Archives

Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

shake

Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

On Life and The Fast Lane

And just like that, it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I could follow that up with the usual. How I’ve been busy, in pain, depressed, etc. but the fact remains…it’s been four and a half months since I’ve blogged.

I remain amazed and in awe that during my period of silence here and barely tweeting, “Can’t Get Enough” continues to do well, people continue to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and I still have some faithful followers of this tired, old blog.

To detail the happenings of these past months would take a long, drawn out post that I don’t want to write and I’m sure you don’t want to read. But, to be as brief as possible, I started an intense weight-loss and work-out regimine that required all of my attention (apparently) and as a result I lost nearly 50 pounds.

transformation

I also went blonde.I re-entered the work force, temping at a warehouse for a couple of months before the contract ended, and now I’m basically back where I started. Except, I now have the first draft of a novel thanks to NaNoWriMo. Yes, I participated in and completed National Novel Writing Month. I began rewrites on my WIP, but quickly became…unmotivated. So, there’s that.

Otherwise, I’m existing and trying to find ways to be more present, both here, and in life. My birthday is approaching, so it’s getting pretty dark over here.

Accountability

When I sort of accidentally began this journey, accountability was a big thing for me. I talked about it. Owned it. Showed it. Through daily full body Instagram photos, I am holding myself accountable to myself and to (I’d like to think) the world for my fitness and health, whether I do or don’t meet my goals for that day, week or whatever.

Just recently, I’ve begun adding food pics to the mix, which I had been doing from time to time before, but that’s when I was flaky about it all and could easily have had a salad for lunch and fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. You’d see the pretty picture of the salad, but you wouldn’t see and I wouldn’t speak of the fried chicken.

I guess it’s like the proverbial tree in the forest. If I eat it and no one’s around to witness it, does that mean it didn’t happen? Well, I knew that couldn’t last because even if I didn’t post pictures of every meal, I repeat, I post full body shots of myself every single day, so you would know something went awry, somewhere. I wouldn’t be telling the truth. I wouldn’t be telling my truth. And there are many parts to my truth.

The truth is, if this were five days ago, I’d have either a vodka cranberry or a glass of wine in my hand. And if I’m going to tell the truth, five days ago, I DID have a vodka cranberry in my hand, and followed it up with several more. And let’s just throw a couple of shots of tequila in there for sport, because that happened, too.

Also, a hangover happened, and though I’ve posted a vicious hangover selfie on Instagram, I made sure I got myself together before I posted my daily shot, and I still went walking/jogging.

I haven’t had a drink since Sunday and that’s in part because I’ve been thinking a lot about this accountability thing and also because a friend challenged me to a strict seven day fitness thingy that doesn’t allow for alcohol.

It’s been easy. Unbelievably easy until today, when my day wasn’t so good, when my relationship isn’t glowing that perfect glow, when I’m so annoyed/pissed/mad/sad that I just want to numb myself with a vodka neat or a whole bottle of wine. And yes, I can take down a whole bottle…and a half.

So, far I’m resisting. Sipping iced water and channeling this negative energy into new words and promoting Can’t Get Enough. And I think I’m able to resist mostly out of stubbornness and a small part of me thinks it may be an around about attempt at sabotage because my husband of course lives with me, knows my habits, my weaknesses and unfortunately, my triggers.

It’s good to get that off my chest. I’ll let  you know how it turns out tomorrow. Honestly.

Boundaries

lafyette

 

This is going to get personal, like, really personal. But that’s what we do here. Chat lightly, things get heavy, we promote a little.

I would categorize this one as a vent, except I’m not angry, and quite frankly, that worries me.

I may or may not have spoken here about boundaries. Specifically boundaries in a relationship. And sure, everyone has their own, whether expressed or unspoken.

Mine, however, have been blatantly expressed in the past, but now I find myself dealing with the same issue.

Specifically, I’m talking boundaries when it comes to being in contact with people other than your spouse/partner.

Where do you draw the line? At texting? At calling? At hanging out?

And to catch you up. The spouse is mine, the contact is via text (as far as I know) and he sort of told me as an afterthought.

The texter is a coworker. Remember those simultaneous dreams he and I had where I dreamed he was having an affair with a coworker and he dreamed I was having an affair with the neighbor? Weird, right? Well, the neighbor moved.

And his coworker, not someone he works closely with or even physically comes in contact with on a daily basis, texted him yesterday to “check on him.”

He’s on vacation. He’s not sick.

He’s simply not at work. And if he’s not at work, then guess what? He’s at home or somewhere with his wife, who would be doing the checking on if need be.

I didn’t say anything at first.

