Friday, September 5, 2014

TO Ph.D. OR NOT TO Ph.D.?

I started my third year of graduate school last week, and while the courses I'm taking are interesting and I'm feeling that euphoria of knowing it will all be over soon, I have also spent a lot of time reflecting on why I did this in the first place and where I will go from here.

The idea of continuing on for my Ph.D. has been bouncing around in the back of my skull for some time, but I made a decision today to forever (probably) scratch that off my bucket list. I've been drawn to USC's (University of Southern California) graduate program for three of reasons: 1 - If you're lucky enough to get into the program, THEY PAY YOU! Getting a Doctorate--for free??? So tempting.  2 - Unlike most Doctoral programs that offer studies only in literature, USC has a lit/creative writing hybrid. Very cool. And 3 - It's within driving distance from my house. Doable.

What are the drawbacks? I counted seven. First, they only accept 3 - yes, 3! - fiction students each year. Talk about competitive.
 

Second, students must select several specialized areas of study from a list. Children's literature is not on that list. Bummer.

Third, students must show a proficiency in a foreign language. What??? I'm still on level one of Rosetta Stone Spanish. I highly doubt I'll master the language between now and next summer.

Fourth, the program is five years long. That wouldn't be a problem if I was, say, 25 or even 35, but as of today I am 46 years old. I'd be over 50 by the time I get that degree, the age at which most people start thinking about retiring!

Fifth, why the heck do I need a Ph.D. anyway? It seems to me that the only reason to get a doctorate in literature is to become a university professor. And while I do intend to teach, it is not my end all goal. I will teach not because I really want to teach (though I really do enjoy it), but because I need some money to help put my five kids through college! I do not want to teach full time. I don't want tenure. I don't even want health insurance. Just a little something extra for the kids' college funds.

Sixth, I want to WRITE! My passion is writing. My dream is to make enough money as a writer SOMEDAY so that I don't have to do anything else! The M.A., the teaching, all that is my back up plan. Graduate school has seriously interrupted my writing. Tacking on another five years of doctoral studies - I might as well just stop writing all together.

Seventh, the most important reason of all. I'm a mom. During the past two years, I've spent between 5-10 hours a week going to school, one or two nights each week, not including my study time. It's not much really, but I want to spend more time with my kids, not less.

So I am not, NOT doing the Ph.D. thing. I'll soon have my back up plan securely in place with my M.A. and a part-time adjunct professorship at a local city college. I'll hang with my kids, write some more books, and hopefully give my writing career a kickstart. And when I graduate, I'm going throw myself the biggest party in the history of...whatever. I will definitely be celebrating.

BOOK TOUR: SOULESS by Amber Garr

SOULESS
Amber Garr
Hallowed Ink Press
Ages 14+


When it comes to death and love...only one is guaranteed.

Four decades ago Nora died. A tragic event for someone so young; however, four decades ago Nora was also given a second chance to walk among the living.

A Death Warden with a mysterious past, her job is to escort the newly expired towards the light, battling with the Soul Hunters who want the freshly dead to help with their own evil purposes buried in the dark.

When Nora's charges suddenly become targets, she realizes that the hunters are after far more than just souls. A shift in power between good and evil threatens to change everything, risking the lives of the only family Nora has ever known.

Devastated and angry, she's forced to face the man she once loved - a man who chose darkness over her - in order to find the answers she needs to stop the horror from escalating. Yet, while a lost relationship still haunts her broken heart, a new Warden with secrets of his own will enter the mix and quickly alter everything Nora believed to be true.

Death is unavoidable...but sometimes, so is love.

 

EXCERPT:

No one invites Death to a party.

Luckily, I wore a disguise. . . and I wasn’t Death, exactly. It’s true I might linger around humans on their way out of this world, but I wasn’t the one who decided their fate. I just had to explain it all.
Knowing what type of scene I was about to enter, I decided to use my free time in this realm—as well as my natural petite body—to their fullest advantage. Grimacing at the hideous tunic I wished I could leave behind forever, I morphed into a pair of skinny jeans, black corset, and high heeled boots that clung to my calves like liquid leather. Concentrating a little more, I looked down to admire my success. The matching hot pink thong and lower back tattoo peeked out in all the right places, promising these poor souls favors I would never honor.

At least I didn’t plan on it.

“Wow! Where did you come from, Angel?”

I looked up to see a tall, blond frat boy standing next to the door. His hungry eyes and wide smile tempted something inside me. Not lust, it was pity. He eagerly grabbed at his friend’s arm, directing his attention toward the new fresh meat. I hadn’t even made it up the porch of the old house before being spotted. Although, if being honest with myself, I loved his reaction. I walked up the stairs and stood in the doorway.

