novel

365 Challenge: Day 286 – Break

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Break: interruption (in continuity, sequence, or course) — as ‘Father Figure’ was sent to beta readers

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I submitted the second draft of ‘Father Figure’ to the beta reader team last night. I asked for feedback in three (3) weeks by January 11, 2018, which gives me a break from writing and editing. It is much needed, as my head is a pile of goo right now. I plan to take the week off between the holidays, only to write the 365 Daily Challenge posts, and to read a few books. I will start drafting the 2018 marketing plan for Watching Glass Shatter right after the new year, then dive into the short story collection, beginning with Ethan.

I’ve updated the draft/tentative book summary for Father Figure below. My second novel has ~115K words (20% longer than Glass) and stands at 318 pages, which is funny, as that’s my birth date. It’s broken into 32 chapters with two primary characters and timelines. It’s contemporary fiction, centered around family drama, with a few elements of romance, mystery and suspense. It also has a relatively sizable diversity theme, and potentially geared towards young adults, but that’s not the primary focus. I’m still deciding how I feel about it… some moments, I think it’s 90% done and just requires a bit of input on a few open items. Other times, I am curious if it should be two separate books with more intensity added to separate the two story-lines. I look forward to the break and hearing all the beta reader thoughts. Hopefully it sounds intriguing! Many thanks to the team reading this draft.

Summary of Father Figure (UPDATED)

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town, and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Struggling to survive in a claustrophobic, unforgiving world, they embark on a journey to overcome all the pain, disappointment, and horror of their experiences. Through alternating chapters set two decades apart, each girl’s plight unfolds revealing the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen. In an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense, fate intervenes forcing someone to make a dreadful decision that will leave permanent scars.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown, connect with others, and fall in love. Contemplating an impending loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia suffers devastating, life-altering tragedies. No matter where she turns, someone or something always steals her hope of finding happiness and protection.

Brianna Porter, a sassy yet angst-ridden NYC teenager, yearns to determine her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. All the confusion stems from desperately needing to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, but an unexpected discovery of a journal leads Brianna to a shocking revelation about her missing parent. Unfortunately, by casting the net to find him, she’s unleashed a tragic history that was meant to stay buried and might now completely change everyone’s futures.

 

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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Book Review: Time of Death by Lucy Kerr

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A great read in a new series by Lucy Kerr with ‘Time of Death’ — my book review is below…

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Why This Book
I’ve read several books published by Crooked Lane, which led to chatting with their marketing department a few times. I was offered an opportunity to read the second book in this series, but since I’m a bit too Type-A, I had to go back and read the first book. It’s a great publisher, I love book series and the plot sounded interesting. I am clearing ARCs by 12/31 so I have a blank reading slate in 2018. I jumped on this one over the weekend in preparation for reading the second book in another week.

Plot, Characters & Setting
ER nurse Frankie Stapleton, 32, ends her third engagement in Chicago, then rushes home to assist her sister who’s having her second baby. Though she only plans to stay the weekend, as the family hasn’t been very close since Frankie left town more than a decade ago, she stumbles into a few too many problems. First of which is finding a man about to have a heart attack in the hospital where her sister is giving birth six weeks early. Frankie steps in, helps get the doctors to save the man and goes off to see her sister. Unfortunately, someone else with an ax to grind, steps in and kills the heart attack victim. Frankie looks guilty of doing something wrong and must fight to prove her innocence. Along the path, she runs into ex-fiance number one, as well as a few old friends, and some financial issues with her family’s hardware store.

Approach & Style
The 323-page book is told in first-person POV (except the Prologue) and focuses on Frankie. There are 35 chapters, which makes each relatively short at nine pages. I read the paperback in 4 hours throughout 1 day when I had some free time. It’s clear, direct and focuses almost entirely on the main story, while building the world of Stillwater General and the town Frankie will undoubtedly move back to if the series continues.

