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The BLURB

Blurb: Selling Your Dream in 150 Words or Less

Now, don’t get confused. I did write the Blurb and not the Blob. I’m talking about Blurbs here, although in some ways, blurbs are equally as terrifying as any classic horror film.

It’s a funny thing, being a writer. We spend so much of our waking hours spinning words and creating worlds, delving into the complex lives of characters who live in our minds, yet have to be reborn and developed on paper.

We finally conjure up a written work that has 20,000 words or more – it’s a miracle! – and then, we have to condense it all into 150 words or less. The dreaded BLURB.

the-blurb
Pout Pout Fish

People tend to forget that some of the most convincing artists, writers, and performers are often deliciously socially-awkward introverts who would rather be in some quiet, cocooned place somewhere, and yet they have this inner Drang to share their innermost with others through a specific medium.

Blurbs Are Silly, Very Important Little Things.

I’m not necessarily talking about us writers and folks in the creative/performing arts. (Nyep, I probably am.) But I’m actually thinking about the huge hurdle of writing a blurb. Why did I go through all of the trouble of telling you an elaborate story if you only want to hear about it in 6 complex sentences, or 10 if I keep things simple???

Anyway, as you may have guessed by now, I’m at the blurb phase of one of my latest stories. It’s the first in a fun, light, sweet YA romance series, and best of all, to my most faithful of followers, it will be FREE to those who sign up for my newsletter.

So, while I’m enjoying life in Blurblandia, let’s keep in touch on social media outlets like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest in the meantime.

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest for more.

 

Book Review: HOME by Jezz de Silva

My Quick Book Review of Home by Jezz de Silva

Length: 324 pages (Kindle Edition)
Date of Publication: June 28, 2018
Personal Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Quick Points: Fantastic read, fleshed-out romance tropes, extremely well-developed characters, slow-burn, interracial, May/December, friends to lovers, happily ever after

Inappropriate, Yet Pretty Much Accurate Synopsis: Exotic eye-candy elite solider fulfills his dying BFF’s wish by eventually banging his wife.

(Come on. We all know what “take care of her” means in romance-speak.)

book-review-home-by-jezz-de-silva
Home

My Actual, Proper Book Review: 

Home. It’s the place where we always long to be, a private sanctuary where we can truly be ourselves. At its most ideal, home the place where you can be your most vulnerable, yet it’s also the source of your greatest strength and sense of security. Home is the place where your dreams are nourished, and your understanding of true love, protection, and loyalty thrives.

My first impression of the stand-alone novel Home was a positive one. If you’re into slow-burn, friends to lovers, military, interracial, pseudo May/December romance, then you’re bound to be satisfied with what this novel has to offer you. De Silva slaps a perfectly dosed amount of all of the above, with an extra feel good trope or two for good measure. Set in West Australia, the author’s talent of descriptive writing shines through the narrative with visuals that make any reader feel as though she or he is Down Under in the middle of the action like a fly on the wall.

Evelyn (Eve) and Mark Watson have been married for nearly 20 years, and their love is the strongest imaginable. Mark, a Special Forces Staff Sergeant, and his right hand man, Corporal Jamie Turner, are the best of the best in the elite unit. When the two explicitly disobey an order so that they may save numerous innocent lives, tragedy befalls the duo. Before Mark succumbs to his fatal injuries, he makes his young best friend promise to protect Eve, the love of his life.

Jamie, a 28 year old Maori who towers over most people, has the strength of a legendary warrior, the discipline and fine-tuning of the elite soldier that he is, the finesse and charm of any  modern day Casanova, and the heart of a well-loved teddy bear. He makes good on his promise, and is literally welcomed with open arms by both Mark’s grieving widow and his feisty sister, Maggie (who is also Eve’s best friend). Jamie is always respectful, kind, and honest, and he lends his exceptional talents to restore the run-down Watson family home. Eve is a tough, direct, and brave 39 year old trauma nurse who struggles to move forward and stabilize her family’s future. The platonic friendship between the trio is strong and never waivers throughout the story.

As time progresses, the friendship between Jaime and Eve blossoms into romance. From there, the two consummate their transition from friends to lovers. Eventually, the protagonists are able to identify exactly what Home means to them.

