Book Review: Where The Heart Is by L.S. Pullen + Q & A with Author

Where the Heart Is by [Pullen, L.S.]

 

Book Title: Where The Heart Is

Author: L.S. Pullen

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 4/5

 

 

Synopsis:

The story begins with Felicity Jamison returning home for a funeral. We see her combating severe anxiety as a result of a horrific incident in her past. Amidst her struggles and dealing with the loss of a family friend who happens to be Nate Davenport’s grandfather, she’s cornered by her feelings about Nate, her estranged best friend. 

Nate on the other hand, is enthusiastic about reuniting and closing the gap between himself and Felicity. However, Nate has questions. Why did she leave? Why did she distance herself?

You’ll have to read the book to see both Felicity and Nate overcome their demons and grief. 

 

My Thoughts:

Where The Heart Is, is a second chance romance filled with everything you need in one. From heartache to laughter, angst to affection…it’s all there. I enjoyed the read. I found both main charaters to be likeable and very relatable. L.S. Pullen handled anxiety with a level of authenticity I hardly ever see. The story was easy to fall into and experience from the main characters’ point of views. As a debut novel, I was pleasantly surprised. Definitely looking forward to the other stories in this series.

L.S. Pullen was gracious enough to do a little Q & A for my blog. Keep reading to learn more about her exciting journey and what’s to come. 

1) Firstly, a big congratulations on your debut release. I enjoyed every second of it. How has the responses been so far?

-Thank you so much. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. So far, so good. A lot of the feedback has been positive and very much appreciated.

2) How did your writing journey begin?

-I always enjoyed writing stories growing up, kept a diary, and said I’d love to write a book some day. Somewhere along the way I lost myself, but I fell back in love with reading in 2012. All because of Tarryn Fisher. After I finished The Opportunist I had an epiphany and it’s when I said “I’m going to write my book now.” And I did. I had been writing on and off but it was the last two years everything came together.

3) What inspired Felicity’s and Nate’s story?

-It was inspired by what was meant to be my first book Heart of War, and the story of their grandparents. But after losing the whole draft, with the exception of three pages, I decided to write this story first. Heart of War will now be the prequel.

4) I really enjoyed the supporting characters in Where The Heart Is. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s next for the series?

-Dysfunctional Hearts will be next, Charlie and Sophie’s story, I wrote it along side WTHI. I have a finished draft ready for some TLC hopefully I will be able to share it early 2019.

5) Every writer is first a reader. What books got you into reading and who are some of your favourite authors to recommend?

-Wow! How long do you have?! Growing up, it was books by Hans Christian Andersen and Roald Dahl. J.R.R.Tolkien LOTR and The Hobbit. Stephen King. Classics, I love a classic. Okay, and I admit it, Mills and Boon and the occasional Sweet Valley High book. Always Tarryn Fisher, Stephen King, Colleen Hoover, Willow Aster, Amy Harmon, Claire Contreas…so many talented authors out there. Not to mention a tribe of new to me authors.

6) Would you ever consider writing outside of contemporary romance?

-Yes, absolutely. I have a few sitting in a WIP folder on my laptop, itching to be free.

7) Because we’re on the topic of romance…what’s your idea of a perfect date?

-My idea of a perfect date…no idea to be perfectly honest! (Insert introvert here* ) I do love my home comforts, maybe a nice meal at home with someone who makes me laugh and a good film.

8) Tell us a little more about yourself. Besides reading and writing, what else makes you happy?

-I love photography, films, art and music. Being a dog mum was the best, I miss my pooch very much, memories of her bring me joy. But anything I can do to lift others. It makes me happy seeing others happy.

You can keep up with the author via the following social media links. As usual, thanks for stopping by.

Xo, Kat.

Website: http://lspullen.co.uk

Facebook: http://facebook.com/lspullenauthor

Instagram: http://instagram.com/lspauthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lspauthor

 

 

 

 

 

Improve Your Craft| Writing Fiction

I think it’s safe to say that self-publishing and traditional publishing are two different ball games. As someone who’s leaning more towards the self-publishing side, there are many factors that need to be considered, and learned, before venturing into the indie scene. Hopefully I can leave you guys with some helpful tips on researching markets and target audiences for your books sometime next week, but today, I want to explore working on the craft itself.

Firstly, I have seen many mistakes by authors who not only are debuting but authors who have 3 and 4 books published. Mistake being, lack of working on the craft. Most readers of indie books are looking for quicker reads, with engaging pacing. And to be able to do that, you have to improve your craft in a way that’s different than just writing a story you feel like writing. You have to pay attention to what’s succeeding in the market you are going for, and then work on that.

