life

Book Review: The Best Dark Rain by Marco Etheridge

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Last month, I posted an author alert about a new writer I was planning to read… just finished his book and wanted to share my review. See the author alert post here.

rain

As a voracious reader, I sometimes find myself in a bit of a slump and need to test out a new genre, author, or writing style. When I came across The Best Dark Rain: A Post-Apocalyptic Struggle for Life and Love by Marco Etheridge, I thought to myself… you don’t read much science-fiction, you haven’t seen many zombie films, and you haven’t sampled much from a writer living in Austria. Let’s give it a chance! I liked the ‘Resident Evil’ and “The Day After Tomorrow” movies, and this kinda felt like a combination of those two flicks, except I think I’m not allowed to say the word ‘zombie’ as they are clearly named ‘Re-Ams’ by Mr. Etheridge — which I think is a fantastic idea! Let’s chat about my new experience…

Seattle. Some sorta apocalypse has occurred. There are corpses coming back to life. There are hunters and prey. Lots of guns. A couple of characters wandering the streets in search of food and supplies. How will they survive? What caused everything to happen? What’s still yet to come? Lots of questions start forming in my head in the first few chapters. Etheridge is smart. He doesn’t answer them for a long time. Instead, this newbie reader is investing in the characters as people rather than trying to attribute ‘former lives’ to them, as it’s all gone, so what does that matter, right? By mid-book, you begin to understand what likely happened and how the world succumbed to something unexpected. By then, you want to know what happens to the 5 or 6 main characters… of course there is lots of bashing and blood, a death or two, some light romance, and lots of comedy / witty commentary on life.

I am really glad I read the book. It pushed me out of my normal comfort zone (in a good way) in some parts, but in others, it was like a very typical fiction read for me. It was just a different world or setting, which made me wonder am I missing out by reading more science fiction and fantasy books. Time will tell… just like time will tell in Seattle if Liz and Pat, the main focus of the book, will get their answers and push forward in life despite the walking dead / not-so-dead coming after them. As they began meeting a few other survivors, knowing all along it’s hard to tell the difference anymore between who is dead and who is alive, you feel that suspense of who should they trust. I was kinda excited to see a variety of character types in the story (no spoilers, read it on your own please!) and Etheridge ingests lots of humor into them and their relationships. One of my faves is Formerly Rachel. Seriously… you have to wonder what that means, but it’s a fantastic play on words.

That said… what kept me reading was the extreme detail that is offered whether describing a setting, life choices, options, or emotions. There’s a lot going on in terms of plot and story, but the world-building is what made me turn the pages. I wanted to see descriptions of how life played out, where the food came from, who beat up who, what kind of turmoil they lived in. So… if you read in this genre, you’ll be pleased. If it’s new to you, take a chance like me. There’s a lot of reality coming forward and well, if the world ever does go this way, maybe we’ll know how to survive now, right? Thanks for pushing my reading boundaries, Mr. Etheridge. I look forward to reading more from you.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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365 Challenge: Day 361 – Tips

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Tips: (a) monetary gratuity for doing a good job, or (b) new segment sharing advice for writers on the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog

tips.jpg

Today is the 5-day countdown until the 365 Daily Challenge is complete. I’ve chosen tips as the word to discuss in my post because it will be one of the bigger segments on my blog in the coming weeks. I have a few other reveals in the next few days, but this is the first of the vision unfolding before our eyes… I’m not entirely certain how it’s going to come together, but I plan to spend the next two weeks mulling over the approach, style, and content I’d like to share. Along with last Sunday’s flashback word mentor, I want my website and blog to represent a big piece of who I am… someone who likes to help other people by sharing all that I’ve learned on my own journey. Through the 365 Daily Challenge, I often suggested tips or provided advice on a few topics. In the enhanced blog, I want it to be a more formal approach where I have a few different segments or arcs throughout the month.

