Looking Forward To 2013!!!

Happy 2013 everyone!!! Thanks for the Mayans being wrong, we get to live another day! Usually I’m not big on making New Year’s Resolutions, but this year it’ll be different. I have two lists: 1) for my writing life 2) for everything else.

My Writing Resolutions for 2013:

  1. Embrace my author identity.
  2. Start my publishing company.
  3. Write everyday.
  4. Finish at least two novels, several short stories, and a few novellas.
  5. Keep meeting local writers and stay motivated with The Procrastinators goals.
  6. In November, participate in NaNo–so absolutely, positively don’t stress myself out before then. I want a chance to win an award!
  7. Promote my books but DON’T SPAM!!!
  8. Keep up with blogging.
  9. Be a good critique partner and beta-reader to other writers I engage with.

My Resolutions for everything else 2013:

  1. Embrace my quirky side (wait, I already do that hee hee).
  2. If an opportunity arises, be open to dating or starting a relationship. I enjoy being single, but it’d also be cool to meet a special someone. Friends first, of course 🙂
  3. Try to think less with my head and more with my heart.
  4. Be less of a couch potato and create a more social life.
  5. Embrace change. Don’t be afraid of it.

For everyone out there, what’s your New Year’s Resolutions? Good luck with keeping them!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

2012 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Book Review: Bah, Humbug! By Heather Horrocks

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller. For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block–until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes it’s the perfect solution to his plot problem. He digs in and discovers two things: one, his villain’s weapon will fit inside a snowman’s body, and two, this particular snowman was supposed to be the backdrop for Lexi’s next show. From this improbable beginning comes friendship, but can there be a happy ending for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood? Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

12749487I loved this 15 chapter book. It was definitely Christmas themed, but it was so good that anyone could enjoy it any time of the year. I’m a huge fan of when relationships start off rocky at first; I love back and forth sexual tension. Lexi and Kyle definitely had that charisma from the first moment they met. I thought it was a cool and original concept that he beheaded her snowman–who does that LOL. The book was told through both of their point-of-views, each rotating turns. I loved getting a sense of when the attraction started before the other character even realized.

I could relate to Kyle the most–we’re both 30, both bah humbug when it comes to holidays, both writers. I thought it was sad that he lost his mom on Christmas Eve and Lexi was an orphan. Through her pain of a divorce and no family except her kids, Lexi managed to help Kyle host a family get together at his home. I was touched by the scene when everyone is in his living room discussing what they miss most about the mom.

I loved that even though it was clear to the readers that they both liked each other, Lexi and Kyle were both insecure about how the other person felt. It reminded me of crushing on someone in junior high. The plot thickened when Kenneth (Kyle’s brother) made a move on Lexi; apparently he was the ladies man.

My favorite moments were whenever Lexi, her two kids, and Kyle hung out. The kids were in awe because he was a celebrity to them. Their favorite books were the Jared Strong ones. The story was definitely cute and funny–I love witty humor.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S. This book review is a part of The Christmas Blog Event I did with L.M. Sherwin. It’s a day late, but better than never hee hee.

Book Review: Christmas Beyond the Box By Josh Langston

The holidays mean many things to many people. “Christmas Beyond the Box” takes that notion a little farther, and provides some enchanting looks at the season from some very interesting perspectives. Suitable for all ages, there’s sure to be a tale worth re-telling in this collection for many Christmases to come.

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I liked this book that contained 6 short stories. They were mostly events that people would associate with the holidays, but with a twist. I wouldn’t necessarily say they put me in the Christmas spirit, but they didn’t make me go bah humbug either.

