First Giveaway

I am very excited to announce my very first giveaway on this blog. I am going to start with the Kelly Violet sets. Six winners will receive some book promo, a bracelet, a pen, and a QR to claim an ebook of hers.

To Enter: Tell us your favorite summer read! Share with your friends so they can join as well. If you post to social media, use the hashtag #WillowWritesAndReads2020 or #WWAR2020Giveaway. Look forward to seeing your entries!

Winners will be chosen on September 13th. Please make sure to include a way for me to get in touch with you in order for it to be counted. Winners chosen at random. I’ll allow multiple entries.

Giveaway Announcement

I hope everybody has been doing well. I have an intense three weeks. The first week was Reading Rush. I managed to finish seven books during the week. The next week was Savannah. I had an amazing time, but I had something happen that changed my entire world. In the best way possible. This week has been winding down from the two weeks before.

Anywho, I’ve been so thankful for the readers I have on my blog that I wanted to do something as a thank you. I want to try to give some things away. I’m not sure how it’s going to go, so I’m going to break it down into stages. Every Friday I will give away one item. The amount of winners will depend on how many of the item I have. So for instance, if I have two sets of a series, I will pick two winners.

Here are the items I have to give away:

There will be four different giveaways. All of the above items will be included.

I will have six winners for this giveaway.

This will have one winner. Both books are signed by the author.

I have two sets of these two give. They are personally signed, but they are really good books.

I will have two of these to give. They are not signed. The cover is beautiful though.

I’m not really sure which I will start with. I will do my best to make all of the giveaways fun. I think I will have each giveaway last a month and announce the winners a week apart like I’m doing the giveaways. I am really excited to give this a go!!!

Updates On Reading Rush And My Life

I can’t believe it’s Friday already! It’s been a fantastic Reading Rush week! I had Tuesday and Wednesday off. I sadly had to call in on Thursday. Wasn’t feeling the best. I only have one challenge left to go! Emma. I am hoping to have it finished by the end of the day or at some point on Saturday! Has anybody else been participating in The Reading Rush this week? How are you doing?

Has anybody heard of the Raycon earbuds? I’ve been getting advertisements for them everywhere! I’m really enamored with them. Especially with who the person owns the brand is. I have a Bluetooth pair of headphones that I love. My only problem with them right now is that because they are trapping heat. It makes listening to things kind of uncomfortable. It makes work uncomfortable too, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

We’ll be getting two kittens later today to foster for a month. Well one is a full grown cat and one is a kitten. They are my mom’s kittens, but she has a babysitting job for a few weeks to go to a little bit after our trip to Savannah. I plan to make their stay with us as comfortable as possible. Well when I’m here that is.

Time to get back to reading! Hope everybody is doing well!

The Reading Rush 2020 And My TBR

I don’t really have much to report for the week. I was sick and missed three days of work that I couldn’t really afford to miss if I’m being honest. However, I’m feeling better now! That’s what matters.

Now on to the topic I am excited for! Next week and the week after! Next week is Reading Rush! I’ll still be working during the week. I was going to take the next two weeks off to fully enjoy them. It’s okay. I’ll still be able to enjoy it.

After Reading Rush is over, I’ll be heading to Savannah for an event called LLS. This may very well be my very last year, but I’m not sure. This year will put a lot of factor in on that. And my finances over the next coming year!

Anyways, for those of you who don’t know, Reading Rush used to be known as BookTubeAThon. It happens for a week in July every year. Go to their website for more info!

My final reading list includes Book Of The Month books so that I can tackle challenges from that too. If you haven’t subscribed, I strongly recommend it. You get one to three books every month at a decent price!

The Challenges:

Read a book with a cover that matches the color of your birthstone.

My birth month is August. My birthstone is Peridot. I chose Mexican Gothic.

Read a book that starts with the word “The”

I chose The Guest List.

Read a book that’s inspired by a movie you’ve already seen.

The movie I chose is Clueless. The book I chose is Emma.

Read the first book you touch.

I went to a big stack of books, closed my eyes, and pointed. I had my fiance pull out the book my finger was on. It turned out to be Home Before Dark.

Read a book completely outside your home.

For this, I chose Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

Read a book from a genre you’ve always wanted to read more of.

I chose Contemporary for my genre. The book I chose was When We Were Vikings.

Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

I chose The Library Of Legends. It takes place in China.

I’m very excited to get the readathon started! Some of these can be doubled down on challenges if needed. I also have an audiobook for every single one except for Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

If you’re participating too, I’d love to see your TBR for it! Comment the list or link to your TBR! Happy reading!

Weekly Book And Personal Chatter: 7/9/20

It’s been a pretty decent week. It wasn’t completely amazing. We had a few things happen that have added some stressors. I’m pretty sure that I’m completely out of my reading slump that I’ve been into for the past month. The stress had really gotten to me.

I am officially done with training at work! I’m so excited! Wednesday was my first official day. I work afternoons. The training was mornings. It was a little brutal for me. I’m not a morning person at all. The training where we were taking calls took place at a time I find that I can read in between calls. I can’t read physical books though. It’s too much of a hassle of closing the book and then opening it and finding my spot. By the time I find my spot, I’ve gotten another call! I’m currently reading Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore. It’s been really great so far!

I’m still working to catch up. I feel like the longer I work at catching up, I fall further behind. I think that’s the curse of a reader! I usually have a few books that I read a few chapters of every day. I don’t have that many I do that for currently. Other than that, I pick one book to read and an audiobook. I’m currently reading The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutoski and listening to Kingdom Of Darkness by Tricia Copeland.

Reading Rush is from the 20th- 26th and LLS is the 26th to August 3rd. I’ll be in Savannah during the duration. Which means I’ll need to quarantine for two weeks when I get home. It will be so worth it. I’ll be making some special blogs for both events.

That’s all I can think of for now. Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs! I truly appreciate it.

Happy Early Valentine’s Day And Reading Update!

Hello! This year has been insanely busy for me! It’s both good and bad at the same time. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done, but I still feel like I’m very behind. I have high hopes that I will remain caught up and take a huge chunk out of my back-list here soon. I hope everybody has been reading amazing books! I’m behind on reading blogs, but I will catch up on that too!

I’ve been rearranging things to figure out what works best for me. I stopped doing the daily page counts. I’m still adjusting. When you get used to doing something for so long, it’s weird to just not do it anymore. If it remains something that makes me uncomfortable, I may put the page count back in action. We all have our quirks.

I’ve also taken off the schedule. I don’t mind having a scheduled blog, but I was feeling pressured to post specific things at specific times. I’m a free spirit when it comes to planning. Don’t get me wrong. I try to keep routines going. But most of my routine is trial and error. It’s seeing what sticks and what doesn’t fit. I’m considering at least doing a book haul blog every Friday. If this is something you’d like to see, let me know.

I will make it a point to post a personal blog post every day from here on. I will browse daily memes. I actually am putting strong consideration into keeping up with the WWW Wednesday blogs. Those were very fun to make and I feel like it gave me more accountability on my reading. If there are any recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

Lastly, I’m strongly considering starting making TikTok videos. I’m not fully sure yet. I’ll definitely keep everybody that’s interested updated if I do. My main plan is to do book reviews. I’m considering doing lip syncs too. It seems like a lot of fun. And quite frankly, I spend a lot of time on the app, might as well make a use of it! Haha! If you don’t already, please follow me on my social media. The links are posted on the right. I follow anybody who follows me! I do that here too!

Have a great rest of the week!

Thank you for Reading!

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Willow’s Book Chat: Series VS Stand Alone

All book lovers have preferences. Some prefer a certain genre to other genres. Some prefer a specific point of view over others. Some prefer to read books that come in a series over stand-alone. Most of us will read out of our comfort zone and dab into everything anyways.

Today I’d like to talk about book series and book stand-alone novels. They both have their benefits. I used to not see it that way. I used to only read books that were in a series. I was a horrible book snob. Once I fully embraced the book community and all that it had to offer, my point of view changed. I will always prefer book series to stand alone novels, but I do enjoy stand alone novels now.

Reading a book series has many advantages. To start with, you have more than one book in order to read all about the characters and their world. To me, book series are like television series. You get to digest a little part of the story with each book. You can even binge read a series if you’d like. I guess length of series does need to be taken into account. I personally don’t mind how long a series goes on as long as it stays consistent. If it’s obvious that the series has come to its end, please end it. Other than that, the series can have 50 books and I’m cool with it. I’m sure this is a pretty unpopular opinion.

