Ebooks,BookStrand

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things (Especially the Furry Ones)

It's time to celebrate the small things with Lexa Cain and her cohosts: L.G. Keltner and Tonya Drecker.

I woke up this morning to the war cry of the hungry: "ME-OW-ROW. ME-OW!"

Magical Mr. Mistoffelees

Mr. Mistoffelees stood by my pillow, tail straight up, whiskers twitching. When that didn't get me moving, he climbed onto my chest.

Mr. M was a stray when we moved into our house. All the neighbors knew him and feared him. He could be sweet one moment, then sinking his teeth and claws into flesh the next. After feeding him for seven years or so, he finally let me pet him. A year later, he was in my lap, and today. . .

Gulp. He was mere inches from my face, leaning in, and then . . . rubbing his nose all over mine in enthusiastic eskimo kisses. After that, he lay his furry cheek on mine. As my heart melted I thought the only thing that could make this moment any more purr-fect would be a snorkel (because I couldn't breathe), but then Mr. M lifted his sweet head.

My husband had arrived. "Infidelity," he said, and then he left singing the verse from Cecilia about coming back to bed only to find someone had taken his place.

"But," I sputtered, borrowing from Despicable Me, "he's so fluffy!"

So today, I celebrate the fact that it is 2016. If it were 1692 my husband would have me burnt at the stake instead of quoting Simon and Garfunkle.


Here's a novel look at the other furry in the house, Dove. My daughter thought it would be cool to record her drinking out of a glass from underneath:

And here is a great still shot:

Any suggestions for the perfect meme?

(All photos by the fabulous Sedona Narayan.)

Monday, June 20, 2016

L.G. Keltner is the bomb

Howdy, y'all! I've got another exciting author announcement. This time it's a cover reveal for L.G. Keltner's new book:

Cover Art: L.G. Keltner and Jamon Wallker

This 25 K bundle of fun is YA/holiday/humor with a release date of June 28, 2016. Now for the blurb:

Dani Finklemeier has self-published her guide to taking over the world, but she still isn’t rich.  Now she’s eighteen, still babysitting for money, and looking forward to starting college in the fall.

Of course, she has to survive a 4th of July outing with her family first.  That’s a challenging prospect considering she has to be in close proximity with a group of cousins known as The Fallible Four.  As if that weren’t enough, she also has to deal with the fallout of her parents learning more about her relationship with her boyfriend Seth than she ever wanted them to know.

The good news is that, if she survives this holiday, she’ll have plenty of material for another self-help book.


Want more good news? You don't have to wait until June 28 to meet Dani. How to Survive a Bombardment with Minimal Injury is a sequel to Self-Help 101 or How I Learned To Take Over The World Through Tolerating My Family.

Here is my five-star review:  This was a quick, fun read. Dani (teenager) has to endure Christmas in a small house with 9 members of her family. It immediately brought to mind National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, although the level of zaniness is toned down enough so that you could easily imagine these characters as real people. The older relatives are judgmental and just plain mental. The middle age ones carry on psychological warfare with each other, and the young ones hide in various rooms to stay out of the way. The subplot of Dani falling in love with her best friend, Seth, was very sweet. The premise of Dani composing a self-help book in which she rewrites the insanity going on around her as tips for taking over the world actually works well. I loved the surprise twist at the end involving Great Aunt Ruth Ann.

The new book is available for pre-order at both Amazon or Smashwords. You can find Self-Help 101: How I Learned To Take Over The World By Tolerating My Family here:


About a month after writing that review, I found out I'd be a co-author with L.G. in the IWSG speculative fiction anthology Parallels: Felix Was Here. (It's a small world after all.) Here's a little more information about this versatile writer.

Bio: L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband.  Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six.  Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good. 

Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit.

You can typically find L.G. lurking around her blog, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.

Have you met L.G. through blogging or whatnot? Read anything funny lately?

(For a chance to win my short story collection, Heart Stopper and Other Stories, click on over to Crystal Collier's blog. At the bottom is her two truths and one lie game. Today is the last day to vote.)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Celebrate the Small Things and The Liebster Award

Today, I am joining host Lexa Cain and co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog to Celebrate the Small Things! Each Friday, this group blogs about an accomplishment in writing, reading, or life. 

This is the last week I'll have to work alone, uninterrupted. Next week, school is out. I'm savoring my final, quiet hours by blogging. I finally got one of my short story collections up on Amazon. (Yay!) That wasn't easy, but compared to marketing a book, posting one is the smaller accomplishment.


I also got nominated for The Liebster Award. Thank you to Susan Brody at The Art of Not Getting Published.

Step 1: Answer the eleven questions posed by Susan. Here we go:

1.   Is your blog your best friend? Why or why not?

No. This “friend” of mine demands constant attention, sucks up all my free time, and really doesn’t care if I disappear for a solid year. Then again, I have met cool people through this friend, gotten a publication, and it’s my only hope main conduit for spreading word of my books, so like it or not, I’m stuck in this relationship for the long haul.

