New Feature – Sneak Peeks

Hello all. :D

I’m going to try to make an effort to write more regularly on here. Not often, mind you, but in some sort of steady fashion. I make no promises! LOL. I am writing more than I was at this time last year, which is good, and I’ve been working on a few different things. When I say a few different things, I mean many.

I’m trying to edit and revise the fourth book in my TAITS series, I’ve been writing and restarting (many times) a sequel to Breaking Through the Ice, and I’m writing two or three other new stories, in new genres. It’s a bit crazy, trying to focus on one thing long enough to be productive but I enjoy it and I’m sure most writers would tell you that they have one or two things – at least! – on the go at any given time.

Also, as you may or may not know, I don’t really have a beta reader for a lot of things. I’m not complaining, it’s just the way it is. I can send things to a few different friends, but they have lives of their own and I don’t always get the immediate feedback I crave. And of course, it’s all about me! LOL.

In that spirit, I’ve decided to start a new feature on here. It’s a new tab (see above) called “Sneak Peeks”. From time-to-time, I will post small or large chunks of stories I’m working on. Some will be published, some might never be. Some might feature familiar names or places, and others will be entirely new. I hope you’ll take the time to read them over and tell me what you think.

Speaking of sharing thoughts… I want to take a moment to ask anybody out there who has read my published works to consider leaving a comment or rating on them. I’m an indie writer and I have no budget for advertising beyond what I do here or on Facebook. I can’t force anyone to leave comments or ratings and it’s the ONLY way to get the word out about my work. So please, if you’ve purchased something of mine from Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, the iTunes bookstore, Kobo Books or the Nook Book store, please go onto the website and leave a rating, and a comment. It doesn’t have to be a glowing review (though I would prefer not to be completely torn to shreds! ;) ) but an honest review would be very much appreciated.

On that note, I’ll leave you now to enjoy the first sampling over under my “Sneak Peeks” tab. I hope everyone has recovered nicely from the holiday season and is sticking to their resolutions.

Take care, and happy reading.

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Top 10 Lists – Sports Movies

Well, it’s a new year, new days stretching out before us all and new challenges to be faced. For my part, I could do with fewer challenges but then, we don’t get to choose the times when our patience and peace of mind are tested. I woke up yesterday, just like any other day, and so I suppose that is a good start. :)

I watched a movie yesterday, as there’s really not much else to do on New Year’s Day. It was called “When the Game Stands Tall,” about a high school football team who shattered all records, across all sports, for games won. Their winning streak went to 151-games before they were defeated and the movie follows the path of that loss, and what comes after for the team. I liked it very much, but then, I’ve always been a big fan of sports movies. So often, they’re about overcoming odds, facing personal demons and becoming better men and women because of it.

This movie was much the same. A lot of critics called the movie contrived, dull and not true to the facts they were LOOSELY based on. What those people all failed to see, and probably fail to see in other sports themed movies, is that the movies aren’t about sports. They’re not about the games they play or the wins or losses. Like I said, they’re all about overcoming challenges, external and internal. They’re about facing the truth, in all its forms and deciding whether or not to live up to your own expectations of yourself. “When the Game Stands Tall” did this, just as so many other movies have.

So in that spirit, in the spirit of facing a new year, new struggles and deciding what kind of person we’re all going to be by the end of this year, I give you my own favourite list of sports themed movies. They’re only my own top ten, not an opinion on which are the greatest sports movies, as it would be difficult to narrow it down. There are so many!

Anyway, here they are: :D

10. Rocky – What’s impressive about Rocky is that it’s a story about an ordinary man, just trying to find his place in the world. A bit like the man who wrote and starred in it. I’ve always loved the whole Rocky series, but the first stands out, of course, because it was the beginning. Throughout the movie Rocky goes from being fine with who he is, to wondering if he can do better, to doing better, to wanting only to be near the woman he loves. What’s not to like about that?

9. We Are Marshall – This movie tracks the year following the tragic plane crash that took almost an entire football team. It’s about the school’s struggle to put together a new team and to convince the college sports rule makers to allow freshmen to play football. Meanwhile, the town and community deal with the loss of brothers, sons and friends and it’s a heart wrenching movie, but ultimately, heartwarming as the game helps to heal.