A few of the areas I’m considering:

  • Tips for writers. While I’m a fairly new author, I have been writing for years either professionally in my business career or creatively in my personal time. Providing tips doesn’t imply I’m an expert… I’m certain my editor will concur with that statement! I have loads of mistakes in different drafts of my books as they’re being written. In the first published version of Watching Glass Shatter, it contained a bunch of grammatical and proofreading issues (all later corrected) because it’s hard to find your own mistakes after re-reading the same thing repeatedly. Once I brought in an outside editor, it was life-changing. And so… I look at tips as a way to share things I’ve learned, explanations on how I write, or thoughts on options for others to try. These tips could include things like: (1) how to build characters your readers can connect with, (2) what are filter words and how do you remove them from your novel, (3) what ways/tools can you use to find duplicate/repeated words in your drafts, (4) how do you use Twitter to find new readers, or (5) how do you build a timeline and outline before you begin writing without going crazy.
  • Tips for life. The world is a big place. Our education can be formal or informal. I’m often surprised at the types of things people don’t learn along the way, but probably should have. Things that help you build a stronger, happier, and more efficient life. Many of these things I was lucky enough to be taught throughout the path. Some I learned only after failing miserably along the way. And in a few small cases, it just came naturally to me. But that’s now how it happens for everyone else, nor do people truly get the ‘life education’ they should get early enough to make an impact. These tips could include things like: (1) how to manage your money when you’re first starting out after school, (2) how do you handle constructive criticism, (3) how to think for yourself and not just go with what others want, (4) what do you need to do to achieve a balanced day, or (5) why is it important to trace your ancestry?

Both of these items are only partially fleshed out, but I’m passionate about the necessity of these lessons and experiences at an early age / period in life. I spend a lot of time thinking inside my head about how much we all face the same issues, yet we fail to truly enact the change to make the future better. It usually comes down to not having built your life with these principles at an early enough stage. I’m far from perfect. I make mistakes all the time. But I have a strong foundation and easily find my way back to peace. I would love to share my approach with others in the hope it helps even just a few. I’m thinking through how to make this work on a blog — also always open to suggestions. I thought I’d share just a little in today’s post about how I see tips playing a bigger role on my blog in the future. Looking forward to everyone’s ideas and feedback.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 347 – Defeat

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Defeat: win a victory over (someone) in a battle or other contest; overcome or beat

defeat

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”–Marilyn vos Savant

Note: I found the quote at this site.

Today’s 365 Daily Challenge is a short message for two reasons: (a) I have been offline for a few days and have a lot to catch up on but I will not worry about getting it all done, and (b) a few friends are battling some issues today and I want them to know defeat is not the answer. To expedite the word choice, I executed one of my infamous Google searches. Luckily, nothing bad returned this time, but I did stumble upon the website that I included as a link above. The quote I chose was the inspirational quote for today, February 27th. When I saw the word defeat, I knew it was appropriate. Whether we’re battling being sick, tired, re-entry, or just having too much to do, understand that defeat is not the answer. Take it slow. Don’t stress as it makes the situation worse. Just know a few things you can accomplish in the time you have available and let the rest go. Don’t watch the clock to get more done than you planned. It’s life. Relax and enjoy. And that’s my only simple message for today.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

365 Challenge: Day 327 – Enough

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Enough: as much or as many as required

_If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough._.jpg

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

365 Challenge: Day 313 – Beginning

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Beginning: (a) the point in time or space at which something starts, or (b) new and inexperienced

beginning.jpg

Quote from Louis L’Amour, American author 

***

As I begin my day, my mind is cluttered with things I want to do, moments I wistfully remember and tasks I must address. None of them are difficult or time-consuming, but all should probably be part of my day. When I thought about a word for today, nothing worth sharing came to mind. I’m processing my grief. I’m organizing my upcoming days. I’m communicating with friends and family. I’m living, something we’re all familiar with, and keeping forward momentum as my guiding post. I stumbled across this quote while looking up something, and it struck me as simple yet powerful. I’ve never read of the author’s work, at least not that I recall, but it gave me some perspective.

