Dark Phoenix

It’s been a long time since I went to see a movie on opening day. I miss the days of a big movie coming out at midnight and waiting in line outside the theater for hours playing cards and chatting with friends. I think, if there’s one thing I miss about college, it’s those memories. Nowadays, there’s no such thing as a midnight opening anymore. Everything starts on Thursday around 7pm… which is far more boring… but does work better for scheduling babysitters.

Anyway, Dark Phoenix wasn’t even on my radar. I knew it was coming out, but I didn’t intend to see it in theaters, and certainly not on opening weekend. However, a friend invited me to go and Derek was cool with watching the hobbits, so I jumped at the chance and we went to see it last Thursday. Opening day!

The theater was pretty empty, actually.

It’s not going to break any records. But for me, it was definitely the X-Men movie I have been waiting to see ever since the first one came out way back in 2000.

A lot of reviews have been bashing this movie, and if you compare it to Endgame, I can understand why. The reviewers are asking “Is Dark Phoenix the Worst X-Men Movie Yet”?

Short answer: no. X-3 was the worst. It continues to be the worst. Even Logan was better than X-3, and I really didn’t like Logan, either.

So, what did I think of Dark Phoenix.

Well, without giving any spoilers… it is a fairly straight-forward plot. I actually kind of liked that. It wasn’t the deepest or most philosophical movie on the planet, but sometimes you just want to watch something that’s fun.

And this movie was definitely fun.

The main thing I loved about this movie was that we finally finally got to see the X-Men being heralded as super heroes. They even get called that early on in the  movie. Thanks to the time-hopping that they’ve done in previous movies, the world no longer hates and fears mutants. They are heralded as heroes and Professor X has a direct line to the president who apparently often calls him to see if his X-Men can help with situations beyond the ordinary. FINALLY, the writers did something other than the “humans vs mutants” device that got old somewhere around the second movie in this franchise.

The other thing I loved about this movie was that we finally got to see the X-Men go up against a different villain than Magneto or some other mutant. (Though, perhaps it could be argued that they had a non-mutant villain in Apocalypse, but I either didn’t see that movie or I REALLY don’t remember it, because reading the summary just now doesn’t ring any bells at all). Anyway, I’m not going to say who the villain is because SPOILERS but it’s fun.

Overall, this movie felt like I was watching the 90s cartoon again, and that’s about the highest praise I can give to any comic-book based movie, because that’s where I first met all of these characters.

Objectionable content:

One use of the F-word that not only bothered me with its existence, also felt forced and almost scripted after-the-fact, as the character who says it delivered it in a “what? I’m supposed to say what, now?” sort of way in the middle of a scene where he wasn’t actually a part of the conversation. I’m not certain, but if I had to guess I’d guess they threw it in on the fly in order to guarantee a PG-13 rating. There may have been some other swears, but that was the only one that I noticed.

There is a lot of super-hero violence, which shouldn’t be surprising. Not much in the way of gore or blood, though, so that was good.

Mystique gets all angsty and shouts at Xavier that maybe they should be called the X-Women and that the “women are always saving the men around here.” Groan. Can we just… sigh. Please? Why? Ugh.

And that concludes the spoiler-free portion of my review.

My rating – a solid 3.5 dragon eggs (I don’t have half-dragon egg images, though). I know that doesn’t sound great, LOL but it means I found the movie to be solidly enjoyable. 3.5 stars for an X-Men movie is high praise. It’s not on par with the movies I normally give out 4 or 5 dragon eggs to, but it was fun and I’d watch it again. If this isn’t my FAVORITE of the X-Men movies, then it’s definitely up there in the top 3.

dragonEgg3star

 

 

 

SPOILERS BELOW – PROCEED WITH CAUTION

Here we get to talk about some spoilery things.

Ready?

Let’s go.

One of my favorite things about this movie was getting to see Magneto and Professor X on the same side. This happened occasionally in the cartoon, and I’ve been missing it in the movies. In fact, Magneto doesn’t really have ANY bad-guy moments in this movie. Even for the brief moment when he and Charles are at odds, you kind of want to side with Magneto on this one, especially knowing that he doesn’t have the WHOLE story, his actions make logical sense. Magneto is my favorite, and I love the way Michael Fassbender plays him so much more than Ian McKellen’s version. I like the broody anti-villain Magneto much more than the vengeful villain version. Haha, alliteration!