Now, I’m not an expert at stand alone novels. I don’t really read much of them. I do read them though. I can say that the stories are amazing. I can see the point that there are some stories that are meant to be told, but not in a series. The point of the story can be wrapped up in one nice little book. I do wonder if some books can be broken down. The first book that comes to mind is Gone With The Wind. Would it have been better as a duology? Or is it good as it is? I see stand alone novels as a movie of sorts.

In the end, both book series and stand alone novels are to give us book lovers a story to love and gush over. They are meant to entertain us and tell us a story. In some cases, they are intended to tell us several stories. I just recently discovered book series that are a collection of stand-alone novels that take place in the same world. I thought I’d hate that, but it’s really refreshing.

What are your thoughts on both? What are your preferences? When do you feel an author should stop writing in a series? When do you feel a stand alone novel should be turned into a series? What are your thoughts on duologies and trilogies?

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Willow’s Book Chat: Book Reviews

It would seem this would be a pretty straight forward topic, but it’s not. Well, not entirely anyway. There are many factors that can be talked about when it comes to reviews. The types of reviews. The authenticity of reviews. The amount of reviews.

Types Of Reviews

If there’s anything I’ve noticed is that nobody reviews the same way. There are all different ways to review. I used to feel embarrassed of my reviews. I thought that they were stupid and very juvenile. I’d see these elaborate reviews that I loved. It discouraged me greatly.

After awhile, I learned that I am writing the way I’m comfortable with. I’m getting the point across in a way that fits for me. That’s what matters in my opinion. As long as you’re reviewing the book and giving your honest opinion, you’re helping the author. Right?

Review Authenticity

I read a lot more reviews than I used to. Some reviews just make me so angry. It’s so obvious that they aren’t authentic. And the sad part is, people take their review seriously. That takes away a potential reader. I once read a review that gave a book a 1 Star Rating. The review stated that they didn’t read the book because the cover model looked like a serial killer.

Let’s look at this from another angle. I have been blessed to have been given many free books through my review years. I’ve always given my honest review. Yes, I have a huge list of books I still need to read, but I’ve reviewed every book I’ve finished. I once rated a book 3 Stars. I liked it, but I didn’t really enjoy it that much. I stated why in my review. The author messaged me and requested I rewrite my review and change the rating to 5 Stars. I haven’t accepted any more books from this author.

Final Thoughts

While reviews may not mean anything to me, I know they mean the world to authors. If I could find a way to encourage more people to review the books they read, I would. In a heartbeat. I can’t stress enough how easy it is to review a book. You’re essentially telling the author and those who read the review what you liked about the book and why, and what you didn’t like and why. It can take a few sentences or several pages. Whatever you’re most comfortable with. Just make sure it’s honest and comes from the heart.

What are your thoughts on reviews? How often do you write reviews? What’s your review style? I look forward to your answers and opinions!

First Book Chat With MK Mancos

Click For Author’s Goodreads

How long did it take you to write your first book?

My first book was written in about 1993 (that’s nineteen ninety-three – the font looks wacky here) on a word processor that only showed maybe four or five lines of type at a time. It had a cartridge and ribbon in it and held I don’t remember how many pages of text before I had to put a piece (single) into the carriage and hit print. It was more of a glorified typewriter. So, given that it took me longer to write than you can imagine. I wrote it, but knew it wasn’t good. Nowhere near ready to publish. I completed it in about 3-6 months, maybe. Then stuck it under a bunch of stuff in a drawer and started on the next book. By this time, we’d purchased our first computer that ran Windows 95. What a revelation that was to my craft. I actually could correct as I went and print later. LOL. Flash forward many books and programs later – to about 2004 (?) I was at the New Jersey Romance Writers annual conference and was going to pitch to TOR books. Well, I hadn’t planned to pitch the book I did, but when I got my pitch envelope it said they wanted PNR. I had planned to pitch and epic fantasy. I had to switch gears and fast. So, I pitched that first book I wrote with the understanding that I had to dust if off and rewrite it. And I did. I started from the first sentence, first word and rewrote the entire book in 3 months. I switched things up and condensed a few characters together. That book was passed on by TOR but I ended up signing it with Samhain. It was released in 2006, I think, and was titled By A Silken Thread. It was a mystery/PNR about near-death experiences.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller. To myself, to pass the time. On break between summer and fall I’d sit in my room and type out short stories in junior high and high school. It’s been a dream that I made come true. When I first mentioned it to my fiancé (now husband of 26 years) he encouraged me to make it happen and I haven’t looked back.

