Ten things to do that can boost your mood.

  1. Listen to music.  Happy music lifts your spirit, but they say sad music provides emotional release.  Maybe even listen to music you normally wouldn’t. And sing along with the music. Singing lifts your spirits.
  2. Connect with strangers.  (In person, at a social distance, or do it online.  Reach out to someone you normally don’t reach out to. People are lonely right now, try offering the gift of conversation.)
  3. Stay connected, at a distance.  We have been doing happy hours and even dinners out, or I should say dinners outside, on our front porch.  Everyone brings their own food, drinks, and serving ware.  Sort of a picnic. We sit about ten feet away and enjoy visiting.
  4. Make someone else smile.  Like a yawn is contagious, so is a smile.
  5. Find beautiful things to look at. Several studies have been done that prove just looking at beautiful things reduces stress and creates calm.  Try searching online for beautiful images. Or simply look around.  Hubby and I have been walking and a while back he said, “You know how people who live by the ocean stop appreciating the beauty of it?  Well, we have all these beautiful trees and I think we forgot they are beautiful.”  So, we’re trying to appreciate our surrounding a little more.
  6. Count your blessings. I know, this is a very trying time, but we can all find something in our lives to be thankful for. And if you can, give to help others.  
  7. Work a puzzle.  While the hands are busy, the mind can wander, or focus.  I have worked two jigsaw puzzles during the last few weeks.  Experts say that while we work on puzzles, or brain is sorting and making sense of random patterns.  We aren’t consciously aware of the work.  We focus more on images and shapes which are more pleasurable. It’s sort of a brain vacation.
  8. Read.  You knew I was going to list this, right?  Reading is an escape and like music, you can read a funny book to give you a boost or even a sad one to offer emotional release.  
  9. Use this time to learn something new.  Learning not only opens your mind, but it feeds your soul.  Even if all you do is watch a documentary on something, it can give you a learning high.
  10.  Take care of yourself.  It’s hard right now to eat healthy and to exercise, but the truth is we feel better when we are eating right and staying active. I don’t think we should constantly be depriving ourselves during this time, but don’t let yourself go off the deep end and neglect your health.  

What are you doing to chase away the blues during this difficult time?

Surviving Quarantine

How are you doing during this trying time?  What are you doing to pass time?  To keep yourself and those around you sane? 

Hubby and I are doing okay.  As hard as this is, we both realize how fortunate we are.  I think like most of us, we are trying to limit how much news we watch.  Too much news seems to equal a quicker path to panicking.  

I have been working.  I’m finishing the revisions on Don’t Look Back, my last book in the Texas Justice series.  I’m getting it done, but it’s coming slow. It’s hard to be creative when life feels so bat shit crazy. 

To hold off boredom, I’ve been working a jigsaw puzzle.  In the evenings, we’ve been binge watching a few shows. I’ve been reading, but even that is hard.  I walk every day.  In fact, I’m still walking with a friend—we take turns driving to each other’s house, we walk, talk, but stay ten feet apart of each other and don’t even go into each other’s homes.  Then hubby and I go for a shorter walk in the afternoons. As much as I dislike this quarantine time, my dog is loving it.

We order groceries and have them delivered. So far, we are not out of toilet paper.  Then there’s cooking. Hubby fixes his own breakfast and lunch, but I cook dinner.  With hubby being a transplant patient, it’s imperative that we keep him and myself virus free, so even ordering in is too risky. Now, I actually like to cook, but when this is over, I’m making hubby take me out for a month. 

I hope everyone is doing okay and staying safe.  Tell me what you’re doing?  What shows are you watching?  What books are you reading?  How are you staying sane?

Mortal Sight

I met Sandra Rhoads at a conference years ago. We ran into each other at writer’s events and kept in touch. Now, I’m so excited to announce Sandra’s debut novel, Mortal Sight releases today, April 14th. I’m excited because Sandra is a friend, but I’m even more excited because Mortal Sight sounds like an amazing YA.