Although I’m not a shrinking violet when it comes to profanity, there were times where I felt that its use didn’t necessarily progress the story. Of course, war is hell, and when the effects of it rip into the characters’ lives, I suppose that an F-bomb or ten are justified. Also, my expectations of a May/December romance went far beyond a circa 11-year age difference between Eve and Jaime. To me, that’s more like a May/August thing. No real biggie. (These days, a May/December is more like the current President of France, Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, who is 24 years his senior.)

When Jamie and Eve do finally make love, the intimate scene is disproportionately short in comparison to the time it takes for them to get to that pivotal moment. More time could have been given to the scene that most readers anticipate throughout the majority of the novel. (In fairness, because the characters hadn’t gotten any in such a long time, this could have been the author’s way of keeping things real. Just sayin’.)
If de Silva had chosen to, the entire sex scene(s) could have been left out of the novel, and it still would have been a perfectly solid read. However, the build up leaves the reader wanting the two characters to achieve fulfillment and unity on all levels, and although this occurs, the physical scenes did feel a bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the beautifully descriptive passages. 

Despite this, the dosage of romance is top-notch throughout the entire novel. If you’re looking for a romantic novel that exposes you to both the raw pain and exhilaration of love, then you’ll not feel cheated in the least.      

All in all, this slow-burn moved at a perfect pace. I found myself taking my time with this story, savoring each passage that continuously built layer after layer of character dimension and depth. De Silva is a storyteller, and he breathed true life into the characters Jaime and Eve. The character development is so incredibly thorough; there were many moments throughout the novel where there were tears in my eyes, simply because I could relate to the characters’ emotional battles in such a meaningful way. Their vulnerability, the rawness of their need to love, be accepted, and be loved, will clutch the heartstrings of any compassionate reader. Home is definitely a worthwhile read. Get a copy, and check out the talented author at jezzdesilva.com. I’ll BOL for more of his works!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

What is this wonderment called Poldark, and why am I just now getting into it???

Aidan Turner.

Image result for poldarkImage: Source

When I finally started to watch Poldark (about 15 hours ago), I knew that it had been around for a little while. Let’s face it, they’re getting ready to debut Season 4 and I’ve just wrapped up Episode 4 of the 1st season. However, I had no blooming clue that the Poldark saga has been around since 1945!!!

Let that sink in a moment. Poldark has been captivating audiences around the world since 1945. I’ll throw another fun zinger in – this saga is comprised of 12 novels, written by Winston Graham over the span of many decades from 1945 to 2002.

Amazing.

It’s my understanding that each season of the revived Poldark (there was also a previous BBC airing of the saga in the 1970’s) covers two novels. Hopefully, that means that the life of this version of the show will last for at least a total of 6 seasons. In any case, if you’re like me, it seems as though any Summer Reading dilemma that you may have is over.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me love the art of writing. With the perfect dose of divine inspiration, one can create fantastic works that span over generations, but at the same time, never age.

Image result for poldark quotes

Image: Source

Be honest, how may of you were huge fans of Poldark before BBC plucked this man from the heavens and placed him in this BBC revival? I remember him from the very “interesting” supernatural drama Being Human, and I was happy to see him in a role that truly suits him. He obviously has a Ph.D. in Brooding, and every episode of Poldark makes sure that he utilizes it in nearly every scene. He even looks pissed when he’s asking for the time. Fortunately for him (and all of us viewers), he pretty much looks good no matter what. (Sorry – is it wrong of me to objectify him? If so, then please scroll past these final images.)

Image: Source

©Atina Atwood 2016-2018

 

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Taking the Plunge

Now that I’ve finally survived yet another semester, I’ve taken a few days to sit around (more or less) and focus on simply being. It might sound silly to some, but I personally strive to live as holistically as possible without being too “crunchy”. 😁

In any case, this has involved me taking a look at the trajectory I’m currently traveling, and taking the time to reassess my goals and what I’m ultimately aiming for. At this point, just as I was last semester, I believe that I can best serve myself and others by following a different path. I know that I’m a natural-born teacher, orator, and communicator, and I think that it’s high time I found another platform that allows me to do all three of these things in a more constructive and much more fulfilling way.