2. Blogging feels to me like a job ___ percent of the time, and like a joy ____ percent of the time.

Job: 80%

Joy: 20%

When I first started blogging, I’d post and then wait around for comments. What a maroon! Blogging is not writing a post. Blogging is writing the post and then going out to comment on as many other blogs as you can before your eyeballs fall out of your skull, participating in blog hops, co-hosting blog hops, hosting guest bloggers, and so on.

3. What rules of Blogger Etiquette are most important to you?

If someone comments on my blog, I make an effort to comment back. If I don’t, it’s because I couldn’t find the comment button, or I got foozled by Disqus. If someone follows my blog, I’ll follow back (unless it’s not obvious how to).  Plus, always strive to leave an interesting comment and never be a jerk. Respect other opinions.

4. Do you have any great tips for attracting readers to your blogs?

Get out there and participate. Blog hops are the best way I know to get more traffic, but you have to be willing to visit others—as many as possible.

5. What do you wish you could change about the education you had?

Well, this is going to be interesting since I’ve been educated out the wazoo. I got a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of South Carolina. Considering what I’m doing now, maybe I should have thought a bit about the enormous amount of time I spent reading fiction, how much I loved it, and taken creative writing classes and more literature classes.

6. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My mother. She is so awesome. Also at various other times: a professor (check), marine biologist (closest I got was raising baby penguins at a zoo), and best-selling author (I’m not holding my breath on this one, believe me).

7. Of all the places you lived, which one is your favorite and why?

I grew up in Anderson, SC, which is right next door to Clemson. Even though our house was in a neighborhood, the lots in front of and on both sides were undeveloped woods. Behind the house was a short path to an inlet of Lake Hartwell. Surrounding this was more woods. I could walk for hours, climb trees, explore the crumbling remains of an old house, and wade up streams.

8. If you had a time machine, what era would be your first stop?

Hmm, tough one. I’d hesitate to go into the future, because for all I know the earth would be gone via nuclear bombs or so polluted I’d choke to death within seconds. So that leaves the past.

Maybe I’d be opportunistic, go back to December 12, 1980 and invest heavily in Apple.

9. What’s the best thing that happened to you in the past week?

My collection of short stories, Heart Stopper And OtherStories, went live on Amazon.

10. What is the fastest way to get on your bad side?

Ask my daughter. No one can piss me off faster or with such intensity.

11. What’s the one thing that never fails to inspire you?

Too much time away from writing. I deflate like a rotten piece of fruit when I’m forced to take a break from creative outlets. Writing is like a drug. I need it to stay sane.

Step 2: Provide 11 random facts about myself:

1.  I broke my arm when I was five. That elbow cracks mightily to this day.

2. One of my great-grandfathers was the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota a long time ago.

3. Our first dog was named Benji, even though she was a girl.

4. I can rollerblade backwards.

5. I hate talking on the phone.

6.  I was working in the movie theater (in the concession stand) that hosted the world premier of The Boneyard, but never saw the movie myself. 

7. I love to kayak.

8. I’ve developed a problem with vertigo even though I’m not scared of heights. 

9. My house has a wisteria tree in the back. It plans to take over my house, literally.

10. My long haired cat gets terrible mats every winter and spends several months pealing off his entire coat with his teeth in the spring.

11. I can’t stop watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Is there a support group?

Step 3: Nominate 5 to 11 bloggers (with less than 1000 followers) for this award.

This is the hard part. (But is was much harder when it was limited to bloggers with less than 200 followers.) This award takes a lot of time to complete without hunting down nominees. A lot of people are no longer interested in doing this sort of thing. I understand that. However, if you are participating in today’s Celebrate the Small Things AND you have less than 1000 followers, consider yourself nominated.

Here’s what you have to do: (sucker)

Rules of the Liebster Award

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster Award in which you:

·                Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog in your post.
·                Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
·                Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
·                Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
·                Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.
·                Create a new list of 11 questions for the nominees to answer.
List these rules in your post (copy and paste from here). Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

·                Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Eleven questions for my nominees:

1. What are you reading now or what was the last book you read?

2. What was the last movie your saw? Would you recommend it?

3. What is your favorite TV show?

4. If you could be a guest star or extra for a movie or television show, which one would you pick?

5. Your favorite dinner is…

6. You refuse to eat…

7. The craziest thing you ever did was…

8. The worst decision you made was…

9. Ultimate vacation would be…

10. If you won $1,000 in a lottery you would….

11. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, it would be…

Have you participated in these types of rewards? Why or why not?

(If you like a chance to win my short story collection, click on over to Crystal Collier's blog. At the bottom is her two truths and one lie game. Happy guessing!)

Note to Wordpress friends: For some odd reason, I can't leave a comment today. Error says something wrong with my G+ profile.