#Survivor FINAL 7 Playlist & Predictions #SurvivorSecondChance: Cambodia

It's happened. My obsession with the 31st season of CBS's Survivor (Survivor Second Chance: Cambodia) has spilled into a playlist. This has to be my all-time favorite collection of final seven players. Below is my tribute to them---with a theme song for each player at this point in the game, plus a bonus for all those who've been voted out.   

(File this post under: What Happens When Nicki Cleans Her House. My imagination has too much time to play and usually ends up stuck somewhere completely unproductive...is how I became a writer in the first place.)

The order of songs isn't random, I've ranked the players by who I think has the best chance of making it to final tribal AND winning the whole shebang. I explan my choices below. Even if you don't watch Survivor, I hope you enjoy the playlist

#1 Spencer - "Levitate I've admittedly been in the young lad's corner since before he set foot on the beach, but he's playing a smart, independent game and has had to overcome many obstacles. The jury's gotta respect that. From my comfy sofa at home, he looks to be a big threat, but I'm not sure his fellow players see it the same way from their vantage point, so I think his chances are good of making it to final tribal. 

I know this song is about drugs, but it's got some great lyrics that reflect Spencer's gameplay: "F*** you, I'm by myself."  Survivor's Charlie Brown has learned the hard way how to play this game by himself. "Just when you think that true love's begun, It goes off at any second just like a loaded gun" 'Cuz he doesn't let friendship determine his vote. "Wondering how to fix these damages" His independent play calls for fancy footwork with the people he wants to keep trusting him. 

#2 Kelley - "Trouble is a Friend Girl's got game - and a hidden immunity idol! Every week I've thought the others were fools to keep her around as long as they have, but like with Spencer, she's playing a great manipulation game, and I think she's keeping her savvy masked better than he is.

In this song, Kelley is the trouble: "(S)he waits in the wings, (s)he's gotta play a part"  and I think the cute, spunky beat fits her personality.

#3 Jeremy - "The Gauntlet"  If the man makes it to final tribal, he's gonna win hands down, no matter who he's up against. The jury loves him. And what's not to love? The trouble is, everyone around him knows he'll win, so I can't see him making it all the way to final tribal. 'Course, he's also got a super secret hidden idol...

The determination reflected in this song is what makes me think of Jeremy's gameplay. And the chorus is so him: "Stand up and fight, and I'll stand up with you," especially when he played that idol on Stephen. When he's your friend, he's your friend to the end.

#4 Tasha - "Paper Planes"  The lyric I like most for her at this point in the game is "If you catch me at the border, I got visas in my name" because she's got options. I think she legitly wants to stick with Jeremy and Spencer, but she can always change her mind if something doesn't feel right and jump on with the all-girl alliance - doing so is the only way I can see her taking home the win.

She was a "bonafide hustler" makin' her name when she saved herself and Savage at Angkor by courting Abi. That alone ought to win her jury points.

#5 Keith - "Beat the Devil's Tattoo"  The emotionless tone of this song amid the unfavorable conditions it depicts feels very Keith to me. He doesn't let the elements or lack of food bother him, and he'll stick to the plan with zero weight given to his personal feelings. Yet I think it's his warm personality that'll win him votes over the two players below.

"You're body's aching. Every bone is breaking. Nothing seems to shake it. It just keeps holding on" is a testament to Keith's physical fortitude. He even stood strong in a situation where Joey Amazing went down. Come on! That should also win him some votes.

#6 Kimmi - "Misery Loves Company"  She's laid low through a lot of the season, but she came alive last episode. These lyrics seem to reflect her current attitude toward the Jeremy/Spencer alliance: "Do I need you? Yes and no" and "You're so easy to read, but the book is boring me."  And let's not forget her "I'm not for you; you're not for me. I'll kill you first; you wait and see" attitude toward Monica earlier on. If she can be that Kimmi through the next few votes, maybe the jury won't see her as the goat I'm afraid they've pegged her as.

Judging by some of her confessionals, "Hell is others" seems to be how Kimmi generally feels about coexisting with her tribemates, which I'm guessing doesn't help her chances of scoring votes at the final tribal.  