8. The Sandlot – I watched this movie as a kid and loved it for the youthful hi-jinx. I still love it for the same reason but now with a nostalgic twist. It’s a wonderful movie about a young boy moving to a new town, a new school and meeting a ragtag group of kids who play baseball every day in the neighborhood sandlot. Only, he doesn’t know a thing about baseball, or the fact that Babe Ruth is a man. This movie will probably make me laugh for-ev-ER.

7. Gridiron Gang – A fairly recent movie, this one follows the football program at a youth detention center in Los Angeles. The coach refuses to let these kids leave Camp Kilpatrick without even a narrow shot at a better life. Not all the kids who play on the team go on to make something of themselves but some do and those few who face the challenge the coach lays out for them, are better for it.

6. The Longest Yard – You can pick either the old or the new one, though I enjoyed the newer one quite a lot. Yes, it was funny and silly and crude in a lot of moments, but there were moments that made you stand up and cheer for the Mean Machine. Also, who doesn’t love a movie that sees the underdog totally screw over the big man. I admit this movie is less uplifting than it is plain old entertaining.

5. Wimbledon – Now this is definitely a sports movie that is less about sports and more of a rom-com. However, it does focus on the famous tournament of Wimbledon and with that backdrop, it counts as a sports movie. It’s about a man and a woman figuring out what means more to them. The title or the chance at a meaningful relationship. Also, special shout-out to a now wildly famous Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. He was delightful in this movie as the best buddy. And who didn’t love James McAvoy’s character betting against his own brother round-after-round?

4. A League of Their Own – This movie was an instant baseball classic. I loved seeing this in the theaters years ago and still love watching it whenever I catch it on TV. These ladies are all so unique and so far ahead of their time. It’s amazing when you think of how this movie is inspired by actual events.

3. Bend it Like Beckham – A surprise hit from a few years ago, this movie helped launch the careers of Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra. I love the way this movie explores the family dynamic and the two wholly different sisters. I also love how in the end, the parents are traditional, staid and so loving, that they only want to make their daughters happy. It’s a warm, touching movie with some exceptionally funny moments – my fav is when all the older ladies whip out their cell phones at the engagement towards the beginning.

2. Coach Carter – What I like most about this movie is that I recall the way the school made headlines even up here in Canada with the decision to forfeit games until the players got their grades up. I don’t know how accurate the facts of the movie are, but I still love it. It’s a great movie about watching boys start to grow into men and face challenges the likes of which, most of us have never or never will face.

1. Remember the Titans – I had this movie listed as one of my all-time favs for movies, period but it remains my favorite for sports movies. It’s a great movie and if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean. Yes, I’ve heard that it doesn’t follow the facts exactly – what movie “inspired by actual events” does? – but the spirit of the movie, and the message is the same. The game just is, and sport, any sport, doesn’t care what you look like.

Honorable Mentions include (but are not restricted to!): Draft Day, Field of Dreams, The Cutting Edge, Happy Gilmore (Come on!! Who didn’t love seeing Bob Barker kick some ass!), The Replacements, Bad News Bears, Caddyshack, Jerry Maguire, Hoosiers, Moneyball, 42 (another fairly recent one based on the first year Jackie Robinson played in the major league), Leatherheads and The Last Boy Scout. (OK, maybe The Last Boy Scout doesn’t quite count but Damon Wayans plays a former football star so that counts in my mind.)

So there you have it. Once again, these are just my favorites. There are too many to include every single sports movie, and I know I’ve left out many classics, merely because I haven’t seen them all. Perhaps you can share your own favs?

OT: Just for the heck of it, I’m re-watching a Doctor Who episode, called “Journey’s End.” Even though I’ve seen it a dozen times before, and even though I know what’s coming, I always hope against hope that it could be different. In the end, I have my heart ripped out every time when I have to say good-bye to the best companion of all. “But… I was going to be with you forever…” *sigh* ;)

As always, take care and happy reading.

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Publication News!

I have exciting news to share. For the first time, I’ve written something brand new for publication. This story has never been posted on any website or forum before. It’s called “A Crack in the Ice” and is a sequel to “Uncovering the Ice”. See below for the book description.

cover page 1st draft

“After a year, Sean Bertrand, hockey player, and Vanessa Landon, erotica writer, are still blissfully in love. Things between them seem to be progressing just as they should. Until the unthinkable happens: Sean is traded to another team. Separated by thousands of miles and divided by miscommunication, their relationship starts to crumble. They need to find a way through this or their once serendipitous romance may finally have reached its breaking point.”

