Tag Archives: book reviews

Thanks Cheryl … Now I Remember, I Just Haven’t Accessed Them Yet

13 Nov

It was like I had to do it.

I mean I could have done it tomorrow in light of day, just catching moments of time here and there, but I thought it was best to soak it in all at once and have a moment. A wow moment, a self-discovery moment I knew would take place because it had happened before. It had happened with other great books in the quiet of the night, other books that gave me moments of reflection, moments of change at just the right time.

So I wanted another one.

I had to do it. I had to find out what happened in the end, I mean I know what happened, she got to the bridge. But what really happened, how did it feel? What did it change? Because even though I hadn’t walked, run, or hiked those hundreds of miles on The Pacific Crest Trail, I had changed with her.

37 pages.

That’s all I had left after chipping away for months on Cheryl Strayed’s novel, Wild. 37 pages. Didn’t seem like much, just a thin sliver, but for a slow reader like myself that seemed like a chunk and in the end, a chunk is what it was because so much had happened in those 37 pages.

And I needed to tell someone, tell my own personal community book club that no one knew they were a part of until the read the first sentence of this post.

I needed to share.

Not that anyone would read it right away, or that anyone would read it in its entirety but I felt like this has become my own little support group, filled with people I’ve never met, but at the same time filled with people who also know parts of me. Well … I did meet Susie. Bonus.

But this community of writers, and artists had become a place where running to share something awesome that happened to you because you know that somewhere out there something just as awesome has happened to someone in return and they can relate to you. Whether they’re in California, England, Boston, or Australia. Someone relates.

So I found myself at 11:59 p.m. sitting there having a moment. I had just been part of Strayed’s journey, she brought me along the her 1,100+ mile Pacific Crest Trail adventure describing the forests, mountains, skylines, lakes, trees, wildlife, and moonlit nights that transformed her.

For those of you who haven’t read it and want to, this might be the place to stop…for the rest of you…

This was definitely the story of someone who seemingly had everything health, family, college, and the love of a good man–a good husband. But that all went to crap after the heartbreaking death of her mother. Affairs, betrayal, divorce, heroine, all these bad choices found this girl at the bottom and so far away from her center she had no idea where her internal compass had gone, and she had no idea how to get back until she discovered a simple guidebook to Pacific Coast Trail while waiting in line … it was this guidebook that sparked the idea that eventually changed her life. It reminded of the movie I had seen awhile back, the one that had made such an impact, The Way, starring Martin Sheen.

They were both physical journeys that impacted the emotional levels of each character, it changed their spirit and helped them find their center. It helped both of them come to terms with the things that happened in their life.

And even though the journey had great discoveries it also had exasperating moments, like when Strayed accidentally dropped one of her hiking boots over a cliff and all she could do was hug the other one really tight, the only other hiking boot she had left, before chucking it over in utter frustration. I found myself thinking … dude that would have totally happened to me.

But at the end the losing the boot didn’t seem to matter much, it was part of what was supposed to happen in order to get her to that spot. At the end when she reached the Bridge of Gods and eventually found herself sitting on that white bench, eating the ice cream and having her moment, feeling like she knew certain things in her life would come to pass, even though she hadn’t accessed them yet, she knew they would come, that she would be all right. She knew and she was full of gratitude.

At that point, I remembered Ayers Rock in Australia. I remembered having my own mini adventure in Uluru. I remembered the roundabout walk around Uluru, the 10K, the feeling of peace as I touched to the magical sandstone, the feeling of awareness, the presence, the stories told by my aboriginal guide, the quiet I felt as I sat on the wooden bench when it was over. The gratitude in knowing the trip had changed my life and the knowledge that I’d be all right no matter what was waiting for me when I got back.

Strayed took me back to a moment that had slipped my mind, a moment after my own journey that I needed to remember. Strayed reminded me or parts that are yet to come … they’re there … I just haven’t accessed them yet.

.

.

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Making Her Mark

6 Jun

It’s something I looked forward to doing as soon as I heard her plans.

I wanted to be part of it … I wanted to conspire with the universe to help her succeed, even if it was a small part I wanted to do it.

I met T.B. Markinson over two years ago and I’ve been a pretty loyal follower of her travel anecdotes, reviews, personal essays and photography. She hooked me with her 50 Year Project premise and I stayed because of the stories.

As a writer, stories are important to me. They have to connect and mean something in some way. Dramatic, touching or humorous, they have to mean something. They have to be original but relatable and this is what she does in her blog posts every week. And this storytelling ability is something that’s crossed over into her novel, which I’m currently reading by the way.

She’s a good storyteller.  And from the thousands of blogs being posted on a daily basis she definitely makes her mark, and now she’s found a way to make her mark as an author. She’s written a book … well correction … three books.