X-Men versus aliens. I’ve been waiting for this FOREVER. A NEW VILLAIN! YAY!

The final battle is just epic, okay? I mean… if you set up a movie to be a cerebral, puzzle-solving, thinking-man’s sort of story and then it devolves into a fist-fight or a question of whether or not the good guy can run fast enough to beat the bad guys (I’m looking at YOU Bourne movies) then I’m going to be dissatisfied with the movie as a whole. BUT if you set up the movie to be about powerful super heroes who must use their super powers for good or evil… then I’m perfectly fine with a movie that ends in an epic battle. If I go see a movie about the X-Men, I’m frankly going to be disappointed if I don’t get to see them using their awesome powers.

This movie does not disappoint. And Magneto finally gets to let loose in a way that is impressive and awesome (but not utterly stupid like his moving of the Golden Gate Bridge in X-3… no, I’m not over it and I never will be). Ahem.

The Phoenix. So much better than the way it was portrayed in the original trilogy. And they left potential for Jean to come back, so that was nice, though I’m not sure if they will. The X-Men franchise is so all over the place with plot holes and time hopping… who knows, this one is already being heralded as an epic failure, so maybe they’ll just remake this one with even more angsty females and return to their tried and true and super boring humans vs. mutants playbook… but I, for one, am glad this movie exists, and I’ll happily watch it again.

~ jenelle

10 Things I Love to Write

A while back a tag was going around twitter called “how you know I wrote it.” The object of the game was to talk about some of the things that pop up over and over again in your own writing, whether you plan for them or not, as things you can point to as part of your “author’s signature” if you will.

I tagged Christine, and then she decided to turn it into a blog post, and I’m stealing the idea (with permission).

Without further ado… 10 story elements I love to write… or “How You Know I Wrote It — Blog Edition!”

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1. Good versus Evil

This is a fairly standard theme for epic fantasy in general, which is part of why I like it, and part of why I love to write it! In my stories, there is usually a very clear line between right and wrong and good versus evil. I love writing a story with clear lines between good and evil and the struggle of good characters standing firm against all odds. To me, this is inspiring. In real life there are certainly gray areas, and this can even be reflected in my stories, but the line between right and wrong is never blurry. Part of this is intentional, I think it’s important for my target audience to know that there is a difference between right and wrong, but much of it also stems from my faith and my absolute belief that there are absolutes, that there is such a thing as right and such a thing as wrong. And in my stories, sure, evil may have its moments, but good is always going to triumph ultimately, because as a Christian, I know how this story ends. God wins. Sin gets annihilated. And if I can remind my readers of that with my stories even in the midst of all the hurt and darkness and sorrow that comes with life on our fallen earth, then so much the better!

2. Happy Endings

This doesn’t mean I’m never going to kill a character. And it doesn’t mean everyone always ends up in a fairy tale “happily ever after” sort of scenario. But spring-boarding off the tail end of element #1 up there, I like happy endings. I prefer them. Reality has too many sad endings already, and I prefer to look forward, beyond the temporal and toward the eternal. Knowing that one day there will be no more tears or sickness or pain or goodbyes helps me get through having to deal with those things in my own life, and I hope reading stories that point us in that direction helps my readers, as well.

That said, I’m not averse to writing a heart-wrenching death scene. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. I cannot guarantee that every one of your favorite characters in my stories is always going to make it to the end of the book (what fun would that be?) but I can guarantee that I’ll never kill off a character just for fun or just for emotional “punch.”

 

3. Mystery

I have no idea why this one sneaks into practically every story I write, but it does. Might be due to my love of crime shows. But I do enjoy writing a story that has an element of mystery to it. A character with enigmatic motives or a mysterious past? Give me all the mysterious back-stories!!! A puzzle to solve? A riddle to answer? A vaguely worded prophecy? A whodunit? You are bound to find at least one of these in any book I write.

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4. Fantastical Aspects

Stealing the heading straight off of Christine’s post, but it’s true. I love writing a story that requires me to do some world-building. Fantasy!!! All the fantasy, all the time! I definitely write varying degrees of fantasy, but that is where I like to hang out… I love stretching my imagination to write stories where anything can happen. I love making things up and thinking about different ways of looking at the world and wondering how having something like magic or dragons would change the way people would react or behave in certain situations! I love fantasy. I love science fiction. I can’t see myself ever writing anything else.