Often I sugarcoat things, but I’ll just go ahead and say…bad writing is bad writing. Even I know when I’ve written something atrocious. Ever since I was proposed with the idea of entering the self publishing industry, I have done three things. I studied the craft(something that’s ongoing in my life), I have studied the market and I’ve been researching how to step into that entrepreneur shoes of being both an author and a publisher. I will be creating in a separate post on how to do the things you are told to pay for when self-publishing, for free. So stay tuned for that.

Back to improving your craft. I will give you some pointers here.

  • Storytelling vs Great Writing
  • Story Structure
  • Read, read, read.
  • Practice makes perfect.

Storytelling vs Great Writing

Many times I’ve come across books where the writing is almost painful to get through and in most cases I don’t continue reading. But then there are books that are not written so well, and I can’t get enough of the story. This my friends is strong storytelling skills. See, it’s not every time beautiful sentences can structure your story for you. Every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. This is the basics of any form of composition. In between those phases, you need to learn tactics on how to hook your reader and leave them wanting more of the story so that they continue turning pages. On the indie scene, you have to learn all of the above and do it in the most effective way possible. These readers go through books quickly and it’s less likely they’ll want to invest two or more weeks on one book. Not only do you have to improve on your writing itself, you have to improve on your storytelling skills. I’ll go ahead and say right here, do not use filler content to make word count. Short stories and novellas are equally as successful in the indie scene, and even more so than full length novels. I’m mentioning this because I see it more often than not. A recent book I read and enjoyed with not so great writing or grammar was The Kissing Booth. I’m not of age to be reading YA anymore, it was a bit of a guilty pleasure. This book is testament of how important storytelling is versus wanting to write like some of the greats. I might sound stupid here, but on the indie scene, it’s what it is. If your plan is to self-publish, you have to learn who your readers are.

Story Structure

Every story has at least one main character. There is a plot surrounding that character in which he or she go through a series of conflicts to reach their main goal. This is as basic as it gets. One mistake I see some writers making is taking on much more than they are capable of and the feedback you might get if you do this is choppy writing. So you want to tell a story but you also want to refine that story and not stray from your main goals. And I say goals, because there are sub plots to a story depending on what the writer intends. When you’re starting out, one advice I can give you that’s worked for myself is writing from one character’s perspective. I’m referring to first person point-of-view as it seems to be the preferred method these days. Sure, readers want to get inside more than one character’s head but that’s not necessary to show what other characters are feeling or reacting to. Part of improving your craft, is training your eye to see every other character through your main character’s eyes. Dialogue is a very easy way to show what another character might be feeling.

Read, read, read. 

I can’t remember who said it, but the quote is, “Every writer is first a reader.” In most scenarios that’s true, but I’ve also come across very successful writers who say they were not really into reading before they started writing stories. And that’s really admirable. As an introvert, I learned more from books than anywhere else. Ok, well maybe Youtube. The point is, if you lack experience with writing or even life experiences to be able to stay consistent with your story idea, you can benefit quite a lot by reading. Whatever your genre is or interests are, read those type of stories. Pay attention to character development, sentence structure, narrative structure. Pay very close attention in creating conflict and resolving conflict…first chapters and last chapters. Subconsciously, your brain absorbs this knowledge but don’t just read for reading’s sake. Approach every book like a lesson to be learned.

Practice makes perfect.

While I can never see my work as satisfying enough to put out there, I have been trying to kick that attitude and just write without fears. Now, in the last two years, I haven’t published anything and I removed my two novellas from kindle because I wasn’t satisfied but it was a good learning process. To the world, I am not a writer because I don’t have anything published currently, but to myself, I know I write over 100K words per year on average. I say average because it could well be more than that. I write and I write and I scrap and I scrap. And I get frustrated because I’m not finishing things as fast as everyone else. But when I look back at the last two years, I have learned so much about the craft by just writing. So this writing, I consider it as good practice, as a learning curve. I have learned to write in different POVs and tenses and no matter what people say, that isn’t easy. I’ve learned to articulate and execute my stories better. I’ve learned how to work on my characters to give them definition and not be so flat and consumed by the plot itself. So that practice writing has served me as a teacher in the last two years.