It’s currently only available for sale on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. Hopefully it won’t take too long to be posted up at the iTunes bookstore and the Nook Book store as well, but as soon as I see them there, I’ll let you know.

Anyway, I hope you venture over to the websites to view the free sample downloads and perhaps that’ll be enough to inspire you to buy it. If you do buy it, please, I encourage everyone to leave an honest review on the websites. I have no other means of advertising and reviews mean everything. So please take the time to leave a review. It doesn’t have to be some long diatribe about what you liked or didn’t like, just a few words would be wonderful. Plus, I just like knowing if you enjoyed it or not. :)

Thank you again for following along. I have been rather absent of late, and I promise, it’s only because I’m spending all my spare time writing and editing. I hope everyone is doing well and surviving the start of the season of Big Eating. Anyone else od’d on candy and chocolate from Halloween? Me too!

As always, take care and happy reading!

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Publication News!

Hello all.

Just a quick note today to let everyone know that “Uncovering the Ice” is now available for sale on Smashwords, in all the different ebook formats. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to go up at Kobo Books, Nook Books or in the iTunes book store, but as soon as I know, I’ll post that news as well.

For now though, you can buy any format through the Smashwords store. The link it on the right side of my blog page, or you can simply visit the website, at http://www.smashwords.com.

I also want to take a moment to thank all those who have purchased it so far on Amazon Kindle. I hadn’t been watching the stats but recently checked it out and was pleased to see the number of sales. Thank you so much for your support and interest! If you have purchased it through the Kindle store, please consider taking a moment to write/post a review on the website. For indie authors like myself, the only way we encourage sales is by word of mouth. If you liked the book and want to recommend it, please do that as well. Every little bit counts.

For now, I’m hard at work on a couple of other projects. I’m finishing up my initial draft of the forthcoming sequel to the aforementioned “Uncovering the Ice.” I’m hoping to have that done and edited within a few months but I can’t make any promises on timelines. I’m also working on editing and revising “Duty and Deception,” the fourth book in my adventure/spy series, known as TAITS. And finally, I’m working on something entirely new and exciting and possibly the longest novel I’ll ever have written – assuming, of course, I ever get through it!

I hope everyone is having a nice summer and if the kids are back in school, I hope the leap back into the school year wasn’t too stressful.

Take care and happy reading!

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Double Book Review

It’s not often that I read two similar books in the same week. Recently, I read The Love Detective, by Alexandra Potter and Wedding Night, by Sophie Kinsella. Both authors are British, and write almost exclusively in the ‘chick lit’ category.

A side note: I absolutely hate that classification of novels. Chick lit implies that only women will read it or enjoy it, or even that only the girliest of girls will like it. I read almost everything, from science fiction to romance to the classics. Among those novels, are many books by both these authors. These novels I’ve listed are both their most recent releases.

Wedding Night (WN) is about two sisters, Fliss and Lottie. Lottie flees a botched proposal, thinking she never really knew her boyfriend. She goes straight into the arms of a former lover and they rush into a whirlwind marriage and honeymoon in Greece. Fliss is still recovering from a terrible divorce and dealing with all the custody and property battles that come with that. She’s terribly protective of her younger sister and takes it upon herself to save Lottie from what Fliss views as the biggest mistake of her life.

In The Love Detective (TLD), Ruby, a writer with writer’s block, flies to India to meet up with her wilder, younger sister, Amy, who has been traveling the world. There, she has a wonderful time, relaxing, enjoying the food, the beach and the environment. Then Amy announces that she’s eloping with Shine, the yoga guru from the resort. Ruby, who had been on her way out of India, turns right around and tries to save her sister from what she thinks is the biggest mistake of her life.

I told you they were similar! You’d almost think these two authors conspired to write similar books at a similar time but I doubt that’s the case. I’d been anticipating both these books and was so excited to pick them up at the nearby Chapters a couple weeks ago. I tore through TLD in two days, I think, in between work and sleep. :) Then I started on WN, and read it in a few more days. Both books featured loving but flaky or serious sisters. They featured adventures in exotic lands and hints of romance on all sides. That is where the similarity ends.