#7 Abi-Maria - "Psycho"  I mean psycho in the very best of ways. I admire passion, and she's full of it. She's definitely kept her opponents on their toes.

Her chances of making it into the final tribal council are excellent. Her chances of winning? Next to zero. She's too caustic to have made friends outside of a few, and the jury will likely see her as a goat, being led to the end as a weak opponent. I don't think that assessment's fair. She exercised an inordinate amount of power during many of the early votes, and she's 100% looked out for her own interests throughout the game - isn't that what Survivor's all about?

For everyone who's already been voted out - "Where's the Girl"  A song of betrayal and letting go. 


ACED Review Tour & Song Inspiration #IWSG

Today's meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group coincides with the release of a writer friend's book. Not just any writer friend---Jennifer Lane has become one of my best writer friends. Not only is she an invaluable critique partner, she's a safe place to vent and an infallible voice of reason. She's a big reason insecurity doesn't keep me down for long. My Christmas wish for all of you insecure writers out there is for you to have your very own Jennifer Lane. :)

The other thing about her is---she writes great books! Her new release. Aced, is the 2nd in her Blocked series, which I've found to be a fresh approach to New Adult. Below is my review at Goodreads. If you've already read Aced, get your review up on Amazon today and you'll automatically be entered to win a $25 gift card. Join today's Facebook Party with over 25 authors (including me from 5-5:30pm EST) and prizes.

Jennifer lets us in on the musical inspiration for ACED in this guest post:

ACED Song Inspiration
by Jennifer Lane

Music is quite a muse for me in my writing. I especially love going for a long walk as I listen to music and dream up plot bunnies.

New Adult sports romance ACED (Blocked #2) dives into race and ethnicity. I’m saddened America has become increasingly divided along racial lines in recent years. We are responsible to understand how our ethnic backgrounds affect ourselves and others. And, I yearn for strong leadership to help us find common ground.

When I wrote a presidential speech in ACED, following a tragedy involving racial discrimination, I found my inspiration in a song by MUSE. (Ironic, huh?)

These lyrics ARE my muse:

And no one thinks they are to blame
Why can’t they see
When we bleed, we bleed the same

There are also two current songs that make me think of ACED.

“Lay It All On Me” by Rudimental and Ed Sheeran is easily a song hero Alejandro would sing to heroine Maddie to help her through her emotional struggles.

And I adore this song “Hotline Bling” by Drake! I can picture hot wrestler Jaylon Hart sing this to his ex-girlfriend Maddie.

  Add to Goodreads  
Follow the TOUR


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Insecure #Writers Support Group: Awesome Inspirations #IWSG

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words last month regarding my anxiety about leaving my laptop behind whilst I skipped across the pond. To be honest, I feel silly for having even given it a thought. As most of you said, it's good to step completely away once in a while. I returned re-energized and eager to attack writing projects that'd gotten buried under my giant stack of virtual papers.

Today, I simply want to share pictures of literary interest---because I know you writer types will find them fun. I took these during my most excellent adventure in London.

Shakespeare's Globe Theater
It's rebuilt with the only thatched roof in London, not on the exact spot as the original but darn close. (BTW it's AWESOME to have a sister who lives in London to be my personal tour guide. She's loaded with lots of interesting factoids.)

221b Baker Street
Home of...Sherlock Holmes! You almost forget he was a fictional character rather than a real person when you tour this meticulously detailed residence. 

Filming location for 221b Baker Street
Fans of BBC's Sherlock---a superbly written show---will recognize this as the door Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman frequently go in and out of.

Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross
I didn't take this picture...because I'm IN this picture!. As a Hufflepuff. My sister's the Slytherin, and we've teamed up against my son, the Ravenclaw. Who wants to write the fanfic that brings this situation about, hm?

The Duchess Theatre
This is where we saw The Play that Goes Wrong. It's so good. It's SO good! Hilarious from beginning to end. If it ever comes to a theater near you, I highly recommend it. 

The British Library
It's really cool to look upon original manuscripts by Shakespeare, Austen, etc., etc., etc. and think about the magic they created with simple ink and paper.

Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens
JM Barrie had this statue secretly installed in the middle of the night so that the next day children would come to play at the park and it would magically be there. What an incredibly cool guy. (My son played the Crocodile in his school's production of Peter Pan last spring, so he indulged his mother and assumed the Croc position for this photo.) 