You can write the story you want to write, you can write the story for a target audience. It doesn’t matter which way you decide to write your story, you should be improving your craft as you go along. Your second book should be an improvement to your first and so forth. So, if that first story is causing you frustration and you want to give up writing, always remember that your craft can and will be improved over time. I always stress on staying determined and persevering. Giving up isn’t an option if this is the road you wish to take. As always, thanks for stopping by. I hope this was helpful in some way. Leave me a comment if there’s anything concerning writing you think I should make a post about. Have a great weekend keep writing! xo Kat

 

 

Reading an old Manuscript

Hi Friends!

It would appear that my body does not recognize Saturday mornings. I was just up very early and no turning or twisting could put me back to sleep. So I hopped off the bed and made coffee. Something I love to do for my own sanity and everyone else’s safety, is sit down, drink my coffee and read emails or messages before the kids wake up. When they are up, my brain has to run on a different speed so it’s nice to have some time to prepare for that chaos.

For some reason, I woke up this morning with my very first completed manuscript on my mind. I’d written it way back in 2015, but it had been in the works for longer than that I believe. The writing is mediocre at best. Maybe even worse than that. The story, not so compelling if you ask me. But I am enjoying reading it…discovering those characters again. They are still alive in my head but I haven’t lived with them for a long time, since newer characters have taken up residence. It was nice to go back and get inside their heads.

Back to what I was saying about it being a horrible piece, and how I could ever think to publish such a mess for 99 cents. One thing that struck me, was the confidence rolling off the pages. I’ve never had a steady relationship with confidence but boy did I possess such drive and determination. I’ve always said back then, I wasn’t worrying too much about the audience or book covers or marketing. I just wanted to write stories and I wrote.

After learning about this indie author industry, I’m intimidated to say the least and I think that holds me back. I would love to step back into those shoes of confidence and just write. Whether it be good or bad, I just want to type “The End” on my stories. There’s so much swimming in my head, in notebooks all over my house. I just want to write. Nothing else.

I’m going to go back and finish read that manuscript and see if I connect with 2015 Kat at some point. Have a happy weekend folks! Yay for three day weekends!

xo Kat

Becoming Bloody Mary| Book Review

Becoming Bloody Mary by [Doyal, Stephanie]

Book Title: Blood Mary (A Short Story)

Author: Stephanie Doyal

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

My rating: 5 stars

Synopsis & Review

Bloody Mary is set in the 1800 hundreds and starts with couple who has two daughters. One daughter (Mary) has black hair and gray eyes while the other has blonde hair and blue eyes like their parents. Her sister, Elizabeth is favored over Mary by their parents and the community. When Mary goes out, whispers follow her. People suspect that she is not her father’s child based on her appearance.

As they grow up, Mary has great relationship with Elizabeth. In fact, Elizabeth is the only one that sticks up for her. They’ve both reached an age of marrying but it’s only Elizabeth that attracts suitors. However when Mary sets her sights on one man, she falls in love.

This tale isn’t so clear cut as you can see from the title. Mary is betrayed, and her reaction to her family’s actions are worse than anyone can imagine. This is a tale of tragedy.

A quick engaging read. Kept me turning pages. If you’re into short stories then this one is a good read for you.

Happy Reading!

xo Kat

I Outlined Something and It’s Not Romance|Writing Fiction

Writing update: I have been working thoroughly on the same few stories for the past three or four years. Most of which fall into the women’s fiction/Romantic comedy plots. Although these stories come easily to me, as well as the dialogue, I have a hard time writing them. It’s the “in between dialogues” I have a hard time expressing. I think as a person I’ve grown to where I can’t articulate love and romance the way my sixteen year old brain would. Don’t get me wrong, I do adore my stories and I think there’s something special about the originality of my plots. Maybe not the writing so much. It needs some work hehe. But…lately I’ve been feeling like something is missing. I don’t feel proud of these stories in the way that I should. Writing them for myself is one thing, but I still don’t feel accomplished enough to show these stories to others.

When I started writing longer stories, my end goal was to get into fantasy/supernatural/horror fiction. Because these genres generally take longer to plot and write, I thought maybe I could dish out some quick love stories in the mean time. However, I have been struggling. And my mind won’t shut up. About the future. About where I want to take my writing.  To be frank, I won’t even consider traditional publishing with the romances I write. The plots may be good, but the writing is not. There is just something I can’t exactly pin point that I don’t find there. When I read work from years ago, my voice is actually there. I don’t know why I’ve been experimenting with my writing based on questions asked in social media. My previous blog post deals with losing my writer voice.

These days I can’t hear it and it frustrates me to no end. Not only do I want to be a good story teller, I want to be a writer. And there’s a difference.