  • A Time For Giving–The Binderbergs are excited to let the town cut down their big tree so it can be decorated at the Rockfeller Center. Before the town knows it, tree related incidents keep popping up, causing one cop to joke that the tree is haunted. I thought it was cute who’s really acting mischievous.
  • The List–My favorite line: “Somebody had to laugh at the geeky kid–it was a rule of the kid cosmos.” Due to the Translation Effect, Toby finds Santa’s liar and  looks to see if he’s on the nice or naughty list. His dad had created the invention (time machine). This story was great with the setting details; I could picture the liar and his dad’s work space vividly.
  • Love Story at Gate 6B–Flight 373 is delayed because no clear landing. I couldn’t really connect with any characters because no names were given. An older gentleman waits on a woman (I’m assuming his wife), then they go home.
  • Behavior Modifications–This story was pretty cool. Casey thinks his new mean teacher Ms. Chantre is turning people into caged animals. I don’t really know what it had to do with Christmas, but it was my favorite one. I loved the suspense of Casey’s friends nor principal nor parents believing a word he says. It’s only a matter of time before Ms. Chantre gets angry and comes after him. I liked the build-up and the twists at the end.
  • Vanishing Skills–For the holidays, a student has a school project–interview someone. Amy attempts to interview Malachi in the park; he made magic lamps before he retired. I’m talking the Aladdin or I Dream of Genie types.
  • No Marbles This Year–This was another one of my favorites. I loved the drama involved. Jedidiah is 10 years old and enjoys spending time with his family for Christmas, especially his granddad. The granddad gave out the same snow globes to everyone; a year later he passes away. Jedidiah doesn’t understand the true meaning of the gift until adulthood.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S. This book review is a part of The Christmas Blog Event I did with L.M. Sherwin. It’s a day late, but that’s better than never hee hee.

Book Review: Whatever He Wants By Bridgett Henson

James Preston rejected his Pentecostal heritage long ago. Now, he abandons his education to provide for the young son he didn’t know existed. Can  he persuade Joni to join his new family before Isaac’s abusive mother tears it apart? Or will the court finally grant him sole custody?

Joni Maher was adopted at age six, but who is she really? Obedient daughter? Concert pianist? Sorority sister? She experiences love in James’ arms. His adorable son stirs her maternal instincts. Yet, in his family church, the power of God’s presence creates a longing she doesn’t understand.

When their carefully constructed world shatters, which will they choose? Love’s pleasure? Isaac’s safety? Or a Savior’s forgiveness?

17071563I liked this 26 chapter book. If you enjoy fiction that has a lot of church scenes, choir practice, church tent events and bus rides, praying scenes, and characters talking about the Bible, then this book is for you. The section that kept my interest was everything else. I love reading dramas, and this story definitely provided that. Isaac was only 4, Joni was 20 (I believe), and James was around 22; they had been through so many hardships in their lives than some people may experience in their lifetime.

A laugh out loud moment for me: when James visited Joni’s home, trying to win her back. He drove her date away and ended up getting drunk with her male relatives. They were downstairs bonding and teasing him for changing Joni (a.k.a. why did he leave her at church that day; now, she’s been recruited). I could imagine their facial expressions, which seemed pretty funny to me. James had gotten so drunk that he spent the night. How did the men make it up to the ladies the next morning? Attending church LOL.

The author was great with characterization. Every main and supporting character had distinct personalities. I loved reading the different relationship dynamics. You had Kathy and James as Isaac’s parents; Kathy hating Joni’s guts, calling her a homewrecker; the bad boy falling in love with the naive, innocent girl (the way James pursued Joni was cute); Joni’s friendship with the sorority sisters and big brother until she wised up and kicked them to the curb; James with his friends; Joni with her friends; their parents trying to steer them in the right path. The only thing I didn’t understand: why were the adults pressuring James to put a ring on Joni’s finger? They were young and she hadn’t even graduated college yet–it just didn’t seem right to me. Maybe it’s a religion thing?

I enjoyed the conflict and tension in the story. Kathy was definitely a piece of work. I respected that Joni made the right decision in saving Isaac, even if that meant possibly hurting James. I will admit I didn’t agree with a lot of decisions the main characters made, but it helped with the conflict because making wrong decisions had a domino effect of causing a downward spiral until they could pick themselves back up again. Plus, they were young, playing house (sometimes you’ve got to get out of the fairy tale and start noticing the real world).

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Blackstone By Jared Sandman

WELCOME TO BLACKSTONE

Designed by a madman, built with inmate labor and home to the nation’s worst criminals, Blackstone Penitentiary was considered the Alcatraz of the Midwest. Over a one-hundred-year history, it amassed the more odious distinction of being the most haunted location in America.