How many drafts did you do before you felt it was ready to publish?

That first book – 2. I wrote that first horrid copy, and then the one I sent to the publisher. There had been about a 10-year gap between revisions and I learned so much in that time and had honed and worked on my craft with other books, so it’s hardly a fair comparison.

How did publishing for the first time ever make you feel?

Oddly, the first thing I had published wasn’t the first book I wrote. In between writing By A Silken Thread first and second drafts, I read all kinds of writing publications. Writers’ Journal used to do these writing challenges where they printed the first slug of sentence and the author had to come up with the story behind it. I decided to give it a try. First prize was $50 and first print of your story. The slug I used was “Cars were still going by…” Well, me being me, I couldn’t make that be anything other than dark, so I finished the sentence with, “on the way to the cemetery.” – Thus, the short story “Grave Dancing” was born. I had no idea I’d won the contest until I found a free copy of the magazine in my mailbox one morning. I opened it and there was my printed story with my byline. I was so excited. You’d think I had won a Pulitzer or something. After that I sold an erotic romance novella to Red Sage Publishing.

How different would you say the writing and publishing process is for you now than it was then?

I used to be more of a plotter than pantser. Now, I’m an amalgamation of them both. Publishing has changed completely, since I’m mostly publishing indy now and have only 3 pubs I still have books with. I’ve gotten all my rights back to the other books I had with other publishers.

How many books have you published since then?

Somewhere in the 30s. I lost count. Too many coming and going and republishing and such. I have no head for that kind of accounting.

Interview with MK Mancos aka Kathleen Scott, Kate Davison, and Cassie Sweet

First Book Chat Finale

If anybody knows me well enough, they will know that I’m always inspired to help and uplift people. I am also known to have random ideas. Over a month ago, I had an idea to interview five people at random about their first book. I was going to put all five interviews in one blog to highlight how each one was different. I even wrote out five questions to ask them.

Two things happened. I got a remarkable response and I no longer wanted to pick just five. I also realized that five interviews in one blog would be a very long blog. So I posted all the responses as their own blog. They are listed here for anybody who wants to read them:

Author’s First Book Chats:

  1. Delta James
  2. H. Gorlitz Scott
  3. P.S Bartlett
  4. Laura Hawks
  5. Gryffyn Pheonix
  6. Kyra Dune
  7. Golden Angel
  8. Casey Hays
  9. Christina Lanier
  10. Evelyn Lederman
  11. Artemis Milchon
  12. Cheryllynn Dyess
  13. D.L Pitchford
  14. Lannie Sheridan
  15. Amber Anthony
  16. Lily Wallis
  17. MK Mancos

Writing a book is hard. Publishing and marketing is harder. Feeling under pressure because you think it has to be a certain way or you have to do it a certain way makes things even worse. So seeing the responses and how different they were is a comfort to me. And I hope others find comfort in it as well.

In the end, if nothing else is taken from this experiment, I hope that you realize there is no time line. If you get it done in a week, great. If it takes you years, awesome. Go at your own pace. If you need to put it down for awhile, do so.

There is no amount of drafts you have to write. If you find it perfect after the first draft, good. If it takes you many drafts, that’s fine too. In the end, if you can’t be happy with your work, nobody else can either.

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Olive Ann Burns started her career out as a journalist. She never expected to write fiction, but that changed when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1975. She had begun writing notes about her family history in 1971 that helped fuel her book Cold Sassy Tree. The book was released in 1984. Olive Ann Burns was sixty years old.

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Olive Ann Burns was already working on the sequel to Cold Sassy Tree when her cancer relapsed in 1987. Through her treatments, she kept attempting to finish the book. She passed away in 1990 with the novel unfinished.

If you stick with it and you put your passions into it, it will show. Sometimes great work takes longer to come out than others. Never feel discouraged or overwhelmed. If you do, please take a break. That way you can come back with a clear head. Remember, the power is in your hands and in your mind.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I hope that it’s inspired the writers to go on. I also hope that readers have found new authors through this. There will always be hope and inspiration everywhere you look.

*I found the images and quotes on Google Image Search*