The Home of Sir James Barrie
JM Barrie lived here, just off Kensington Gardens, from 1860-1937. Kensington Gardens provided him with much inspiration for writing Peter Pan.

Sir Alfred Hitchock's Home
Alfred Hitchock lived in Earl's Court from 1926-1939, the period when he made many of his early films, including The 39 Steps, the film that won him wide acclaim and made him a star in the US.

I'm including this one because it's really freakin' Poe, right? 


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Jennifer Lane has ACED it! #CoverReveal #Giveaway

I'm thrilled to take part in the cover reveal for the second book in the BLOCKED series by Jennifer Lane. Jennifer is my crit partner extraordinaire, which means I've gotten a sneak peek at the draft version of this story. 

Jealous? You should be, because as I've told Jennifer many times, she has such a great way of pulling me into her stories and making me feel like I'm right there alongside her characters. She also does an excellent job at covering potentially explosive issues with a steady, even hand.

But we'er not here to talk about the story quite yet. We're here to look at hot abs ... uh, I mean the fabulous new cover for ACED!  

ACED (Blocked #2) Cover Reveal

Title:  Aced
Series:  Blocked #2
Author:  Jennifer Lane
Genre:  New Adult Sports Romance
Cover Design:  Coreen Montagna (coreenm@gmail.com)
Release Date:  December 2, 2015


Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in Jennifer Lane’s Blocked series, it could be her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love.

Medical student Alejandro’s hot Latin looks get him plenty of attention, but his deep faith and admiration for his father keep him on a righteous path, with no time for something as frivolous as love. He strives to do the right thing—study diligently, take care of his siblings, represent the family well—so why does he feel so unfulfilled?

Enter Lucia’s friend and teammate Maddie Brooks, who shines at blocking the ball and acing the serve. Too bad this graduating senior isn’t so confident about her life off the court. Her longtime boyfriend has just bailed on her, and med school applications loom large. Oh, and a nerve-wracking tryout for Team USA also approaches.

Maddie meets Alejandro when he visits Lucia at school, and she’s soon drawn to his sharp mind. Alejandro is similarly intrigued by Maddie’s talent and strength. But will personal biases and family politics smother the slow burn of their attraction? Unless Maddie can learn to believe in herself, and Alejandro can become his own man, their kindling romance hardly stands a chance.

Will either of them be bold enough to try something new? Find out in this emotion-rich story that refuses to shy away from life’s hardest questions. Because love is worth the risk.

Book one BLOCKED on SALE for a limited time!

Excerpt from Aced

I’d only seen Alejandro on TV, but his presence seemed magnified in real life. He was Jaylon’s height but probably weighed thirty pounds less. He moved like a panther, sleek and long in a black suit “dressed down” with no tie. His short black hair shone in the arena lights, and he appeared freshly shaven. Hot damn! He sure looked more suave than any college boy I’d encountered. Was that the typical dress for medical school at Johns Hopkins? Probably not. Something told me Alex did things his own way.

As Alejandro approached, Lucia stood to hug him, shaking her head. “Hey, what’re you doing here? You didn’t tell me you were coming.”

He smiled. “Could we go somewhere to talk?”

She glanced at me. “I don’t want to leave Maddie. I dragged her here, so it’d be rude to abandon her.”

“So this is the famous Maddie.” When Alejandro reached across to shake my hand, his dark eyes burned into me. “I’ve seen you play, but it’s good to finally meet. I’ve heard great things about you.” His handshake was firm, but his hand was soft and warm, zinging a surprising thrill right through me. I realized that for at least a few moments, I hadn’t thought about Jaylon. Alejandro let go all too quickly.

His expression sobered as he looked back at Lucia. “I want to talk to you about something in private.”

She folded her arms across her chest as they both sat. “I already said no, thank you. I can’t right now.”

He frowned and squared his shoulders. Then he leaned in to Lucia’s ear and spoke to her in Spanish. She bristled next to me.

“How dare you?” she hissed.

I leaned back. What had just changed my sweet Rez into a pissy hellcat?

Sign up for ACED Review Tour HERE.

