Red Lights, Black Hearts by Fabiola Francisco| Book Review

Author: Fabiola Francisco

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Synopsis:

The story follows Sam, who works in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. In the beginning we learn that Sam has been running from her past and possibly herself by fleeing to Europe. She eventually meets Max, a traveling businessman from Germany who shows her that she can be loved, she can be healed. If only she would look deep within herself and want that for herself.

My Review:

The writing was beautiful…philosophical and poetic. Even with nothing going on, it was interesting to read. Red lights, Black Hearts is a testament of Sam’s healing. She explores the depths of her pain and suffering. She finds comfort in Max’s company and words, which lead her to love herself again, build herself up from the ground.

The book starts of kinda steamy but then it tapers off into therapeutic conversations between Sam and Max. Max serves as her support system throughout the book. She didn’t want him, she needed him. That was the vibe that I got. Overall, a neat story about redemption and healing.

My rating: 4 stars

Here’s the link to add the book to your TBR! Follow the author on Facebook, Instagram and join her FB reader group Fabiola’s Fab Reads to connect with other readers who loved the book.

Check out Red Lights, Black Hearts by Fabiola Francisco

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31142569

Xo Kat

Netflix is Taking Over My Life!|Movie Writing Prompts

I am a relatively new Netflixer. Because I’m a dinosaur and still pay for cable I only thought of subscribing to Netflix back in September. Well, whew! It was like opening Pandora’s box. And not because I’m an avid movie or TV watcher but because of all the incredible foreign content on there. I’ve always been an international movie watcher. Grew up looking at Hindi movies even though I didn’t speak a word of it. In the Caribbean, Hindi movies are a thing. It’s our only connect to our East Indian ancestry to be honest. Because apart from Hindi movies, I didn’t learn about the many different cultures and languages of the beautiful country until my twenties. But by then I was able to sing an entire song in a language I did not fully understand.

Why am I telling you this? Because Netflix has all these different movies and series in different languages and it sucks you in to be honest. When I first subscribed, I started looking at a Spanish series called El Barco. These episodes were like one hour long but they weren’t boring. They were very captivating and I kept wanting to know more and more so I lost a lot of sleep until I finished that series. Then came the Turkish dramas and OH EM GEE! These really rope you in. My house is disgusting when I start a Turkish series because it consumes my life. I go into the bathroom with my phone, I stand the iPad on the shelf above the sink when I’m doing dishes. Like, I dream about these characters like I’ve lived with them. I’m so invested in the show that it’s just on my mind all of the time. Recently, I’ve looked at a Korean movie and I’ve added some to look, and I’ve noticed that a lot of other countries base their movies on Korean movies. Which means that Korean movies might be some interesting stuff.

But let me tell you what I think really hooks me. Apart from me just loving other cultures and languages and yearning to learn more about them, I think it’s the brilliant writing behind these movies and series. It is just plot after plot. Fast paced, in depth. It is just mind blowing to me. And it’s a huge inspiration for me as a writer who likes to write fast paced, mind boggling stories. Honestly, if you as a writer have the patience to look at international movies, I suggest you do. Examine the people, their motives and everything that goes on. It’s like a writing prompt almost. I think it also explores villains in such a way that they can be hated and then redeemable. There’s also elements of just plain evil and the writing is done so well. Even the smallest character has an important part. These shows reveal character development so well. Like they aren’t just going in circles episode after episode, season after season. The characters really do change, develop, come into their own etc. I just really enjoy it. And if I could learn to write stories like these, I would be ecstatic! I cannot stress how well the storytelling is. And they’re mostly tear jerkers. I am a very hard person to cry over movies. I think the only movie I cried for was Titanic and I was ten at the time. I cried because I felt bad for the actual people who died on the ship. As a ten year old learning that reality, it was a bit much. I think most people cried seeing that. But these international dramas have me so emotional. For days, I walk around like a shell of myself just feeling all kinds of sad or happy.

It’s the writing, I tell you. It can’t be anything else. Of course, actors do have chemistries with the parts they play and they play it so well but writers are so under credited in movies and shows. They’re the real backbone of this thing and they have my respect. I will drop another post giving you some suggestions of what I’ve looked at so far.

