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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.

Easy like…

vodka

…feel free to take it from there, but let me tell you, nothing about this Sunday is easy, not for me anyway. I knew it had been a few days since I updated here, but a whole week?! Wow, I had no idea. And in the meantime, so many readers, blogger and reviewers were happily participating in the Can’t Get Enough blog tour, including the Trollop With A Laptop herself, Alison Tyler, who posted this colorful interview with me on her blog yesterday, while I was busy shuttling the twin to the sitter, driving to a book signing…

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…signing one (tee hee) book and driving back, picking up twins, picking up dinner then coming home where it began storming and the power went out.

And that was just yesterday. Today I planned to stay in bed all day and rest because I was bold, no foolish enough to wear heels yesterday, and apparently I must atone for that today. However, instead of resting and recovering peacefully, I’m having to deal with the difficult tenant I’ve been avoiding mentioning to much over the past year (because I’m such a fucking lady) because after avoiding being served with a notice of eviction, she finally got served, then tells me that she needs more than ten days. Not because she doesn’t have anywhere to go, mind you, but because she doesn’t feel like moving her stuff.

Really, she doesn’t feel like it? Well, you know what I don’t feel like? Paying mortgage on a home that I’m not living in and not being reimbursed for it and having it torn all to hell to boot. So, yeah, that’s going on right now, but I’m trying to put my energy elsewhere.

Like this creative spurt I’m going through right now. While the power was out yesterday evening, I entertained my husband by reading him the beginnings of some things I’m working on. One story is a comedy in addition to being erotic, and the first paragraph made him laugh out loud. That was cool.

But speaking of Alison Tyler, one of several things I did on Friday (indcluding having tires changed, ugh!) was visit the Atlanta bookstore Charis Books where I spotted her Dark Secret Love on display on the shelf. I couldn’t resist snapping this picture and tweeting and tagging her.

darksecret

She wrote about it on her blog today.

I know this is a super long post, but I had a lot of catching up to do. I haven’t even mentioned that Rose Caraway announced the winners of her give away on Friday! And she did it in such a unique and clever way!

Thanks, Rose, thank everyone, and thanks if you made it through this post!

On Being Considered An African American Study

lafyette

First of all let me say, that it is an honor to even have made this category, no matter how Can’t Get Enough landed there. Not only is it there, it is in the top 50 ranked in paid Kindle books. And not only is it in the top 50, it is actually ranked #24. Right next to Alex Haley’s Roots is Tenille Brown’s Can’t Get Enough.

I know this because I stalk the Amazon rankings, which I know is an authorly no, no, but being so fresh out, I just can’t help myself. I check daily, multiple times a day. Which is how I also found out that the book is ranked #37 in African American Erotica. Needless to say, I’m floored, in awe, everything I’ve probably said a million times since the book came out.

A part of my Amazon stalking madness is due to the fact that I want so badly for the book to do well so that I can have the opportunity to edit other books, even publish a novel or two or ten. So, it matters. It’s do or die. It’s (insert appropriate cliche here).

But, all that aside…the blog tour continues. Today there is a guest post from me at Erzabet Bishop’s place (whose juicy, dirty, and kinky story, Waiting, is included in the book). There i’m talking about the selection of kinky stories and how they got there. She also excerpts Waiting. Check it out.

Ali’s Addiction, Alison’s Wrap-Up and Acworth, GA

I got an early start this morning (read-I didn’t go back to sleep after the hubs went to work). I stayed up and finished answering some interview questions for something so exciting that I wish I could tell you all about, but I can’t yet, and sent them in. Speaking of which, the three hour time difference between my publishers and I really works in my favor. I have emails for them three or four hours before they’re scheduled to be at work, so it makes me feel super productive and shit.

Moving right along, today’s stop on the Can’t Get Enough blog tour is at Ali’s Addiction. She excerpts from Beatrix Ellroy’s Before They Burn, a delightful (and hot) little baking story, and she gives you the opportunity to win a copy of my book. Now, why wouldn’t you stop on by?