Author Bio

Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun.

Jen adores creating sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Aced launches in December 2015.

A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the free New Adult novella Swim Recruit.

Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior.

Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.

Author Links



Zexy and zilly with a zide of #Zombie at the Spooktacular #Giveaway Hop

I hope to have a brand new Twisted Fairy Tale novella to share with you at next year's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (the beastie has been playing in my head and will soon be ready to put into words) but this year, it's all about Hans & Greta. Take a gander & spread the word - one of you word-spreaders will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Thank you for stopping by. Visit the I Am a Reader blog for the full list of giveaway participants. Hope you win bunches! 


Insecure Writers Support Group: Separation Anxiety #IWSG

I'm soon to take off on an excellent adventure - my senior-in-high-school son and I are flying across the pond to visit my sister in Londooon!  99.5% of me is nothing but excited, but the remaining teensy .5% is wondering what it's going to be like to live without my laptop for a full week.

I've never left it behind before. It's not like I ever end up having any time to spend on it, but it's like Linus' security blanket to me. I just like knowing it's near, just in case. I'd probably cave and lug it along this time, too, but li'l Lappy is having issues. She's working fine, but she's literally cracking up. See?

For her sake, I can't take her anywhere (hrm, maybe what I should be insecure about is that I'm okay with writing on junk). And so, I leave behind my unfinished manuscripts, my notes, my bookmarked reference sites, my collection of inspiring images, and the only sized keyboard I can comfortably type on. I know I'll be well compensated by hanging out in Dickens' old haunts, attending theater on the West End, rooming with my favorite writer in the whole wide world, etcetera, etcetera, but please tell me at least some of you have felt this kind of separation anxiety before. Please?


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh. Did you hear that IWSG is holding a SHORT STORY CONTEST? Stop by insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for details. The deadline is coming up soon.


Survivor! #MesoAwarenessDay

Hey, kiddos, it's a quick one from me today because I have other places to send you. As you're all aware (I'm sure), tonight is the big premier of SURVIVOR Season 31 -- YES, this most excellent of social experiments has 30 seasons under its belt and is going stronger than ever. So it's very fitting that I'm here today to tell you about another survivor who's going stronger than ever.

Meet  super cool mother and wife Heather Von St. James.  She was told ten years ago that she only had months to live. Please visit this blog post to read about her amazing story. She was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, survived it, and is now spreading awareness about it on #MesoAwarenessDay, this Saturday, September 26. Please visit this page and scroll down to the social media icons for super easy ways to participate in spreading the awareness on your social networks.

Here's a graphic Heather made with some quick educational points on the disease. Visit mesothelioma.com to learn more.

Sometime between now & Saturday, please click on the image & then scroll down to share Tweet etc. using #MesoAwarenessDay. Thank you!

I leave you with a final tidbit about the other Survivor. It's a proud day in a mamma's life when her daughter draws this on the memo board of her college dorm room. I imagine this is exactly how Yoda must've felt when Luke became strong with the Force.


Insecure Writers Support Group: On Feeling Muzzled #IWSG

For this month's meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group, I have more of a frustration than an insecurity.

We writers have lots to say, right? Thus all the writing. And yet, it seems  that outside of our works, we're expected to zip it when it comes to opinions that might not be socially popular. And heaven forbid we ever have the audacity to publicly call out a jerk for being a jerk. Everyone says to be ourselves on the social networks, but really, all an author is allowed to share publicly without backlash is rainbows and marshmallows. 

I'm all for staying positive, but I'm not exactly a rainbowy & marshmallowy type of person. I'm sarcastic and irreverent, and I get mad when people are jerks. I'm extremely lucky to have a small circle of trustworthy writer friends I can vent to privately, and it's not that I even want to vent publicly, but sometimes it might be nice to be able to share my grievances with a wider group. 

You see, the thing I'd really like to discuss this month is something I know I'd get slapped on the wrist for discussing. I'm supposed to pretend I'm cool with the ugly new thing on my sidebar---which I was never given a chance to give input on and which is the polar opposite of the direction discussed. So, I guess I won't say anything about that and will let it roll off my shoulder and move on like a good little author is expected to do...

How about you - does the muzzle ever chafe you? 