Three.

And one of them is on sale.

 

:)

🙂

 

Her novel, A Woman Lost, was originally priced at $2.99 but is available for $0.99 on Amazon.com and £0.99 on Amazon.co.uk from June 5th to June 11th.

Limited time only people!

So in order to assure you that you’re getting a good read, I thought I’d include a sneak peek.

Synopsis:

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Petrie has it all. She’s rich, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. None of this matters to her mom. Les-Bi-An. That’s all her mom sees.

Even though Lizzie insists her mom’s antagonism does not bother her, Lizzie distances herself from her entire family. When her brother, Peter, calls her out of the blue to announce he’s getting married, Lizzie’s entire life changes drastically. Peter’s fiancée wants to bring the lesbian outcast back into the family. Will this desire cause Lizzie to lose everything dear to her?

Sarah, Lizzie’s girlfriend, is ecstatic about this change in Lizzie’s personal life. Sarah, the hopeless romantic, wants it all, including settling down with the fiercely independent Lizzie.

Can Lizzie be tamed? And can she survive her family and all of their secrets?

Duuuuuuuuuuuuude.

Are you already heading over to Amazon.com?

Giddy up!

 

Author Bio:

T. B. Markinson is a 40-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. A Woman Lost is her debut novel

 

For more information on this awesome writer here are some of her sites.

Making My Mark Blog

The 50 Year Project

Goodreads Page

Twitter Page

 Amazon U.S.

Amazon UK

 

 

If You Believe You Can, Then Guess What Happens …

8 Dec

When someone can focus and harness that Tony Robbins energy and passion every week until their dream is fulfilled … dude … that is definitely chocolate worthy. But not just any kind of chocolate … Hawaiian-chocolate.

It’s a big thing.

It’s inspiring.

So what do you say to a friend who’s done it twice?

Bad Ass. You’re a Bad Ass. Totally.

And as a friend, and fellow blogger, I feel it’s my duty to help her out in any way I can. So today I’m here to introduce you to T.B. Markinson author of A Woman Lost and writer at Making My Mark and The 50 Year Project.  She’s such a superwoman that her second novel, Marionette, debuted in early November. So in honoring her writing awesomeness I’m giving her rule of The Wish Factor for a day to talk about Marionette and her journey to make it happen. I know that after reading it, you’ll be sure to visit one of her sites and Amazon.com to get your copy.

Everybody … this is T.B. Markinson.

 

Many of you know that The Guat (TG) is not afraid of opening up. She pours her heart out and tells it how it is. I often find myself laughing out loud when I read her posts. Sometimes she brings tears to my eyes. Her observations about life, love, family, kids, and weird dudes on trains help me keep things in perspective. And she may not know this, but I’ve always found her to be quite an inspiration. You see, she’s not afraid to push herself when it comes to exercise.

Last April I read her post about The Fight for Air Climb. At the time I was training for my own adventure: climbing Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. I’m not in the best of shape, but not in the worst of shape either. I’ve climbed a volcano in Guatemala, I’ve hiked in the Grand Tetons and the Rocky Mountains. But with each year (I’m almost 40) it keeps getting tougher.

To be honest, I was terrified of Mount Kinabalu. I knew it would push me like no other adventure had. Then I read TG’s post. If you missed it, check it out here. You’ll be amazed …

Now that you’re back, she climbed 1,400 steps—that’s 63 stories. I used to climb nine stories at my old job and got winded by the fifth floor. 63! I found it inspirational. Each morning when I got up to do my training I said, “The Guat did it. So can I!”

Then I arrived at the base of Mount Kinabalu. We planned to reach the summit in two days. I had two days to reach Low’s Peak, which is 13,435ft (4,095 meters) above sea level. I won’t lie. This climb kicked my ass. If you would like to learn more about it, visit these posts: The facts, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

 

Photo courtesy of TB Markinson

Photo courtesy of TB Markinson

 

When the going got tough, which was about two hours in, I kept reminding myself that TG climbed 63 flights of stairs. If she could do it, I could do it. I don’t actually know the comparison of Mount Kinabalu and 1,400 steps. But the comparison isn’t important. You see, when embarking on a challenge like TG’s or mine, it’s not the actual challenge that’s important. I know that seems silly to say. But hear me out. It’s your state of mind. If you think you can do, more than likely you will.

My state of mind got me to the top of Mount Kinabalu. The title of The Guat’s post that I found so inspirational is: Keeping  a Badass Frame of Mind.