So much of my focus and energy each moment of my day is to complete a task — to get to the end and/or finish what I started — whether it’s a book, a challenge, a project or a meal. Yet, we all know the journey along the path is more important than being able to say you finished something. As L’Amour clearly notes, when something finishes, it opens up availability for something else to begin; however, there’s actually more to it when I truly pushed myself to analyze this statement. Nothing is truly ever finished, whatever your task or activity is, as you essentially just move from one phase to another. If it’s reading a book, you may finish reading, but then you write a review, share it with a friend or reflect on what you’ve learned. If it’s cooking a meal, you need to clean up the dishes, eat and pack away any leftovers. If it’s a project to build something, you will give it away or use the end product.

I often feel sad when something ends, as I no longer hold what was important to me in the same way. Sometimes it’s easy to accept or understand. Other times it’s difficult. I think being conscious of the change you (and the activity/product/service that is ‘ending’) are experiencing, as well as giving thought to how it could be positive, should be part of the entire process — more circular, rather than a strict stop and start, or beginning and end. My emotions are too raw to apply this to the true ultimate loss (death) of something important to you, but practicing on a smaller scale may help in the long run. I’m not really saying anything new or groundbreaking; we’ve all thought about this advice or heard it in the past. But today, as I push myself to embrace the future, to articulate a purpose, or to accept what’s happening around me, it’s a comforting message.

I will freely admit I haven’t a clue what the beginning is right now, or at least what it leads to, but rather than focus on what’s finished, I will try to open my eyes to what is beginning. Time is of course critical to this process; and I seem to have a lot of that available now, don’t I?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Book Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

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Why This Book 
I won this book via a Goodreads Giveaway a few months ago. In my quest to finish reading all ARCs or Giveaways by 12/31, so 2018 starts off with less stress and a reduced TBR, I read this book over the Christmas holidays. I am quite glad I did, as it was a feel-good type of novel that really helped me prepare my resolutions for 2018.

changelife

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Eloise, 39, is a personal chef who takes care of a large, loving family in Chicago. She once had a promising sports career, but had to give it up due to an injury. Since then, she’s drifted, or at least thinks she’s drifted, due to losing connections with two best friends in high school and a married man she’d been having an affair with recently (unknowing he was married). When a former teacher dies, the 3 friends are reunited and make a pact to change their lives. They’ve given each other a list of 5 things to accomplish before their 40th birthday — all items to push their boundaries and emotions. The book is a journey to find oneself again after a number of years where life took you on a course you perhaps hadn’t realized was never truly planned.

Approach & Style 
The book is written in 1st person perspective with a focus on Eloise, the primary character. I read a physical copy which was ~380 pages, inclusive of a few recipes. 24 chapters average about 15 pages each, containing a beautiful voice of a woman I wish I could meet. She’s that wonderful.

Key Opinion 
With a title like this one, I had very high hopes. It absolutely delivered. Consider it a character-driven book, while a bit too fluffy / light in some areas, that will engage you on many levels. Eloise is a brilliant main character; she spoke to me as I begin thinking about my own life and what I am trying to accomplish. Like the main character, I turned 40 this year and had a lot of thoughts about what I wanted to do with my life. The characters drip off the page with love, sadness and hopes. There are so many clever moments, precious times in our lives we don’t always recognize. Eloise’s connection with each member of her family, the family she cooks for, and all the others she meets is heartwarming.

The plot, quite minimal, evolves at a slow pace as you read about Eloise’s every day for a period of a few months. It’s rare I enjoy reading about the very realistic happenings in someone’s life, but Ballis made it refreshing and immersive. I looked forward to hearing what happened on each of her 20 dates. I wanted to know what new social activities she would consider trying. I needed to be side by side with her as she wrote her cookbook. The writing is clear and direct — shows creativity and brings imagery to every page. I could feel the emotions within each relationship. I recommend this book for anyone looking to spend time with a beautiful character and just witness a normal life.

