Friday, August 15, 2014

Aubrie Dionne - Minstrel's Serenade versus Game of Thrones

Today, we have a special guest. It's been a while since we've had her here. Please welcome back, Aubrie Dionne.

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her books have received the highest ratings from Romance Times Magazine and BTS Magazine, as well as Night Owl Reviews and Two Lips Reviews.

She has guest blogged on the USA Today Happy Ever After Blog and the Dear Teen Me blog and signed books at the Boston Book Festival, Barnes and Noble, and the Romance Writers of America conference.

Her books are published by HarperImpulse, Entangled Publishing, Astraea Press, Spencer Hill Press, Inkspell Publishing, and Lyrical Press. When she's not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras.


3 Ways Minstrel’s Serenade is like Game of Thrones and 3 Ways it’s not!

  1. There are dragons, zombies, and warriors! (Although the zombies are stories from the past. The real threat in this book is the dragons.) 
  2. Epic battles abound. (Not kingdom against kingdom- people against dragons!)
  3. Marriages are for political reasons. (Which is the central romantic conflict through the story.)
Not Alike 

  1. There are no prostitutes and no one’s running around naked. (Thank goodness!)
  2. The dragons are already taking out towns in the beginning. (No waiting around.)
  3. No dogs are killed. (Thank goodness again!) 


Minstrel's Serenade

 He’s sworn to protect her, but can he save her from himself?

Danika Rubystone has hated the minstrels ever since her mother ran away with one. As Princess, she’s duty bound to marry Valorian, a minstrel from the House of Song. But problems in the kingdom are mounting.

With her father dead she’s the sole heir to an imperiled throne, and wyverns attack Ebonvale’s southern shores. But after Danika finds a lone survivor of a wyvern’s attack who holds the key to protecting the kingdom and she finally meets the enchantingly sly Valorian, everything changes.

As Ebonvale’s Royal Guard sails with the minstrels to smite the uprising of wyverns, Danika dances a line between sticking by duty like her father, or following her wild heart like her mother.

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Author Links: Website, Blog, Twitter @authoraubrie

You may also enjoy:
Interview with Aubrie Dionne
Tricks to Keep Writing - Aubrie Dionne
Bad Attributes by Aubrie Dionne

Friday, August 1, 2014

Coming Out of The Closet

Many writers stay in the comfort of their dark closets for years. They hide their talent, steal time away from the family, and feed a deep need only they can understand. Sounds a little like an addict, doesn't it?

It's time to step out of the closet and into the light. Untangle yourself from the fear and embrace who you are--a Writer.

Okay, calm down, you don't need to jump into the lime light.

Take your time. Take small steps. The last thing you want to do is jump outside your comfort zone without a plan of action. Doing so may have you running back for cover, never to be seen again.

Gather Your Allies - Reach out to a writers' group, start conversations in writing forums, become a part of the writing community (online or off).

You think no one could possible understand the need, the craving to write? Everyone will think you're crazy? Voices in your head, who could understand that? You barely understand it yourself. They will turn on you, chide you, and even laugh at you? "You want to be a what?"

You're not alone. There are people out there just like you. They know exactly where you are, because they've been in the same place. Most writers will even reach out and guide you forward. But first, you have to let them know you are there.

Test the Waters - If your plan includes publication, sometime after you've created this new comfort zone surrounded by allies, you will need to stick those toes into the cool water of the writing world. You must let others see your secrets.

Careful now, make sure you are ready for this one. Having another person look into your deep, dark soul can be breathtaking, but it can also be devastating. You're about to be criticized, guided, and perhaps even bashed on what you've spent many lonely hours creating and forming.

Choose your first critique wisely. When the onslaught starts, take a deep breath, and don't take it personally. We all have areas to improve on. You'll need to know what to work on. Having other writers, preferably experienced ones, point out your weak spots offers you a new viewpoint on your work and a chance to improve.

Warning: Not all writers are helpful. DO NOT forget that. If the feedback you receive feels negative and hurtful, you may be experiencing over-sensitivity to someone criticizing your baby. Or, there may be a more devious aspect going on. Get a second opinion, maybe even a third, but chances are if all three point out the same thing, you may have found the weakness in your writing and/or your story. If at any point you feel devastated, take a step back, a day off, or a brisk walk. When you come back, you should be able to see the comments for what they are, whether they are helpful or useless.

Before you move on to non-writers and declare this new road you plan to take openly, you should get comfortable with your writing community, gain strength and confidence. And when you feel it's time to step a little further out to declare WHAT you are, start with your most trusted friends. Expand outward as you feel the need to do so. There's no need to rush things.