This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh. Did you hear that IWSG is holding a SHORT STORY CONTEST?? Stop by insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for details. 


Congrats to @AriaGlazki - Mortal Musings is Here!

Congrats to Aria Glazki on the release of Mortal Musings! Since the story centers on a writer struggling with his muse, I thought it would be fun for you to get a peek inside the head of the writer of this novel. Here are...

6 Things You Didn't Know About Mortal Musings

Take it away, Aria...

1:  I started writing the first version of this book as a high school senior. I was taking an independent study creative writing class, and my very patient advisor was waiting on pages, despite the fact that I had no idea what to write about. I still remember sitting in our school library, staring at the blank page of the computer, contemplating what inspiration is and how to get it. And then I made a character wonder the same thing, and that is how 
Mortal Musings began.

2: I gave up on that false start ever becoming a book, especially after feedback from the Creative Writing instructors at my University. They all hated it. 

But then, as I came to learn, they generally disapproved of all genre fiction.

Sometimes the pros are right; sometimes they aren't.

It takes time and experience to recognize which advice falls under which category. This is why you shouldn't throw any of your writing away!

3: After I finished Mending Heartstrings and sent it out on submission, I decided it was time to look at that false start again. Oh, the hindsight of maturity and experience. It was a mess.

But the basic concept was good, some scenes were solid (despite lots of head-hopping), and I wanted to finally finish (read: rewrite what I had, and then finish) this story. I'm so glad that all these many years later, this finished product exists!

4: Mortal Musings received several traditional publication offers.

Many people (including ones who should know better) have insinuated that I'm publishing this book on my own because I haven't received the "industry approval" of a traditional deal. That simply isn't true. For a variety of reasons, the offers I received weren't a good match for this book. Publishing independently is a lot of work, but it was the right call for this project, and what I really care about is getting my books into readers' (aka your) hands!

Every project needs to find its own way, and I encourage everyone not to rule out an option just because some people may look down upon it. Do your research, and then do what's right for you

5: When lining up for one of our graduation ceremonies, a girl from my class asked me to name a character in this book after her. Even all these many years later, I did.
The character didn't exist yet in the high school version, but that request made naming her a no-brainer. That's also why Erika's name is spelled with a k

6: The summer after I graduated high school, I met someone who shared my main character's name (Brett). He was the first Brett I had ever met, and remains the only one to this day. Life's funny that way.

But besides the name and being great guys, the two Bretts really don't have anything in common.

Do you have questions about Mortal Musings or how I write? Ask them in the comments!


Top 5 Places for a First Date in #Chicago @Libertyfallsdwn

Today I'm over at Liberty Falls Down talking about dating in the Windy City. C'mon over and I'll buy you a drink ... or at least let you in on great places to get one.



Insecure Writers Support Group: Identity Crisis #IWSG

Quick & simple: I'm not sure I'm writing in the right genre for me.

I enjoy what I write, and telling love stories is what drew me to write fiction in the first place, but I know the single most important thing for any writer when it comes to marketing is to know your audience. I'm not sure that I do.

I  look at what tops the charts in my categories, and I'm sure they're great stories - they obviously speak to a large number of readers - but  very few of them carry any appeal to me personally. They're jut not the kind of stories I'm interested in reading. I'm often mystified by tropes that consistently play well with romance readers.

This makes me feel like an outsider in my own genre. I've enjoyed reading lots of romance novels, rarely ones on the bestseller lists, but then I pick up the Fellowship of the Ring and I get all tingly. Outside of Autsten, romance novels don't usually make me tingly. So what the hell am I doing writing them?

This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group<, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


This is what happens when you frustrate your muse. COVER REVEAL Mortal Musings by @AriaGlazki #amreading #amwriting

Today I'm excited to take part in a cover reveal with IndieSage PR. I'm extra excited because it's for an author I've recently gotten to know through the interwebs. She's a wonderful combination of really cool chick and font of knowledge. I speak of Aria Glazki and her upcoming novel, MORTAL MUSINGS. Before  I show you the cover, here's the blurb -- which I think ALL writers will find interesting... 