Have a great Easter weekend! My Spring Break started with laundry and I still have to get a few things for my kids’ baskets. I’m just happy that I don’t have to set an alarm for the next week or so.

Xo Kat

Reading Slump!

Have you ever gone through periods where you’re not finishing books because they don’t seem to hold your interest? It’s either the excitement tapers off or the writing needs work. It’s always something. For the past year I can say, I’ve been shelving more books as DNF(did not finish) more than finished.

As a lover of books, it’s affecting my life. I feel sad, withdrawn. I read the premise of a book and although it sounds inviting, I’m scared to enter. There are so just many stories, more so the writing that’s not doing it for me anymore.

I’ve actually been feeling to read authors I read growing up, like RL STINE, or the classics. I think repetition and a particular style of writing is turning me off more and more. I hate to sit here and say that bad writing is infusing its way into our books nowadays, but it truly is. I have no issues with simple writing if a writer can tell a good story. But when most of the content is filler. Two hundred words to describe the same action or feeling. Honestly, it’s getting to me. And I’m losing faith in what I pick up to read.

This kind of writing takes away from the story…from the core plot. Which brings me to my next point. There is no real plot. Nothing is happening except two main characters unloading their feelings for each other on every page. Now pardon me in advance for saying this, but I grew up reading a lot of romances and I can’t remember them being written like this. There was always a story, a cast of supporting characters and something going on. I remember Mill & Boon books, always having some kind of plot unique to the characters and stories.

You know what the problem is here? Insta-love. That’s what I think is taking away from the stories. With no real journey, there’ll be forced and unrealistic sub plots.

I’m in such a deep slump where reading is concerned these days, not even my favorite authors are pulling me out of it. Oh well, in time it’ll pass.

Does this happen to you too? Please recommend a book to take me out of this slump. Thank ye in advance.

Please Note: I read across all genres. Fantasy, Horror, Thriller. Romance has just managed to be the culprit that sent me into a reading slump this time.

xo Kat

Am I getting bored of reading romance?

Let me begin by saying this post is in no way meant to bash romance writers, readers or books. Till date, it remains one of my most read genres. However in the last few years, I’ve closed book after book, after reading only a few pages. There were a few of them that stuck, and were enjoyable to me personally. And I say personally because we all perceive stories in our own way.

I think what I’ve been coming across lately has also impacted my contemporary romance stories as well. In a more negative aspect.

I’m a different kind of  reader, as we all are. I particularly enjoy romances like the ones Nora Roberts writes. Why, you may ask? Aren’t they all the same? Boy meets girl, sparks fly, happily ever after. While I agree on the formulaic expression of a romance book, I like the deep plots, and also sub plots. I enjoy the characters, flawed or searching. Good overcoming evil. It sounds cheesy but most books have this concept. Let’s not stray. Coming back to why I’ve been having a hard time finishing romance books for the longest time. I think it’s in the writing, more than anything else. I appreciate flawed characters, damaged ones. So it isn’t the art of storytelling that’s putting me off. It’s the way the story is being executed.

One of the reasons why I feel it difficult to just publish my stories out into the world, is because I feel like they are not ready. As a reader, I want to aspire to be a writer like the ones I admire. And my work is not up to par. I believe most content in a book should be meaningful, every dialogue should be progressing the story. I have no problems with mundane dialogue here or there. Don’t get me wrong. I love descriptions and visualizing how an author builds their world, be it realistic or fantasy or dystopian etc.

The core problem I face with reading some of these books are the meaningless filler content. Over descriptions of one character’s actions. Over description of one’s thoughts and feelings. After a few chapters, it get’s redundant. I get that it’s easier for some to write in first person, and while it’s amazing to get inside of a character’s head. The entire book can’t be a monologue where only one character thinks or feels. There’s too much repetition using beautiful words and phrases to convey the same feeling or thought–the same personality–all throughout the book.

Every line of dialogue is followed by a physical reaction one character makes. While that’s not incorrect, it shouldn’t be overdone. A line of dialogue can tell the reader exactly what mood or kind of person the character is.

Have you ever heard the main character’s voice in a whiny tone in your head? It happens to me more often than not.