WN started out with a funny idea and what is probably a common thought for a lot of people. What if you hooked up with that long lost love again? Would you still have that same hot chemistry as you did in your younger days? Unfortunately, this story seemed to stall at the quickie wedding. From then on, Fliss’ attempts to keep her sister from consummating the marriage weren’t funny. They were cringe-worthy and, as someone who has spent hours laughing over Kinsella’s other novels, I had a hard time even finishing this novel. I kept reading hoping that the awkwardness and unfunny moments would come to some sort of conclusion.

The characters started out with a lot of potential. Both sisters are strong career women, dealing with all the quirks life has thrown at them.Lottie deals with life’s curve balls by making what Fliss calls her ‘unfortunate choices.’ I think Fliss needed to acknowledge her own unfortunate choices. Instead, she thinks she’s in the right every time she messes with her sister on her honeymoon. Along the way, she meets an acerbic, mysterious sort of man who may or may not be her romantic interest but either way, I found I didn’t really care. I grew tired of the antics of both sisters, serious and slightly hypocritical Fliss, and flighty and foolish Lottie. In the end, the novel wrapped up to a satisfying ending, somewhat redeeming each character. Overall though, it wasn’t my favorite of Sophie Kinsella’s novels.

TLD, on the other hand, was sweet, laugh-out-loud funny, with no awkward moments to make me cringe. Ruby was an endearing, fun character from the beginning and maybe the fact that she was a writer struggling to write that made me feel I could relate to her more. Her journey started as a normal premise. Getting away from it all to an exotic place with a beloved sister.

She started to let go and relax but how much of India did she experience in the resort in Goa? Not much, as she realizes when Amy confesses to her elopement. Ruby starts off across the country, alone, not knowing the language, very few of the customs and dangers, and somehow figures things out along the way. It doesn’t hurt that she meets Jack, a know-it-all American who keeps his reasons for traveling through India to himself.

Ruby loses her passport, suitcase and all her money and Jack becomes her knight in shining armor, after a hilarious, embarrassing rant about all the things wrong in Ruby’s life. His interest in her starts as pity, I imagine, but grows into something more. Along the way, Ruby gets closer to ‘rescuing’ her sister and ends up learning more about herself. She truly starts to experience the Indian culture and cuisine and surprises even herself with her capacity to adapt.

By the time I got to the end, I hadn’t realized how caught up I’d been in the story. Potter’s stories always feature a hint of magic, a feeling of something wondrous sweeping the characters along without seeming too unreal. Overall, this was a great, fun read with lovable characters and a romantic setting that makes me want to rescue a sister from herself. If I had one. ;)

Like I said at the start, it’s not often that I read two such similar stories at the same time.  I didn’t set out to, it just turned out that the two books I was anticipating happened to be these two. I thought it was a good opportunity to write a new review, something I haven’t done in a while, since the end of my on-line book club.

While disappointed in Kinsella’s novel, I won’t stop reading her books. I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time, including the Shopaholic novels. However, the one that I always return to, is called Can You Keep A Secret? Also, one of her more recent ones, I’ve Got Your Number was witty, clever and filled with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments.

Alexandra Potter isn’t as well known here as Kinsella, and her books are harder to find but I’ve enjoyed every single one of hers that I’ve read. They’re all stand-alone novels with a hint of romance and fantasy in each one. It would be hard to pick a favorite, and I fell in love with TLD immediately after reading it. However, I’d also recommend Be Careful What You Wish For and Who’s That Girl?

I hope whatever you’re reading today or this week is enjoyable. I’ve been reading more lately, perhaps procrastinating on working on my own novels. :)

Until next time, take care and happy reading.

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No Good-Byes

Everybody has a favorite author, right? You do, I know I do, and anyone who reads looks forward to a new release from their favorite more than any other. Have you ever wondered why the next release doesn’t come? Or if you stick mainly to perusing the websites like Literotica, what do you think happens when they stop posting anything new?

I was talking about it with my SO the other night, and we agreed that we do wonder sometimes. Sometimes, an author stops posting anything right in the middle of a multi-chapter story. Other times, their work is all complete, but they disappear. The same thing can happen with print publications.

