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Book Review of The All-Stars: Teen Rock Sensation

While I was working on marketing or some such book-related task, an ad on Front Row‘s sale page caught my eye. The cover was bright yellow (now people who know me realize why it caught my eye) with a guitar and the raised arms of excited audience members at a concert.

I LOVE this cover.

I contacted Sydney Faith, the author, and also the host of The Sassy Sister Show on Youtube, which has almost 44,000 subscribers! Get it, girl! By the way, I just checked out their channel to add the link, and my daughters would love this. I have to show it to them. Anyway, I told Sydney about Front Row and sent her a copy, and she sent me a copy of The All-Stars to check out.

The All-Stars is the story of normal teenager Ro meeting her little sister’s favorite band and eventually becoming a member of said band. Of course, teens being teens, high-jinks ensue in the meantime. The book is told in first-person, switching between the POV of Ro, members of the band, and the evil Lindsay. At first, I thought Lindsay was a typical mean girl, but the author nailed the crazy fan aspect in her too, which I enjoyed. Who among us crazy fans have not thought we would marry our favorite musician one day? I was certainly guilty of that. Not that I was ever that crazy and creepy.

Sydney mentions on her Amazon page that she wrote this book when she was fifteen, revised it, and decided to publish before she turned 18. She admits, “this book would never be perfect, I’m sure I have missed a small plot hole or two, but I feel like I owe it to my fifteen-year-old self to show people what she did.” And I totally, 100% get that.

I saw so much of my past teenage self in this book. This story reads like fan fiction, which is not a criticism. While there are quite a few characters, throughout the story, we get to know each of the band mates and their distinct personalities. It’s easy to grow to like excitable, giggly Chloe, protective big brother Logan, and dreamy but misunderstood heartthrob Dylan. And if you do get lost, Sydney has their bios listed on her website.

I enjoyed the flirtation between Ro and Dylan (and other characters, no spoilers) as the story built up, but I do wish Ro joined the band earlier in the book. I would’ve liked to see how her position in the band evolved as they toured. Maybe in the sequel? The last third of the book was my favorite. Having said that, the story did keep me interested the whole time, wondering what was going to happen next and how things were going to resolve themselves.

Do any bands really do the “First Fans” thing? If they don’t, they should. You’ll have to read the book to know what I mean, but I thought it was a cool idea.

Overall, this was a fun read, especially for a teen and pre-teen audience. I would give this book 3.5 stars, rounding up to a 4.

Be sure to check out Sydney Faith’s website, too. It’s very well done, and she even has All-Stars merch! How cool is that?

Here’s the book trailer for your viewing pleasure:

Pinterest for Writers

I’m not sure if Pinterest is as hot as it used to be, or if it’s now more for those supermoms who I’m constantly in awe for pulling together the perfect kid’s birthday party. I use it now mostly to come up with ideas for haircuts and easy dinner recipes.

Pinterest is still the best tool I know for creating vision boards for any particular topic, and in this case, book inspiration.

It’s so important to be able to describe something in a way for readers to visualize and lose themselves in a scene. That’s why pictures like these are helpful because you can add little details like a nose ring or a freckle to your descriptions to make your characters come to life. Using someone from real life is helpful, too, but remember to be nice!

My Book Inspo board includes pictures of what I envision the characters to look like and the fashion they wear. For example, here’s my vision of the main character of my current work-in-progress, socialite Brit Byers.

Brit is a fashionista, and I have a lot of fun planning her outfits, which are normally devoid of color but overflowing with personality:

Then there’s the up-and-coming singer-songwriter, Daisy Song.

And finally, a chic and elegant wedding scene for later in the book (No spoilers—it’s Brit’s sister who’s engaged, not Brit.)

I’d love to know, what tools do you use when planning books or other projects? Does Pinterest work for you?

Fictional and Factual Fashion

I apologize for the alliteration. I couldn’t help myself.

I love fashion. If I were to get deep about it, I’d say that clothes and accessories are a way to express myself when words fail. But really, it’s a fun hobby of mine—consuming it, discussing it, reading about it, and even writing about it. In my first book, Front Row, fashion on a budget (and dirty laundry) almost became another character in the story, especially in scenes like this:

The first thing I saw upon entering my room was the concert clothes from the last week strewn across the floor. As I picked up each piece to stuff into my nearly full laundry bag, I thought back to a memory that each item represented for me. On top was the shirt I wore last night—the pink peasant top that made me remember sitting on the loveseat upstairs in that house as I developed some sort of a friendship with Jacob. Next was the skimpy tank top I borrowed from Alex that earned the attention of Gabe in Chicago and awarded me a guitar pick at the end of the show. I tossed that one in a separate pile to wash first so that I could return it to Alex right away. The next item I retrieved from the floor was the black halter top that had aided in successfully getting us an invite to Moe’s Bar after the Milwaukee show, where I got to cozy up next to Gabe while taking my first tequila shot. I couldn’t find the red halter top I had worn to Detroit, but I didn’t need a reminder of that horrible night. Good riddance. As I pushed aside work clothes and hoodies that I wore to class, I found my newest purchase from Walmart. The top that started it all, the little pink silky camisole. I would always be nostalgic when I looked at it and recalled my meet-n-greet…

One thing I especially find enjoyable is shopping with friends, whether it’s in person or via text messages from the fitting room. My friend Barbara and I have been talking about shopping together pretty much since we started working together almost two years ago. What better way to start than gifting her a free dress?