Now why am I writing this as a way of promoting my newest novel, Marionette? In order to finish any project, such as climbing 63 flights of stairs, a mountain, or writing a book it all comes down to one thing. Belief. If you believe you can do, nothing will stop you from reaching your dreams.

The Guat frequently writes about her challenges and conquering them. She’s truly an inspiration and I’m so glad that I met her. She probably doesn’t realize the impact she has on her readers. I would like to say, “Thank you, dude. We all need friends like you.”

 

Image via TB Markinson

Image via TB Markinson

 

Synopsis:

Paige Alexander is seventeen and has her whole life in front of her. One day her girlfriend comes home to discover that Paige has slit her wrists. Paige isn’t insane, but she acts like she is. Why?

After the incident, Paige agrees to go to therapy to appease her girlfriend, Jess. However, Paige doesn’t believe that therapy will help her. She believes she’s beyond help. Paige doesn’t want to find herself and she doesn’t want to relive her painful past in order to come to terms with it. What Paige wants is control over her life, which she hasn’t had since her birth.

During her childhood, Paige is blamed for a family tragedy, when in fact, her twin sister, Abbie was responsible. Abbie doesn’t come forward and Paige becomes the pariah of the family.

To add to Paige’s woes while attending a college in a small town in Colorado, the residents are in the midst of debating whether or not gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Tension is high and there’s a threat of violence. She isn’t out of the closet and pretends to be straight at school since she fears what will happen if her parents find out she’s a lesbian. Will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?

T B Markinson

Image via TB Markinson

About The Author:

T. B. Markinson is a 39-year old American writer, living in England, who pledged she would publish before she was 35. Better late than never. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling around the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in England, or taking the dog for a walk. Not necessarily in that order. Marionette is her second novel.  A Woman Lost was her debut novel.

Mailing List:

Sign up to TB’s New Release Mailing List here. Your email will never be shared and you will only be contacted when a new book is out.

Links:

Twitter        Facebook        Blog        Goodreads     Amazon Author Page

Purchase Links:

Amazon (US)

Amazon (UK)

 

A Friend’s Dream

23 Oct

Every writer dreams of seeing their book in print, of walking into a Barnes & Noble, of logging onto Amazon.com and seeing the cover of their novel.

You rub your fingers across your name and smile. It’s a cool moment where you close your eyes and realize … I did it.

Yes!

Something that every writer anticipates happening one day.

Me? I’m still working on that … I’m driving through the winding road trying to get through all the detours.

But I’m happy to say that my friend T.B. Markinson over at the 50 Year Project is already at her destination. Her first novel A Woman Lost, published earlier this year is doing well and her second novel is already in the works, ready to debut in December of this year.

She’s one of those high achievers whose probably a piano prodigy, rock climber, and future Pulitzer Winner.  But she’s also a friend and I’m happy to help her out on her writer journey, because even after your book gets published you still need a little help getting the word out. So for the second time this month I’m putting my not-so-exciting unpredictable life events, which I try to spin into comedic moments, on hold.

Today, I’m here to introduce you to Marionette … and to help unveil the cover.

Ta-daaaa!

 

T.B. Markinson's Second Novel

Design by Derek Murphy

 

Here’s a quick sneak peek.

Paige Alexander is seventeen and has her whole life in front of her. One day her girlfriend comes home to discover that Paige has slit her wrists. Paige isn’t insane, but she acts like she is. Why?

After the incident, Paige agrees to go to therapy to appease her girlfriend, Jess. However, Paige doesn’t believe that therapy will help her. She believes she’s beyond help. Paige doesn’t want to find herself and she doesn’t want to relive her painful past in order to come to terms with it. What Paige wants is control over her life, which she hasn’t had since her birth.

During her childhood, Paige is blamed for a family tragedy, when in fact, her twin sister, Abbie was responsible. Abbie doesn’t come forward and Paige becomes the pariah of the family.

To add to Paige’s woes while attending a college in a small town in Colorado, the residents are in the midst of debating whether or not gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Tension is high and there’s a threat of violence. She isn’t out of the closet and pretends to be straight at school since she fears what will happen if her parents find out she’s a lesbian. Will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?

Dude.

You’ll have to buy the book in December to find out.

You Want Some Funny and Adventure in Your Life?

10 Oct

I feel like it’s my duty.

As my fellow bloggers are out there … in the open … putting their guts out for everyone to read, enjoy, and judge I as a fellow writer think I should not only support their dream but give it a little push. I’m totally in favor of pushing. So I thought it best to take the time out of my semi-humorous blog to help out those writers that also have the Dreamer’s Disease. The published author.

My pal over at Lame Adventures chronicles humorous life moments in a series of short stories in her debut novel Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales From Manhattan.

Dude.