Recently I read Garden of Shadows by V.C. Andrews, and I thought it executed an entire story in first person POV very well. The story was able to progress, and relate events without being repetitive. In fact, there wasn’t an instance where a feeling or thought conveyed was mentioned twice. The main character was able to describe the reactions/expressions of the other characters in such a way that the reader knew them as well. I honestly think it’s a book we can all learn from in terms of pushing a story forward without stopping in every chapter to repeat things using beautiful words.

What do you think about romance nowadays? Do you read it? I’d like to find more that I can love, so if you have any suggestions, please drop them down below. My next post will discuss erotica in romance books, so stay tuned for that.

Happy Reading Bookish Folk!

xo Kat

In The Gray by A.D. McCammon| COVER REVEAL + Giveaway!

Good Day Bookish Folk!

Lately, I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with romance books which I’ll cover in my very next post. But somewhere in between all of those DNFs(Did not finish), I’ll come across ones written by A.D. McCammon. Her first two books, In This Moment and Crushed can be found on amazon.com for only .99 cents from 3/15 – 3/22.

Crushed made it to my best reads of 2017 simply because it was written beautifully. A.D. has a way with writing emotion that doesn’t sound whiny or pretentious. Her characters, and situations are very real, and her plots are of substance. I appreciate romance writers who can weave a tale without unnecessary filler content, and unconvincing conflict.

Without further ado, let me reveal to you the stunning cover of her newest novel, In The Gray.

in the gray cover.jpg

 

Cover Designer: Indie Solutions by Murphy Rae
Release Date: April 19th
“There isn’t always a clean beginning and ending to every story. Instead of something being black or white, it’s a mixture of both, forming a nice shade of gray.”

Writer Lori Stevens was eighteen when she was assaulted by her mentor, learning people aren’t always what they seem the hard way. She’s found solace living in the gray, keeping everyone at arm’s length with her secrets safely tucked away.

When the biggest story of her career hits too close to home, Lori is forced to face her demons and question everything—like her feelings for Steven Duncan.

Steven was meant to be nothing more than a failed one-night stand, but when a cruel twist of fate brings him back into her life, she begins falling for him.

There’s one slight problem: he’s dating her best friend.

Officer Steven Duncan is no stranger to tragedy, but that never stopped him from searching for his fairytale. Now, he’s dating the perfect girl, only it’s the wrong girl who feels right.

Steven is willing to fight for Lori—to step outside the boundaries of his black and white world—but can they find happiness living in the gray?

Here are the preorder links for In The Gray:
   
 
Click on the links below for a chance to win stuff!
$25 Amazon Gift Card GIVEAWAY:https://www.facebook.com/admccammon/
 

As always, thanks for reading my friends. And good luck with your new book A.D. ❤

xo Kat

Is my heart still in it?| Writing Fiction

I’ve always written for self-fulfillment more than anything else. This I’ve said a gajillion times, and nothing’s going to change that. It’s been almost four years since I’ve been considering publishing, and I’ve been faced with many highs and many lows. I understand it all comes with the territory of writing. It’s no easy feat to plot and write a book. And I thoroughly admire those who do it prolifically.

It’s been getting easier with my second child being a toddler, to find more time to write, and that I’ve been doing relentlessly. I have many storylines outlined and plotted waiting to be worked on. Last December, I told myself no more BS. I need to really get these stories out of my head and uniformed into a readable format.

It’s been going well so far, but I’ve been feeling like giving up. It’s not fear of rejection that’s been causing this, it’s lack of passion. Most of the stories I’ve been working on since has some kind of romance surrounding it, whether it be fantasy, paranormal or just contemporary. Honestly, I’m not feeling it anymore.

Some days I wake up and I feel exhausted of writing romance, like it’s not for me. Like it’s not what I want to produce. Don’t get me wrong, these stories are near and dear to my heart and I’ve spend so much time invested in them, but I just can’t help but think I should venture into another genre. I’ve always plotted other kinds of stories, being a horror fan, specifically based around paranormal and supernatural. But I never took it as seriously as I take my contemporary storylines.

I think I need a time out and it’s driving me insane. I’ve been working so hard these last three months and I can’t type those little two words yet, “The End.” I feel incompetent in a field that I’ve always loved and enjoyed being a part of. Pieces of myself are withering away just thinking about giving up.