Horrible reggae-techno music blasted onto the street, and with each beat of the overly loud bass the windows pulsated. I’d just stepped into the middle of a raging college party. A brief sense of sadness crept through me as I imagined the life I could’ve had as one of the living, if only it hadn’t been cut so short. I never made it to college. Never had a chance to get drunk and be stupid. Never even had a real date.

But when I took in my surroundings, I remembered that I wouldn’t have missed very much.


College students littered the ground floor with their gyrating bodies and arrogant sense of selves. More spilled onto the stairs leading up to the bedrooms, reminding me of cows being led to slaughter. A combination of darkness and smoke from legal and illicit substances created a ghostly haze throughout the house. Glow sticks hung around people’s necks and settled in the bottom of clear plastic cups, giving the cheap beer an odd tint.

“I don’t think we’ve met you before.” The doorman commented while using the proverbial fraternity ‘we’. He was cute. Young and inexperienced, but still cute. Built like an athlete with round, dark eyes and fashionably messy hair, I knew college would probably be the best years of his life. I wondered how long he’d have after that; after losing the hair, gaining the beer gut, and sitting with his co-workers from a hideous job talking about the good old days.

“No, you haven’t.” I smiled, turning on the charm. “I’m looking for Todd.”

“Is that so?” He stepped away from his post and moved closer. Devouring me with his eyes, he offered a wicked smile full of blatant innuendos. He stood close enough for me to smell his cologne over the cigarettes and stale beer stench clinging to his clothes. Not bad. I placed a hand on his muscular arm and rose up on my toes.

“Yes, that’s so.” Not a sexy statement, but I knew how to make it one. I’d had a good teacher when I joined the ‘other side’. Ignoring the sudden pang of longing in my heart, I continued playing my role. With a slight whisper, my lips passed by the frat boy’s neck and brushed close to his ear. His sharp intake of breath let me know I’d hit my mark.

Bending his head down to accommodate our height difference, he returned the flirtatious gesture by speaking directly into my ear.

“Oh, that’s too bad.”

His hand slid around my lower back and ever so slightly pulled me a little closer. He took a deep breath, seeming to commit my scent to memory. A small sensation of his lips against my shoulder sent shivers through my body just before he let out a deep sigh.

“Are you sure you want Todd?” He sounded rather serious, but frat boys had a code, and if I belonged to Todd this one wouldn’t give me too much trouble. Not unless I asked for it.

I giggled and gave a tight squeeze on his arm. “I am right now, but I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out.”

Pulling back, I looked into his eyes and saw the potential a few more moments of flirting could hold. And the danger. It had been a long time since I commanded this kind of attention.

“Promise?” he asked with a wink.

I nodded, and he pointed to the living room-turned impromptu dance floor. Giving him a final killer smile, I sauntered toward the center of the party feeling his gaze on me the whole way.

Todd McCormick was drunk.

Reeling on wobbly feet, he attempted to dance with his girlfriend, whose slurred speech and loud laughter indicated her own state of induced oblivion. As the center of attention, he sang a bad version of Brown Eyed Girl to Emily in between cheek kisses and gulps of beer. A couple of his friends joined him on the chorus and gave her a serenade only the inebriated could truly appreciate. They were enjoying themselves.

I’d been watching Todd for two decades, and one thing I could say was that when he wanted to let loose, he gave it his all. I suppose I envied him a bit for his youth and naïveté—two characteristics I’d lost a long time ago. Responsibilities, angst, and death now filled my days. I suppose one could argue that I chose this for myself, but I could also argue that I really didn’t have much of a choice at all. And now, here I stood, flirting with college guys while watching others make complete idiots out of themselves with no idea what was in store for them.
 

 

Monday, September 1, 2014

SEPTEMBER IS FOR SEQUELS GIVEAWAY HOP



SeptemberSequels Giveaway

Welcome to the September Sequels Giveaway Hop hosted by Lisa Loves Literature and I Am A Reader! I'm giving away...


To be eligible to win, just fill out the rafflecopter below.  U.S. residents 18 years and older only, please. Don't forget to visit the other participating blogs for more chances to win. Thank you!

King Dork Approximately



Sunday, August 31, 2014

LAUNCH MARTIAN GOODS & OTHER STORIES! 6 DAYS LEFT!!!

Yikes! We're down to 6 days left of our Kickstarter campaign to raise $1500 for Martian Goods & Other Stories! We need your help!