PAROLE WILL BE GRANTED

No longer in operation and left abandoned, it awaits renovation for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places. Spearheading the ambitious restoration project is Anthony Creighton, a caretaker seeking to unlock the reformatory’s long-buried secrets. He enlists four strangers to help in that mission, individuals who possess extraordinary psychic abilities. Along with a skeptical scientist, the group embarks on the first full-scale paranormal investigation of the notorious prison. Their goal: to confirm the existence of life after death.

TO ANYONE WHO SURVIVES THE NIGHT

Six guests. Ten thousand ghosts. And all of them fighting to escape.

15823650I loved this 30 chapter book. I’m a huge scaredy cat, so this book was right up my alley with frightening myself. It dealt with ghosts. I loved the scenes where they went ghost hunting in the prison because it reminded me of Ghost Hunters on the SyFy channel. I could imagine the characters in the pitch dark with all of their equipment. And the story sort of reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Then There Were None when Jack, Janet, Sully, Bryon, and Bruce agreed to spend the weekend at Blackstone for a large sum of money. They each had received  a letter through the mail from Anthony Creighton. Throughout the story, I thought Anthony acted very suspicious and was up to something.

I loved the opening–how Blackstone was described like a medieval castle–that image made me get in gear towards castles being haunted. A.k.a. Expect the prison to be haunted too. I expected suspense and horror, and definitely got it. The author was great with dialogue; the conversations and body language was entertaining and it was pretty realistic for a setting like this. The questions, paranoia, arguments, accusations, shock value helped provide knowing when the characters’ minds started playing tricks on them.

I feared for everyone’s safety, and I enjoyed how the twists revealed themselves at the end. I also enjoyed the group dynamic. Everyone was pretty much strangers, except Sully and Janet (fraternity twins who hadn’t seen each other in a long time).

It was cool the way everyone was skeptical at first but finally started to realize ghosts were real (that the town rumor surrounding Blackstone wasn’t just a myth). The spirits were relentless in messing with the humans. All the characters had their moment to shine, each rotating point-of-view, so readers could care about them before their life was taken. You’ll have to read the book to find out if anyone made it out alive…

My favorite scenes: 1) Janet escaping her abusive husband 2) Janet encounters a ghost in the library 3) the reveal of the past history of the inmates (the ending) 4) the closing scene, especially the very last line

The story definitely kept me on my toes, and every so often, I’d look around me, looking for ghosts. My mind played tricks on me LOL. It was a fast read.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“Show More Emotion, Damn It!”

What do you do if someone keeps demanding something of you that you can’t give?

My sophomore year at WVU I was a resident assistant for Summit Hall. Since I was only a year older than the people on my floor, I thought of them more as friends than residents. Ditto for them. That job definitely brought me out of my shell. I’m an INTJ, so it’s hard for me to express my feelings. I wouldn’t say I’m a heartless robot–I’m not a Shelton even though he’s awesome hee hee–but I do approach things in a rational and practical way. If someone has emotional outbursts, that doesn’t affect me in any way.

I enjoyed people’s company, and I thought I showed that. Doesn’t smiling, teasing, keeping a conversation, playing video games, laughing at jokes (whether funny or not) imply me enjoying my residents’ company? I’m a pretty private person, so I never really discussed my home life or anything too personal. However, they got to know me. If someone asks, I’ll answer. I never really offer up any information (I know it’s something I need to work on because it probably makes me look shady). To be honest, I don’t really know why I have a wall up, but if people are patient, they can knock it down. Then they’ll probably wish they never did 🙂

Anyway, Jahad (one of my residents) would always say that I need to show more emotion. At first, I thought he was just picking on me; like I said, I had a teasing relationship with everyone (residents, co-workers, bosses) in the building. I would just explain why I’m the way I am in a joking manner. Well one day, I was lying on the couch in the lounge. I was enjoying whatever TV show was on until Jahad came to bug me. I have a short attention span, so after awhile, the same conversations start getting on my nerves. He started in on the fact that he thought I didn’t express myself enough. Blah, blah, blah…

I can’t remember what I said, but it caused him to scream, “Show more emotion, damn it!” He was joking. He meant to kick the couch really hard, but instead, accidentally kicked my leg. I showed emotion then–pain. I wouldn’t be Yawatta if I didn’t tease him about it (frustrating him even more. But hey, if I’m annoyed, then I’ll annoy you right back). Let’s just say, I never let him live that moment down and I made sure to tell everyone about it.