Stories are my passion, and will always be.

I hope everyone’s having an amazing and productive weekend thus far.

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

Am I obsessed with twins?|Writing Fiction

Like many other writers, I have this little book of ideas. It’s raw, undetermined. Most of the thoughts in there may not even reach full on story level. I have noticed, however, that there’s more than one plot involving a twin.

There’s a twin dynamic in my current work in progress so I’m getting a chance to explore into that relationship. I don’t have a twin, nor do I think I’m friends with twins so it got me to thinking…what is really my obsession with this twin thing.

Some of what I write comes from deep within. A place I find difficult to explore when I’m not writing. There’s a loner shadow that’s been following me all of my life. I have trouble connecting with people, mostly because of trust. And as I think about it now, I remember wishing for a twin so hard that my mind was a little confused for a while.

FYI, I don’t think this is weird. It’s similar to having an imaginary friend. Anyway, before I go off topic as usual, I believe that twin obsession starts with me wanting to connect with someone at such an internal level. Not just on the surface but to be able to touch each other’s souls. You see, I’ve never had that and subconsciously my stories write themselves with such emotional connections.

For instance, my main character references sharing a womb with his twin and how that affected him during his life. I can’t imagine a bond like that. My character also references things like a dislike of dressing the same or one twin seeming like the younger sibling. Of course as their lives progressed they developed different personalities but in the beginning there is such an intense closeness that can’t be explained or calculated by anything of this world.

Maybe my admiration for that makes me write twins into my stories every now and then. It’s definitely something to think about. I’m also inserting a small disclaimer that I may not have the most correct representation of twins but this segment is called writing “fiction”. So bear with me.

As always, Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to leave me your bookish thoughts.

xo Kat

Is Third Person POV Dead?|Writing Fiction

Just like anything, I’ve come to realize that writing books is a business in itself. At the end of the day we all want to be our authentic selves in hopes that at least one person will receive it positively but it’s also true that we write for an audience. Particularly in the romantic genres, in the last few years I’ve been seeing a lot of first person present tense POVs. I read it but it doesn’t always read well to me, because that’s my preference. Everybody has their own tastes even when it comes to reading.

I’ve asked the question first person vs third person in a couple of writing groups and the group with majorly romance writers and readers favored first person. Recently I read on a blog that reading in first person helps the reader connect to a character better as it reads like you’re inside of the person’s head. The blog also went on to say that when something reads like a chick diary it’s more relatable. While that may be true, authors who write in third person are still successful in publishing. Some of which I enjoy quite a bit, like Nora Roberts, Susan Mallory.

It’s mostly on the indie scene I see first person being more preferable and that’s scary for someone like me who is choosing to go the self-publishing route. I have written in first person, I’ve switched entire books in first person but I’ll tell you where it goes wrong for me.

I spend a few sentences throughout my story noticing things that my characters may not necessarily notice. For instance, my MC who is a guy may not care what the color of a curtain is or the set up of a bedroom. There’s also the self-description thing that makes me cringe. Personally, I find it hard to describe myself or brag about myself and again, not all of my characters care what they look like but I do want my readers to have a feature or two in mind. And I find that reflection thing that I see ever so often in other books is not really my thing.

My writing voice is also not my character’s voice. I enjoy using different words to describe and elaborate on things and I can assure you my main character may not always share that vocabulary. So it’s hard for me to articulate the story that I want in my main character’s voice. I don’t head hop because it’s confusing to readers and even me as a writer. I do focus on one character at a time but just in third person POV. It’s called third person limited whereas the other is called third person omniscient. This I will cover in another blog post so stay tuned for that one.

Lastly, I have been writing in third person POV as early as the age of seven. In school, I had tons and tons of essays to write and I even started writing my own stories so I had time and practice with writing in third person. It’s why it comes more naturally to me as a narrator.

What POV do you prefer and what are the challenges you face? Why is one or the other easier for you?

As always thanks for stopping by. Here’s the link for my newly created Facebook Page if you want to keep up with me there. https://www.facebook.com/Bookish-Kat-582027968799821/ I always love discussing bookish things with bookish people! Find me on Instagram @bookishkat7

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