I am fortunate to have Sandra as my special guest this week. She agreed to answer a few questions.

1. Mortal Sight is the first book in your Colliding Line series. I can’t wait to read it. It sounds amazing! How many books do we have to look forward to in this series?

The Colliding Line series is a duology, so Mortal Sight is the first of two installments.

2. Was there a defining moment when you realized you wanted to be a writer? How did that come about?

For me, the lightning strike moment happened in middle-school. I was given an assignment to write a descriptive paper. The whole class grumbled about it, but I was thrilled. I drew with words the first scene that came to mind. It was a place that time forgot: a place with a dirt road, a field, and a wire fence where trees swayed with joy. I crafted somewhere I could step into and escape from the numbing madness of the middle school world—a place I thought no one cared about but me. It was my teacher’s note that flipped the writing switch. At the top of the paper, scrawled in green ink she wrote: “You possess a gift.” I don’t remember her name, but her words sparked a desire to keep telling stories. And I did. Poetry, short stories, script-writing, journals, and now a novel.

3. You studied literature in college, and John Milton in particular, getting your masters on his work. Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost, is widely regarded as the greatest epic poem in English. In Mortal Sight, Cera often finds herself thinking about Paradise Lost. Was that poem your inspiration for this book, or was it something else?

Milton sort of forced his way into the story. The original story seed came from a “what if” question. What if someone never felt like they belonged—because they didn’t, they were really born for a place they couldn’t see? And if so, what things in the everyday world would shout out this truth, point to this other world, and trying at whatever cost to get their attention in order to let them know that the restlessness is intentional. The verses from the poem kept popping in my head (not unlike Cera) and as I skimmed through the poem, I carved the idea that artists could play an important part in pointing to this other realm; Milton’s words in particular because he speaks of invisible battles and unseen wars.

4. Who is your favorite character from this book, and why?

Oh, I love them all so much, but in Mortal Sight, besides Cera, I think my favorite character is Gladys. I loved writing her. She’s such a balm for Cera and the epitome of grace. And I’d want to eat her cooking all day long.

5. In Mortal Sight, all Cera wants is a normal life, but instead, her life is turned upside down. She has visions and is drawn into a war against unearthly creatures. Why do you think the story of the reluctant hero resonates so well with readers?

I think a reluctant hero’s tenacity is what resonates. Standing up for what is right, seeking the well-being of others, and putting their own needs aside are admirable traits. Cera has a heart to do what is right, but ends up making a lot of mistakes. Those mistakes keep her from thinking she has the power to do anything “great” but gets up, dusts herself off, and she tries again.

6. You were born in Queens, N.Y., but now live in Dallas, TX. Is there anything you miss about N.Y.? What do you like about Dallas?

Snow—but only for so long. I’ve lived in Texas for so many years now (Houston, Austin and now, Dallas) that my blood has thinned. I also miss how the trees look to be on fire with the changing fall season. It’s not quite the same in Texas.

As far as Dallas? I like the weather (which at times feels like SoCal) and I love Mexican food—fajitas and street tacos, in particular.  I also love the arts culture in Dallas.

7. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you or your book?

I am so excited to share this story. I have a deep love for artists and the creative community and love encouraging others to tell stories through art, whether it’s visual, music, poetry, dance or writing. Art is so needed in the world. 

I also have a book trailer coming out that can be found on my website: sandrarhoads.com and It will be on Instagram @sfrhoads.author as well as my FB author page, Sandra Fernandez Rhoads – Author. 

Thank you so much for letting me share a little about this story!

Mortal Sight

When Worlds Collide, Shadow Wrestles Light

Seventeen-year-old Cera Marlowe wants a normal life; one where she and her mom can stop skipping town every time a disturbing vision strikes. But when a girl she knows is murdered by a monster she can’t explain, Cera’s world turns upside down.