5. Well-developed and LIKABLE Characters

My stories are always going to be character-driven. (Not to the detriment of plot, of course). But I can’t write a story where I don’t love the characters, y’all. In any story I am watching or reading, if I can’t find a character I like… I don’t generally end up enjoying the story, no matter how great of a plot it might have. Almost all of my stories start with a character first. The story comes to me later. I am always going to strive to write likable, relatable, well-rounded characters. I know I’m not always going to succeed, but that is always going to be my first goal when writing any story.

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6. SUPER old characters

I’m not sure why this is. But it appears to be a thing I do. We’re not talking characters who are 80. We’re talking characters who are five-to-seven THOUSAND years old. I do not generally go into a story intending for this to be the case, but these characters keep insisting on being a part of the stories, and… well… I discovered long ago that the characters are generally right, so I must confess that I do tend to let them take over when they get unruly.

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7. Deep Friendships

I love writing a deep, strong friendship between characters. Friendships that grow and deepen through shared experiences, loyalty in the face of adversity, and sometimes the kind of grudging friendship that develops in spite of both characters trying really hard to hate each other (e.g. Brant and Kiernan Kane).

8. Families

There are a LOT of orphans in the fantasy genre. A lot of them. And while I understand the appeal, family is extremely important to me on a personal level. And so, while I may write the occasional orphan character, most of my characters actually come from pretty solid, supportive, loving families. This definitely produces problems at times when my character needs to go on a quest by themselves… in that I have to either come up with a convincing reason that the parents are okay with this, or something happens outside everyone’s control (so that I don’t have to write an angsty, rebellious character who disregards their parents’ wishes), but I do think that it’s worth the trouble to write stories that include healthy family relationships. They aren’t represented well in fantasy, though I have noticed that this is a trend that seems to be slowly changing. Also, siblings and solid, good sibling relationships… though I’m also not averse to writing sibling betrayals, either, clearly.

 

 

9. Light Romance

Sorry, my characters all tend to be a LITTLE too busy saving the world or preventing themselves from dying to be thinking about kissing all the time. And besides, not every relationship has to end in romance. (Yep, I said it).

This is not to say that I don’t ever write any romance or shippable characters. But the romance in the stories is not the focus, and my characters are not going to spend all their time worrying about romance or thinking about it or wishing for it. They are, as I said, too busy fending off Dark Lords and the end of the world and whatnot.

Also, clearly Samwise Gamgee holds the market-corner on “things I aspire to as a writer.”

10. A dash of weird humor and maybe a sprinkle of tears

I enjoy humor in my stories. I love a story that makes me laugh. I also enjoy a story that evokes enough emotion in me to make me cry. And I love it best when those tears come, not because something is sad, but because something is extremely beautiful. Now, my own particular sense of humor is a little… strange… so those moments of humor aren’t going to be slapstick or crude or even necessarily extremely witty. Nope, they’re going to be wry moments of a weird sort of dead-pan humor that you might not even notice. But those of you who do… well… you’re my favorite.

And tears… well, I don’t always know what is going to produce those, as emotional moments are going to be different for each reader. And sometimes the same reader will have a different emotional reaction at various points throughout the story on a subsequent reading. But I strive for beauty in my writing. If you find something beautiful enough in my books to bring you to tears… that is the highest honor I can achieve, and the highest compliment you can ever pay me.

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And there you have it. Ten story elements that I love to write, and that tend to creep their way into everything I write! I could talk about this ALL day! What are some of your favorite story elements to read/write? Do you share any of mine? Or perhaps you disagree with some of them, which is what makes our world an interesting place and stories worth writing! I love discussing stories with people who have different tastes, as well! Honestly… I just love discussing stories, period! So leave me a comment and let’s chat!

(Also, I was going to turn this into a blog-tag, but I don’t feel like tagging anyone specifically… so… if you liked the idea of this blog post… please feel free to write your own! I’d love to see what story elements are YOUR favorite to write!)

~ jenelle

Interview with Arctyrus

I have an exciting announcement today! My friend and fellow author James Quinlan Meservy is releasing his newest book TODAY! I have his first book, The United, on my kindle and have been itching to read it. Hopefully the advent of summer will mean more time for reading for fun.