Strengths
Frankie is a fantastic character. She has flaws, but you like her. She pushes your buttons just enough and then pulls back. She’s smart, but also has a lot to learn about herself and life. She is methodical and independent, yet she asks for help from others. The plot is also very intriguing. It’s clear from the Prologue that someone is going to kill the heart attack victim, but we have no idea when. The victim knows something’s wrong with him, but even he’s unsure who did it, at first.

You’ll be pulled in right away when this story takes off. It’s rare I have a strong emotional connection, but this one made me focus immediately. Once Frankie arrives in the ER at Stillwater, she is a dynamo and you can’t decide whether you’re hurting more for the heart attack victim, Frankie’s third failed engagement or her sister who may lose her baby. I very much enjoy the author’s style, which balances detail and dialogue quite well. A clear recommended read from me.

Concerns
Very little. For the most part, everything flowed quite nicely. There’s a few areas of suspended disbelief, but not anything big. I struggled with the victim’s daughter so willingly connecting to the nurse who is named in the lawsuit, but it is a small town. I couldn’t quite tell what the family drama was in the past, but something felt like it was a little too rushed. I suspect that’s due to it being a potential plot in a future book (which is OK with me!). I also thought too many people were willing to sneak information to Frankie as she worked on the case, but in a small town, perhaps that’s just how it is. Nothing that alarmed me nor should it worry you. It’s good to push readers sometimes, at least I like when that happens. Boundaries are limitless in books.

Final Thoughts
For a debut in a mystery somewhere between a cozy and a thriller, it’s intriguing. It’s not quite a medical drama, but it’s got enough sophistication to push readers beyond normal laymen’s terms (which is a good thing). I will definitely read book number two and am quite interested in how this story will evolve. Thanks to the publisher for keeping me in mind for this and future ones.

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.

Book Review: The Black Painting by Neil Olson

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Book review on ‘The Black Painting’ by Neil Olson…

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Why This Book
I stumbled on this via NetGalley several months ago. The cover was creepy and it revolved around a family mystery involving a missing painting and the death of a grandfather. I had to add it to my TBR, then they awarded it to me. I am trying to clear off all NetGalley books by 12/31 so I can start the new year with a clean slate, so this was last week’s choice.

Plot, Characters & Setting
The Morse family head passes away, leaving behind a few children and four grandchildren, all after his money to varying levels or degrees. He may or may not have a lot, they’re unsure. Yet there was a mysterious Goya painting that had been stolen and could still be lurking around. The family all come home to his Owl’s Point, New England estate to attend the funeral and will after someone finds him dead. Each family member, particularly the cousins, are all a bit kooky and very focused on the painting. As the story unfolds, you learn different components of the past, especially where everyone was the day the painting went missing. We soon learn the grandfather may have been murdered and the family begins pointing fingers at one another, including their grandfather’s housekeeper and confidant, Ilsa. There’s also a small fantasy element in knowing the painting might have a ghost that makes anyone who views it go mad.

Approach & Style
I read this ~300 page novel in 5 hours over a weekend. It’s told in third-person POV with a perspective from each of the major family members. I read it on my iPad via Kindle Reader.

Key Feedback
This was a tough read; I found myself skimming way too often. I very much looked forward to the family drama, suspense and mystery elements. These all existed, but something was missing. It was very difficult to connect with the characters, everything was quite vague. It felt like the story focused on the smallest of details and went on for pages on actions that had no true bearing on character development or plot. That said, the writing style and tone were very strong. The author clearly writes well, but I think the characters didn’t match the plot in this book. In the end, I enjoyed parts of it, but it could have been so much more with a different approach. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to others as a good read, but there’s nothing bad about it. It just didn’t have a great impact on me, perhaps I am the wrong audience for it.

Questions & Final Thoughts
So much about this book had potential. And for some readers, it’s probably going to be quite strong. For me, the most memorable component was that it just always felt 10% off the mark in terms of what I like in a family drama. I am curious to see other works by this author in the future, as I think the writing and talent is present.