As usual, this leads me to thinking about my fictional and nonfictional works. Am I really able to focus on writing, promoting, and selling my books full- or part time at this point in my life? That’s a HUGE leap into the unknown, and for me, that is also really super scary. However, I’m also hyper-aware of the fact that the best time to launch any ship such as this is when you supposedly “have time”, so the summer is really the best time for me to begin.

That sounds wonderful in theory, but then there is always the dreaded “work/life balance” that for some reason, virtually only women seem to have to worry think about. During this past week or so, I have only written about 5 pages into my next standalone novel, but I’ve been able to start and/or finish about 4 quilting projects since then. Self-sabotaging, much??!!

Well, actually, maybe not. My husband, who is fantastically as diligent as my mom is about reminding me not to be my own worst enemy, pointed out that I need some time “for myself” in order to actually rest my body and mind. He’s very right. ❤️ This all goes back to the holistic perspective of bringing closure to one phase or experience before moving on to another. Energetically speaking, I need to bring balance to my chakras and increase my Qi; in layman’s terms, I need to stfu and ctfd for a hot minute and then decide whether or not I want to proceed into uncharted territory with a clear head and more than just a plan. At the moment, working through this is still a bit of a struggle for me, but I am proud to say that I am getting there!

For those of you who are writers, do you often find yourself prioritizing other things on your To Do list before writing? If you want it to become a full time (or part time) paying job, that’s not going to cut it. Imagine if you were to go to work and your boss asked you to compete a task by the end of the day, but you did every single thing other than that one task. You had one job, and you refused to do it. After walking home with that pink slip, you’d have to ask yourself, how badly did I really want that job?

As soon as you decide that you want to Go Pro, you’ve got to be 100% all in – to the best of your ability. Even if you try it out and decide a bit later that you’ve got cold feet, wade back into the shallow end – and at least know that you tried. But you have to get to that point first. Who knows? You may find it more comfortable swimming in uncharted territory than your fears would like you to believe.

Follow that Gut Feeling

Now that today is Friday, I’m wrapping up what has to be the most low-key Spring Break that I’ve been able to enjoy in a long time. It was awesome not having to do much of anything, and being healthy at the same time. Usually, I’m battling some sort of cold or illness when I have a break, but this time, my determination kept me healthy throughout the week. Almost. Of course, this morning, I woke up with a cold. Whatever. It’s the weekend now, more or less.

It’s hard to say what the coolest part of my break was. I’d have to say that yesterday and today were by far the top two winners because I got to spend quality time with my husband and my little one on separate occasions. Since today is the last day of my week off, I thought that I’d have a Kiddie & Me day, and it’s been a blast.

What do you do when you have free time? Do you spend you time tackling more of those never-ending tasks on your list? Or do you actually use the majority of the time to make the most of your life doing what you love or being with those you love? I’m not judging, just wondering.

I’m wondering because after years of mental preparation, I’m only one final step away from leaving my day job and taking the plunge into the seemingly desired creative unknown. Somehow, somewhere, I have garnered the confidence to believe that I can make enough money from this thing. This is a big deal, people! But when you’re an undeniably creative soul, you pretty much only have two options:

1. You accept the nature of your beast, and do everything within your power to listen to your inner calling, and actually do something to keep every aspect of your being healthy and satisfied. You choose to nourish your creativity, not only acknowledging it, but relying on it on a day to day basis.

2. You try to choke that sucker with all of the strength you have, attempting to drown it, repress it, deny it, ignore it, curse it, and any other negative thing that you can do in order to actively attempt to kill a huge part of yourself that’s been a part of you since inception.

It’s so weird that far too many people in the world choose the latter. I’ve tried doing that before, and never had I been unhealthier or unhappier. I’m just not a 9-5er, lol.

As for me, I simply have to respect that I am an extremely creative being. Actually, i embrace it, and I’m blessed to have a family that has always supported this truth about me. I may not be a reliable blogger, but by golly, I am a creative soul!

During this week, I wrote the first chapter of my next stand-alone book in one day. I love when inspiration comes to me, especially when I create an inviting space within myself to accept its presence.

This is the work that I love to do. While I do love my day job teaching at university, there are too many restrictions that appear, constantly working against my creative flow and even my general sense of well-being. So, this Spring Break was a bit of a trial run for me. The summer break will be the even bigger test. I have a feeling that this is the year when I will go all in.