Mortal Musings by Aria Glazki
Publication Date: 25 August 2015

Muse Alexandra has had it with the arrogant, ungrateful humans she is obligated to inspire. When the internal ranting of her latest charge pushes her past reason, she disregards the rules and forces her own words through his fingers, and is instantly entrapped in mortal form. With no magic, no identity, and no resources, Allie has no alternative but to navigate the mortal realm, depending entirely on her reluctant host while discerning what exactly caused her transformation — and how to reverse it.

Brett doesn’t have a chance to consider the words that mysteriously showed up on his screen; he’s too distracted by the stunning woman who appeared in his office out of nowhere. Before his brain can catch up, Brett’s uninvited guest becomes enmeshed in his everyday life. Her artless innocence gradually lessens his suspicions. Most importantly, the writer’s block that’s been plaguing him dissolves under the fantasies the naively beguiling Alexandra inspires.

All too soon, the forced proximity sparks a confounding awareness neither writer nor muse are able to resist.

Add to Goodreads
Ready for the awesome cover??



Mortal Musings Cover

Isn't it so fun and pretty?
Congrats, Aria. 

About Aria Glazki: Aria’s writing story started when her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged her to submit a class assignment for publication. That piece was printed, and let’s just say, she was hooked! Since then, Aria has run a literary magazine, earned her degree in Creative Writing (as well as in French and Russian literatures), and been published in a few collections. Though her first kiss technically came from a bear cub, and no fairytale transformation followed, Aria still believes magic can happen when the right people come together – if they don’t get in their own way, that is.

Other than all things literary, Aria loves spending time with her family, including her two unbearably adorable nieces. She also dabbles in painting, dancing, playing violin, and, given the opportunity, Epicureanism.



Insecure Writers Support Group: Growing Up

Y'know what? I don't really feel like talking about writing today. I'm nothing if not ADD, and at least one of those D's has taken my mind temporarily in other directions. Would you like to see my current creative obsession? As of my son's 18th birthday this coming fall, my house will have ALL adults living in it. So I adultified the kids' bathroom.

But I reject the idea that being adult means having no fun, so the under-the-sea theme stays.

The guest room is getting a grown-up fairy tale theme. I blame the froggie prince.

Creative minds can't stay locked on words and manuscripts all the time, right? Sometimes they need to break free and express themselves in paint and accessorizing ... and maybe even crafting window treatments out of ribbons instead of curtains.

Where do your creative energies flow when you're not writing? 

This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


A Super Awesome Summer Playlist

Hey gang! I'm going to start posting links to my monthly newsletter at my blog. If you'd like to have Nicki's News  delivered right to your very own in-box, you can sign up here. This month I'm sharing a super awesome summer playlist plus 5 things that are real in VIBRIZZIO & 5 things I WISH were real.

(or click on the stack o' tapes to go directly to the awesome playlist)

On a total side note - have you seen JURASSIC WORLD yet? I just did last night & it's soooo good. So, so, so good. When my kids were toddlers they'd watch our VHS tape of JURASSIC PARK over and over and over again, so it was super fun to sit w/ them as almost-adults to watch this proper sequel. I thought it did a great job of being fresh while still giving nods to the original. I already want to go see it again.


Another story on the never-give-up front: Susie Salom #IWSG:

Some of us first met Susie Salom as as the Girl Wizard. She's also Suze from the former Subliminal Coffee blog. (You can now find her on Twitter as @Susie_Salom.) Those of you who kept up on her blog were let in on many of the trials and triumphs of her writing journey. In case you haven't heard, here's the latest triumph---and it's a big one:
Scroll down at the link to see Susie's pretty face and  read the details of the big announcement in Publisher's WeeklyCheryl Klein at Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine Books has acquired world rights to Kyle Constantini Finds Her Way, a middle-grade novel by debut author Susie Salom

Hooray!!! This absolutely wouldn't have happened if Suze had let earlier discouragements kill her dream and belief in herself. She's truly a testament to never giving up. I asked if she'd share a bit about her writing story, and this is the wisdom she poured forth:

From Susie Salon:

I wrote a women's fic piece and didn't submit it because I knew it wasn't pub-worthy. It was more a practice manuscript. Then I wrote another women's fic piece, a coming-of-age piece and a third women's fic piece. Over the course of five years, I wrote the three, queried two of them and took two of them to conferences. I had partial requests that turned into fulls that got looped into the revise and resubmit turnstile until my heart felt it wouldn't survive another round. But then came the MG piece. And after that, things happened fast. Why? Because everything was clicking. It was the sweet confluence of variables in which the story got into the hands of an agent who got what I was trying to do and then into the hands of an editor who was looking for something like this for her list. If anything, it was mostly a matter of staying true to the kind of writing I wanted to put out there and just waiting for everything to come together to nail the moving target.