Today’s release, Denizens Among Us is the second book in the Realm of Rai series, and a prequel… which is really the only good way to write a series… I think. (Though I may be biased, since that’s exactly what I did with my own first series)! *grin*

I’m interviewing Arctyrus Hunter, the main character of this story today, and I think you’ll agree he’s an intriguing character. I have it on good authority from the author that Arctyrus was not pleased with my interruption of his life, and that he despises Facebook and other social media platforms as he thinks they are tools of the Threat of Rai to assist him in ruling the Realm of Terra (as Earth is called in the Rai Saga). So… let’s see if we can’t get this post to go viral, just to annoy him, shall we? *wink* (Yes, I think it’s fun to try to annoy fictional characters. I’m an author, what’d you expect?)

Denizens Among Us

KINGDOMS RISE, ONE PROPHESY AFTER ANOTHER

For the people of the Realm of Light, this has always been the mantra; a foreboding concept of both men and beasts. As prophesies speak of new leadership that will bring the realm into a time of perpetual peace, four Denizen Clans exist in a tension-filled truce beneath the shadow of war. The Kingdom of Buz-Perr-Addock, ruled by Lord Yrimwaque, Jacob Hunter and his Queen, Svet-Lan-Addock, rules in fear of rebellion from the other three. While Lord Yrimwaque’s heirs – Arctyrus Hunter and his twin Amyrith, along with their cunning, younger brother Vulktyramous Hunter – are being groomed to inherit the Kingdom of Buz-Perr-Addock, Arctyrus becomes concerned with rumblings of an uprising from his brother Vulktyramous, whose main goal is to destroy the other Denizen Clans of the realm by recruiting other armies to his cause.

Arctyrus forsakes the throne of Buz-Perr-Addock by attempting to warn the other clans of his brother’s impending attack in hopes of unifying them against Vulktyramous. By doing so, Arctyrus hopes to restore peace and end the tyranny between the Denizen Clans of the Realm of Light once and for all. But the prideful clan leaders refuse to heed Arctyrus’ pleas and attack Vulktyramous and his followers individually, minimizing Arctyrus’ cause and making Vulktyramous all the more powerful. Amyrith remains indecisive between choosing which brother to follow while struggling to follow the will of her father. But in love and war, everyone aligns with one or the other and the fate of the Realms will hinge on that decision, forever.

Denizens Among Us is a Prequel to James Meservy’s debut hit, The United: The Realm of Light Book Series. 

ORDER YOUR COPY HERE

My badge fades and I find myself standing on the shore of a huge, glassy lake. Behind me is a thick forest. It reminds me a little bit of my own childhood family vacations to Door County. Down by the shore, I can see the young man I have been sent to speak with. He is seated on the grass and is applying a resin of some sort to the handle of an ornately carved battle-ax.  As I approach, I recognize some of the carvings as symbols of Christianity.  The young man whirls and glares at me as I approach. I extend my hand in greeting.

He does not take his eyes off of me as he looks suspiciously at my hand, with a distant thoughtful expression.  As I am about to lower my hand, he nods slightly, gently lays the battle-ax on the ground, stands, and accepts my hand.

“My name is Jenelle Schmidt from the InterFiction Gazette,” I say, trying to cover up my relief that he has put his weapon down. “I was told you were willing to speak with me and answer a few questions. How about we just start off with you introducing yourself and telling my readers a little bit about who you are?”

“Yes, James told me you would be visiting today, so I thought I would care to Boi-Bresch as I waited,” he gestures to the battle-ax.  He faces me, a slight smile forming on his lips.  “It is good to meet you Jenelle.  My name is Arctyrus Hunter; I am a denizen on the Realm of the Light.  A denizen is a cross-breed between a mortal and an immortal Creature of Rai.  In my case my father is Jacob Hunter, Creature of Rai, member of the Wolf Clan.  My mother is Queen Svet-Lan-Addock of the kingdom of Buz-Perr-Addock, a mortal.”

I ask him how to spell all that as I carefully jot it down. “So, from what I heard, you were supposed to inherit a kingdom with your brothers, but your younger brother decided to forge his own path. How has that affected you?”