So, earlier today and not for the first time a thought crossed my mind. An idea about Caribbean folklore. I’ve often been afraid of delving into my country of origin in fear of not doing the country and people justice. I fear not correctly portraying something or offending somebody. Every idea needs a good plot as well.

And by the time I took a shower tonight, the plot and the protagonist had written themselves in my head. Suffice to say, I’m feeling good about it. I feel comfortable. Maybe I’ll come back to my romances once I’m done or once some inspiration hits me, but in the meantime, I roll with the supernatural story. I hate wasting time so at least, I plan to work out the details and make a broader outline over the next week or so.

Fellow writers, do you make writing as complicated as I do? Sometimes I annoy myself. I exhaust myself. Truly.

Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon.

xo Kat

Smugness won’t reach you very far|Writing Fiction

So, I thought long and hard if I should even address this but I think it’s important to express humbleness when you are a beginner writer. This morning I responded to a post in a writing group. The poster asked what should they do when they have lost all faith and motivation in writing? I commented by letting them know a thing or two how to combat creative blocks and I also reassured the poster that self-doubt lives in all of us. Well, I was strongly advised by another member of the group to refrain saying all of us struggle with self-doubt because they don’t doubt any of their stories.

Now I commented on that saying, “I apologize.” What I wanted to say is, “I apologize for my ignorance in this matter, Oh experienced one.” I didn’t want to get into a mindless social media war, so I just apologized and moved on. But it got me to thinking, and it isn’t the first time that I’ve wanted to touch on this subject.

I am in no way, shape or form bashing “my adviser” just to be clear. But I want to take you in-depth into the craft of writing and all that comes with it. Similarly to essay writing when your teacher marks your paper and they insert red ink corrections, so too does your manuscript need to be edited. And not just for grammatical errors. Many stories aren’t told very well and this is something people wanting to get into the writing field need to be mindful of. Your words need to have purpose to the story. It needs to be constructed well to paint a picture in the mind of your reader. It needs to read well on paper. I personally, have written like I’m writing a play in the past so it was challenging trying to get into novels.

There is no correct formula into writing your own story as well. Criticism and feedback are your friends, who help you improve on your craft. Self-doubt is your shadow. I get that we are all proud of our finished manuscript and hope that it will be received well, but the truth of the matter is, it won’t be by everyone. When best-selling authors have many negative reviews, and express their own self-doubt during their writing process, why would a newbie writer not learn from this? That the art of writing takes work, dedication and lots of thick skin. I was merely trying to express support for the original poster by saying we all go through a time when we doubt the story, or ourselves. Despite having finished a few books, I refuse to call myself an author. I call myself a writer because I don’t quite feel like I’ve written my best yet.

As readers, we’ve admired authors who made their marks on the world for many years, and we know of their struggles taking years to write a book, or writing stories that were controversial in their time. It doesn’t matter where you are in your craft, we do feel a little doubt. That self-doubt isn’t necessarily a lack of confidence, it stems from always wanting to best ourselves. Always wanting the next story to be better written.

Despite having written most of my life, I don’t always feel like I have a satisfying enough story to be published. At some level you have to question your own work and make sure that you’re telling your story in a way that you want, but in a way that’s also readable.

My point is, you can’t be smug in this business. Yes, be proud of yourself and your achievements. You’ve written an entire book. But don’t walk around with a swollen head thinking you already know everything you need to know. This is setting yourself up for failure. When you have nothing to show, you should take time to understand the business of writing. And yes, it is a business whether you self publish or traditionally publish. In today’s world, if you have a large following you are more likely to be successful than somebody in some corner of the world with a great book but no readers. So you should want to produce the best you can by taking constructive advice from READERS aka YOUR AUDIENCE.

Perception. Humility. Attention. Diligence. Knowledge.

To people who are entering this field, it is okay to be disorganized in your head. It’s okay to doubt yourself. It’s okay to take a long time. The key is finding techniques that work for you and your story.

I wish all of you aspiring writers the best in your endeavors. I hope we all do what we set out to do.

xo Kat

 

Cutting Back on Subplots|Writing Fiction

So I want to touch on subplotting. Not the dynamics of it per se. I want to share why I continuously need to cut back on having too many things going on in a story.

Sometimes we have to learn things, and sometimes we have to unlearn them.

I started writing poetry and screenplays at the beginning of it all. My stories come to me in the form of several sub plots involving the same characters in one story. This isn’t unheard of. And it can also be executed very well if you’re an experienced writer. Despite writing for most of my life and training myself to do what I love to do, I am not a very experienced writer. Simply because I write for myself, and I’ve only now worked up the courage to share my work with others. I’m still having trouble with that. It makes me nervous as hell. But I’m bending my mind to change all of that soon, hopefully.