Because I try to be a cool, modern wife, you know. But the thing is, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and at some point, I started to boil over.

He thinks it’s jealousy. I think it’s boundaries, plain and simple. If I’ve not met, formed any type of friendship with this woman, she does not get to have a part in our marriage that’s exclusive to only him, especially when I was here first.

But, maybe that’s just me.

In the end I gave my opinion and honestly, he seemed sort of sad, like I had taken away a favorite toy or something. He even told me to find a guy to text after I asked how he’d feel if he were in my shoes. WTF, right?

Now, mama didn’t raise no fool. I didn’t come out and say “stop this or else” because if he wanted to stop he would and if I told him to stop and he didn’t want to, guess what? He’d continue, only behind my back which would make it definitely look like something even if it’s nothing.

So what did I do? What any sane woman would do, of course. I friended her on Facebook. I’ve got the bitch on my radar and I’m watching the situation closely. That’s all I’m saying.

 

 

“All They Do Is Fuck”

A few days ago, I walked into the room to find my husband had started watching True Blood from Season 1. Neither of us had ever expressed interested in watching and really knew nothing about it.

I, however, know that I’m not into vampires in any kind of way, I don’t even know if “vampire” should be capitalized.

But, when I walked in, Sookey and Bill were, well, in the throes.

“That’s it,” my husband said, pointing at the screen, “that’s all they do.”

So, naturally, I was intrigued and started watching with him. It’s officially our thing now.

But, beyond all the wild, crazy, “dirty dick and all” sex, we like the damaged relationship between Tara and her mother. We love that Tara is such an emotional mess and keeps pushing Sam away.

And fake voodoo woman?

And naked man turned dog shape shifting?

Count me, I mean, us in!

At this point, we’re pretty attached to Lafyette, so don’t tell us if he dies. We almost needed resuscitation when we thought he was dead at the end of Season 1.

So, we’re enjoying it, and Hubs has sternly looked at the dog and said, “I better not ever catch your ass naked at the end of my bed!”
 

Date Night Done Right

There are no blog stops scheduled today or tomorrow, so this weekend you’re link and plug free! Yay!

I know how annoying constant promotion can be when every tweet, every blog is a link oto see my book, like my book, buy my book. And while I realize these things are important to a book’s success, I also know you got it the first, second or third time around.

Promoting your work can be tricky. It’s a constant test of balance between pushing your work and maintaining that light , casual relationship on social media.

So instead, let me tell you how date night became this:

kelandchase

And this:

friedgreen

First of all, I didn’t think a date night was necessary. Hubs actually took his days off this week and his sister and her fiance visited. We had a really good time , but he felt he owed me some quality time. There wasn’t a movie at the theatre that we hadn’t seen and we really didn’t feel like going out in the rain to have dinner.

So, we decided we’d grab a DVD and stay in and cuddle for the evening. However, both our bodies decided otherwise. We lay across the bed and watched Rookie Blue, some Mike and Molly and soon my husband, myself and the dog fell asleep spoon style at the foot of the bed.

It was both cute and pathetic. And dinner? That was a plate of fried green tomatoes.

Fancy, huh?

I know. It’s what I do.

Change and stuff.

We’ve been in our new home in our new state now for five + months. My lips want to form the words “I couldn’t be happier” because that’s mostly my answer when people from back home ask how I’m doing, how I like it, how we’re all transitioning. And honestly, I am happy, very. We live in a nice, quiet neighborhood, the twins attend a wonderful school where they are thriving, and the hubby has seen immense change from his old facility to the one he’s at now.

And I have gone from being a mom, wife and writer who also worked full time to only being responsible for shuttling the kids school and activities and well, taking care of home and stuff, and of course, writing. It was the dream. It was what I always wanted and never thought I could have and now that I have it, I guess it just feels unbelievable.

For one, there’s the self-inflicted guilt that not only am I not generating any income, I’m also not taking full advantage of the many hours I have to myself. I’m doing better about it now. I’m actually writing a novel. I know, I’m always writing a novel, but this is the most dedicated I have ever been to it and I have an actual outline that I’m following. I’ve never done that before, now have I?

Also, the release date for Can’t Get Enough will be here before I know it (July 14, 2014, if you didn’t know) and I’ve got to step up my promotion game. Transitioning from just writing to writing and also editing, that extra responsibility is pretty new to me, but it is very necessary if I want this book to be a success and if I want publishers to want me to edit for them again.

I will be blogging more frequently (famous last words, eh?), here and also over at Can’t Get Enough’s blog. There are some short story calls that I’ve started stories for and I want/need to finish. I just want to be a more dedicated writer, a better me, and that itself will take more change than the big move ever did.