Final Thoughts 
I’d give this book a 4+ rating, as it was quite endearing, charming and inviting. I will definitely read more from this author, given the focus on food and relationships. It’s the type of book where you can let yourself go, immersing your thoughts and dreams in that of a character you will adore.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

My Novel: Father Figure – Status

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I’m happy to report everything is on schedule for Father Figure to be released in early 2018 (by March). Discussions with the publisher will begin after the Thanksgiving holiday to set the publication date and begin considering book covers. Below is the current status of this novel:

writer

Editing Round 2 (November 2017)

  • All editing has been completed. After the first round of beta reading at the end of September, I removed/re-structured about 20% of the content and added 20% new or enhanced story arcs. The novel is stronger and more powerful in the current version, but it is not yet finished.
  • I have added more mystery and suspense to the beginning of this work, but I think it may need a little more splash to immediately pull in readers. I’ll decide next week once I finish a read-thru.

Next Steps (December 2017)

  • Over the next week, I plan to read the book aloud to myself, making notes and correcting anything that sounds awkward or needs some minor adjustments. The target is to be complete on Friday 12/1 — one week from today.
  • I will prepare an overview for a group of 5 to 8 beta readers for a second read-thru. I will have a series of questions plus a list of a few things I am still considering changing. I want to get both sets of feedback before I finish the final version for proofreading. Beta readers will have from 12/1 thru 12/10 to read the book and provide feedback.
  • Once I have all input, I will make final revisions and send the book off to an editor and the publisher to design the cover and provide any final input. The target is to complete the final version from 12/11 through 12/31.

What’s on the author’s mind?

  • I need to select the beta readers. I am ‘starting from scratch’ with the next read-thru meaning I am not automatically sending it to the group who read the September version. If you are interested, let me know and we can discuss. I want to get a broad range of feedback, but it also needs to be fairly detailed, constructive, and analytical. I received good feedback in the first round, but I’m pushing harder in this next round to truly get to the heart of the book and determine what if anything is not working.
  • It’s a good feeling to see the growth in my writing since ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ was written almost one year ago. My style has evolved in a few ways, ranging from a bit less wordy to a stronger voice with each character. Having fewer characters to work with provided an opportunity to reach deeper into each person’s emotions; I’m hoping there is a more intense connection with readers in this novel. In Watching Glass Shatter, they were all relatively good people, despite a few annoying habits and secrets. In Father Figure, there’s a fair balance of good versus evil in our new characters, and well… it’s too early to say much, but I’ll certainly reveal…

I appreciate everyone’s input and feedback. Thank you and have a great weekend!

 

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Summary of Father Figure (only read if you’re new to the book)

  • Amalia Graeme, sheltered and abused for most her life in Mississippi, longs to escape her difficult family and small hometown in 1984. When her older brother returns with his best friend, Amalia is tempted to have her first experience with a boy that summer. As they head off to college for her first year and his senior year, she begins to learn about life and love, battling her loss of innocence with the attraction she’s developed to an older professor. After she suffers a few personal tragedies, Amalia is forced to head back home, uncertain how to handle the permanent impacts on her life and future. No matter where she turns, someone or something always takes away her possibility of hope.
  • Brianna Porter is desperate to discover the purpose of her life, develop confidence in who she is, accept the consequences of who she has fallen in love with, and discover her father’s identity. Set twenty years in the future in New York City, there’s a connection between these two women’s stories that is about to be discovered. As Brianna stumbles upon her mother’s old journal, she learns a shocking secret about her father, rocked by a truth that could completely change the future. It may be too late to deal with the impacts of unleashing a history that was meant to stay buried for many reasons. When it leads to someone’s death, Brianna must come to terms with the choices she’s made and what is left of her own future.

 

About Me
I am an author who recently published his debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, which has been well received my readers. I am writing my second novel, Father Figure, with plans to finish and submit it to a publisher in December, 2017. As part of the process to engage with my fans and followers, I am publishing a regular status on the progress of this second book. For a description of this book, check out the post where my fans voted for this book as my second novel.

Beyond these two books, I have a number of short stories, poems and other novels in various shapes and forms. I also read A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, Tags, Awards, Age/Genre/Book Reads and Author Alerts, as well as the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge.

You can also access my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.