“Vulktyramous desires to rule over the mortals of the Realm of the Light.  I strongly desired to keep out of his way and live my life in peace, but Kestrel, my wife convinced me of two important truths.  First, that if Vulktyramous were to succeed, he would not leave me in peace.  Second, no one else on the Realm of the Light understood him as well as I, and therefore I was the best candidate to stand in his way.  I am certain you can see how that mission influenced every decision of my mortality.”

I nod. “I can, indeed. So… what do you think will happen to the realm if Vulktyramous gets what he wants and wins?”

His expression turns somber, even more serious, if that were possible.  “My worst nightmares will become a reality if Vulktyramous succeeds.  Life on the Realm of the Light will be no different than life on the Realm of Tyomnta, and as Ot can tell you, that is not a favorable fate.”

I change tack a little. “Can you tell my readers a bit about your world? What is it like living here? What are some of the differences between Rai and Terra? As my readers are all from Terra – though we call it Earth – I am sure they would be interested to know about this?”

He laughs.  “There are only differences between the immortal Realm of Rai and your mortal Realm of Terra.  The main difference being that the Realm of Rai is immortal.  A far more intriguing question would be the similarities between our mortal realms, the Realm of the Light and the Realm of Terra.  They are parallel realms, which is why I believe the Light requested that Tyler James, myself, and our friends contact a mortal on your realm to chronicle and publish our mortality.  Anyway, back your question; there are many similarities between our two mortal realms, including the overall geography and names of most locations, nations, cities and so forth.  We even share similarities in mythology and historical events.  As I research the history of the Realm of the Light, I am constantly amazed at how parallel our two realms truly are.  The biggest difference between our realms is magic.  Magic essence flows through everything and everyone in the Realm of the Light.  Any mortal on our realm has the ability, with training and practice to tap that essence.”  To demonstrate, Arctyrus mutters an incantation.  Rain instantly falls from the sky over us, just us, and I hunch over my notepad in an attempt to protect my precious scribblings.  Arctyrus mutters two incantations in rapid succession.  The rain stops as abruptly as it began. A warm breeze flows past us and we are completely dry.  “I hear stories of people in your realm, especially in the past, who could tap the magical essence of your realm, but everyone I have encountered from the Realm of Terra informs me those are just stories.”

I smile. “There are accounts of people being able to do incredible things in my realm’s history. Feats of strength, visions of the future, and even the ability to command animals… but those were not accomplished through magic, but rather through the power of our Creator.” I look down at my slightly damp notepad. “Thank you so much for meeting with me and talking about yourself and your story. My final question is one I like to ask all my interview subjects: If you could ask your author one question, or say one thing to your author, what would it be?”

He barks a laugh.  “Just one question?  He assaults me with questions for hours on end, learning every detail of my mortal experience, and I get just one question of him?”  He looks at me for a moment, and smiles, “I suppose I would ask him to stop insisting that I participate in Amanda and Kestrel’s Facebook Group, and to stop asking me to participate in those strange “author take-over events” whatever those are.  I have more important things to do than engage in idle chatter with mortals on Terra.”  He looks me in the eye and quickly adds, “No offense meant.  It is just that Vulktyamous and his fellow followers of the Threat never sleep, and neither do I.”

“I can only guess at the pressure you must be under,” I reply.

As my badge begins to glow, my last glimpse of Arctyrus is of his face revealing honest surprise. “I thought you said your world had no magic!” he shouts after me, but I fade from his world before I can reply and tell him that FICTIONAL MAGIC is in a whole different category!


White Backrgound, LargeI am James Quinlan Meservy

Fantasy Author Extraordinaire,

Embellisher of Events,

Creator of Creatures,

And Firebrand

“Stories that Kindle Imagination”

James Quinlan Meservy loves literature!  His favorite genre to read is classic literature (Charles Dickens is my favorite author), and his favorite genre to write is fantasy. Even when he attempts to write something that is not fantasy, his WIP becomes fantasy by the end of the first draft.

He lives in Southeast Idaho with his wife and children, and spent his childhood living moving all across northern Utah. He considers his home town to be Mendon, Ut, a small community near Logan, Utah in the Cache Valley.

Follow James around the interwebs:

WEBSITE

FB Author Page

Twitter

Instagram

Amazon Author Page

Newsletter

 

~ jenelle

A Change in Plans

Last week, I posted about all my current writing plans and what I’m working on.

I should have known better.