Also happening is my second Books-A-Million signing, this time in Acworth, GA. So, if you’re in or around the area tomorrow afternoon, I would love it if you would come to:

Books-A-Million #106
3372 North Cobb Parkway
Acworth, GA 30101
2-4 p.m.

Yesterday, Alison Tyler included my in her Wrap-Up blog, where she mentioned the recent release of Summer Loving (an anthology created specifically for and all proceeds going to the wonderful Sommer Marsden and her family) in which my story, An Oven On Broil is included.

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She also spoke about Open, the book on which my name first appeared on a cover! Thanks much, Alison!

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Busy, busy today. More interview questions to answer and blog posts to write, but if I’m at the keyboard, that’s the best kind of busy of all!

On signing books, guest blogging and being called a “Breakout editor…”

I feel like much of my days are spent playing catch up. For a while there, I was on a roll, posting in sync with daily blog tour stops, updating everyone on new events and appearances, etc. And then I took what I didn’t intend to be a break, but turned out to be one, and now here I am, with so much to tell all at once.

First, yesterday’s blog tour stop. It was at author Annabeth Leong’s place and I wrote a guest post about cars and sex, one of the many sub themes in Can’t Get Enough. You can see it here if you missed it yesterday.

We also earned our 6th 5 star Amazon review yesterday. Very flattering. One of the best yet. Here it is.

Secondly, the book signing. It was this past Saturday at a Books-A-Million in Lawrenceville, GA. By that time I had done a one and a half hour reading with a wonderful group of ladies and was less shaky about appearing in public. Plus, I wouldn’t be required to say the words fuck, pussy or cock in a crowded room. All I had to do was sit there, a table with my books stacked in front of me and wait for the customers to come by, pick up a book and have me sign it. Except, for the first hour plus, I didn’t sign anything.

Well, that’s not completely true. Within the first ten minutes a woman approached me excitedly and asked for my autograph (not in a book, but in her little notebook where she collects them, but still…). I happily gave it to her though I’m still getting used to autographing things and am pretty insecure about my penmanship when do so. But anyway, she asked for a hug which I gladly gave. Hugs are easy. Hugs are reassuring, I can do hugs with no problem. I forgot to take her picture though.

In the last thirty minutes a woman came by and bought a book for herself and one for her book club. That made me extremely happy. Then, who I eventually found out was Gary Wit Da Tea from The Rickey Smiley Show came by, bought a book and took a picture with me. He also bought both my signing mates book (it was Lewis Ericson, BTW). My day was made after that, and then it was time for me to go.

tenandgary

Over the weekend an idea had been brewing in my mind re: marketing and I’m thinking and hoping something will happen with that soon. But, the hubs Googled me today and saw this.

I’m sure there are words sufficient enough to describe how unbelievable happy and proud this makes me, but right now, I just don’t have them. All I have is this feeling of shock and awe. Oh, and nerves out of this world.

Meet me tonight…

Is the invitation as sexy as it sounds? Why, yes, yes it is. Tonight’s reading, my very first reading ever after writing and publishing erotica for over ten years, is at Charis Books in Atlanta, Georgia. If you live in the area, just passing through, want to take an impromptu flight out or whatever, the reading is from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The address is:

1189 Euclid Ave.
Atlanta, GA 30307

I waited until, oh, about three a.m. to get nervous about it. Sat straight up in the bed like I was late for something. But, every one in the house was sleeping soundly, and because I’m so polite I was very quiet with my freak out.

And to add to it, I checked my Twitter feed (because everyone does at 3 a.m.) and saw that Rubicon Reader (my absolute favorite reviewer and Jeep lover) had congratulated me on a literary award nomination. Now, I tend to question not only my sight, but my sanity at 3 in the morning so it took a minute for it to register. Then I followed the link and saw this.

To say that I’m not only surprised, but extremely honored doesn’t even begin to describe this feeling. However this happened, I am grateful, and thank you.

I also thank you all for every review, retweet and favorite when it comes to my incessant tweeting and talking about Can’t Get Enough.

Love you guys, but must go and vomit now.