When it starts to come together, it will be awesome. If I feel the need to abandon all pursuits well, I’m thankful to know that I can always continue teaching in some capacity. But all signs have been telling me for ages to GO!! TRY!!! DO!! Gotta trust my gut and let my creative beast run free.

Alright, universe. I’m listening.

Happy Anniversary!

So, WordPress reminded me that today is my 3rd year anniversary having registered this blog. I’ve actually been blogging since my husband and I went to NYC in 2012, so that’s even more amazing!

Have I learned anything over these three/five years? Absolutely. I mean, I can’t say that I’m the best blogger, and I’ve only started being active here for just a few months. Yet, as I interact with you more frequently and receive coveted feedback and interaction from you, day by day I feel as though we could develop a long-lasting, meaningful relationship as time goes by.

Thank you for your support and your patience! So many people write about how hard it is to write a fictional book, and I finished my first one in 3 weeks nearly 5 years ago. Not bragging; I was just truly inspired. The second took me three months. Now, I’m on the fifth novel in my first series, and I haven’t been ready to start it for nearly a year now. Admittedly, throughout this 5-year period, I currently have developed a total of 32 solid plots and works in progress as I write. I also have 4 non-fiction works published (under another name)!

Yep. I’m that serious about my work. I believe that it’s my true calling! ❤️

Inspiration comes in waves. As I become more seasoned in this ever-evolving art of writing, I want to explore more, add more meat to the bones of my scrawny characters. I need three dimensional perspectives flowing through electrifying dialogue that at least gets my juices flowing. I need to say what needs to be said in the most authentic way possible.

Who am I writing for? Ultimately, I’m writing for myself – with YOU in mind.

So, yes. This anniversary is definitely worth celebrating. Thank you again to those who follow me; you’re the current that keeps my boat afloat and ever moving forward. You uplift me when I trudge through a tough day, and you support me as I flounder through the occasional flood of inspiration!

Romancing the Mundane

It’s the kind of magic that only a truly gifted writer can do. Sure, we’re all used to the fairytale set up of boy meets girl, they’re either best friends or they’ve grown up together, and then suddenly, the fateful day arrives when one of them sees the other in an entirely different light, and their world is never the same again.

These stories are beautiful. They make us think of a time when the life that lay before us was full of possibility, and love was this powerful, inevitable force that we were destined to reckon with sooner or later. For whatever reason, the Right Person would likely run into us when we were late running an errand as some grunt in the Big City, or this elusive attractive fellow would keep coincidentally show up everywhere the sweet, but plucky country girl happens to be. And then the magic happens.

But what about the stories for when life has hit the characters in the face with a frying pan, and they’re just making it? I understand the concept of escapism, but wouldn’t it be sort of hilarious and fantastic if a story about two volunteers in a nursing home hit it off? No one is a billionaire, no one is “torn” or “broken”. They’re just folks.

But we really want something special, don’t we? We want to see ourselves, elevated.

It takes a special lense to filter out the grit of everyday life, and embellish our common, unexpressed desires in a way that somehow makes us feel whole as we live vicariously through people who are like us, but are not us.

That, dear readers, is Romance.

Five Dirty Facts About Love

Of all the things that we’ve been taught about love, it’s the unspoken things that we end up learning the hard way. If only someone had told us about the beautiful parts – and the kind of gritty parts in between.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that we could go off on a philosophical or theological tangent and debate whether or not there is any impurity in the purest form of love… But here, I’m just talking about your regular Joe Blow and Susie Q falling in love and trying to make the pieces fit. In one way or another, a tender part of us is broken, and we’re looking for someone (or something) to help put those pieces together. While thinking about what some of my characters are going through, it made me think about these five dirty facts about love.

1. Love is Selfish.

I’m a person of faith, and I know that this sentence seems to contradict what many of us have been taught. Bear with me here. Let’s just say that it’s not Love that is selfish, but we, the people who love, are. When we’ve finally found someone who will put up with our crap and other idiosyncrasies, we’ll be a monkey’s uncle before we’re willing to let go if that person. Free love for all? You’re not going to find many romance novels with that happening. It’s all or nothing, baby.

2. Loving Someone Doesn’t Always Feel Good.

This is sad, but true. Just think of Heathcliff and Catherine. I honestly can’t recall a more miserable couple. Nevertheless, you can’t deny that love between them existed.