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.

Book Review: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

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Another great read by J.T. Ellison with ‘Lie To Me’ — my book review is below…

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Why This Book 
I selected Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison, when it was available on NetGalley about 3 months ago, after enjoying a prior book by this author. I’m glad I did as it was very engaging and twisty. I chose it this weekend because I am trying to get to a ‘0’ count on NetGalley TBR books and other ARCs so that I can start 2018 with a clean and fresh slate to choose new reads.

Approach & Style 
I read this ~400 page book on my iPad through Kindle Reader over ~5 hours in one day. It is written in third-person POV from a few different character perspectives, including the killer, the husband and the wife. It switches back and forth a few times, but is usually clear and clean when it does.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Ethan and Sutton, both authors jealous of each other’s work, have been married for a few years despite fighting a lot. They lost a baby a few years ago and there might have been an affair or two, it’s unclear at first. Sutton leaves a note that she needs space and no one should look for her outside their Tennessee hometown; Ethan thinks there is foul play and begins to check with her friends and family. Eventually, he loops in the cops and a full investigation opens. It’s difficult to provide anymore details without giving away the plot, but there are tons of twists involving bloggers, reviewers, friends, family and murders in another country. Nothing is as it seems and you never quite know who to trust.

Strengths 
The cast of characters is varied and diverse. You get a sense of love and hatred from almost all of them. The sub-plots are nicely woven into the overall story. The drama and suspense are at a good level — not too over-the-top, not too weak. The writing style is strong and inviting.

Concerns 
The two main characters aren’t very likable. They both seem to treat each other poorly, which makes readers uncertain about rooting for them. Ultimately, the he said / she said dilemma leaves you thinking at the end that there are a few too many open-ended situations. While some intensity and far-out plot points are necessary to keep the thrills high, there are a few pieces that either fell too short or went a bit too far for me. Not enough to have a problem with the work, but enough to hold it back from being a true stellar read. Overall, it’s a typical twisty thrill ride, but because of solid writing and good characters, I’d recommend it to others as a good read.

Author & Other Similar Books 
It’s very similar to Gone Girl. VERY similar.

Questions & Final Thoughts 
I like these types of books. I turn the pages quickly. I get invested. I like the balance between reality and chaos. The author is a good writer. It’s a definite recommend from me for a quick weekend read, but it’s not the “oh my god you have to read this book” type of situation.

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:

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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.

Watching Glass Shatter: Blog Tour Day 16b – Two Posts & Bonus Surprise

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As the blog tour comes to an end this week, we have today’s final scheduled post from Brina @ 5171 Mile Book Club — thank you to her for taking a chance on me and reading the book. I appreciate her joining the blog tour team. Go check out her site!

We also have a fun Q&A about the book launch with a wonderful author, Cathleen Townsend. You should all check out her site below (first link) and see her books. I’ll be doing a review on one of them in the next few weeks. It sounds great. 🙂

SPECIAL SURPRISE: Tomorrow is a fellow blogger’s birthday and she will be releasing her own book review / post on Watching Glass Shatter. She and I have been chatting since the beginning of my blog, and she wanted to do a BONUS final post to end the blog tour. I’m so excited and can’t wait to see it. Stay tuned tomorrow 11/21 for the conclusion of the tour!

via Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney–Book Review and Author Interview

via Watching Glass Shatter – Review / Blog Tour

Watching Glass Shatter: Blog Tour Day 15b – Read Rant Rock and Roll – Interview!

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It’s our next stop on the fantastic blog tour with the wonderful Mischenko. She had a really fun interview with tons of analytical questions about my writing style, life outside of being an author, and what the plan is for 2018 and 2019 books. If you don’t know her, this is a special treat. Mischenko’s prepared one of the most comprehensive posts linking so many of the other articles, blogs and sites. She often interviews authors and has a great style for getting fun information from her writers… thank you to her for this special post!

via Blog Tour: Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Book Review & Author Interview