And that's what I would want every writer to keep in mind. There's no such thing as a rejection. That's toxic semantics. Disassociate that word from the valid and personally-meaningful work you are doing because what you're looking for is your moment. It's the opening you're believing is going to present itself and for which you're staying ready. Because the universe doesn't play favorites, it just plays fast and hard and you've gotta keep your wits about you and be ready to leap--and keep on leaping--when your diving board swings into view.

Tingles on the Ferris Buellerish final sentence, right? I'm so happy this latest leap took her sky high. CONGRATULATIONS, Girl Wizard!

This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh.


Popping the bubbly for the ultimate forbidden romance: SAVING EVANGELINE by @Nancee_Cain

Congrats to Nancee Cain, who's debut novel, SAVING EVANGELINE, is out today! It's already  getting great reviews. I asked Nancee my favorite release day question: If you had to choose one song that best captures the essence of SAVING EVANGELINE, what would it be and why? Here's what she said: 

"Given to Fly" by Pearl Jam because of its feeling of being down, persecuted and yet rising above it to live and love and finally being free.

Such a cool song!

Evangeline is the town pariah. Everyone knows she’s crazy and responsible for the death of her last boyfriend. Even her mother left her and moved cross-country. Lonely and desperate, Evie decides to end her life.

Rogue angel Remiel longs to return to earth. There’s just one problem. He tends to invite trouble and hasn’t been back since Woodstock. The Boss sends him to save Evangeline, but there’s a catch. He can’t reveal his angelic nature and must complete the task as Father Remiel Blackson.

Forced together on a cross-country trip, a forbidden romance ignites and love unfolds. A host of heavenly messengers try to intervene, but Remiel and Evangeline are headed on a collision course to disaster. Will his love save her, or will they both be lost forever?

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Goodreads

Join Nancy at the Confess Your Love of Romance Novels Facebook event
on Sunday, June 7 from 2-4pm


Hmm, what music goes with humorous dark tales of human behavior? Congrats @NickPWilford on this fabulous collection!

The marvelous Nick Wilford has a release today! A CHANGE OF MIND AND OTHER STORIES is a collection of short speculative fiction. If you read any of Nick's flash fic during A to Z, you know he's a wizard with words. We're all in for a treat with this brand new collection of stories with a twisted edge. 


Nick took time out of his busy schedule to answer one, simple question for me:

Me: If you had to pick one song that best captures the essence of A CHANGE OF MIND AND OTHER STORIES, what would it be and why?

Nick: I don't normally write with music in mind, but I kept coming back to Radiohead's "Karma Police". Apart from being a great song, I think the lyrics fit with my novella quite well. The chorus to me means "this is what you get if you mess with who we are, i.e. try to be someone you're not" ... and of course Reuben "lost himself" too!

Nick: It's quite an odd but cool little video. For an extra fun fact, the frontman Thom Yorke, who was the only band member to appear in the video, almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning from sitting in the car...

A Change of Mind and Other Stories consists of a novella, four short stories and one flash fiction piece. This collection puts the extremes of human behaviour under the microscope with the help of lashings of dark humour, and includes four pieces previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine. 

In A Change of Mind, Reuben is an office worker so meek and mild he puts up with daily bullying from his boorish male colleagues as if it’s just a normal part of his day. But when a stranger points him in the direction of a surgeon offering a revolutionary new procedure, he can’t pass up the chance to turn his life around. 

But this isn’t your average surgeon. For a start, he operates alone in a small room above a mechanic’s. And he promises to alter his patients’ personality so they can be anything they want to be… 

In Marissa, a man who is determined to find evidence of his girlfriend’s infidelity ends up wondering if he should have left well alone. 