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

Subway Stories and Martini Max & Me happen to be a few of my favorites. They have a little New York in them and a whole lot of funny. Her wit and mastery with words can only make this Amazon purchase worthy of glowing reviews. So if you’re definitely in the mood to travel to New York and get plenty of ha-ha moments without getting on a plane Lame Adventures is definitely something for you.

“Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan is the user’s manual for living life at its fullest, on a wallet at its emptiest, in the metropolis that is the glitziest.”

I mean how can you not pick it up after that description, right?

Image via Amazon.com

Image via Amazon.com

Then there’s my buddy over at The 50 Year Project whose book A Woman Lost, is what I’ve been waiting for … it’s my wait list item. But if you’re advanced and have Kindle you can totally get it and fall in love with Lizzie, her partner Sarah, and the rest of the characters and hate those who try to bring her down. Dysfunctional families … they’re tough.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it and discover Lizzie’s journey through it all. Knowing my buddy, T.B., I can tell you that it probably has humorous moments, real moments, love story moments, and life moments swirled together in an engaging can’t put down novel.

Those are it people … those are my peeps fulfilling their dreams, putting it out there for the whole world to see. So hopefully you will too. You want some extra funny and adventure in your life? Then stop by Amazon and pick up a novel or two.

 

 

 

 

Choosing Your Own Story and The Real Richard Parker

7 Oct

Embarrassing. It was embarrassing.

I’d probably get expelled from a book club.

As a writer I should be able to read great novels in a short amount of time. Boring long-winded-going-no-where stories, I’d understand. They take a little time. But not great novels. The pages should have a kung-fu grip on me at dawn and wrap around me late at night. If the story is great, they should consume me. And the thing is the story was great! But life and lack of sleep won the battle and literacy lost. It lost and it took me about five months to finish reading the book.

Embarrassing. I know.

I should have been able to finish it sooner, especially since I made a pact with a friend to read it together and chat about it. But I fell short of the deadline and then short again on the extension.

Don’t you feel terrible when you say you’re going to do something, and then it doesn’t happen?

And not because you’re lazy, but because of life. If you had an adventurous world-wind-crazy-wonderful-kind of life I’d understand. But there’s nothing too adventurous about diapers, paying bills, rejection letters, Legos, and Nickelodeon. At least not when you’re trying to be an awesome reading buddy.

But regardless of life, I finally did it.

I did it and I’d like to thank my reading pal over at The 50 Year Project for being patient with my below basic speed-reading skills.

The spark for our International Book Club Party began with Life of Pi. Granted when I first saw the cover I was like what the hell the kind of story is this? Then I got an extra nudge from my pal Cayman Thorn who loved the book. So I chatted up the possibility with the only reading sleuth I knew … My pal T.B. Markinson and so the adventure across the Indian and Pacific Oceans began.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Through this adventure I learned to love orangutans, and Bengal tigers. I also learned to hate French chefs and hyenas. They’re a bastard species. But most of all I learned to really like Piscine Molitor — A.K.A. Pi, a Hindu, Christian, Muslim who survived 227 days out at sea, on a lifeboat, with Bengal tiger.

It was an amazing adventure story, sometimes a little too amazing with a brief stint on a man-eating botanical island populated by thousands of meerkats. But wanting to find out what happened between Pi and this ginormous Bengal tiger, known as Richard Parker, kept me going. Belief that for some reason Pi had formed a friendship with Richard Parker and that this friendship was going to help them survive. I actually believed they had a deep connection, deeper than Sigfried & Roy.

But then the twist came. The Holy Crap moment that made me sit down.

I never saw it coming.

I sat there for minute in disbelief of the truth. If you can’t handle the truth you better stop reading now.

There was no Bengal tiger on the boat.

Dude.

No orangutan or zebra. No bastard hyena who violently killed and ate them. There was just a ruthless French Chef who went a little too far with his killing spree and got all Hannibal Cannibal on the survivors. He was the hyena, and Pi — Pi was the real Richard Parker. He created a version of events that made more sense to him using the zoo animals he’d grown up with and cared for his entire life.

After telling his Richard Parker saga to ship authorities, they didn’t seem to believe him. So he confessed to a different version of events, one with no animals, but with a French chef. One where his family still dies.

After hearing both versions I, like my reading budding T.B. Markinson, agreed that the Richard Parker version was much better. Sometimes stories, whether they’re books or movies, have something extraordinary — out of your realm of possibilities — happen and you believe it. You take it on faith because the spirit of the character or the journey has gotten to you. You’ve become invested. You believe it because the struggle seems so real. You believe because you champion for their survival.

This is what happened. I championed for Pi and Richard Parker. I championed for “choosing your own story”. I championed for the underdogs.