I thought things were cool between Jahad and me, but all through the school year, he wouldn’t drop the accusation that I was emotionless, cold. I don’t know what he expected me to say. At first, I made light of the conversation. But then, after the millionth time hearing it, I started blowing him off, attempting to change the subject. In an agitated tone, I would tell him to stop trying to change me.

I don’t even mind peoples’ advice. I always take things into consideration–I am an INTJ afterall; we’re always trying to improve our lives–however, there’s a time and place for everything. And the wrong execution can totally backfire. After awhile, I was disappointed that he couldn’t just respect me for who I am. Who’s to say feelers are better than thinkers?

What do you guys think? Should I have cut Jahad some slack towards the end of the school year? Does he have a point–people should show more emotion, damn it!?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Christmas Memory #3

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I remember when me and my cousin Devin were little. Even though I was an only child at the time (my brother and I are 13 years apart), it always seemed like Devin was my brother. We always played together, our parents always dressed us up alike (if I got a Starter coat, he got one; if I got Fila sneakers, he got them too; etc.), and we always had to take pictures together.

Christmas was pretty cool at grandma’s house because we got to read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and other Dr. Seuss books. Afterwards, we’d drink hot chocolate and go sledding down the big hill at the park across the street. Snow was always good when you’re a kid hee hee. One time we didn’t realize there was a hole in the fence (blocking the creek from the basketball court) and we darted right through it. I’m scared of water–hence can’t swim–so I cried. If you have ever watched Robin Hood: Men In Tights, there’s a scene where the guy is in shallow waters and flapping his arms, legs all about, screaming he can’t swim. Picture me like that bundled up in a tobagin, scarf, snowsuit, and boots 🙂 Good times. Good times.

One winter, Devin and I walked all of Charles Town (mostly those homes near the swimming pool park and the spot where John Brown was hung), knocking on peoples’ doors to see if we could shovel snow for money. I wasn’t lazy that day 🙂

It was fun participating in this Christmas Blogging Event with L.M. Sherwin. Since adulthood, I’ve been a Ms. Scrooge around the holidays (Christmas is just another day for me). I’m happy to say this year has actually been pretty decent. However, I’m still ready for next Tuesday to arrive, so the constant holiday music can stop on the radio hee hee.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Authors Exhibiting Unprofessional Behavior–Tsk, Tsk, Tsk

For any book reviewers out there, have you ever experienced an author exhibiting unprofessional behavior towards you after you left a bad or so-so review for one of their books? Before you can answer that, it’d help to know what unprofessional behavior is:

An Author Is UNPROFESSIONAL when:

  • He believes that book reviews are for authors, not readers. Wrong!!! Book reviews are for readers to leave an opinion about something they read, so others can make an informed decision before deciding to purchase or not purchase a book. Book reviews are not to feed authors’ egos. If you want promotional material, then hire a publicist.
  • He believes that he can defraud the system. For example, if he doesn’t like a comment that someone wrote, then he thinks it’s okay to ask the person to remove their opinion from Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever. Wrong!!! People have a right to their opinion–reading is subjective. Therefore, people need to make an informed decision before they buy a product. If someone removes a book review, then potential customers aren’t getting the full picture. Defrauding the system also refers to resorting to sock-puppetry, which means after receiving a bad or so-so review, he encourages people to write 5 star reviews to undermine the honest review. Or retaliates, by encouraging people to give another writer a 1 star review without even reading the book.
  • He believes a honest review only refers to positive things. If anything is in a negative light or offers constructive criticism, then the reader must be wrong. In reality, he doesn’t want an honest assessment of his work; he only wants ego boosting. Once again, a reader can’t be wrong–reading and interpreting a story is subjective.
  • He believes it’s okay to keep bothering a person if they don’t follow through with his demands. If someone ignores you the first time, then get a clue. Unprofessional behavior is responding to negative reviews (whether in public or through email). Move on.