The Dog God finds a chink in the armour of a man with a megalomaniacal desire to take over the world. 

In The Insomniac, a man who leads an obsessively regimented lifestyle on one hour’s sleep a night finds a disruption to his routine doesn’t work for him. 

Hole In One sees a dedicated golfer achieving a lifelong ambition. 

The Loner ends the collection on a note of hope as two family members try to rebuild their lives after they are torn apart by jealousy.

Purchase Links:
Snatch it up at 99 cent Release Day pricing TODAY only
add to your list at Goodreads

Meet the author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those rare times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter or Goodreads.


High Tea at Liz Blocker's

I'd be ever so delighted if you'd join Lady Liz Blocker and me at her esteemed blog for a spot of tea and an exclusive excerpt in which I'm told LOL's are to be had.

You can also stop by My Crazy Corner's Romance Blogfest to learn how VIBRIZZIO all began.


Popping the Bubbly for TROUBLE ME by @BeckAndersonID

TROUBLE ME, the much anticipated sequel to RITA nominee FIX YOU by Beck Anderson, releases today! Congrats to Beck, a really cool person and a gifted writer of realistic romance that tugs at the heart in all the right places.

Read the blurb below and then scroll down to listen to the most righteous 80's tune of the same title---which isn't an accident. Beck has always loves the lyrics of the song, and they fit nicely with the emotion of TROUBLE ME, the novel.

In Fix You, movie star Andrew Pettigrew (Andy to his fans, Andrew to his friends) somehow found the level-headed love he was looking for in young widow and “regular girl” Kelly Reynolds. Now, as they work to mesh their growing relationship with his gold-statue ambitions, things go a bit sideways, in true Hollywood fashion.

Though they’re still wonderfully in love, it’s challenge enough for Andrew and Kelly to decipher what it means to be a family—and a growing family at that—between takes on set. But Andrew also brings history with a temperamental co-star, assorted paparazzi, and someone out there who has serious, perhaps obsessive, issues with him into the mix. Suddenly the Reynolds-Pettigrew clan must fight not just to stay together, but to stay safe.

In Trouble Me, the sequel to Fix You and third novel from Rita finalist Beck Anderson, Kelly and Andrew struggle to stay sane within their whirlwind life. It’s a life that’s equal parts amazing and amusing, less glamorous than you might expect, and spiked with very real fears no amount of stardom can overcome.

Will Andrew and Kelly stay strong at the broken places or be torn apart? 


Patience, Persistence, and Prevailing #IWSG

Well, well, well, here we are again. Welcome to the May 2015 edition of Insecure Writer's Support Group, brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I keep blah blahhing over a little intro to this month's post, but I've been writing for nearly 12 hours straight for my day job and I appear to have used up my daily quota for decent words. So here, go read this guy's words. They're not only reassuring, they're inspiring. "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner's reassuring Life Advice for Struggling Artists.

The article caused me to think harder about some words I heard spoken by a talented young woman on the speech team with my son. These are from Dolly Parton's book, Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You. 

"Do not confuse dreams with wishes. There is a difference. Dreams are where you visualize yourself being successful at what's important to you to accomplish. And dreams build convictions. Because you work hard to pay the price to make sure that they come true. Wishes are hoping that good things will happen to you. With wishes, there is no fire in your gut, pushing you to the limit to overcome every obstacle to reach your heart's desire."

Matthew Weiner is a dreamer. I'd like to be, but I think I fall too often into the wisher category. Hey, sometimes wishing works---for example, right now I'm in the midst of a blog tour for my new release, VIBRIZZIO and the reviews have been really, really good. :)  Here are some of my favorites so far:

"It was fast, fun and flirty. And the best part, it was funny!!"

"Vibrizzio is a fun yet insightful story that frequently had me smirking." 

"The characters are charming, the story is engaging, and the pacing is absolutely spot on!"

(hehe, some of you may be interested in the giveaway at the book blogger links)

But it looks like the dreamer part of me will have to kick in to get the Amazon rankings to follow suit. Or maybe the situation is that I'm a dreamer when it comes to writing, but only a wisher when it comes to sales. Hmm...

How about you---where do you fall on the dreamer/wisher spectrum?