Feedback and critique is essential if one wants to take writing seriously.

For me, writing a novel and a screenplay which is basically dialogue is vastly different. With a novel, I have to pay close attention to my character’s body language and observations of other characters. The story doesn’t only evolve via conversations. In fact, there is less dialogue in novels. Acting instructions and scene directions are completely different from what goes on in between dialogue in books.

When the concept of my story comes to me, I see every detail in my head as if it were playing on a screen. When I begin writing, I tend to realize what an absolute mess I’ve created. Too many crazy sub plots and twists that would annoy any reader to no end.

Recently, I’ve been trying to be better at outlining before the writing begins. There’s always immense need to cut down on my little stories within the big one. I over plot. If that’s even a thing. My brain isn’t equipped to roll out a saga or a five book series, so I need to take it down a notch.

Well there it is. The how and why. Although I can’t omit that I’ve read a ton of books with no real plot. Most of the content was just fleshed out repetition. That scares me as a writer and I tend to create too many conflicted situations before my story can climax.

This post might have been all over the place like my manuscript (hehe).

Thanks for reading.

xo Kat

Taking Inspiration from other Authors|Writing Fiction

Over the last year, and up until this morning, I’ve been coming across posts by other writers asking how to combat lack of inspiration/motivation. Some days you just can’t bring yourself to sit and write, your thoughts are all over the place. We all have our down days. Now it’s easy to share different techniques, such as taking a break, reading, doing a writing exercise etc. but until writer’s block really hits you, you won’t understand how hard it is for a writer to crawl out of his/her shell.

Lack of inspiration/motivation has a lot to do with self-doubt. At least in my case. So in this post, I want to say, if you’re experiencing some problems, take a step back from writing altogether. Search for videos of authors who inspire you, authors who write in the same genre. Hearing about their struggles and how they overcame fears can help you overcome yours if you have made the long term commitment to write. Writing isn’t just writing, it comes with all of the above such as self-promoting, correcting your own mistakes. It’s no easy feat. It not only takes skill, talent, discipline, it takes courage. So my advice to anyone dealing with these issues of self-doubt, is to seek help by listening to other authors. Their successes are motivation in itself to get the job done, to follow your dreams.

Let me know if this is a thing you do and if it affects you positively!

thanks for reading!

xo Kat

Captive Rebel by Erin McDermott|Book Review

Book title: Captive Rebel (The allegiance book 1)

Author: Erin McDermott

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis: Destined to be enemies, bound by fate…

Prince Ariston rules over the Allegiant – an elite faction favored by the Greek Gods. Separated from his family at a young age, he became a prisoner to the rebellion.

Marylyn O’Conner is a rebel, forced to do the rebellion’s bidding until an unforgiving family debt is paid. A pawn in the war for rebels to gain their freedom, she is obligated to become a spy, or her family will suffer.

Driven by revenge after returning from captivity, Prince Ariston makes it his mission to hunt down rebel spies, capturing Marylyn O’Conner in the process.

Desperate, Marylyn knows she needs to escape her alluring captor, or risk the safety of her family.

My Review: For some unknown reason this book reminded me of Cinder(the Lunar Chronicles). The story is by no chance similar but my feelings towards both books were. Why? Because the characters were likeable, straightforward. There was no clutter in this book which I appreciated as a reader, and writer. Everything flowed, no loop holes, no mindless yammering. A romance, but not only a romance. And it ended well yet left avenues open for the sequels. Overall, I would recommend if you like YA Dystopian or Fantasy, Action & Adventure.

Happy reading!

Xo Kat

Christmas On Thin Ice by Holly Blair | Book Review

Book Title: Christmas On Thin Ice (A Juniper Falls Holiday Romance)

Author: Holly Blair

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: Lily Jordan has just found out that she is pregnant for a famous golfer who ditched her. With the recent demise of her parents and the debt they left behind, Lily and her two brothers has to come up with a plan to save their family business, a tree nursery and skating rink. In comes Noah to save the day by offering to buy a percentage of the Jordans’ business but Lily isn’t too keen on losing her family business, or heart so quickly. 

My Review: Rated 5 stars in Goodreads because this book was a warm and enjoyable read to kick start my holidays reads. A very short book, actually a novella that can be finished in just a few hours but it’s content is full of feeling and substance. Great writing too. I completely recommended this to any who enjoys clean Hallmark type Romance as much as I do. 

Happy Reading! Xo Kat