I’d been reading an historical-mystery author, Ariana Franklin, for a few years and I even got my parents hooked on her novels as well. Each of her books could be read on their own, as they were a complete mystery, solved by the end, but they were part of a series featuring the same main characters. The last book she wrote, A Murderous Procession, was everything her other novels had been – exciting, full of vibrant characters and settings, and featuring dastardly villains – and she did something she’d never done before: she ended it on a whopper of a cliffhanger. Of course, after reading that, I checked the bookstores constantly for the new release, checked the websites for any info on a release date and did everything I’m sure many other fans have done when caught up in a wonderful series. However, I came across her biography page through the publisher one day and it stated that she’d passed away at age 77, not long after the release of that book. I was saddened to read that, and sorry for her family. At the same time, I was selfish in thinking that I’d never know how it all turned out in the end. I’m sure she didn’t intend to leave it so open-ended but that’s life, isn’t it?

I have another favorite author, Diana Wynne Jones, whom I’ve mentioned before on here. Her books are all pretty much stand-alone novels. I’ve been reading her since I was ten or eleven years old, as most of her titles are children’s or young adult. I still enjoy her novels at my age now, as they are so detailed and adventurous, you can’t help but love them. I was checking her biography one day a few years ago and saw that she also had passed away. So nothing new will be forthcoming, though thank God we have so many novels from these two women, as well as a multitude of other authors that we can enjoy again and again.

On Lit, things aren’t always so apparent. Unfortunately, the website is designed around being able to post, read and comment anonymously. Sure, you may know I’m MugsyB but you don’t know who I am. If I disappeared and stopped posting for a significant amount of time, you wouldn’t know if I’d stopped writing for free to pursue other avenues, or if I’d become ill or been injured. Or the worst. That has happened in the cases of a few authors I’ve read on there. I’m hoping that they’ve just moved on and are living their lives happy and well.

In that spirit, I wanted to post today to let everyone who might care know that I am still around. I am still writing though the bulk of my writing time is taken up by writing full-length novels that I hope to publish in the near future. I won’t stop posting periodically on my blog or on Lit but it’s certainly won’t be as frequent as it once was. Hopefully I don’t have to worry about the end of the tunnel for some time yet, so I’ll have plenty of time to decide what to do when that time comes.

Next time you read a favorite author, book or story on-line, take a moment to thank the writer for their efforts. I don’t mean send fan-mail necessarily, but understand the effort it takes to put a story together and to post it on-line or publish it. Some authors might know how much their novels are appreciated in the number of sales but writers on free forums like Literotica or Wattpad or anything alone those lines sometimes never know how well loved they are. So, if you have the time and the opportunity, let them know you enjoy their work and hope to see more. Let them know that their absence would be noticed and let them know that you’ll enjoy their work for years to come. That’s the beauty of what we do. Words stay behind.

Until next time, take care and happy reading!

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Publication News!

I’ve got some big news to share. Well, sort of big. Well… It’s big news to me. :)

Anyway, if you’ve been a reader of my work for some time, you may remember a little story called “Uncovering the Ice.” It featured a writer named Vanessa, and the hockey player, named Sean, who emails her after reading one of her stories on-line.

At one time, I had this story published as part of an anthology called “Melting the Ice”, along with two stories by Eve McFadden. I’ve reworked it a bit, returning a lot of my original material from before that publication, and polished it up to offer as a stand-alone book! It’s now available to buy at the Amazon Kindle store. You can visit the website here. For now, it’s only available on Kindle. I’m working on getting it ready for sale on Smashwords, Nook Books, Kobo and the iTunes bookstores, and I’ll let you know as soon as it becomes available there.

If you buy it, or even if you remember it from before, please consider taking the time to leave a comment on the Amazon page. Comments and reader feedback is what we indie authors rely on to push our stories. Also, if you’re hemming and hawing over buying it, maybe this will convince you: at the end is a sneak preview of a forthcoming sequel to “Uncovering the Ice.” ;)

For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here’s the info:

cover page 2nd draft

Vanessa is a romance novelist but in her spare time, she indulges in her passion for hockey by penning hockey-themed erotica that she posts to an erotica website. When her hockey crush, Sean Bertrand, stumbles upon her stories and reacts negatively, she thinks he’s nothing but a crazy person. Their correspondence goes on and against the odds, they get to know each other, even like one another. But will the passion in Vanessa’s stories translate to real life or will the fantasy fall flat?

So now, I’ll leave you to enjoy the rest of your day, evening or whatever time of day you’re in. :)

Take care and happy reading!

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