Tag Archive | books

Book Review – Joshua’s Island by Patrick Hodges

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After reading the synopsis of Joshua’s Island (James Madison Series Book One) by Patrick Hodges, I was compelled to download the book and give it a go. Even so, initially I wasn’t sure how captivating a story about middle schoolers would be for an older reader like myself. But with each increasingly eager page-turn, I became all the more invested in the story and the plight of the characters.

The story centers on Joshua and Eve, two eighth grade students on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum: he, a small-for-his-age social outcast; and she, a beautiful A-crowder, newly minted by the school’s it-girl Rhonda.

My heart immediately went out to Joshua, a victim of bullying—something that has plagued him for his entire middle school existence. The psychological effects have been relentless and lasting, not only from living in constant fear of the next assault (courtesy of chief tormenter Brent and his band of cronies), but also from having been ostracized by the entire student body, including those he had once considered friends.

Joshua’s and Eve’s worlds are forced to collide in Science class, where much to their dismay, the teacher pairs them up as lab partners. Beyond horrified with the arrangement, Eve is none too subtle in her vocal objections. As expected, this sets off their teamwork experience (or lack thereof) on rather uneven, uncomfortable footing.

But neither of them would be prepared for the life-altering journey on which they were soon headed.

Always a glutton for a good love story, the one that gradually buds and then all-out blossoms in Joshua’s Island had me smiling my head off every step of the way. There’s just something about young love, and the way it’s written here in particular, that tugs at the heart strings like no other. The honesty. The awkwardness. The innocence. The sweetness. The sigh-inducing, chest-panging “awwww” moments that I’ll admit had me tearing up on more than one occasion.

Although Joshua and Eve are the driving force of this story, there are several supporting characters that also become crucial to its impact and momentum. Deservedly, some of these stand-outs get their own story in subsequent books in the series, and I look forward to reading them all.

When it comes down to it, Joshua’s Island is much more than a love story. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, forgiveness, righting wrongs, good versus evil, and standing up for your convictions no matter the consequences. The lessons to be learned are invaluable, and you will walk away from this book not only contemplating how you treat others, but inspired to pay it forward.

Bullying is an issue that hits close to home for many, including myself, and based on the depth and authenticity of the characters and plot, I would imagine that Patrick Hodges was writing from a very personal place. In doing so, he has undoubtedly given hope to others who have experienced similar harassment and abuse, as well as the comfort in knowing they are not alone.

Needless to say, I adored this book and will be passing it along to my teenage daughters to read next. I just know they’ll love it too.

Please do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Joshua’s Island today.

Get in on your Kindle

Get it in Paperback

Get in on Audible

And don’t forget to leave a review. 🙂

To find out more about Patrick Hodges, visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy reading!

~ Sue

 

Image source: Amazon.com

 

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Back From Hiatus: What I’ve Learned

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I can’t believe 2017 is already nearing the finish line. Soon, bubbly-fueled, pitchy renditions of Auld Lang Syne will fill the air, and I’ll feign familiarity with the lyrics by humming and grunting the melody with my family and friends, poised to hit the ground running in 2018.

Actually, I’m already itching to get this show on the road. After taking a multi-month respite from social media, I feel refreshed and focused with a close-to-crystal vision of where I’m headed and how I’m aiming to get there.

Going off-grid wasn’t something I initially had any intention of sticking out for more than a spell. I simply wanted to spend a bit of concentrated time in manuscript-immersion mode as opposed to perpetually stuck in the eyes-to-the-phone-screen position.

One day unplugged would be doable, I thought. Two, tops.

But one day became one week, which had somehow morphed into three months. Three months fully present and finally—yes, finally—hitting my authorly stride. I wrote books…plural. And outlined others. And tweaked my business plan. And established a second brand for my mature adult fiction. It was like a whole new me had surfaced and taken over— the frantic, urgent, impassioned writer I always knew was buried inside.

I’d have been crazy to fight it.

The words kept coming and I wasn’t about to disinvite them by answering my phone’s seduction call and becoming lost in an abyss of selfies, subtweets, and hashtagery.

Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t miss those things. Because I did. A lot. Nor am I condemning social media, smartphones, or the internet at large. Because I love ’em! I do! Heck, if it weren’t for a little platform called Wattpad.com and the encouragement and support I’d received there when I was starting out, I would never have published my first book.

However, the lessons learned during my time offline have been invaluable, leaving me indelibly prepared for a more fulfilling and productive New Year and beyond. Especially this golden nugget of wisdom…

Writing comes first—always.

(Side note: We all know that family in fact comes first, but within the context of this blogspace I’m strictly talking from a career-longevity standpoint. Okay, I’m glad I got that off my chest.)

So, writing, eh? What a revelation! Not.

I mean, really—it couldn’t be more obvious. Yet we still tend to forget, don’t we? How many of us have poured our blood, sweat and tears into writing and publishing that one book only to become consumed immediately thereafter with things like algorithms, sales rankings, sponsored ads, page likes, social media shares, and wondering if one needs to sacrifice their first born in order to get reviews?

Just me? Well, never mind then. 😉

In all seriousness, though, nothing is more vital—more necessary—than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and churning out those stories. Its importance is paramount. It has to be. Otherwise, word counts remain stagnant, which is a real mood killer. Trust me.

Try to think of it this way: The more time you spend online, the less time you spend writing, and the longer it takes to build a loyal readership. You want followers? Great! Retweets? Fantastic! Shares? Who wouldn’t!?

But if you want to experience steady career growth, touch the lives of others with your stories, and find readers in increasing numbers who’ll stick with you for the long haul…

Then write more books.

Speaking from my own experience, I knew the only way I was ever going to get my groove back was to forget trying to be everywhere all at once. To stop obsessing over rankings. To reunite with my phone only after I’d met my daily word count goal and not a moment before.

It was challenging at first. We are, after all, creatures of habit. But gradually, the more I left the phone aside, the more it freed up my imagination, and the more words filled my pages. The result is three books I’ll be bringing to you in 2018.

Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me!

Maintaining a social media presence while keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the publishing industry should be a part of every writer’s platform-building and marketing strategy. Not to mention that it’s also a wonderful way to engage with readers and show support for other writers whose work you enjoy.

But if you’re a writer who spends more than a fair amount of time online (don’t we all?) while consistently drifting in and out of states of creative inertia, then scaling back on scrolling-n-posting, even just a little, could make all the difference in your bookish output.

So that might mean updating your Facebook status 2-3 times a week instead of daily. Or scheduling your tweets ahead of time so that they’ll automatically post at chosen intervals (there are many useful apps for this purpose). This is perfectly acceptable and more than sufficient. Because honestly, when it comes right down to it, your posting frequency won’t translate to much if you’re not actively expanding your catalog of work by…

Say it with me…

Writing.

And if you need to go off-grid like I did to get those creative juices flowing, then that’s okay too. Just keep in mind that when you lay low for a stretch of time, people will unfollow you. That’s to be expected. But don’t worry. Your genuine internet friends and supporters will not only have your back, they’ll be right there waiting upon your return.

So write first, scroll-n-post later. Your career (and your readers!) will thank you for it.

Oh, and Happy Holidays to you and yours! 🙂

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: pixabay.com

 

Just a Little Bit Longer

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I’ve got some good news and some not-so-ideal news.

I’ll get the not-so-ideal news out of the way first…

FILL ME IN’s book release, which was originally slated for May 25, has been slightly delayed. I know this is disappointing, and I am so sorry about that.

I will post an announcement the moment it goes live on Amazon and all other eBook retailers.

In the meantime, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) will remain priced at a discounted 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers, and my Amazon/iTunes/eNovella giveaway winners will be announced upon Fill Me In’s release. I will now be choosing four winners instead of two {please note: eligibility for participation in all giveaways is contingent on being a newsletter subscriber. If interested, you can sign up (or opt out) at any time}.

And…the good news?

Shortly after Fill Me In’s digital release, both books in The Liquid Series will also be made available in paperback format. For those of you who prefer physical books, you’ll have the option to order print copies directly from Amazon.

It had always been my intention to eventually offer print books in addition to eBooks, so now it will simply happen sooner. Much sooner.

Which brings me to other news…

Some of you have reached out to me wondering if I had plans to do any book events in the near future. I am happy to say that I’ve recently been invited to participate in events that will take place this year as well as next year, and most will include author/reader meet-n-greets and book signings — both of which I am SUPER pumped about! As each date and event timeline is confirmed, I’ll post the details on my website www.sahealey.com.

(Pssst…for any fellow New Englanders out there, I’ll be in Manchester, New Hampshire this coming October. Stay tuned for more info!)

There is so much more coming down the pike that I’m itching to share with you. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and thank you so very much for all your support.

With warmth and gratitude,
Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

Image source: flickr.com

 

 

Release Deets, A New Giveaway, & Something To Think About

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I’m sitting in Starbucks, where lately I’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time fueling up on assorted coffee concoctions while simultaneously reaping the benefits of free wifi, electrical outlet privileges, and eclectic people-watching.

Leaving the quiet (albeit messy) solitude of my home office to write in a bustling public establishment wasn’t something I’d ever considered doing until a fellow writer friend suggested it as a way to shake things up and combat writers block.

And, guess what? It worked like a charm! Yippee!

But before I pickup the pace with my latest WIP (work in progress), there are some things I’d like to share with you, starting with…

A Book Release Announcement!

I am SOOOOO excited to relay the news that my second novel, FILL ME IN (The Liquid Series Book 2), will be available at all major eBook retailers–including Amazon, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble–beginning Thursday, May 25, 2017! Yikes, that’s in less than a month!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

Is it acceptable to confess that I’m also nervous? Maybe even scared out of my wits? Okay, good. 🙂

So, in honor of all the nail biting I’ll be doing over the next four weeks, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series Book 1) is currently on sale for just 0.99 cents at U.S. eBook retailers (including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc.), so if you haven’t had a chance to grab a copy, this is an opportunity to get it at a significant discount before it reverts to its regular price upon Fill Me In’s release on May 25.

And, moving right along…

I’ve got another newsletter subscriber GIVEAWAY to tell you about!

This time, I will award TWO WINNERS the following:

1.) An eBook copy of my contemporary romance novella, The High Road (not available in stores)

AND

2.) A $25.00 gift card to Amazon or iTunes/iBooks (your choice)

If you’re not a newsletter subscriber and would like to sign up to get in on this giveaway, you can do so below:

SIGN UP FOR BOOKISH BUZZ

Good luck!

Oh, and something to think about…

Last week I received an email from a lovely reader who shared her regret over giving up her dream of becoming a novelist. I was saddened by her belief that it was too late to chase her passions and incorporate them into her life. Over the course of several exchanged emails, I hoped to make some headway in convincing her otherwise.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that it’s never too late. Despite dreaming of becoming a professional writer pretty much my entire life, it wasn’t until I found myself in the thick of middle age that I finally uncovered the wherewithal to do something about it.

Has it been easy? Hell to the no.

Have I contemplated throwing in the towel? Yup. More often than I care to admit.

But I stuck it out, and I am so glad I did.

If you have a dream that you’ve put on the back burner, now is the perfect time to bring it front and center.

I truly believe that dreams can alter destinies. So, I hope you keep dreaming, and I wish you every success and happiness.

With warmth and gratitude,

Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey

 

 

Get the Bookish Buzz

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Making the shift this year from part to full-time writer has been an awesome—and at times, equally terrifying—adventure. Even with its eclectic mix of ups, downs, learning curves, and deadline-driven all-nighters, I wouldn’t trade a single second of the experience for anything. It is a gift to be able to do what I love, one that I never intend to take for granted.

The last six weeks in particular have been spent stocking up on bundles of nervous excitement as I prepare for the launch of my second novel, Fill Me In (The Liquid Series, Book 2). This book was a long time comingits story putting me in, and then dragging me through, some rather unexpected places. Though hell-bent on challenging me every step of the way, protagonists Kelsey and Mark will always sit close to my heart. And, my goodness, I sure am going to miss writing about them.

In anticipation of announcing Fill Me In’s release date later this month, and as a special thank-you to those who have supported me along my authorly journey, I am hosting a giveaway for subscribers to my newsletter, Bookish Buzz.

If you’ve been kind enough to follow my work and happen to be a fan of romance, bookish things, and freebie opportunities, then I hope you’ll consider signing up for your chance to win.

So, what exactly do you win?

Subscribers to Bookish Buzz are automatically entered to win a signed paperback copy of my debut novel, Empty Me Out (The Liquid Series, Book 1), PLUS a $100 Amazon gift card.

The winner will be announced in my newsletter on or around April 6, 2017.

Sound good?

YOU CAN SIGN UP HERE.

Oh, and good luck! 🙂

~ Sue

 

Copyright © S. A. Healey