Make Your Pledge Today: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/skyrocket/martian-goods-and-other-stories

So far we are just about half way to our goal, but without more support we won't get a penny! Please consider making a pledge today. Here are the rewards you can earn:

$5 - A digital copy of the book

$10 - A print copy

$25 - Have the author sign and personalize a copy of Martian Goods & Other Stories just for you! Plus, get 5 digital copies for your friends!

$50 - Want a signed copy for a friend? Pledge $50 and get two autographed copies & 5 digital copies! Plus your name will be mentioned in the acknowledgement page!

$100 - Get that "must have" limited edition Martian Goods coffee mug - Plus, see your name forever engraved on our website Donor Wall of Fame! Get the signed books, too, of course!

$250 - Everything everybody else gets, AND get 5 signed copies! Perfect Xmas gifts for everyone on your list.

For any donation, you will have our eternal gratitude for helping to launch this wonderful book, and you'll enjoy tremendous satisfaction for having played a part in its launch. But hurry! Make your pledge today! And please spread the word!!! Thank you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: FROM THE MAGICAL MIND OF MINDY MUNSON

FROM THE MAGICAL MIND OF MINDY MUNSON
Nikki Bennett
Firedrake Books
Ages 5 - 13

Every house has a history. This House has a mystery.

When the orphaned Munson kids move with their aunt to The House, Mindy Munson discovers strange creatures living there already. Ghosts. Dragons. Leprechauns. And a scary Thing lurking in the basement.

Mindy’s older sister Susie is determined to find out where these creatures came from and why they’re living in the Munson’s house. With the help of the next-door neighbors and an old lady named Mrs. Wemberley, Susie, Mindy and their brothers unravel The House’s amazing secrets. And along the way, they discover some incredible secrets about themselves.

MY REVIEW:

What initially drew me to this book was the cover. I thought it was kind of cute. And the title was intriguing. Now having read The Magical Mind of Mindy Munson, I was not disappointed. Mindy is a little girl who doesn't talk, except to whisper to her twin brother, Jesse, who is sort of her spokesman for their two older siblings, Tucker and Susie. After the Munson kids lose their parents in an accident, they move to a new (old) house with their aunt. But according to Mindy, this house is already occupied by a host of invisible magical creatures.

The story's narrative is childlike and sweet. And I really started to believe in those creatures, too. But at its heart, this is about loss and healing. And more importantly it's a story about family. I enjoyed this little book immensely and kids of all ages will enjoy it, too.


Friday, August 22, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
M.R. Carey
Orbit Books
Adult

The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.


MY REVIEW:

I picked up this book at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, CA after asking for a good zombie book. As I've mentioned before, I'm reading nothing but zombie books this summer, and this was by far one of the best books I've read all year.

Melanie is a young girl who spends her days strapped in a wheel chair with a muzzle over her mouth. Other than the fact that she and the other young students are "hungries" she seems like any other normal child. That's the problem. Most hungries are your typical brainless, rotting flesh zombies. But these kids are smart, strong, and healthy. Which is why they are part of a very important research project on a protected military base, one of the last spots in England untouched by the plague.

But when the walls are breeched by a horde of zombies, Melanie escapes along with her favorite teacher, two military personal, and the doctor intent on dissecting Melanie's brain for research. What follows is a harrowing journey through zombie-infested cities as they try to make it back to civilization alive.

This story is remarkable, fast-paced, shocking, and sickeningly entertaining. I couldn't stop turning the pages. And the ending is not at all what I expected. A book anyone, even non-zombie lovers, can enjoy. Melanie is one of those characters that will stay with you long after you close the book's cover.



CONTENT RATING:

Profanity:  High
Sexuality:  Mild
Violence:  High

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CLEAR YOUR SHELF GIVEAWAY HOP

*  Help launch SKYROCKET PRESS' debut book. New publisher alert!
*  Review:  WOOL by Hugh Howey
*  Watch trailer for MARTIAN GOODS & OTHER STORIES



 

Welcome to the CLEAR YOUR SHELF GIVEAWAY HOP hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader!

I have 8 - COUNT THEM - EIGHT! Brand new ARCs I picked up at ALA this summer, which unfortunately I won't have time to read. So I want to share them with you! To be eligible to win, just Like me on Facebook. Also, fill out the rafflecopter form below for more chances to win. When you're done, be sure sure to stop by all the other participating blogs!

Ends on August 27th - U.S. Residents 18 years and older please. Thanks!

Hider, Seeker, Secret KeeperKing Dork ApproximatelyHero Complex 

Pink & Green Is the New Black: Pink & Green Book ThreeJane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen MysteryBlack Dance
Keep Your Friends CloseCobra