But above all, do you really even have to tell that second cousin who always makes you feel so small? The aunt on your father's side, who only talks about her son, THE DOCTOR. Wouldn't it feel better for your book to show up in their mail one day? Out of the blue, a signed copy! No need to be bothered with what these people think of your dream. But, it is up to you. Just don't say later that you weren't warned.

Are you ready? Deep breath, now step forward. Congratulations! You've made that first move. Good luck with each new step in your journey. 

You may also enjoy:
A Treacherous Journey
Your Muse

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Since I discovered easy access to audiobooks, I've listened to a lot of books. Downloadable audiobooks, online access from my local library, it can't get much better than this. As a postal mail carrier, I spend most of my work days riding around. If I'm not listening to music, I'm engaged with an audiobook.

The titles aren't as plentiful as I would like, but I grab this and that. It's a wonderful way to experience new authors and various genres. When I saw "The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty," I actually skipped over it a few times. When I finally read the description, I decided to give it a try.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. 

Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive...

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she's an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband's secret. 

My thoughts went to the obvious. Of course, the letter was about his infidelity, maybe even with her best friend, right? Wrong. The deep dark secret within this letter was not about her husband cheating. It's much, much worse.  The story took a grand twist away from what I was expecting and continued to tumble and turn all the way to the end.

Turns out, I'm a year late getting to this book. It released last year. But, if you haven't read this yet, I suggest you give it a read. It hit the best sellers list, and I can understand why. If you like a story with a twist, intriguing characters, and a nice bow at the end, this may be the perfect summer read for you.

Here's a link - Amazon.

I'd love to hear from those who have read this book or other books by this author. Let's talk about it. :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mandala Meditation - Release Your Inner Child

What is a Mandala? The definition in World English Dictionary is this:
mandala  (ˈmændələ, mænˈdɑːlə)
— n
1.    Hindu & Buddhist art  any of various designs symbolizing the universe, usually circular
2.    psychol  such a symbol expressing a person's striving for unity of the self
[Sanskrit: circle]

I first heard about the use of mandalas for meditation a while back. I attempted to create my own more than once. They say it doesn't matter the outcome, only the process. But, *smile*, my results were hideous. I had a thought the other day about using graph paper to solve my issues, but haven't attempted this yet.

A few weeks ago, I had an Energy Reading done by Elaine Lockard. The experience was a wonderful one. She read my chakra energies and gave suggestions on cleaning up and unblocking my issue areas. One of her suggestions was to Meditate through Mandala Coloring. So, I got to looking and there are many available for downloading and printing.

These artwork pieces offer visual, creative, and spiritual outlets in many ways. You may wish to focus on a piece of artwork already created, draw your own, or color a mandala. The important thing is to relax, be quiet, and listen. And it's fun. Think of all those hours coloring as a child. What better way to bring your inner child out to play than to go back in time and do something fun?

Okay, you are probably wondering why this is appearing here on my Author's blog and not on my Tarot-Guidance blog. Well, the simple answer is, this is an exercise for your Muse. Give him/her some playtime, and I guarantee you'll find her a little more available for the work time. Release your inner child, relax, and play a little.

Also, if other meditation practices seem out of your reach, this one may be for you. To begin, simply find a comfortable seat. Have your supplies within reach: Mandala, coloring pencils, crayons, markers, whatever you wish. You can even shade it in with a pencil. The tools don't matter, just the process of letting go.

You should begin with a short breathing session - Breath in long breaths and slowly let them out. Doing this four to five times should be sufficient. After this, start coloring. Don't stress over what colors to use, how well you stay in the lines, or the results. This is about quieting the chatter box and allowing your mind to flow freely.

Hint: Keep a small notebook nearby. This little play session can cause you Muse to start talking, singing, and definitely smiling. You don't want to miss any of her insight during these play dates.

Here are a few options to help you get started:

There are video Mandala Meditations available. Here's one - Mandala Meditation by Meditation Oasis.

Here is a video which will walk you through the process of creating your own - How to Grow a Mandala.

There are many places to find printable Mandala designs. Here are a couple: Print Mandala, Coloring Castle.

I colored the Mandala you see below during the Father's Day weekend. I had originally planned to write up this post then, but as I played, my mind drifted to my Dad. In the end, I felt a small tribute to him was a better alternative for the post for that day. And, it gave me a little time to be with my Mandala before sharing it.  

There are many ways to meditate, to let your inner child out to play, and to free up your Muse for the work day. Do you have an alternative method? Do you color, crochet, garden? What is your play time like for your Muse?

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