Because something happened that I did not expect, and I found myself on a slight detour.

Remember that story I talked about and shared a snippet of? The Rapunzel-inspired-selkies-and-fae involving story that grabbed hold of me by the throat during my writing hiatus in March and wouldn’t let go?

Well, as I said, I gave up and started devoting a little bit of time to it. I thought if I wrote 100-200 words a day on it, that would be a good start until Towers of Might and Memory was done and then I could focus on it more.

But there was a problem. Every time I opened up Towers, I hit major writer’s block. And it wasn’t just your normal everyday garden variety writer’s block that I can normally muscle through with the right music and some word sprints. This was a full-blown paralysis of the fingers. I would open the document and struggle for every single word I wrote. I felt like I was dragging the story along behind me kicking and screaming by its hair.

Meanwhile, every time I opened up this fairy tale, the words flowed effortlessly. I would set out to write 200 words and 15 minutes later I’d have 1200 new words and I couldn’t have told you where they came from. This new story, it seemed, was dragging me kicking and screaming!

The story literally wouldn’t let me go. I would stare out the window and hear an entire conversation playing out in my head. Whole chapters unfurled effortlessly in my imagination. I was dreaming entire scenes of this story… and the dreams still made sense when I woke up!

Then one day, as I was getting ready for the day, I was thinking about Samuel. The Biblical Samuel. For those of you not familiar with his story, when Samuel was a young boy, he worked for Eli, a priest in the temple. One night, he hears a voice calling him, “Samuel! Samuel!” Thinking his master is calling, Samuel gets up and trots on over to where Eli is sleeping and asks him what he needs. Eli groggily waves him away, saying, “I didn’t call you, go back to sleep!”

This happens two more times!

The third time, Eli (by now possibly fully awake) realizes that his young charge is hearing the voice of the Lord and tells him to go back to bed. “If you hear the voice again, say, ‘Here I am, Lord, your servant is listening,’” he instructs.

It is so easy for us to shake our heads at the people we read about in the Bible. Often, I have caught myself wondering, “How could they be so stupid as not to realize what was going on?” God SPOKE OUT LOUD to them, for crying out loud! How could they miss that?

As I was thinking about this story (for no particular reason) it suddenly hit me and I sort of dropped everything I was doing and asked, “Wait… Lord… am I the idiot here?”

(side-note: I talked to a friend about this whole situation and she laughed and said “Lord, Am I the Idiot?” would be a great title for a book in and of itself)

As I mulled this over, I started to realize that maybe my writer’s block on Towers hasn’t been exactly normal. And the speed and ease with which this other story (which I’m currently calling “The Summer Princess” though that is a seriously rough working title) is not at all normal. So I prayed about it for a while. I wanted to work on Summer Princess, but I felt guilty “abandoning” Turrim Archive. So I talked to my husband about it. He is more organized than I am, and we’ve been pressing toward this deadline with Turrim Archive, so I figured if anyone would be able to talk me out of focusing all my efforts on Summer Princess, it would be him.

But he didn’t.

He didn’t even try.

Instead, he thoughtfully said that if I felt so strongly that God was directing my writing in a specific direction, then I shouldn’t fight it, and that I could pick up Towers again when this new project was finished.

I’m not sure what will happen with this story, but I am… considering some things I have not seriously considered before… like… querying it out to actual traditional publishers when it’s finished! (feel free to gasp) That was another thing Derek said when I explained to him the struggle I was having. He said that maybe we should try getting a traditional publisher for this one (which made my jaw drop open in surprise, partially because we have always been on the same page about my being happily self-published, and partially because I’d already had that thought!) I don’t know. I can’t say what will happen with this story with regards to publishing. All I know is that writing it is an act of obedience, and has so far been the easiest and most pleasant experience I’ve ever had when writing anything. I’m almost scared to say that out loud, but it’s true.

I’m not going to share much about the story at this time, but I am SO excited about this one, and I can’t wait for you all to read it! The one thing I will share, is that I’ve been periodically adding to a Pinterest Board for this story for a while, and I decided to unhide it last week, so you can go look at it HERE. I’d love to know what you think of it!

Fellow authors, have you ever felt dragged along behind a story?
Dear readers, have you ever read a story that just wouldn’t let you go, even after you’d finished reading it?

 

 

~ jenelle