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Some Advice:

  • I’ve heard through the grapevine that readers tend to skip the generic 5 star glowing reviews and actually appreciates the lower rated reviews, especially if they’re thoughtful. They tend to believe those more. And sometimes what someone didn’t like about the book, another person will buy because of that fact.
  • If something upsets you, take a moment and count slowly to ten. Vent to your family and friends in private. When you lash out, it’s very unprofessional and it gives self-publishers a bad name. If a book reviewer or reader didn’t care for your story, it’s not the end of the world. It hurts because it’s your baby, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Develop a thicker skin. If you can’t, then don’t ask book reviewers to bother with your story.

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Ever since I wrote this 3 star thoughtful review, the author has been bothering me through email. If he reads this, NO I’M NOT REMOVING MY REVIEW FROM AMAZON OR GOODREADS. I don’t care how many times you tell me to. Oh and the kicker, on more than one occasion, he’s told me that he can’t wait to read one of my books and leave a review. Anyone in this industry knows what that means…Thanks for the heads up, buddy!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S. I’m not going to stop being a book reviewer and I’m not bitter. I won’t let one unprofessional author taint the fun experience I’ve had so far.

Book Review: Season Of Lies By Monica Shaughnessy

Suspected of her brother’s murder, seventeen-year-old Robin Calloway uses her unique senses to track down the killer and unravel a lifetime of lies.

Following her brother’s grisly death, Robin is held in a mental institution for observation and forced to reveal a bizarre secret about herself: she hears voices, the voices of animals. Cursed with the ability to hear, see, and smell a world hidden to most humans, she learned long ago to cope by “sleepwalking”–or blanking out–for most of her day. So when she wakes up in the “crazy crib” with only hazy recollections of the crime, it comes as no surprise.

Desperate to clear her name, Robin escapes the institution, flees into the Texas Hill Country, and travels home to Calloway Ranch to jog her memory. By using her gift with a special herd of whitetail does, she learns who murdered her brother. But the information puts both her and the deer in the path of a hunter who’s desperate to hide the truth. Contains teen peril and some expletives. Ages 15 and up.

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I loved this 27 chapter book. It was told through Robin’s first person point-of-view. What is someone’s biggest fear? Imagine waking up, not knowing where you are. Imagine realizing you’ve been admitted to the Killish County Mental Hospital. Not only that, but your brother has been murdered. That’s what happened to Robin. Throughout the story, the mystery she tries to solve is what had happened to her last night.

My favorite lines: 1) When he sat, his weight made a valley in the couch, rolling me towards him. 2) Underneath the fear and suffering, there was something else, something I’d seen in my own eyes–the look of disgust that comes from knowing someone less than you has turned your life to absolute shit. 3) I don’t believe in killing, but I’m not above kicking someone’s butt. 4) I’d always believed that respect–from all living creatures–was something you had to earn, not steal away at  gunpoint. ‘Course I didn’t need any respect at the moment, just answers. 5) Their egos are too fragile to entertain opposing ideas.

The creepiness kept me on my toes. After awhile, readers get the real deal of how wicked her brother and father were. Sometimes people have a habit of idealizing a loved one’s reputation once they’re gone–not with Martin. I loved all the suspense. When Robin and a deer family were stalked (and hunted) in the woods, it gave me chills. Particularly because of the culprit. This happened after she found a video tape. Talk about a dysfunctional family. It helped that Robin was a self-proclaimed redneck. The character’s voice never trailed off course from that tone, adding to the realism.

Monica Shaughnessy had a brilliant talent with scenes (point-of-view, characterization, description, plot, etc). The images she discussed helped me get lost in the story. It felt like I took the crazy journey with Robin. I enjoyed seeing her make friends at the mental institution–Levi (worked there), Patty (another patient), and Dr. G. When he diagnosed her with schizophrenia, I thought that may be true. But then the truth came out. I’m not an animal lover, but I managed to care for the deer in the story. The animals as well as the people were three-dimensional.

It was a fast read. Loving the mystery (questions kept being raised), I couldn’t put the book down. The twists at the end were very satisfying. The truth behind Martin’s murder was very clever.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby