Book crush: The Sea of Tranquility

tranquilityI’m not exactly crushing on The Sea of Tranquility, a novel by Katja Millay. However, I did enjoy reading it enough that I finished it in just a few days. And it’s a long book.

Let’s start from the beginning. I did not like the beginning. In fact, I was incredibly irritated with the beginning. We’re introduced to Nastya, a girl who can only think really hateful thoughts about anything and everything. She is carrying a huge secret about how her hand became mangled, and because of that, she has a huge chip on her shoulder. To top it off, she makes sure she is completely unapproachable by the way she dresses. Shooooort skirts. 4-inch heels. Painted on makeup. Everything tight. Her reasoning is that everyone is going to stare at her anyway, so she might as well have control over where they are staring.

This was the first thing I just couldn’t buy.

It goes on. She can’t cook to save her life. But apparently she can bake up a storm. She doesn’t talk, and is sexy/scary, and somehow that means the most popular guy in high school (Drew) is highly interested in her. She’s incredibly anti-social, and yet she keeps going to high school parties with him.

Here’s what I did enjoy.

Josh. This is Drew’s best friend who has basically lost his whole family to tragedy. He spends his entire life in his garage building furniture. It’s kind of old man-like, except it’s also sweet and manly at the same time. Think Sex and the City’s Aiden (Carrie, what were you thinking breaking up with him???).

Drew. Despite the fact that we’re introduced to a full-of-himself jock, he’s actually quite sensitive and sweet. He and Nastya have a totally inappropriate flirtatious relationship, but it becomes pretty clear that he’s not going to try anything because neither of them really want that.

Drew’s family. They’re basically that all-American family you wish could be yours, even if you’d probably be rolling your eyes the whole time. His mom has Sunday dinner every week, and anyone who wants to come is invited. It basically becomes a thing amongst all the friends. They even hold a family dinner when the parents are out of town, even if a bottle of tequila might be involved with the sit down dinner.

The build-up of Nastya and Josh’s relationship. Even if I hated the inevitable scenario that forced them to be apart (classic YA formula: MC is awkward and misunderstood. Meets love interest who’s awkward and misunderstood. Spends more than half of book denying love. Fall together in beautiful moment. One person messes up. Break up. Spends too long avoiding other person. Some thing or event forces them back together. Realizes they were in love the whole time. Lives happily ever after.), I enjoyed the sweetness within their relationship. With Josh, Nastya could let her hair down, strip off her makeup, and breathe easy. She kept her secrets, but she’s also safe with him.

So while this wasn’t my favorite book, I still recommend it. If you can overlook a few warts within the story, you’ll find a sweet tale of a broken girl who was dealt a hard lot in life, a broken boy who continues to live while everyone around him is dying, and a meant-to-be relationship that holds all the innocence neither of them had every been allowed to have.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
PG-13 for some violence and non-explicit sex.


The book that almost never was

TigerLily tease2

I’m about to tell you about the book that almost never was. Every year I write a book for National Novel Writing Month in November. This last year, however, I was stumped. I had just written Reclaim Your Creative Soul, and that book took a lot of energy out of me. I figured I would just skip it this year. But at the eleventh hour before the eleventh month, an idea came to me—why not just have fun with it this year? I know, a novel idea for a novel.

And so, I did. Having always been a fan of Peter Pan and Neverland, I began exploring the idea of writing about a character that only got a bit role in the original story: Tiger Lily. I began to develop who she was, where she came from, the values of her people, and her likes and dislikes. Just like Peter Pan is a coming of age story, Tiger Lily’s story was much the same. She became a princess held captive by rules she didn’t appreciate, and with hopes and desires that didn’t fit the mold of her people.

Throw in some pirates, a few Never beasts, the Lost Boys, and Peter Pan, and I suddenly had a story.

To up the ante, I not only wrote the story, I LIVE wrote it. Many of you followed along as I posted each chapter to Wattpad, allowing you to see the inside process of what it’s like for a novel to be written beginning to ending. While it was just a rough draft, I was pleased with how things worked out as I wrote. Many of you expressed interest as well, anxiously waiting for me to post the next chapter.

The story was never supposed to be published. It was just something to amuse myself and a few fans, and nothing more. However, the more I wrote, the more I realized that the story was taking on a life of its own. It was more than just an amusing tale, it was a story that needed to be told.

This story became Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan, and it just published this morning!

For the next few days, I am keeping the Kindle version of this book at 99 cents so that there are no barriers for you to buy this book. This is my gift to you for sticking alongside me, cheering me on, and anticipating this very moment. Please don’t delay in buying this book now, as the price goes back up after the weekend.

Furthermore, I have a few contests on my Facebook page if you’d like a chance to win the print version of this book. Just look up #LTWgiveaways and you’ll find a bunch of contests that are going until Sunday.

Thank you for all your support, and happy reading!


Pre-order “Loving the Wind: The Story of Tiger Lily & Peter Pan”

ltw-FRONT-cover-finalIf you’re a Kindle reader, Loving the Wind is now available for pre-orders! Even better, it’s temporarily discounted to 99 cents! Read the untold story of Tiger Lily and how she met Peter Pan in this fun prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter & Wendy.

Here’s what one reviewer said:

Crissi’s latest book, “Loving the Wind” is a fun new dimension to the Peter Pan stories we know and love. She captured the voices of the characters so well, I felt like I was a pixie on the wall watching the whole time.
It takes us to Neverland through the eyes of Tiger Lily, a young native girl who is mentioned in the original stories, but not much is known about her.
Tiger Lily’s story as told by Crissi is deep and rich. We get to experience her adventures from just before she meets Peter in the belly of a pirate ship to the end of the book (but not the story, hopefully!!) as a wise young woman in her tribe. She takes us with her as she learns what it is to love her people as a leader.
Tiger Lily is the girl I want to be when I grow up. Brave in spite of her fear, bold in standing up for those who had no voice, humble in her accomplishments, and open to the lessons in hardships she experienced. She’s wise and graceful in the end, when she’s finally accepted the path that is before her, unexpected as it is.

So, the question is, should you read this book? If you appreciate a new angle on the characters we’ve met before, absolutely. This is a fun, easy to read story. It flows along nicely- not too fast or slow. Plenty of action, some really great lessons, and friendly enough for families. This is a coming-of-age storybook I’ll encourage my own daughter to read when she’s old enough to appreciate it. Thank you Crissi for the amazing gift of this story!

P.S. Would you like a chance to win a print copy of this book for free? Follow me on Facebook and take part in my 6 Days of Giveaways.

What’s my frequency, Kenneth? (Musings on genre)

Every second Sunday of the month is the Redwood Writers meeting, our region’s group for writers of all types. I look forward to them every single month, and always come away completely inspired – from rubbing elbows with a bunch of wonderful writers and authors, to hearing the wisdom and advice from our monthly speaker.

Today, as usual, I gathered a bunch of useful information to keep with me and improve on my skill. But it was something in the very beginning of the meeting that really stuck with me and got me thinking. The speaker asked the newcomers to stand up and say their name, and what they write. One person stood up and introduced themselves as a romance author. Another was a writer of mystery. Another wrote historical fiction. Another wrote poetry.

It got me thinking. What would I say if I had to stand in front of a crowd and sum up my writing with one label?

I’ll tell you one thing, it wouldn’t be easy. Let’s look at my published works.

My first book is “A Symphony of Cicadas,” a book that could be classified as both literary fiction and paranormal fantasy. I grapple with the genre all the time. If you follow the main character, Rachel, the story is paranormal fantasy, perhaps magical surrealism, as it follows her journey through the afterlife after she and her son died in a car accident. But truly, she is more of the narrator as she witnesses the lives of all those she left behind in the real world. Then it becomes more of a literary fiction novel. But as a whole, the story is about a family who is knocked off course by a devastating blow, and must somehow pick up all the pieces of a new kind of puzzle to be able to move forward.

The sequel, “Forever Thirteen,” continues this tale, but from the point of view of Rachel’s son, Joey. If you follow Joey, it is once again a paranormal fantasy/magical surrealism, but with a Young Adult edge. But once Joey gets past his own shock over losing his life, he becomes focused on his friend he left behind, a boy who goes downhill with the loss of his friend. Then it once again becomes more literary fiction, exploring the dynamics of his friend’s single parent household, the cruelty of kids at school, and the sucky, confusing age of thirteen.

P.S. Catch a sneak peek at the preview of Forever Thirteen here.

I wrote “Golf Balls, Eight Year Olds & Dual Paned Windows,” a collection of essays on single parenting, gathered from a column I used to write for the newspaper. It’s only the first of three I’ll have in this collection, as I’ll have a new collection of these essays coming out eventually, and end it with a full length memoir on our blended family (that may be out as early as next year).

I wrote a poetry book titled “Everything I Am Not Saying,” a collection of poetry that dapples in love, love’s loss, divorce, faith, single parenting, sadness, life…. It marks a time in my life when love escaped me, and the hurts were screaming to be written down on paper.

I have a rough draft, yet-to-be-named novel that I hope to have edited by the end of the year that tells the tale of two mothers that both suffer different kinds of tragedies that bring them together in one brief moment in time that changes them both forever.

Family, particularly the “underdog” family.  You know, single parent families, blended families, broken families, families trying to get their sh*t together… I think that’s my genre, or at least my frequency.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint myself as a certain kind of writer. I love writing. I love prose. I love writing that is so vivid, it paints a picture better than, well, a picture. I lean more toward literary fiction. But I’ve really enjoyed dappling in fantasy. I have another manuscript that could be classified as chick lit. I’d love to try my hand at a thriller or mystery. And I am so haunted by stuff that scares me, I think it might be kind of interesting to tackle horror.

But my passion is family – especially the kind that are overcoming struggle – because, as a former single mother and now a stepmom, that’s the biggest part of my life. It’s what I know. I know what it’s like to be in a marriage that ends. I know what it’s like to be the sole parent of two young kids. I know what it’s like to date as a single mother, and the messy side of blending a family. And I weave all of these themes into my books, taking bits and pieces of my life and intertwining them with fictional threads to create a brand new story about life, love, growth….

I write fiction. I also write real life. I am a poet, and an essay writer. I even dabble in Facebook statuses. 🙂

I am a writer.

The end.

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