Suddenly thrown into an ancient supernatural battle, Cera discovers she’s not alone in her gifting and vows to use her visions to save lives. But why does John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost keep interrupting her thoughts?

In a race against time and a war against unearthly creatures, will decoding messages embedded in the works of classic literature be enough to stop the bloodshed and protect those she loves? 

You can order Mortal Sight now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Camille Faye is Back!

Last year, Camille Faye entertained on my blog with tales of her Butterfly Voodoo series. I’ve read the first three books in the series, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next book. So I reached out to Camille to find out what she’s been up to and when I can expect her next release.

Welcome back to my blog! I loved your Voodoo Butterfly series and now, I understand your first book in the series, Voodoo Butterfly is releasing on audiobook. That’s always exciting.

 

 

 

  1. First of all, can you tell me a bit about the series?

In the series, my main character, Sophie Nouveau, unexpectedly inherits a New Orleans voodoo shop. Only problem? She knows nothing about voodoo or her family’s secret power. The women in Sophie’s family are Mind Changers, specialized priestesses who have the magical ability to change evil people good. Throughout the series, Sophie learns to harness that inner power. I cover different types of creatures than in typical paranormal books, drawing on New Orleans and Cajun culture, lore, and flair. These creatures include the rougarou, skinwalkers, angels, bokors, loa, and jinn.

  1. I thought Sophie Nouveau was a really interesting character. Is she based on you or someone you know?

The Voodoo Butterfly Series actually began with a dream I had in New Orleans. The first flash of the dream showed me a woman walking through the French Quarter at night (that character became Sophie). I knew that she wanted someone to attack her because as soon as they touched her, their mind would change from evil to good. The second flash of the dream showed me at Saint Louis Cathedral in NOLA absolutely covered in monarch butterflies. That plague of butterflies became my opening scene. As I developed Voodoo Butterfly, I decided that since voodoo and Catholicism are such vital parts of the culture in New Orleans, I would make my main character unexpectedly inherit a voodoo shop.

Sophie can be stubborn–ahem, determined–which is a characteristic we share. She wants to make the world a better place, stands up for her beliefs, and cherishes family. That’s me, too. Other than that, she was made up in my imagination.

  1. On one of your recent blogs, you posted your top ten favorite books of all time. It’s an interesting list, mostly classics, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women, but a few were more modern titles. Which authors have influenced you? Did they make your list?

All of the authors on that list have formed my ideas about good storytelling and what makes a good book. Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Roald Dahl’s Matilda showed me how normal people can fight injustice and change the world. All of those themes are important to Sophie’s story. I loved Louisa May Alcott’s portrayal of family and sisterhood in Little Women. Family is important to me and one of Sophie’s greatest desires is finding a feeling of belonging and learning about her family history. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga got me excited about reading again and inspired The Voodoo Butterfly Series. The covers were inspired by hers, too.

You can read more about my favorite books here: https://www.camillefaye.com/blog/2018/5/27/my-fave-books-of-all-time

  1. The last time we spoke, you were revising your fourth book in the series and drafting your fifth. How has that gone? When will book 4 be released and what’s Sophie up to now?

The fourth book, Courtship, is currently in edits with my publisher and is slated for release on May 27, 2020. In this installment, Sophie will tangle with a skinwalker, which is a Native American shapeshifter and all-around nasty creature. There will be a wedding, three major characters die, and a huge battle scene ensues in the middle of New Orleans, so I’ve whipped up quite a lot of obstacles and conflict for Sophie.

  1. What’s next for you?

I plan to submit the final book in the series (Book 5) to my publisher in June 2020. I’m not sure what project I will work on after that, but I have some ideas about a new series in either urban fantasy or paranormal cozy mystery.

  1. So when will Voodoo Butterfly be available on audio and where can you purchase it?

Voodoo Butterfly released in audiobook format on April 4, 2020. It is available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

You can find Camille’s Voodoo Butterfly series HERE.