3. Not Everyone is Happy that You’ve Found Someone.

A fact that is one of the harder pills to swallow, but a fact none-the-less. People have a tendency to wait for the nasty turn at the end of the corner, the strange plot twist where everything falls to hell in a hand basket, even after you’ve found yourself rooting for them up until then. Are we all so jaded and cynical that we can’t believe in simple happy endings anymore?

4. Sometimes, When You’re Looking for Love, It Becomes An Asshole Playing Hide and Seek With Your Heart.

How many of us have been there, or know someone who’s been there? It doesn’t matter who you are, how famous you are or how much money you make – when you fall in love – I mean, REALLY fall in love with someone – you have been laid low. You can’t resist it, and you couldn’t change a thing if you tried. In many romantic stories, you’ll find that the billionaire is bewitched by the untrained Executive Assistant who just happened to land the coveted position through a temp agency. In real life, it’s more like the person who can’t stay away from someone who isn’t good for them, even if they are cognitively aware of that fact.

5. Loving Takes a Lot of Your Time and Energy

Let’s face it, when you’re spending hours a day thinking about someone, and then spending the rest of your time with that person, you’re devoting a lot of time to one person. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, per se – but it sure is time consuming.

Love isn’t all that bad.

If these are the only dirty things that I can think of about love, then maybe it’s not so bad after all. Just remember that every love story has a beginning – and the end always remains unwritten.

Shades of Gray (Start of a Short Story)

No, this has nothing to do with the infamous 50. This is just the start of another short story. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Things were not going as planned. Based on the timeline, Rebecca should have been a happily married mother of two with a stellar career that was on a rising trajectory. Instead, she was single, working a dead-end job where no one noticed her, much less remembered her name or recognized her contributions to the company.

It seemed as though her lot in life was to remain faceless, invisible to the world. Somehow, even though people only seemed to see her in shades of gray, deep down, Becca knew that she was as vibrant as a rainbow. Her personality was as multifaceted as the most intricate prism, yet inexplicably, so many aspects remained repressed within her.

As much as she longed for love and companionship, Becca didn't quite know how to reach out to others. How many times had she tried, only to be let down yet again by someone who just wanted to manipulate her? She was tired of being used, treated like a machine that was designed to produce desired results, serving without question and merely existing with no demands.

No feelings. No dreams. No desires.

"This is the end of the line, miss. You'll need to get out here, or change your direction." Startled by the booming timbre of the subway driver's voice, Becca instinctively curled up in a ball. She cringed when she noticed the kind man's reaction.

"I didn't mean to startle you, miss. Believe me, I won't hurt you." The driver took two steps back and held up his hands to prove that he was harmless. Quickly, she shook her head, hating the heated blush of embarrassment that warmed the back of her neck and pale cheeks.

"No sir, it was my mistake. I wasn't paying attention. Thank you." Gathering her backpack and art supplies, she nearly tripped as she rushed out of her seat and beyond the closing doors. She couldn't muster the courage to glance back at the driver, though she could feel his pity for her radiating from his direction.

The scars. If they had only been internal, she could have coped more easily, reintegrated herself into society without the burden of her existence being broadcast on her delicate skin. But when had life ever given her a break?

Later that night, the words of the subway driver replayed in her mind. "This is the end of the line, miss. You'll need to get out here, or change your direction."

She couldn't go on living like this. As hard as she'd fought for it in the past, there was no way that she was going to give up on life itself. Only one option remained – changing the direction her life was going.

But how?

Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to seeing where this story leads me. Follow me, Atina Atwood on Facebook and @realatinaatwood on Twitter, for more fun, random posts, and occasionally something amazing.

Suggestions: What do you think?

I'm looking into developing some light sketches for plots that I can use in my new series. I'm creating a novella series (light, PG-rated romance) geared towards young adults, i.e. circa 15-33 years old.

The first one takes place around Christmas time, and the second one will have something to do with Valentine's Day. I like having about 6 books per series (whenever possible, though 5 would be alright as well), and I want each book to revolve around a holiday.

Now I need your help. What other holidays should I concentrate on, and what makes a specific holiday special to you?

I'll be sure to reply to every comment. Thanks for your input!

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