The online women’s fashion clothing company eShakti was kind enough to offer to send me one of their dresses to try out and post about. I’ve loved my experience with eShakti in the past, but the last thing I need is another dress. I don’t wear dresses to work anymore, so the stuffed dress area of my closet and bin in the basement is relegated to weekends. And weekends are only two days long.

Continue reading Fictional and Factual Fashion

Podcasts for Writers, Pop Culture Enthusiasts, and Badass Women

Here’s what I’m listening to right now on my drives to and from work:

Writing Podcasts

Writing Excuses
This weekly podcast is in its 13th season and features a panel of award-winning traditionally published or hybrid authors and specials guests. Each season has a theme, and the episodes are bite-sized but packed with knowledge, usually running 15–20 minutes long. Their tagline is “Fifteen minutes long because, you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”

Author Strong
This one is not putting out new episodes anymore, but there’s still tons of content. Mat and Nancy aired an episode every day for about a year and a half, totaling 514 episodes. And I was even featured on a couple of them—Episode 100 and 206/207 (pardon the technical difficulties…).

These are some I added recently, and I haven’t caught up on all the episodes yet:

Self Publishing School
Seems to be more targeted for nonfiction, but I’ve gotten some good tips. They have had a few fiction authors on the show as well, which is nice.

How Do You Write
All about the writing process, as told by successful writers interviewed by Rachael Herron. I got her mixed up with another author known for her ability to write fast, Rachel Aaron, but it was a happy accident.

Book Marketing Show
I’ve already taken a ton of notes listening to this show. The Kindlepreneur website as a whole is a good resource, too.

Writescast
Gotta support the locals! I’ve been at writers conferences with some of these guests, so it’s fun to hear their interviews.

Pop Culture Podcast

This show is an extension of their blog, which comments on red carpet fashion, celebrity street style, and also includes TV and movie reviews. They first became known for their Project Runway recaps, which is how I found them, and then I stuck around because they’re both hilarious and insightful.

Podcast for Women and the Men Who Love or Want to Understand Them

Girl’s Girls
Blogger and NY Times bestselling author Brittany Gibbons and Meredith Soleau do a hilarious weekly show about mom life and woman life in general, often with a political lean to it.


I’m always looking to add more to my subscription list. What are you listening to these days?

Excerpt from My Current Work-in-Progress

This past weekend, I finished the first draft of my yet-untitled retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma (hooray!). In this version, Emma Woodhouse (or Brit Byers) is a socialite and daughter of former rock star and current music club owner Lonnie Byers.

Here’s a sample of one of the first scenes in the book:


Brit was supposed to go on a date today, but all she could think about at the moment was what happened last night.

She had somehow gotten home and somehow gotten in bed. She didn’t know who had gotten her there, but whoever it was, they had also stripped off her jumpsuit.

Oh crap. Had she peed in the jumpsuit? Barbara had warned her that wearing a jumpsuit was a bad idea, but Brit hadn’t listened. A hot up-and-coming designer had sent it to her, and she was determined to wear it. She wasn’t exactly sample sized, but she liked how the jumpsuit hugged her hips.

The jumpsuit, which Brit was pretty sure she was supposed to return to the designer, was balled up in the corner of her bedroom, feet away from the hamper. Who couldn’t even hit the hamper? She sat up gingerly and pressed her fingers into her temples to sooth the throbbing in her head. Her ears were still ringing from the pumping bass the DJ had been spinning.

Who the heck had tried to roofie her, and who had saved her? She hoped she was saved although by her current state of undress, she couldn’t be sure. Hopefully it was Daisy who had undressed her. Or maybe Lander had called Barbara to come get Brit. That would be the ideal situation.

Brit’s ears pricked painfully as something crashed outside of her bedroom. Her body jolted, and she pulled her comforter around her shoulders, shrouding herself completely in down feathers and satin. Please don’t let it be a rapist, please don’t let it be a rapist, she chanted to herself. Her eyes darted around the room, praying that she would spot her phone, but it was nowhere to be found. She couldn’t climb out the window—her apartment was too high off the ground.
Continue reading Excerpt from My Current Work-in-Progress